Monday, 12 September 2011

Brodie’s Fabulous Beers

Saturday 3rd September found me at the King William IV pub in Leyton, East London for the second Brodie’s beer festival of this year. Brodie’s is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the capital’s growing number of microbreweries. The King William IV (left) is the brewery-tap, a sprawling late-Victorian pub that houses the 5-barrel plant in the abutting stable block. The Brodie family were part partners in the Sweet William brewery that operated at this same venue for five years from 2000. Eight years later brother and sister team, James (pictured sitting) and Lizzie Brodie revived brewing at the pub, hence this particular festival being a 3rd birthday celebration.

Courtesy of the brewery’s eight fermenting vessels, up to forty Brodie’s beers (ten in the regular range) can be found on the twenty-four hand pumps at the pub during the course one of these festivals, at Easter and September, advertised appropriately as a “Bonanza” or “Bash”. Virtually every style has at some point been offered, for example, English Best (3.9%), Dragon Weiss (3.9%), London Lager (4.5%), Ginger (4.8%) and Triple (13.1%). The traditional often comes with a contemporary twist as in Mint Choc Chip Stout (4.7%), Peanut Butter Mild (3.1%) and Pina Colada Porter (4.2%). Full-on fruit and berry flavours abound - Summer Berry Brew (3.5%), Passion (3.8%) and Pomegranate Pale Ale (4.1%) - while low-level gravity beers like Citra (3.1%) can be as packed with flavour as those towards the upper end of the range such as the 8.8% Noisome Cru.

This sheer range and variety does lend the atmosphere of a jamboree to these occasions. As a summary exemplar of my experiences so far: my American Brown (4.8%) is served hazy with little or no head retention, while Sunshine (4.0%) sparkled crystal-clear in the glass with a tight collar of foam. Green Bullet (4.3%) and the 4.4% version of Blue I failed to finish and never intend to revisit, but the grapefruit-hit of a Pink Pride (3.4%) or Amarilla (4.2%) makes me want to spend the rest of the day drinking just this and nothing but this. And then there is the question of defining exactly what I have been drinking. Three different figures are given for the ABV of West Coast Common depending on whether I consult the pump clip (4.5%), the advert in the London Drinker (4.8%) or the photocopied list available at the bar (4.1%). Sometimes the names of the beers have subtly altered.  

None of this makes it an easy task for those, such as me, who like recording the beers they’ve sampled. But such quirkiness adds to the attraction of these occasions. Yer pays yer money, yer takes yer choice. And as all beers are £1.99 a pint regardless of ABV - ranging from the 2.7% Giddy Blonde to the 22.0% Elizabethan (although the latter is not served in pints) – this is not a great deal of money for such a big choice: 57 different Brodie’s beers so far for me, a figure depending on definition, of course, but a nice Heinz variety of a number nonetheless. Sixteen of the beers are usually on every weekend and I’m already looking forward to my next visit. Tasting notes can be found in the two sources listed below and the websites for the brewery and the pub: and


Cryne, Christine, (2011) ‘Brodie’s Grows Up’, London Drinker, Vol. 32, No. 6 (Dec/Jan), p. 23.

de Moor, Des, (2011) The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs & Bars, St Albans: Campaign for Real Ale.

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