Beneath the tracks

From the excellent article by Will Hawkes
I happened to be in Camden Town on Wednesday evening for an event but at a loss for what to do in the mean time. I needn't have worried however as the ever friendly Mark Dredge invited me along for a look around Camden Town Brewery. Squeezed into the space beneath Kentish Town West station is the shiny new brewplant, in operation for about 18 months now.

                                                            "We have no heat in the brewery offices; so I'll take you through to the brew room";
says Mark, ever the Southern softie.
The brewery is organised logically under the five arches, flowing from storage, to the brewing room, filled with shiny mash kettle and lauter tun and three massive grain silos where the malt is piped in once a month from German tankers. Under arch number three are the fermentation and conditioning tanks and I'm informed that the brewery has ordered some larger external conditioning tanks to maximise capacity. The tanks that arrived a month ago were so large the entire glass front had to be removed. Through the door to arch number four and we see the packaging room, both a bottling line and kegging machine, plus a few palates of beer waiting to be shipped. "A few weeks ago we were down to about 6 kegs left in total, its great that we're selling so much, but it means we don't have much flexibility if one of our accounts wants to order extra at short notice". The final arch holds the offices and serving area, though this is to become a fully functioning bar in the new year. The plans sound ambitious, but given what the brewery has already achieved they won't even break a sweat.

Spent malt in lauter tun raked
to extract the maximum wort
There's a brew on, the second of the day and steping through into arch number two we're greeted by the comforting smell of stewing malt, its breakfast all day at the brewery and with three brews needed to fill each fermenter beer is often being made 24 hours. We stand in the warm and the hops are released into the mash kettle. I know this because the air is filled with the at once soporific and invigorating aroma of noble hops, the hop pellets crumbling as they hit the roiling wort.
Back into the tasting area and I espy some pellet hops on the bar which I'm challenged to identify. I fail miserably but at least getting the country correct. They're simcoe, stalwart of the Camden Pale.

The Black Heart, Camden
Palate (ok the analogy breaks down here a bit!):
The brewery is full of young workers and use of space is ingenious. There's something crammed into every corner. The lines are being cleaned so I'm recommended to try the brews at the nearby Black Heart pub. Ninety minutes have flown by and I'm running late for my next stop; so I thank Mark and head on.

In search of food later I seek out the pub recommended and am pleased to see four camden beers on font plus a good selection of other brewery's offerings should that be my wont. I order a half of each but the pale has run out. Its a lovely beer and I've tried it before and I'll have it again.

L-R: Wheat, Lager and Ink
Camden Hells Lager: a clear golden helles with hay aroma. Sweet and silky there's just enough of a hop bite in the finish to let you know they're there. Perhaps a tad too carbonated for my liking but I can see this being very popular with macrolager suppers.

Camden Wheat: I'd tried this on bottle, but served at the correct temperature its a different beer. Very clove heavy before the wheat beeer flavours are now in balance, with the banana in the nose following into the body and the wheat spiciness beckoning you in for a further gulp.

Fabiola Santini loves the Ink
Camden Ink: The new arrival to the family. Silky black with foamy head. Coffee, roast barley and milk chocolate nose with smooth body and plenty of roastiness. Long bitter chocolate finish. A great stout that will hook drinkers away from that ubiquitous G-stuff. As if to prove my point a punter turns up and orders one of the usual. On being informed that they don't have it he looks dejected but perks up at being offered a taste of the Ink:

"Its a bit too bitter on its own but actually it has a really lovely aftertaste. I normally drink Guinness with blackcurrant but this is better"
He still goes for the blackcurrant though, ah well, small steps!

Second pizza of the evening!
I share all of my beers with an Italian rock music journalist as my food appears. They all go well with my choice of sustenance: goats cheese, rocket, artichoke and pine nut pizza, made fresh to order. With decent food, music and beer its a pub I'm sure to return to.

Camden Town has a solid range of beers, a great location and workforce and plenty of ideas for the future. They'll certainly be ones to watch in 2012 and I'm definitely intending to return when the new bar is operational. Thanks Mark for the tour and samples and see you soon!

Follow the brewery on Twitter here.

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