Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
16. Sambrook's Brewery - Pumphouse Pale Ale 4.2%

The London Borough of Wandsworth gets its name from the confluence of the River Wandle with the Thames at Battersea. Famous for its Dogs & Cats Home and a now decommissioned Power Station, it is also the site of Sambrook's Brewery. Founded in 2008, the story goes back to 2006 (incidentally the year that Young's ceased operations in Wandsworth) and the Great British Beer Festival with Duncan Sambrooks and two friends unable to find a beer for sale brewed in London other than those by Fuller's. With a plan to bring brewing back to the heart of London they persuaded former brewer and Managing Director of Ringwood Brewery to help them, and the first pint of Wandle Ale was ready by November 2008.
Pumphouse Pale Ale is the brewery's summer seasonal beer and the first to use non-British ingredients, with New Zealand Hallertau and Celeia hops providing the aroma, flavour and bitterness. It is named after the beautiful old pump house building that stands in Battersea Park.
Pouring a pale amber colour, it has around a fingers- worth of tight white head that lasts all the way down the glass leaving some fine 'lacing' behind. The aroma is big with dry biscuit, but there's some honey tones with orange and lemon zest dancing across the top. It surges over the palate like a scarifier on a big wave of prickly carbonation, and sloshes around, tasting for all the world like a big liquid hob-nob biscuit. There's a little orange marmalade, honeyed lemon and soft vanilla too from the hops but these seem to accentuate the pale malt, pushing it to the front and giving it a big brash confidence. The long finish has more of the biscuit flavour, as you might expect, but it's much drier and quickly superseded by some sticky orange marmalade and warm hay which is very welcome, and far more apparent here than at any other point in the drinking.
I initially thought that I wasn't going to like this beer too much when I opened the bottle. From the aroma I thought it was going to be too honey-sweet and 'rotting hay-loft' for me. I'm pleased to say that I quite enjoyed it and while I wouldn't drink pint after pint it was pleasant enough while it lasted. The hops very nearly balance the malt towards the end of the taste which is nice, but possibly it's just a little too 'safe' for my jaded palate.

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