By now it’s likely you’ve heard the news that last week Camden Town Brewery sold to AB-InBev, the largest drinks company in the world, who produce beers such as Stella Artois and Budweiser.
As a local to the brewery and a supporter of small, independent producers, I struggled to hide my disappointment at the news. I collected a few of my thoughts about the takeover on my own blog here. But despite my disappointment, it’s important to remember that Camden still produces some of the best beers in the country and that they’re spearheading a lager revolution in the UK.
Lager is the most popular style of beer in the world, accounting for about 70% of all beer consumed across the globe. With its Unfiltered Hells, Pils and India Hells Lager, Camden are producing three of the most interesting and flavourful riffs on the lager style you’ll find. It’s important to remember that the change in ownership won’t instantly reduce the quality of the beers fermenting away under the arches at its Kentish Town brewery.
Camden also do a lot more experimentation than people realise, which includes a small yet tasteful barrel ageing program that’s been running for a couple of years. The most recent release from this stable is Beer 2015, the third in a series of beers produced to mark the end of the year.
Beer 2015 is a strong lager that’s been aged in second fill whisky, tequila and rum barrels. As these barrels have already been used to age beer in before the flavours absorbed by the beer are less intense but are by no means less complex. What you’ll find is a slightly sweet beer with a flavour reminiscent of an Oloroso sherry. This is followed by a sharp, tannic bite, almost like black tea, which is rounded out with just a hint of oak as the finish dies.
It’s a special beer, and shows what Camden is capable of producing. Beers in big bottles like this are ideal for sharing on New Year's Eve, I know I’ll be cracking one open. Here’s a happy new year from me, and a toast to all the great beer yet to be discovered in 2016.