Forget politics — the only coalitions worth talking about right now are those happening thanks to London's breweries. Whether teaming up to make beers with other London breweries, breweries from further afield, or combining to create concoctions with setups who don't make beer at all — there are some really exciting brews on tap and in bottles at the moment. Here's our selection of those you can currently get your chops around.
Beavertown/Bellwoods Brewery: Moose Fang
Back in 2013, Beavertown Brewery took a cask of one of their beers to a festival in Toronto, and there ran into the guys at Bellwoods Brewery. A couple of years later, Bellwoods took up Beavertown on their offer to come and visit their brewery in Tottenham, and they got talking about their mutual love for craft beers. That love has now been consummated in Moose Fang — an Imperial India Brown Ale with heaps of brown, amber and melanoidin malts lending an incredibly rich finish that's underpinned by a punchy hoppiness. One batch of the beer is doing the rounds at select pubs now, while the other half has been racked in Armagnac barrels infused with spices and vanilla pods: Toronto-Tottenham magic.
Clarkshaws/London Beer Lab: Hell Yeah! lager
South London brewers Clarkshaws joined forces with London Beer Lab to create Coldharbour Hell Yeah! lager — a 5.5% brew made with mosaic hops and lagered for four weeks. In true collaboration style, it's almost exclusively available at the breweries' shared taproom — Beerhive London in Loughborough Junction. Although keep your eyes peeled for Hell Yeah! at decent beer festivals as well.
Weird Beard Brew Co/Brodie's: Weird BROdMANCE
Last December, a beautiful fusion of east and west London took place, courtesy of Weird Beard Brew Co and Brodie's. The result is Weird BROdMANCE — a heavily hopped and richly malted imperial stout — with 25kg of real maple syrup oozed into the batch at the fermentation stage. Where does the strange name originate? Says Natasha from Weird Beard: "Bryan and Jonny [from the respective breweries] were messing about tasting the syrup when I commented on their 'bromance.'" So there we have it. Some of the beer is available right now, while the rest is ageing nicely in Macallan and Heaven Hill whisky barrels.
Signature Brew/Hospital Records: Hospital Porter
East London beer makers Signature Brew thrive off collaborations — not usually with other brewers, but musicians. To date, their roster of craft beers have been co-brewed by the ilk of Ed Harcourt, Frank Turner and Enter Shikari. Signature Brew's latest release is a collaboration with south London label Hospital Records, and —- as a toothsome 7% imperial porter — has appropriately been christened Hospital Porter.
A Head In A Hat/City of London Distillery: Gin
On a night out and not sure whether to take a stroll down down Beer Street or saunter along Gin Lane? Thanks to A Head in a Hat's golden ale infused with junipery goodness, you can do both. Brewer Peter Haydon takes City of London Distillery botanicals directly from the still to create a fruity, spicy offering that's ideal for summer supping. It's called Gin by the way, but it definitely looks more like beer.
By The Horns/Joe's Tea Co: Old Smoke
Onto another collab beer flavoured with a national treasure of a drink. Wandsworth based By The Horns have come up with Old Smoke English Tea Bitter. Says the brewery: "Joe, the founder of Joe's Tea Co, came and helped us brew this truly unique collaboration. With the 'Old Smoke' in mind we set out to brew a beer that London would be proud of."
Old Smoke features lightly smoked malted barley and a blend of hops combined with high grade earl grey Ceylon tea. The brew flavoured brew is first poured on 18 April, and probably best drunk with pinkie finger out.
Five Points Brewing Co/The Bull & Last: So Solid Brew
When an excellent brewer and a renowned pub team up to make a beer, the result is bound to been a winner (even if it does have an iffy name). So Solid Brew (ask your older sibling) is a collaboration pale ale from Five Points in Hackney and The Bull & Last in Highgate. The pub is the only place you'll find this very drinkable bevvy — but it is available all year round.
Fourpure Brewing Co/Bear Republic: Transatlantic Overdrive
Transatlantic Overdrive is the the result of a meeting of minds between Fourpure Brewing Co and California's Bear Republic. Fourpure's head brewer John told us a bit about the collaboration and its secret weapon of an ingredient:
"This beer is aggressively hopped with two brand new American varieties — Lemondrop and an as of yet unnamed experimental variety, "06277." Lemondrop is full of bright lemon citrus flavours, along with notes of mint and honeydew melon. The monstrous 06277 elicits juicy pineapple, ripe mango, spicy citrus (including tangerine and orange), and hints of pine and strawberry."
The beer was released as of yesterday (8 April), so be among the first to get your taste buds around some 06277.
Proving that not all beer collaborations have to be with other creators of liquid, Islington's Hammerton Brewery have joined with Ceviche Old Street, to make a drink that pairs with Peruvian cuisine. Somos Libre is a session pale ale much like one you'd find in Peru, and goes down a treat with spicy, citrusy fish. 'Somos libre' also happens to be the first two words of the Peruvian National Anthem and means ‘we are free’. Ceviche's Martin Morales also chose that name as it represents the coming together of two Peruvians — himself and Karina from Hammerton.
Camden Town Brewery/De Brabandere: Camden Versus Petrus
Camden Town Brewery's 'Versus' range of beers has introduced London's drinkers to some invigorating combinations; one of our favourites that's still doing the (selective) rounds is Camden Versus Petrus — an unctuous Belgian stout co-brewed with De Brabandere. It is, say Camden "a Belgian take on a traditional British style," and it's a very good drink to get you through what's left of the chilly season.
Gipsy Hill Brewing Co/Kent Brewery: Yuzu
Craft beer is taking off big time in the Eastern world, and London brewers Gipsy Hill have pounced on this by making a collaboration beer with a brewery from, er, Kent. What really matters, of course, is the taste of the beer — and Yuzu sounds like a properly refreshing brew: "a mash-up of East Asian superfruit and Japanese Sorachi Ace Hops". Heaps of floral notes and citrus — springtime in a bottle basically. It's the first in a series of collaborations, so keep your peepers open for more.
Twickenham Fine Ales/Page 24: Porter
Twickenham Fine Ales did a collaboration with French brewers Page 24, who came to London to co-create a Biere de Gare style drink. Twickenham then returned the favour and went over the Channel to brew a 5.9% porter. Said porter is now available in very limited quantities via the brewery shop — so huite, huite!
All of these beers were (or were soon to be) available in London at the time of publishing. We suggest you contact the brewery to find out where you can get your hands on it. Otherwise, take a punt at a brewery taproom or try one of London's best craft beer pubs.