The origins of Craft Beer and Craft Brewers are lost in the mists of time … or rather, the designation “craft” too indistinct to be seen clearly. No-one knows what a Craft Beer really is but we know one when we drink one.
It could well be said that Zero Degrees, the brewery and Pizza restaurant in Blackheath, London, was the first in the UK to be able to call itself a Craft Brewery. They saw the rise and rise of Brewdog, Meantime and other big hitters but stayed true to their roots of being small and keeping things within their own control. Perhaps it was fear, perhaps it was small-mindedness, perhaps it was one partner leaving everything to the other, highly risk-averse partner … whatever the reason, they’re still there doing what they do very well.
They recently brought in a new head brewer and a new marketing person in the hope of “taking it to the next level” (along with “Craft” an amorphous term at best). But the beer is terrific and the food is excellent so they’re getting the basics right. I went down to meet them to learn more about the oldest Craft Brewery in the UK … and what I learned was fascinating!
The beers we tasted included
Marzen Oktoberfest 5.7% – a midrange pilsner-style brew. A very easy drinker – satisfying and refreshing
Amber Lager 5.2% – an American-style lager. Satisfying and warming – a basic Amber done very well
IPL 4.5% – An Indian Pale Lager – grapefruity and very long in flavour. This is a great sipping beer, good to the last drop.
Belgian Pale 5.4% – A pale ale that is lighter in alcohol than your standard Belgian fare. A good bitter lager with full-mouth malt.
Marietto’s Dunkel 5.6% – A German dark wheat beer. Gratifying malty and caramel tones with a good cut in the flavour that makes it refreshing.