Yes, yes, I know Bread, Cakes and Ale seems to be focussing more on ale at the moment, but, well, I just spent a week back home in England and it’s a lot easier to booze than it is to bake when you’re on the road (figuratively speaking. Don’t drink and drive kids!). Meanwhile, back in Roma, it’s too darned hot to really embrace the baking. I’ve only been back since Tuesday, but it’s been reaching about 40C every day, or 104F is you’re an adherent of ye olde Fahrenheit and enjoy the drama of saying “It’s over 100 degrees today!!”.
Anyway. To continue my coverage of beers sampled and pubs (etc) visited while in Britain, on my one evening in London I wanted to go somewhere near Waterloo railway station, so my sis could get home easily on the train. Google told me the Cut Bar had some real beer, alongside sparkling wine and fruit-based drinks for the ladies, so the Cut Bar it was.
The Cut Bar is a fairly cavernous, gloomy boozeria that’s part of the Young Vic theatre. Hence, you may or may not see the stars of the current production (see below). It was pretty busy when I arrived and met friends around 6pm. As I’ve said before in my coverage of Roman boozing, Brits like to go straight out after work, unlike Romans who have their aperitivi a little later (frustrating my programming). Sadly the nice-looking balcony was already full so we perched on stools.
It’s not a specialist beer bar, but at least it tries to cater to beer drinkers with three taps and some bottled brews. I just cut to the chase and went with the guest beer, which was Tzara from Thornbridge. This is a brewery located in Derbyshire. It began producing beer under the Thornbridge brand in 2005 in a shed at Thornbridge Hall, a private stately home. In 2009, they opened a new “state of the art” brewery called Riverside.
Both facilities still brew, the Hall site, with a 10 UK barrel (16 hl) capacity, focussing on the “traditional infusion mash ale system”, while the 30 UK barrel (50 hl) Riverside site “highlights our ability to innovate through technology”. Which sounds great. I’m not into fusty dogmatic adherence to tradition – I’m more keen on a knowledge of and respect for tradition seasoned with an openness to experimentation and new ideas. This seems to be Thornbridge’s attitude too – their motto is “Innovation Passion Knowledge”.
Thornbridge call Tzara a 4.8% ABV keg beer that’s described as “a hybrid beer, fermented like an ale but matured like a lager. A broad, almost fruity palate with some bready notes. A crisp, refreshing beer.” I was intrigued. Did it mean it’s top fermented then conditioned at cold temperatures? A visit to Thornbridge’s blog tells me Tzara is a Kölsch-style product. Kölsch is a type of beer specifically from Cologne (Köln) in Germany. And my guess was right: it is indeed an a top-fermented beer, and it is fermented and lagered at a lower temperature.
The Thornbridge blog gives all the details of what defines a Kölsch and what they’ve used to make Tzara: Pilsner malt and wheat malt – both sourced in Germany. Likewise the hops. They also explain that while an authentic Kölsch is filtered, Tzara isn’t – instead, it’s centrifuged which “allows us to clarify the beer without stealing those delicate flavours we put into the beer in the first place.”.
It was another very pleasant summer beer, like the Pacifica Pale I’d drunk at lunchtime at the Cask. Indeed, it tastes similar to a classic golden ale, light, crisp and subtly fruity with well balanced sweetness and mellow hoppiness – but it’s not an ale. The Thornbridge blogger says “It does ferment at near ale temperatures, but one has to consider how the Germans themselves classify Kölsch – ‘Obergäriges Lagerbier’ – top-fermenting lager beer. Calling all top-fermenting beers ‘ales’ is simply misusing the name.”
I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.
Oh, and just to finish, in case Chiwetel Ejiofor, of Children Of Men, 2012, Serenity, American Gangster etc fame and one of the best British actors of his generation, happens to chance upon this blog: I wasn’t trying to take a picture of you, honest. I was taking a picture of the guest beer sign on the wall and you walked into frame.
The Cut Bar, The Young Vic Theatre, The Cut, London SE1 8LZ
firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0)20 7928 4400 / +44 (0)20 7922 2906
Thornbridge Brewery, Riverside Brewery, Buxton Road, Bakewell DE45 1GS
email@example.com | + 44 (0)1629 641000