What’s happening this month at The Duke’s
For over 4 years now we have made it our mission to bring you the best beer we could find in the UK. That’s it. In a nutshell.
We will continue to do so because we enjoy it so much. The discovery of fantastic new breweries and the continuous championing of new ones we love makes it so worth while.
Its not unusual nowadays to find very tasty beverages on keg taps in the many pubs that share the same love for great beer. What is getting a bit more tricky these days is keeping the cask beer selection at the same high quality
level, especially as we are talking about 10 cask lines, a rarity in London. The challenge is highlighted by the massive decrease in the number of top breweries still brewing Real Ales, Beavertown, Cloudwater and even Camden Town have all abandoned the process, preferring to concentrate on kegging and canning all their beer. However, it has been extremely heartening to discover so many new breweries making outstanding beer and a real pleasure for us to bring them to the Duke’s Head. You will have noticed the rotation of breweries such as Almasty, Burnt Mill, West By Three, Tapstone as well as our very own House Brewery and, judging by your reaction, we seem to be on the track.
This newsletter is our way of providing more insight into these breweries, our monthly pop-up kitchens and anything Duke’s Head. Any feedback and recommendations are always welcome.
We hope you find it informative and if you want to be kept completely up to date please sign up to our newsletter or follow us on twitter @DukesHighgate
Elote: so good they named the entire company after it. It simply means street style Mexican corn but it is so much more than that. Despite being a staple in food markets across Mexico, it is almost unheard of in the UK and honestly, it’s time for this injustice to end.
Alex Hutton, founder of Elote, Previously head chef of Caravan King’s Cross has worked in professional kitchens for 16 years before deciding to travel the world to expand his culinary tastebuds. The flavours of South American food were too irresistible, and his passion for Mexican cuisine manifested itself into the creation of Elote.
Established in March 2017 they are currently firm favourites at Maltby Street Market – find them at the Tope Walk entrance (opposite Arch 40)
They will be toasting their first birthday on Sunday 25th March and are promising to celebrate with special dish that weekend
A few months ago we hosted Burnt Mill, one of the best new breweries on the craft scene, for a tap takeover. It was great having their amazing beers on and Charles and Sophie themselves drinking and talking beer with us. For us, great beer and strong relationships come together.
And we build those relationships by sharing a common ground of certain ethics that are really important for us. For an independent company like ours, with three pubs ran by three women, sexism is a fundamental issue. Something that we take a stand against everyday, starting by choosing not to serve beers that display sexist images on their badges.
Sophie, the Burnt Mill head brewer, is not only an extraordinarily capable brewer. She’s also the founder of the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. Every year since 2014, women in the beer industry gather together in breweries all over the world, and brew a special beer to celebrate the struggle that women have to face everyday against a culture that still sees beer and pubs as a predominantly male business.
We had the honour and the pleasure to be part of this Collaboration Day with Sophie and other amazing women at Burnt Mill.
Back in London we had the chance to serve one of their core range beers, Pintle, for the very first time on cask. Needless to say, it was delicious.
But this is not all: we’ve been chosen for the launch of the Collaboration Day beer, that will be on keg across all our three sites. The Burnt Mill guys will come down for the first London pour, so mark the date: Tuesday 3rd April, 7pm, here at the Duke’s.
St. Paddy’s is coming, and we couldn’t ask for a better chance to reaffirm what has always been our way to represent what craft beer means to us: the union of tradition and innovation.
This day has been “owned” by Guinness. For decades we’ve all been taught that there’s no St. Patrick’s without a proper pint of dark, creamy Guinness. And throughout the years Guinness became more than a brand, it became THE only stout on the market. Or this is what everyone was thinking, before the craft beer movement finally hit here and started to spread the word of innovation.
There are many Irish and Northern Irish craft breweries struggling to affirm their product for many reasons but not least because of the suffocating monopoly that the Guinness brand can force on smaller businesses. And it is not easy to get those breweries here in London yet we managed to get some beers from Heaney (N.I.), Boundary (N.I.) and White Hag (I) here in time for the big celebrations of the 17th of March. These are among the best and newest independent Irish craft breweries, that, while always keeping an eye on preserving the tradition of good ales, they demonstrate amazing skills in innovating and challenging the most various style of beers. The passion for quality of ingredients, research for innovation and the willing to challenge themselves with the most various styles of brews, are fundamental qualities for a brewery, and these three have plenty to offer.
We asked Heaney, recently voted best new brewery in N. I., to answer few of our questions.
Enjoy the reading, and the beer!
What made you decide to open a brewery?
It stemmed from a joke with my wife about opening a brewery on the farm. We are to inherit the Heaney family farm which incidentally is where Irish literary legend Seamus Heaney grew up. Seamus was my wife’s uncle. We aren’t farmers so we need a viable business there or else we would end up selling the place which we don’t want to do. I was just getting into proper beer at the time and was messing about with home brew so I decided to quit work, live off savings and learn about brewing. I volunteered in the local brewery to learn the craft and now we’re about to begin construction of our own place.
How do you believe the grip of Guinness has affected beer in Ireland?
Grip is the right word. Guinness is definitely considered Ireland’s national beer and Ireland’s craft brewers have a big challenge to be noticed above the noise that the Diageo marketing machine creates. There’s nothing wrong with a good pint of the black stuff but too many people are conditioned to buying nothing else. It doesn’t help that most of the pubs in Ireland sell nothing but Guinness and 3 or 4 different types of lager but things are slowly changing. I think Guinness recognise this which is why they have a range of ‘crafty’ beers brewed under the Brewers Project brand. It’s good that they are trying to be craft, its means that the craft breweries are doing something right.
With Irish / Northern Irish pub culture being world-renowned, what do you think makes for the perfect pub?
That’s an easy one. Atmosphere. Some pubs you go into and you just get a good vibe about the place and I reckon this mostly comes from the people behind the bar. I’ve seen so many places with massive amounts of money spent on branding and fixtures and fittings but they feel cold and unwelcoming. Some of the best pubs I know are ‘dive’ bars. Happy staff who are well trained and knowledgeable about the product are key, and the customer feeds off this. And clean lines! CLEAN LINES!
What’s your favourite (or least favourite) part about St Patrick’s day?
My favourite part about St Patrick’s day is you get the chance to feel Irish wherever you are in the world. My least favourite part is that it seems to have become (in Ireland at least) mostly about getting drunk. I’m more of a quality over quantity drinker which I think is what craft beer is all about.
Looking to the future, what do you think it holds for Irish/Northern Irish breweries?
The craft beer scene in Northern Ireland is really immature and the bar market is almost totally tied to the big breweries so getting your beer on tap is pretty much a non-starter. We also can’t sell direct to the public which is a real killer for growth. There are a few breweries in Northern Ireland who are churning out some exciting beer right now despite these problems, like our best brew buddies Boundary Brewing, and I think the future looks bright. In the south we have some amazing beer coming from the likes of Kinnegar, Galway Bay and Yellowbelly and the general population are slowly turning away from macro beer and drinking local brews.
What will you be drinking on the 17th of March?
I’ll probably be drinking DIPAs! I can’t get enough of hoppy beers right now. And if I’m lucky enough to get out of the brewery and make it to the pub, I might even have an oil pint of Guinness. Just the one mind.