At the beginning of 2015 The Duke's Head in Highgate and beer writer Matt Curtis launched Bottle Club. On the first Wednesday of every month ten people each pay ten pounds and all of the money goes on a selection of interesting bottled beers to be shared and enjoyed. It's always a great night that Steph or I often attended (one of us has to be in the shop unfortunately)
This year we are partnering up with Bottle Club to supply the beers each month, and for the first month Steph and I were given free choice instead of Matt and Tom. So last week we went up the hill to Highgate and shared some of our favourite brews with people.
We started with Tegernseer Hell, a great crisp lager to cleanse the palate and we could've done with a few more bottles of it. We then kicked it up a notch with some fresh Gigantic IPA, which had huge mango and pine notes and it was slightly more complex than the usual American IPA. We moved onto one of my favourite beers, Orval. The beer is bottle refermented with some Brettanomyces yeast, which is why the flavour can really develop over time. The bottles we had were just over 10 months old and the flavours played about on your tongue, before a dry finish. We then followed it up with Birrificio del Ducato's Chimera, the Italian brewery's interpretation of a strong dark Belgian ale. This was quite yeast driven and deceptively drinkable for it's strength, due to it's sweet berry flavours.
We then went back to America for the Brooklyn Insulated Lager. This is a dark lager so had a smooth body but a toasted finish, and it worked as a great refresher after the Belgian funk.
We thought the best way to end the evening was with some big strong dark beers. Cloudwater Imperial Stout was their 100th Gyle and is a 10.6% wonder. It had a liquorice and coffee flavour, but finished with dark chocolate and hints of leather. The flavourful Stone W00tstout 3.0, which was brewed with pecans and cocoa, didn't hide it's 13% - it was pretty boozy. The nuts and cocoa reminded quite a few people there of Nutella, which is no bad thing!
The night could've ended then but Brew By Numbers' Chris Hall was also present and shared some special BBNo bombers, and we also shared an extra bottle of Gigantic Ginormous (an Imperial IPA). Throughout all of this we enjoyed a few pints from the bar and had some excellent food from the current pop up kitchen Pulled - the lasagne is especially great. All in all it was a great night!
If you want to get involved next time, join the Duke's Head special mailing list by emailing email@example.com. Bottle clubbers get 10% off the sampled beers for the week following the meet up.
We also recommend the Duke's any other nights of the week, it's one of the few pubs in London to have a theme tune.