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Not just experts at styling hair and shaping beards, the Murdock barbers know a thing or two about drinking decent beer. (Enough to at least convince us to lay them out a premium selection after hours to try for this particular experiment...)

Knowing that there's nothing quite like that refreshing taste of ice cold beer on a hot summer's day, the endless rise of craft breweries and more accessible international brews has made it incredibly easy to be overwhelmed when trying to choose the right beer for you. With this in mind, it seemed most timely to utilise the keen palettes of our Covent Garden team and have them judge a sampling of the current craft beer market.

The result of our barbers' tasting, as you will read below, presents not just a few wobbly legs and slurred words, but most usefully, several essential beer recommendations to try for yourself (and perhaps a few to avoid) looking ahead to the upcoming summer months...

 

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Introducing our beer sommeliers Katherine, Joe, James and Dan who soon got to tasting a seasonal edit courtesy of our neighbours at the Craft Beer Co and Amathus Soho

 

Usual beer of choice:

James - Stouts and porters
Katherine - Camden Pale Ale
Dan - Brewdog Punk IPA
Joe - Guinness
Miles (who couldn't resist chipping in for a swift one before heading to dinner)  - Any lager

 

The Tasting:

 

effra

 

Beer 1: Brixton Effra Ale

Brewery: Brixton Brewery
Strength: 4.5%
Description: Named after the river Effra, which now flows deep beneath urban Brixton, our fresh and feisty amber ale is perfect for deep thirsts. It's all about balance with this one; fusing a rich malt base with a complex blend of hops, Effra is aromatic, uplifting and goes down incredibly easily.

Barber Reviews:
James: Very hoppy and floral. Tasty and crisp.
Katherine: Hoppy and a long, bitter aftertaste.
Dan: Nice citrus flavour. Hoppy and a bit spicy. A strong aftertaste.
Joe: I'm not a fan. There's a slightly bitter aftertaste and it's too fizzy.
Miles: Hoppy with a long aftertaste.

Best scenarios for consumption:
JC: Afternoon in the park.
K: With food.
D: A relaxed afternoon drinking in the sun.
M: In the park.

Risk rating:
JC: I enjoyed it, maybe not too many though.
K: Too strong to have more than one.
D: Couldn't drink more than a couple.
J: Wouldn't like a whole pint.
M: Too strong for a serious drinking session.

Overall rating out of 5: 3.8

 

wallbanger

 

Beer 2: Wallbanger Wit

Brewery: Pressure Drop
Strength: 4.7%
Description: Our Belgian-style Wit – a style thankfully saved from extinction by Pierre Celis in the 1960s – is brewed with the classic aromatic additions to make it a refreshing yet flavoursome beer. The orange zest, crushed coriander seed and gentle spicing used in the brew lend themselves to drinking alongside fish dishes.

Barber Reviews:
James: I'm not too keen on this one. It tastes too floral and too hoppy.
Katherine: Not good. It tastes like lemon and tobacco.
Dan: Tastes like weak lemonade. Horrible, especially with a smokey aftertaste.
Joe: Florally aftertaste.

Best scenarios for consumption:
K: Festival if I had to.
D: A light drink for a Sunday afternoon.
J: A light, friendly daytime beer.

Risk rating:
K: Not fun.
D: Not too high as I couldn't drink many.

Overall rating out of 5: 3.2

 

 

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Dan soon takes control of 'even distribution' with several beers yet to still actually open...

 

 

partizan

 

Beer 3: Partizan Saison Lemongrass

Brewery: Partizan Brewing
Strength: 3.8%
Description: The lemongrass saison is beautifully balanced with hints of grassy bitterness with sour lemon notes.

Barber Reviews:
James: Not too keen on this one. Tastes of a light beer and doesn't have a good aftertaste.
Katherine: It has a strong smell and doesn't taste of lemongrass. The aftertaste isn't particularly nice and there's not a long finish. This is for people who don't like beer.
Dan: Rubbish. Tastes like flat cider.
Joe: Lovely, light and refreshing. A slightly cidery taste.

Best scenarios for consumption:
JC: Summer on the whole.
K: Festivals.
D: There isn't one.
J: A festival or garden party.

Risk rating:
JC: Too floral.
K: Easy to consume.
D: I wouldn't finish one bottle.
J: Goes down a bit too easily.

Overall rating out of 5: 2.1

 

sierra-torpedo

 

Beer 4: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Strength: 7.2%
Description: Torpedo Ale is a big American IPA - perfectly balanced yet full of flavor and aromas that highlight the complex citrus, pine, and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.

Barber Reviews:
James: Nice taste. Hoppy and malty. Good aftertaste with a bite.
Katherine: Very good. Refreshing and hoppy.
Dan: Excellent! For a strong IPA, it feels very balanced between strength and taste.
Joe: Far too bitter, strong aftertaste.

Best scenarios for consumption:
JC: Summer BBQ.
K: BBQ.
D: Board games night in.

Risk rating:
JC: It's easy to drink. I could get through a couple very easily.
K: I could drink it all day, but it's perhaps a bit strong for casual drinking.
D: High risk. This is a very tasty beer.
J: Wouldn't be able to drink too many.

Overall rating out of 5: 4.5

 

 

 

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It's not long before the tasting gets quite serious. Certain beers also require a second sampling - just to be sure...

 

 

weird-beard

We couldn't not have our barbers try this one...

 

Beer 5: Five o'Clock Shadow

Brewery: Weird Beard
Strength: 7%
Description: Rough day at work? Crack open a Five O'Clock Shadow and be at one with your stubble. This American IPA is the real Desperate Dan of the beer world, hoppy, uncompromising and goes well with a cow pie. Embrace your inner cowboy. Yee ha!

Barber Reviews:
James: Hoppy, sharp and crisp. It's okay but slightly too bitter.
Katherine: High alcohol taste, slightly bitter, tobacco flavour and long-lingering.
Dan: A hoppy, strong IPA. This is right up my street. Strong taste, but finishes nicely with no lingering bitterness.
Joe: Bitter, strong, tangy. Really not a fan, sorry.

Best scenarios for consumption:
JC: Food, definitely with steak.
K: Never.
D: The pub with a roast.

Risk rating:
JC: Too bitter.
K: Too strong, bitter and unpleasant.
D: A solid night's drinking.

Overall rating out of 5: 3.2

 

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A few steps beyond 5 o'clock shadow... Dan samples the hoppy IPA by Weird Beard

 

 

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Favourites chosen? We've still got a few potential curveballs to throw into the mix...

 

The Curveballs:

 

hawkes

 

Beer 6: Hawkes Ginger Beer

Brewery: Hawkes
Strength: 4%
Description: For our ginger beer we use only the best natural ingredients: ginger, mandarin and kiwi, creating a smooth finish with the perfect ginger bite.

Barber Reviews:
James: Obviously packs a ginger taste. Good aftertaste and nice to drink. Dry, bitter and easy-going.
Katherine: Delicious and easy to drink. Not too strong on the ginger taste either.
Dan: Excellent. Even though it's an alcoholic drink, it keeps that fiery, zingy ginger beer taste.
Joe: Refreshing, sweet, light taste. Slightly fiery tang which is expected with ginger beer.

Best scenarios for consumption:
JC: Summer any time.
K: Outside on a nice summer's day.
D: With food.
J: Any occasion, goes down well.

Risk rating:
JC: Easy to consume. This is a very good beverage.
K: Too easy to consume.
D: Super high risk.
J: Good with food, can drink very quickly.

Overall rating out of 5: 4.2

 

 

milk-stout

 

Beer 7: Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Brewery: Tailgate
Strength: 5.8%
Description: Peanut Butter. Milk Stout. The name says it, but the taste... is everything. Rich, creamy, velvety, delicious.

Barber Reviews:
James: Very tasty, deep flavours.
Katherine: Very nice, not too sweet. Smells like caramel, tastes a bit like coffee.
Dan: Lovely, like Reeces chocolate in a drink. Very tasty for a stout.

Best scenarios for consumption:
JC: I'd drink this right through to winter.
K: With food.
D: In the sunshine at a festival.

Risk rating:
JC: Easy to consume. I'm definitely into it.
K: Would only have one or two because it is a bit sweet.
D: Pretty high as it goes down easily.

Overall rating out of 5: 4

 

 

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Cheers to that! After a long day's barbering and several after-work hours gone by drinking a lot of beer, it's time to call it a night.

 

A very merry barber crew toast the end to their sampling session, which sees Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA claim the highest average score, with Hawkes Ginger Beer a close second.

 

We'd love to hear your own thoughts on any of the beers our barbers tried, along with any further recommendations you have for us to put to them in the future. Just get in touch with us on Twitter or Instagram and tag @murdocklondon