Keeping it real … Real Ale
Golden Pints 2016Its 2006 and I walk through a packed Brixton Academy crowd while Biz Markie beat boxes on stage. I’m holding two pints of Carling in my hands. The combination of shit squeezy plastic glasses, slanted floor and a sea of moving elbows has left me with about two thirds of beer in each glass from a round that was the best part of a tenner (even back in 2006) and wet hands. Continue a few years later and I am in Scala Kings Cross watching MC Slug of Atmosphere smashing it on stage. The entire afternoon I had spent drinking great ale while playing darts with my mate Bigz yet when we get to the gig I see Bigz walking back from the bar with two cans of Red Stripe and a “this is the best I could do” look on his face! It has always puzzled me why the beer selection at music venues are often so bad, I honestly think there has always been a demand for better beer at gigs that showcase more underground or indie music.
Fast forward to ten years later to 2016 and East London brewery Signature Brew have finally decided to tackle this problem of poor quality beer at music venues. Signature Brew are a musically driven brewery, you may have seen one of their many collaboration beers brewed with different musicians over the past few years. The last year however Signature Brew have focused on a core range to strengthen their regular selection. Moving into their own brewery this Summer has resulted in their consistency in quality to really improve on their core products. The first three beers available in can format from Signature Brew is their Backstage IPA 5.6%, Roadie All-Night IPA 4.3% and Studio Lager 5.2%. This is a good first three to choose as Studio Lager can appeal to those who maybe are not into their Craft Beer, Backstage IPA is perfect for the music lover who is really into their Craft Beer and Roadie which is my personal favourite (as you can see from my Golden Pints 2016) and so good that Craft Beer lovers, newbies or lager lads would all love alike.
What I really like about these cans is they bring a whole other reason to why beer in a can is a good thing. Music venues can’t sell beer (good or bad) in glass bottles, otherwise much like the evening at Fresh Fest back in 2006 for me when gigs go a bit sour due to acts not turning up or DJs leaving the stage with one song on repeat, shit can get pretty serious quickly when glass bottles start flying on stage! Signature Brews music identity works perfectly with the beer in a can, allowing music lovers to finally be able to enjoy something of better quality. As co founder of Signature Brew Sam McGregor said “Independent venues are under threat with many of music’s most iconic sites pushed to the brink. Drinkers are more discerning than ever and we believe Signature Brew’s ethos of pairing music and brewing offers the perfect opportunity to put quality beer in the hands of fellow music lovers. That’s why we’ve partnered with Independent Venue Week for the exclusive launch of our new range of canned beers. The 330ml cans are allowed into venues that our bottles aren’t, plus they’re safer and they keep the beer fresher. If venues offer high-quality beer, fans will arrive earlier, and stay longer – and, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to watch their favourite band with a delicious beer in hand?”
I am a fan of easily recognisable brewery branding and Signature Brew tick those boxes for me. It is different and represents their passion for beer and music perfectly. All the information is there clear to see and the large font on the front of the can will help it stand out in those fridges behind the venues bar, especially towards the end of the evening!
Studio lager (previously known as Vienna Lager) is a Vienna style lager which leans more towards the sweeter side of lagers, which is a style of lager I much prefer. It pours a deep amber from the can with a thick bubbly head. The bubbles continue to travel up your glass as you drink away. It has a slightly creamy/melted caramel aroma to it with a clean malt presence on the nose. There is so much more flavour to this lager then those awful half split pints back in the Brixton Academy, a thick, sweat, biscuit malt taste to the beer. If you enjoy this beer from the can then I urge you to seek it out on draught as I think its flavour excel even more on draught than it does in from the can.
Backstage IPA is possibly one of Signature Brew’s most interesting core range as I think it varies greatly depending how your beer was served, the cask version differs a lot from the keg version with the cask version taking on this slightly more woody flavour than the keg. B?ut ruling over both of them is Backstage IPA in a can. Pouring a burning amber colour with glowing highlights around the edge of the glass Backstage IPA looks as refreshing as it tastes. Starting off with a big fluffy head but quickly disappearing leaving a lacing around the glass. On the nose you get caramel and orange peel. These smells continue into the flavour along with a chewy lip smacking lingering bitterness. I feel like there is more depth to the flavours in a can than when I have drank a cask pint of Backstage IPA. At 5.6% Backstage IPA is perfect for that part of the night when you know the gig is really going to start getting intense.
I read a lot of beer blogs and there are a few beer writers that have that one beer that they just adore. That beer that people could session all night and enjoy as much from the start as they do at the end. Roadie is mine. As soon as I took that first taste a few months ago I knew Signature Brew were onto a winner. Roadie All-Night IPA is a 4.3% session beer, it pours a glowing shade of orange with a white fluffy head which disappears into a thin layer. On the nose you get big fresh forest pine aromas that you want from your new age IPA’s. As soon as you take that first mouth full you are hit with this big chewy juicy flavours. There is a citrus fusion mixed with mango flavours and that tingling feeling you get from pineapples. All these flavours round up into a perfect bitter aftertaste. I personally think that somehow this beer excels even more in a can than on keg, its juicier for sure! It has this great flavour that you get from those big American IPA but at half the ABV.
In a time where every brewery seems to be thinking about putting some of their beer in a can I think it is great Signature Brew has come along and brought a whole new view on why canning beers are a great way of moving forward. I hope to see some of their other beers end up in a can, like their double IPA Stagediver or Black Vinyl Stout for those who prefer their beers like their music venues… darker. If you are music venue and you are interested in stocking these beers then you can contact Signature Brew directly or via Eebria Trade. I just wish that back in my college years it was a can of Signature Brew I was holding in my hand while in a dark underground club, not a half spilt soft plastic pint of warm fizzy piss while I was nodding my head back and forth to the sounds of that golden era of boom-bap Hip Hop!
Disclaimer – I was given this 6 pack for free. However, I have paid for these beers in the past and although these ones were free I don’t think it has changed my opinion of the beers.