Keeping it real … Real Ale
I had just poured my very first pint of Guinness, it was in the Guinness Factory in Dublin and instead of trying to pour the clover leaf they had shown us I thought it would be hilarious to do a cock and balls, I think the 5 pints of Guinness may have helped the immaturity. Soon after for reasons I cannot remember we were taking photos with this American family, in one of the group photos the Dad Bob from Ohio instructs us to “flip the bird”, I had no idea what he meant but my friend filled me in and up went the middle fingers for the group photo! Now, a good 8 years on I am looking at a bottle of beer flipping the bird at me.
Long Arm Brewing Co are based in Ealing West London, right at the end of the central line. The microbrewery has been set up on the sight of an old 18th century Brewhouse, the Lewis Furnell Brewhouse. Their beers are partly influenced by nearby Ealing Studios where the 50’s classic “The Long Arm” was filmed, along with the police connections this led to the branding of the long arm with the prison style tattoos. Long Arm Brewing is owned by brothers Ed and Tom Martin. After 15 years in the hospitality industry head brewer Vladimir Schmidt decided he wanted to fulfil a long dream of brewing beer instead of serving it. Originating from the Czech Republic Vladimir ended up brewing with London Fields and after a year eventually ended up taking on brewing full time at Long Arm Brewing, with Birdie Flipper as his first beer.
I am a big fan of the branding, the bold imagery of the different hand signals on the bottle really stand out, although they do remind me slightly of the Omnipollo bottles I do think they are unique amongst British beer. Likewise, with their unique pump clip branding, how can the huge tattooed arm not instantly grab your attention at the bar! I am looking forward to what other arm signals they come up with for future beer names (2 finger gun salute? Rock, Paper, scissors series? High 5? You can have them for free!). I was lucky enough to also be sent two glasses with my beers, I’ve not held a pint glass like it before, it is very wide and slightly shorter in height than your average pint glass.
Birdie Flipper pours a nice roast red chestnut colour with a big fluffy head, these glasses seem to perfectly hold the 330ml glasses with a nice big bit of head, which really does last till the end of the drink. These reminds me of a real classic bitter, Birdie Flipper has got lots of a caramel and toffee flavours with a lovely bitter finish and really sips back easily. I can’t help but think that my Dad would really enjoy this one. At 4.5% it might be more quaffable at it should be but this full bodied red bitter certainly doesn’t get the middle finger from me.
Lucky Penny Pale Ale is a bit of a shock to the taste buds when you first drink it, ironically I think it has a bit of a metallic twinge to it. I would be interested in trying this on cask as I think it might favour it slightly. I got into it more the further I got down the glass but unfortunately this was my least favourite of the beers by some distance.
Named after a legend about NASA engineers coining the phrase “A Ok” to make the sound sharper on radio transmissions, Long Arm Brewing OK IPA is a 5.5% American style IPA. Pouring a lovely golden caramel colour with a slightly less active head then the previous two it has aromas of tropical fruits. It has a great initial flavour or juicy grapefruit with a strong bitter finish. It has an American IPA feel to but unlike the others I would like to try this on Keg not cask, as it would be at its best colder. There is quite a punch packed with this beer but at a modest 5.5% it is strong enough to know about but not dangerous enough to worry after a couple pints. Not only is this IPA more than OK it is very good and this is my favourite of the beers Long Arm hands down.
Shadow Wolf is without doubt the harder of the hand singles to pull off! It is a dark smoky stout which has recently just won “Best Dark Beer” at the CAMRA Equinox Beer Festival. As soon as you open the bottle you instantly get this smoky bacon aroma. Unlike the other beers the head dies down quickly, leaving you just a pitch black dark beer. It’s meaty, it’s very smoky, it has a feel of a cross between a Bavarian smoked beer and an English porter. It is quite different and doesn’t remind me of much else available from London brewers at the moment. It might not be something I could have a few pints of but it is packed full of flavour and I would love to use this when cooking.
I really want to try these beers cask conditioned as I think it would lift them up flavour wise, they are certainly a beer I will get in for a game this season at Orient. I don’t think the hardcore beer geek is the market Long Arm Brewing are going for, I think these would go down a storm with a more traditional real ale drinker, but with an instantly recognisable branding and a decent range of beers behind them I can see Long Arm Brewing pleasing a lot of people at the beer festivals this summer.
Website – www.longarmbrewing.co.uk
Twitter – @longarmbrew
Disclaimer – I was sent these beers free of charge from Long Arm Brewing. Although I did not pay for them I don’t think it has affected my opinion. I plan to order some beers in this season at Leyton Orient Supporters Club as I think they will benefit from being served from cask.