The directions from Clapham Junction took me to an anonymous industrial estate – aside from the sign at the front proclaiming Sambrook’s Brewery, there was nothing to indicate that there was a brewery inside. No pipes, no steel tubing, no huge plume of smoke, nothing.
Inside, aside from a presentation and tasting room, the entire space was dedicated to the arcane art of brewing, although it seemed more like a scientific slaughterhouse than a brewery farm – hosing everywhere, a grey concrete floor, and huge steel tankers. Fortunately, the master brewery took us through the process of turning hops (which tasted nice), malt (which tasted terrible), yeast, and London water into a freshly-brewed beer. Of course, it also takes a few other ingredients – including sturgeon swimbladders to make the whole thing clear – but otherwise, they use all-fresh natural ingredients for a natural brew. Which you could tell in the final test product.
After that, as if drinking one fresh beer wasn’t enough, we made the long trek to the warm and welcoming Westbridge, where the landlord Charlie took us knowledgably through a variety of beers and ales, all washed down with some lovely oysters. With the interesting titbit that you should only eat oysters when there’s an ‘R’ in the month, so I’ve only got a month left to find more oysters in London…
Unfortunately, I’m not someone who can describe what they like, I just know when it hits my taste buds whether I like it or not. And I didn’t taste a single terrible thing all night. If I happened to live or work within striking distance of Battersea, the Westbridge would definitely be a high contender for my favourite local.
During all this, I was surrounded by the glittering taste buds of London’s blogerati, which seemed to include beer genius James Cridland, anniemole, londonelicious.com and hollow legs, who is painstakingly trying to recreate Chinese recipes from her childhood. I really must develop my tastebuds sometime.