I wrote some time ago, here at The Brewclub, about the renaissance of London’s famous Truman’s brewery, and their 1st anniversary recreation of the former Truman’s most famous brew ‘Ben Truman Export Pale Ale’, based on an original 1883 recipe.
The review of that brew is here.
I’ve enjoyed a few ‘historic’ brews here of late, from Shepherd Neame, J.W.Lees and even Guinness. A distant relative recently sent me a link to a comprehensive family tree, and it would appear that in the mid 19th Century my distant grandfathers actually ran pubs in the East End of London, so it’s possible that I’ve been enjoying brews that they would have served.
I digress, while researching for the earlier Ben Truman review, I noted that the new Truman’s brewery had released a limited edition of their first ever brew, a double stout based on an 1880 recipe. A release of just 2,000 bottles, sealed in wax, with a hand-printed label, individually signed by the brewery’s re-founder and their head brewer.
Pete Brown, six times winner of The British Guild of Beer Writers‘s ‘Beer Writer of the Year’, 2015’s “Best Beer Communicator Online”, and author of the excellent ‘Shakespeare’s Pub‘ described it thus: “A silky, chocolatey, vinous essential for Christmas Day. Look out for it. Put it on your present wish list. In fact, mug, steal or blackmail to get it if you must.”
Well, I respect Pete’s opinion as much as I enjoy his writing, so a bottle was duly ordered and lined up for the festive season. Actually several bottles, a couple for me, and some as gifts for very, very good friends.
What is perhaps unusual about this brew is that, despite dating from the 1880’s, it featured American hops, the British hop harvest having failed back in the day. The brewers at Truman’s have kept as true to that recipe as they could, using the hops that reflect the flavours of the oldest American hop varieties they could find – Willamette and Sterling.
And it was with one of the aforementioned very, very good friends that I opened one of my prized bottles of London Keeper.
It pours bible black, impenetrable, with the merest hint of head that quickly fades. It’s not about the head, though, it’s that dark liquid that’s the main event here.
The nose is equally dark, toasty and chocolatey.
The flavour is rich and (as Pete Brown described it) vinous. There’s dark treacle (Molasses) with woody, resiny liquorice. It’s malty and sweet, in a balsamic vinegar sort of way, and there are traces of those American hops in there. It’s fascinating, a brew to share with beer connoisseurs on a dark winter’s night, up there with Rodenbach Grand Cru. I’m keeping the other bottle to try in a few years’ time.
This is a very, very special brew and, as I type this, their website (here) suggests they still have a few bottles left.
I refer you to Pate Brown’s comments earlier “mug, steal or blackmail to get it if you must.” You won;’t be disappointed.