Go as far east at the Victoria line will take you, plus a 15 minute walk past half the kebab shops in London, and you’ll find the King William IV pub. This is the home of Brodie's Brewery and their brewery tap.
It’s a large corner boozer with a huge snaking bar lined with handpulls serving Brodie's beer, one guest pump and some shiny kegs of the usual. Fires smoke in distant corners, tables are lined for diners who won’t come this evening, the big screen rolls down and Coronation Street comes on distracting eyes from looking at the floor or the beer mats or the bottom of a glass. It feels like a place for locals but it gets the inevitable beer tourists too and there’s the impression, at least on this sleepy Wednesday, that the locals don’t bother the tourists and tickers all that much, spying them with curiosity rather than parochial territorialism.
James and Lizzie are on the second shift of a double brewday when we arrive and get an unexpected brewery tour. The brewery feels like a nutty professor’s laboratory but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the sacks of hops left open, the piled-high barrels or the stairs in the middle leading upstairs where the dog is asleep. There’s also a sense of fun and experimentation here as if trying out a new beer for the hell of it is just part of the game. Filled with the warmth of the mash tun, James stands on top of a ladder and tells us about the brewery and his beers and it’s impossible not to fall into the ‘fuck it’ spirit he seems to exude as if saying ‘ah, fuck it, let’s try this out’. And that’s something which reflects in the beers, a cornucopia born of the combination of experimentation, knowledge and enjoyment where hops are used freely (Brodie's have got a beer festival coming up on the 29th April until 2nd May. Look at the beer list to get a feel for the sort of fun they have). And the beers are good, well made, interesting and a little bit different, ranging from low-ABV pale and hoppies up to monstrous 22% Elizabethan which is the beer equivalent of a black hole. There may be the spirit of experimentation but it's all backed up by good brewing.
Kiwi is dry and fruity with that tannic Nelson Sauvin flavour that tastes like all the grape skins in the world have been reduced to a drop of lethal rasping bitterness. Citra is light and wonderfully fruity and at 3.1% you could drink it by the gallon. California sings of sunshine and hops and tastes like pineapple and peaches. Amarilla and East London Gold are both easy drinking and highly hopped. The Superior London Porter is dark and sticky and full of roast flavours.
London isn’t a cheap place to drink and pints can push at the £4 mark, but in the King William IV every pint of Brodie's is £1.99. Whether the 3.1% pale ale or the 7.2% porter, all £1.99. It’s one of those London pubs which is a little out of the way but definitely worth visiting. It’s large, filled with more beer than you could try in a session and there’s always something interesting and different on the bar. I got a good feeling from Brodies, something I can’t put my finger on, something fun and interesting. The pub is a little dated but it’s lit up by the beers on the bar and the enthusiasm coming from the brewery out the back. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.