Heist Bank calls itself a “playground for grown ups” less than five minutes away from Paddington Station, near the Grand Union canal. Two floors of bigger play areas and more or less hidden rooms plus an outside seating area became the setting of Heist Bank beer festival last weekend, showcasing more than 30 breweries from the UK, Scandinavia and Australasia.
Still sleepy from a late night spent dancing to reggaeton (don’t judge me too much), my friend and I started with Darkstar‘s Espresso Stout and Marble Brewery‘s Chocolate Marble respectively. They were a good wake-up call to show us that things were about to get serious and that no ingredient was going to be left out in this “Carnival of Beer” craft festival, complete with “draft vans” outside and some lovely48-hour fermented sourdough pizza ranging from the veggie to the meat-based slices. The guys at the counter were having a wild time…
The festival’s headliners were Fourpure, Beavertown, Thornbridge and Wild Beer Co., who led a session on Saturday night about the art of blending and barrel ageing. Wild Beer Co. is a Somerset based brewery that boasts an impressive barrel ageing program, with over 500 wines, whisky and brandy barrels sourced form all over the globe, and we were among the lucky 30 guests who got to preview the new beer releases an hour before they went live on the bar!
The point about Wild Beer Co.’s range is changing people’s ideas about beer, taking them out of their comfort zone with unique flavour combinations, creating an emotional reaction with Marmite type flavours which people either love or hate. Last year they made a Lobster Beer, and they are now experimenting with yeast. According to them, many breweries don’t want to use it, but Wild Beer Co. are using it to explore a wide range of different styles, working with Californian wineries and cider makers to see what using their process might to do beers.
The beers are indeed something unique and special you don’t get to try in every bar. They’re bitter, and feel somehow more natural, less heavy than your traditional IPA or Saison. If you want to try them, look for the Bibble Pale Ale, my favourite, hopped with Mosiac to add some citrusy bitterness, and the Fruit Booter, a pink peppercorn Saison aged in Napa Valley Foudres with raspberries.
After the Wild Beer Co. session, we took more time to explore the space, which does look like a playground and feels like one: the street art, a pool table, baby-foot and a games room with classic Nintendo and karaoke all contribute to the vibe, which my friend and I took on board completely by starting to play Operation. I was probably a failure of a child because I had never played it before. My patient died pretty quickly… or maybe I had too much Tiny Rebel Marshmellow Stout?
Pictures: Carolina Are & Catalina Albeanu