Beavertown hosted the southern launch of this year’s Rainbow Project last Saturday, a transatlantic affair which saw seven highly regarded UK breweries paired with seven similarly exalted breweries from the US. I arrived well before the stated 12pm opening time but the tap room was open and already serving so I headed to the bar and grabbed a glass of Siren/Surly Brewing Co.’s Blue Sky Blue Sea before collecting a mixed case and taking a seat to wait for my friends.

There was much hype surrounding this unticketed event and it promised to be busy, so I approached it with a sense of trepidation (I still bear the emotional scars of the infamous “London’s Brewing” event at London Fields Brewery in 2013). However, I needn’t have worried as Beavertown was clearly prepared, with the seven Rainbow Project beers astutely divided between three bars, with an additional bar outside selling the Beavertown core range. The £20 “Stamp Cards” also helped, meaning there was no messing around with change as all draught beers were priced £2 per third (for anyone who has done the maths and calculated the equivalent price for a pint, it’s fair to say many of the pours were generous with a high ABV).

As well as the seven Rainbow beers, each of the US breweries had two beers on keg, but I decided to focus on the collaboration beers first, with the stand-outs being Wild Beer Co. and Firestone Walker’s Violet Underground and Key Lime Tau by Hawkshead Brewery and Crooked Stave. The former, billed as a “Cross-Atlantic Wild Ale”, is a blend of Somerset Wild and Firestone Walker’s Cowbell, and it’s a cheek-tingling, funky, fruity, red-berry beer with a lingering finish. The latter is another sour, brewed with lime zest, lemongrass and natural yoghurt (not one for the purists) which gave it a pleasingly creamy mouthfeel that balanced the tartness. It’s lucky that I can get on with most sour beers as six of the seven collaboration beers were of the tart variety, but even I reached my limit, reverting to type and hovering by what came to be known as (by me anyway) the Gamma Bar.

As the day drew on and the queues got longer, there were a few “misunderstandings” as opportunists had to be pointed in the direction of the end of said queues, but overall the atmosphere was great. With the sun shining, four food stalls and live music from Keith Person‘s Coup de Gras and a DJ set from Texas Joe, it had the feel of a music festival. Mixed cases were limited and online demand brought down both the Siren and Beer Merchants websites, (which may have prompted this portentous post from Andy Parker), so it was fortuitous I arrived when I did. This demand was perfectly personified by a fellow drinker who shared my table – Lena from Stavanger in Norway – who made the trip to London especially for the event. Guys, track her down and send her a case.

The Full List

  • Magic Rock Brewing/Cigar City Brewing – Cigarro Roja Mágica (Red IPA, 6.5%)
  • Buxton Brewery/Arizona Wilderness – Deep Rainbow Valley (Soured Saison, 8.5%)
  • Siren Craft Brew/Surly Brewing Co. – Blue Sky Blue Sea (Seaweed and Cloudberry Gose, 5%)
  • Partizan Brewing/Prairie Artisan Ales – Real Time Saison (Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass Saison, 6.5%)
  • Hawkshead Brewery/Crooked Stave – Key Lime Tau (Natural Yoghurt kettle-soured Golden Ale, 6.3%)
  • Beavertown Brewery/Dogfish Head – Ajna (Oak Barrel-fermented Wild Ale, 3.5%)
  • Wild BeerCo./Firestone Walker – Violet Underground (Wild Ale, 5%)
The Beer & Food Companion by Stephen Beaumont
Class and beer