On Saturday 10th we headed up to Urban Sessions at Hackney Wick after reading about it on The Beer o’Clock Show’s blog. It’s an independent set up in the old Bath House just north of HW station. From its website it boasts “17 weeks, 10 bars, 500+ draught beers, ciders, cocktails, food trucks, DJs, live acts, late license, live brewing nights, tasting events, free entry and cash bars”.
East London’s Biggest Bar
On the evening we visited Northfield Farm and Kalbo Burgers were offering their take on burgers and the like in the big garden at the back (though we didn’t sample any). Half the garden is marquee’d and the other half is open – luckily it was a warm evening and though the garden was quite busy, we settled in on one of the bench tables and began our sampling.
Although you can pay by cash for your beer, they run a token system too – which is even cheaper if you order online before heading down. We ended up with 16 tokens for the evening, each token gets you a 1/3rd of a pint or Beertails are between 2 & 3 tokens depending on the ingredients. Yes, Beertails. Don’t judge, just drink – more on them later. They have a selection of bars, breaking the beers up by location, including: Belgian, German, American, Italian, English and London (there was another, I struggle to remember).
Beer, wonderful beer.
I stuck to the standard ales – here’s a quick run down of what I was drinking:
- London Field’s Hackney Hopster
- Magic Rock’s High Wire
- Ilkley’s Siberia
- Anchor’s Flying Cloud San Fran Stout
- Meantime’s Yakima Red
Closing, inebriated thoughts
A really nice, and quite varied selection there – much more so than in any pub I’ve visited recently. Obviously, with quite a high volume of liquids going in something has to come out. This is a special mention to the toilets at Urban Sessions. They are amazing. Not just clean, but beautiful. None of that cupboard, dirty, suspiciously stained wall stuff you get at these hole in the wall pubs. These were open, sparkling caverns with unfinished wood cubicles and posh toilet paper. Seriously, they were great. So if you think you’re a bathroom philosopher and you feel the urge to head down there with a permanent marker this is a formal request: Please don’t. You are not that deep and nobody cares what you think. Just don’t.
The only downside to the evening was there were very few people left around 10.30ish (they have a late license until 1am). The majority of the groups had filtered out, moved on or gone home by the time we left, leaving the DJ playing to the bar staff. This is not to say it doesn’t pick up a little later – I very much hope it does, but cannot confirm.
We’re definitely going back, it’s a great space, a great selection and the bar stuff are also great. Really friendly, clear beer lovers who are happy to let you have a sample before handing over your tokens and the mixologists are quite impressive. Alexandra gives the low down on the Beertails.
Spirits and beer, what’s not to love?
Beertails. Suspicious beertails. Honestly what initially crossed my mind was a dirty mixture of ales. How absurd? The barman carried on his sales pitch and said they changed his life, or something equally as epic, so I thought I’d give it a try – I was feeling fruity anyway.
So, essentially a beertail is a cocktail topped up with ale. I had three:
The first was fresh raspberry and lots of lime crushed, add (over) two shots of vodka, ice, then shake. Decanter into a fresh glass full of ice, top up with a light Belgium ale and poke with a spoon until suitably mixed. Decorate with one raspberry and one lime slice.
It went straight to my head. I drank slowly – Alex had finished his second 1/3 before I had finished my first. It was subtly strange, obviously cocktail-like (nicely sour) though the ale gave it a twang and changed the texture.
The second was mojito! topped with another pale (I think) Belgium ale.
The drink was far too sweet for me, though hey, it’s a mojito and there’s little else to expect. Again, the ale gave it a twang though nothing to make it ground-breakingly different. I’m a twangy sort of girl though, and I’m quite drunk. I’ll take another!
The third – I asked for a surprise. Fresh ginger, crushed. Two shots of whiskey, there was another liquid but I can’t remember what. They thought I said cocktail surprise, I may have said cocktail surprise though asked of them to top it up with beer anyway. Urban Sessions are a generous bunch.
In short conclusion for predominately ale drinkers looking for something new though similar, I doubt this is for you. However if you’re into your cocktails I definitely suggest you explore the beertail – something a little different and a bit funny!