As we may, or may not, have mentioned we've taken our first trip North of the River for January, we're currently cooking at The Duke's Head in Highgate (we started this morning!) So what better way to get to know our new surrounding then by, well, getting to know our new surroundings.
I've taken a break so preparing our menu to have a chat with Mars, the General Manager here. She's been with the The Duke's Head since December 2015.
Tell us about you? How did you end up in beer?
When I moved to London 3 years ago I started to work in a pub in Camden. It was a big company pub selling the usual stuff, Fosters, Stella and so on. Stuff that I never liked. Back in Italy my favourite beer was Orval, but other than some Belgian bottles, I didn't know anything at all about craft beer. One day a friend of mine took me to another pub, The Three Jones in Angel. I can't remember what I had, but that was my first ever pint of craft cask beer. It changed literally everything, it was a little revolution for me.
It’s safe to say the Duke’s Head is a bit of a beer mecca, do you feel pressure to make sure only the best beers are on tap?
The pressure is of course always there. There's s much going on, it's very easy to make mistakes. It's not just about the beer selection, it's about cellar management and so many other little things I would have never thought before these guys decided to give me the keys of their pub. Sometimes it can be a lot of pressure, but the pleasure of opening my laptop every Monday and knowing I can choose any beer I like it makes me feel like it's always Christmas Day.
Are you ever guilty of buying beer styles specifically to your own personal taste, if so, what are they?
SO MANY TIMES. Particularly sours (they're not an easy sell around here for some reason), or very expensive weird experiments.
What sells well in this neck of the woods? We’re South London lads (NO HATE!)
We sell (and drink ourselves!) a huge deal of cask beer, a bit unusual for London's standards. Even if we have 10 keg lines up to date to the best craft breweries in UK, most of the people focus on our 10 cask lines, probably mostly because they're on the bar right in front of them.
Any breweries you’re excited about for 2018?
Burnt Mill. I had a pint of their Green Path IPA at the end of last summer and totally fell in love with them. We had a little event here and Charles and Sophie from the brewery came down. It was a pleasure chatting with them and having their whole core range on tap. These guys will be the real thing next year.
Anything you want brewers to stop and/or leave in 2017?
Stop making beer with naked women on the label or sexist awful names, for a start. People are more conscious of sexism in craft beer these days, but still so much to be done.
Also, stop sell your beer to crappy pubs. It's most likely going to be served out of lines that have been cleaned last times 4 months ago.
Your favourite beer of 2017?
I'm gonna go with Green Path IPA from Burnt Mill.
Any New Year’s resolutions?
Drink less. HA HA.
Ever cooked with beer?
Not with beer. With wine many times. But at this point I've got to try.
Favourite beer of ALL TIME?
Moor So'Hop. On cask, obviously!
Make the journey to The Duke's Head this January and see both Mars and us, eat some food, drink some beer and let's all have a bloody good time.