08 October 2015

Press pass pilsners

Camden Exchange has been open since the beginning of the summer. It's the latest addition to the strip of bars running down Camden Street in central Dublin, already known for its late-night pack-'em-in superpubs. It's big but not huge (have a walk round) and a bit of money has been spent on the faux-industrial interior. The best feature is probably the generous beer garden out back. The food is good and the beer choice extensive, with a mix of craft and macro, Irish and imported, spread across 20 or so taps. But, on my first visit, a €6.50 pint of Metalman Pale Ale left a bitterness that had nothing to do with Summit or Cascade and meant I wasn't in a rush to go back.

In August, Camden Exchange held its gala opening and the management kindly invited me along. The beer was free and the food was free so it was all rather jolly. I started with a beautifully refreshing pint of Camden Hells and left on a fabulously juicy Punk IPA, but in between, in the hope of getting a blog post out of the freebie, I scoured the taps for something I'd never reviewed before. There was just one: Birra Moretti. I'll have a pint of that, so. Stick it on the boss's tab.

Heineken's headline Italian offering is definitely doing its job up against arch-rival Peroni: it has the same watery core and the same unpleasant metallic tang, though is perhaps not quite as gassily vapid. It's still pretty terrible and certainly a totally different species to the Hells which preceded it.

If you're going to Camden Exchange on your own dime -- and do give the food menu a go -- it's probably best to pick your beer a bit more carefully than I did here. Cheers to the team for inviting me.

More recently, I was invited out to a launch evening at Box Burger in Bray. This venue, from the owners of Platform Pizza next door and the Harbour Bar across the way, is situated in part of what was once Bray railway station and has been lovingly stripped out to reveal lots of the original brickwork. The burgers are damn decent and there's a distinct Wicklow tilt to the drinks offer, with beer from Wicklow Wolf and O Brother plus cider by Cragie's. But there are imports too, so my tick of the evening was Camden Town Pils. As I mentioned on Monday, straight-up good-quality lager is something of a stock-in-trade at Camden Town so I was expecting a sharp and refreshing pint here, but that's not what I got. For one thing it was hazy, looking an unhealthy wan yellow, though thankfully the taste was not upset by any yeast interference. But its flavour isn't exactly the profile I associate with pils, being full of soft lemon sherbet rather than grass or herbs. It's smooth and very tasty, just not especially pils-like in my estimation.

Thanks to all the Box Burger crew for the evening's hospitality. It's well worth checking out if you're down Bray way, and that's not just the free truffle-oil-and-parmesan burger talking.


  1. The Pils is completely unfiltered, hence the haze, which is probably caused by protein strands from the Simcoe and Saaz hops used in it - the former giving it that lemon sherbet note.

    I can't get enough of the stuff, but the unfiltered hells is really giving it a push for its money at the moment.

    1. It's softer than I remember the unfiltered Hells being, which is what discombobulated me. Pils pretty much always has more pointy edges than helles.

    2. Hmmmm...polyphenols from the hops contributing to haze maybe.