Archive for category Wine

Beer Store Focus: Market Row Wines, Brixton

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Having moved from what I consider the centre of Canadian craft brewing, Vancouver, back to my old home in London, I quickly missed the range of cutting edge brews that were available in a number of stores around town. The British supermarket choice is fair at best but can’t compare with the specialist retailer I have been spoilt with for the last 6 years or so.

On a slow day searching for new employment opportunities I took a break and had a stroll around the fantastic Brixton Village and Market Row, the indoor arcade sections of Brixton Market. I came across a tiny wine merchant in the Market Row arcade and saw a number of interesting looking beers in the window.

Market Row Wines is run and owned by Dave Simpson who, like me and what seems like half the British wine trade, used to work for high street chain Oddbins. After having a browse and choosing one of each from the local Brixton Brewery range (reviews later in the week) Dave found time to have a chat. His wine and beer selection are squeezed into an area smaller than many living rooms, and as a former manager of wine and beer stores, I can only imagine how tough it is to shelve and store all that stock!

What Market Row Wines lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality. The fairly modest selection of 40 to 50  beer focuses on London craft breweries with a few other interesting choices from further afield.  Apart from the local Brixton Brewery beers, there are selections from the Bermondsy based Partizan Brewing, Camden Town, Wild Beer, Pressure Drop and the darlings of British craft brewing The Kernel Brewery amongst others.  Dave certainly knows his beer and gives honest and friendly advice and recommendations. I asked him how the craft beer selection is selling, and he enthusiastically explained that it just keeps growing and the only problem is keeping on top of new breweries and new beers that the ever demanding current generation of customer desires. The world of new wave brewing moves quickly and the retailer has to be one step ahead of the game to keep the eager “latest thing” obsessed consumer satiated.

If you live in the area or find yourself visiting the fabulous Brixton Market, then make your way to Market Row Wines for nice break from the norm, as they offer not only a nice selection of interesting beer but some hard to find wines too. If you find you don’t know what to get, don’t be shy and ask for some advice – it’ll be well worth it.

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Beer Vs Wine… (Yawn..)

Google Beer v Wine and you will get many blogs, magazine articles and special events geared towards this eternal battle of the beverages. This usually comes from the beer sector of the publishing/blogging world as the wine folk don’t feel they have to prove anything. Beer people feel they need to prove how good modern craft beer is and how versatile it can be. This is a fair point, there is much ignorance amongst the general public about what beer actually is! Many still see beer as an inferior product, mass produced for the masses and hoi polloi to lubricate themselves at the end of the working week. Most, in the English speaking world, view wine as a luxury product with elitist overtones; visions of snooty French sommeliers and posh types using overly flowery descriptors abound.

So how do we reconcile these two beverages? Is it just a case of blue collar vs white collar, that tired old stereotypical struggle of the classes? Far from it in my opinion. I have been told/asked after I have introduced myself as a beer blogger that “oh, so you’re a beer person, not a wine person then?” I never thought I had to choose! I enjoy writing about beer because I think I have more to say, and wine blogs outnumber beer blogs about 10-1.

Wine in Southern Europe has always been a drink for all, from the labouring peasant to the aristocrat in the palace. Likewise in Britain and Germany beer was a drink enjoyed by the Lord of the Manor as well as the serf in the fields.

So why are there a thousand beer v wine articles out there? I think beer has an inferiority complex, a kind of small man syndrome, always trying to start a fight. Sometimes beer is just the thing and other times wine is the one that fits the bill. Beer has some great food pairings, but wine can do as well. There is no fight, let peace break out! I like both! I just choose to write about beer.

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