Given that he's Czech, Alex Kratena's love of beer is no great shock. What may ruffle some feathers, though, is the beer that this multi-award-winning bartender at The Artesian in Central London has recently helped create: a Negroni Saison. You won't find that sort of thing in most Prague boozers.
Made in collaboration with Partizan, an experimental brewery based in hop-heavy Bermondsey, it will inevitably make some traditionalists grimace and gripe. Let them. To me, it's a bit of harmless fun – and it's tasty, too. I had it at the London Craft Beer Festival earlier this month: served on ice with a slice of orange – something which will have purists reaching for the smelling salts. It's bitter, inevitably citrus-inclined and really very enjoyable indeed.
I suspect we may see a fair bit more of this sort of thing over the next few years. While there's a lot to be said for the classics (I don't think the boys at Pilsner Urquell need lose sleep over these mash-ups yet), a sense of freedom and adventure is what has reinvigorated the brewing scene of late.
And anyway, seemingly odd additions are nothing new. Oysters might sound a pretty funky thing to chuck in beer, but oyster stout is a long-standing and (often) delicious tradition. Herbs and spices are a natural part of the Belgian brewers' armoury. Beer made with just malt, hops, yeast and water is great, but that's no reason why brewers – and by extension, open-minded drinkers – shouldn't have a bit of fun.
Three to try
Partizan X Artesian Bar Negroni Saison
One of the most interesting collaborations of recent time. £7.50 for 330ml, 6.5 per cent, partizanbrewing.co.uk
Wild Beer Ninkasi
Made with Somerset apple juice, this is a crisp, tart and spritzy combination. £7.90 for 750ml, 9 per cent, honestbrew.co.uk
It sounds improbable, but this is nicely done: Bavarian-style wheat beer with a hint of Parma Violet. £4.45 for 660ml, 5.3 per cent, drinkmonger.comReuse content