I haven’t blogged in a while, and it’s something I wish did more often. So after hosting a beery brunch for a gaggle of award winning beer writers my pride talked me into sitting down and writing again.
Thursday saw the annual British Guild of Beer Writers Awards Dinner, a fine event with the who’s who of the British beer and pub world in attendance. Its always a great sociable evening and as we are launching our new Brewery Below I thought it would be foolish not to invite a throng of beer writers down to see what we are up to while they were all in town.After an enthusiastic night on the beers I knew our guests would need a hearty breakfast, so the idea of our beery brunch was born.
The Brewery Below is based in an old bank vault underneath our Essex Road Borough Wines and Beers store. It occupies a versatile warren of rooms which is also home to Butler’s Gin and a kitchen and event space.
Starting at 10:30 with a Captain Lawrence Effortless Grapefruit & Fair Quinoa vodka Michelada seemed very civilised and the beery bloody Mary’s went brilliantly with our ‘Spirit of Borough’ Negroni Marmalade of Symmetry Breakfast fame.
Once the rabble had all arrived we seated them in our bank vault. Spirits were high with several of the previous nights award winners in attendance.
Our first course was a smoked bacon butty w ‘Spirit of Borough’ Bloody Mary Chutney served up with the International Beer Challenge 2016 best beer in the world Prancing Pony India Red Ale, a gorgeous piney double IPA brewed over open flame giving a rich caramel finish.
Next up was our homemade baked beans made with Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin ale and smoked paprika. We paired this with The Kernel Burgundy Barrel Aged Saison. What a beer, rich Burgundy wine character running through this delightfully tart pale Saison.
For our third course we lightly smoked salmon over Citra hops & Earl Grey tea and served it with an Orbit Ivo pale ale hollandaise which matched effortlessly with a stalwart of the craft beer movement Anchor Steam.
Incidentally, if you like the sound of the second and third courses the recipes are in Stephen Beaumonts Beer & Food Companion and were developed by David Hook, head chef when I was at The Bull in Highgate.
Finally we served up Bury black pudding Scotch egg with pale malt & Panko crumb, for the pescatarians a smoked haddock scotch egg. Both were a triumph with runny yolks and the exquisite White Hag ‘Beann Gulban’ Irish heather sour seemed to wash the balls of pork and black pudding down like a dollop of fruity brown sauce.
It was fantastic to use the space for an event like this, we got some great feedback and we can’t wait to start brewing (before Christmas hopefully). Our Brewer in residence Dan Price and our events manager Lucas Frost helped make the event on the day and our prep was aided and abetted by the very talented chef Rose Exall (who is also responsible for our jams and chutneys).
Bravery and stupidity are often said to share a fine line. I hadn’t had the opportunity to try all of the pairings before the brunch, or one of the beers for that matter, but I went with my gut and was so pleased with the results. My favourite match was the scotch egg and heather sour, but the best beer on the day was certainly The Kernel Saison, what a treat!