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Seasonal Beer at Borough Market:
Beer in the UK is continuing onwards and ever upwards in its growth after it’s rebirth about 10 years ago. We have our American cousins to thank for that, with their early foray into Microbrewing. It depends of course how far back you wish to look, but in recent millennia Britain, Germany, and Belgium are seen as the home nations of original brewing. A lot of the old associations with beer are long gone thankfully, the unpleasant pubs, the prejudice and misogyny. Brewing and beer are in a very good place right now.
Borough Market like Beer has been around a very long time. The current location was chosen to ease traffic congestion in 1756, having been a few hundred metres away since 1014. Borough Market is not only a wholesale market in the early mornings but a retail market at all other times and is renowned for some of the best produce you will find anywhere in the world. For the past four years, the Market has collaborated with brewers to produce a beer using the Hops which are grown in the market itself. Planted for decoration originally, they have shown themselves as very productive of Hops, and the Market decided to do something with this produce, in the form of Borough Market Seasonal Beer
Hops, like many other plants, are slightly different depending on where they are grown. The variety which is grown in the market, “Fuggles”, will have slightly different characteristics from the same variety grown in deepest Kent, the traditional Hop growing area of England. This allows for the concept of “Terroir” which applies to beer just as much as wine, if not more so. The next important point is that the Beer was brewed with fresh Hops, that had not been carefully kiln-dried as normal. This is an old technique in brewing known as “Wet hopping”. The beer takes on a slightly fresher and greener taste and aroma, and the subtleties of the hop are allowed to come through. The downside of wet hopping is that the hops have to be used within a very short space of time from when they were picked. This is where the collaboration between Borough Market, Dan Tapper the nomad brewer and Partizan brewing came together to produce this year’s beer.
Dan Tapper is a nomadic brewer. He travels around the country and collaborates with brewing companies, using their equipment to produce something new, something different. Collaboration is a big thing in brewing, with even very large companies teaming up with much smaller fish to brainstorm and brew something new and interesting. It’s nothing less than a very good thing for British brewing and is a sea-change of difference from the bad old days of boring, dull beer served in smelly pubs with sticky carpet. Partizan brewing are very close neighbours, having premises very nearby in the arches of London Bridge station, on the famous Bermondsey beer mile.
Equipped with the freshly picked hops from Borough market, Dan headed off to Partizan and they got brewing. Dan had decided that it would be a shame to lose the hop character in something heavy and alcoholic so chose to brew a Saison, a traditional Belgian beer that was brewed at this time of year, and stored and kept to serve to the farm labourers the next year. Saisons are notably light and refreshing but also can be very subtle with flavours. The Fuggles hop suits it very well, but Dan also decided to nod towards current creativity in brewing and include a cold steep of earl grey tea, sourced of course from Organic life a trader in the market. The Earl grey tea adds a citrus and tannin note, with the merest hint of smoke. The Fuggles adds overtones of Gooseberry and an earthy note, typical of English hops.
The result of the brewing was 6000 bottles of delightful, fragrant, refreshing yet complex beer that will be sold in Borough market itself, by Partizan to independent retailers around the UK, and on draught in the Globe Tavern in the market itself. If you find yourself anywhere near Borough market, Partizan, or find a bottle in a retailer, don’t miss out on trying it for yourself.