London Beer Quest: Beer Tasting at Love Beer @ Borough

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 100 months ago
London Beer Quest: Beer Tasting at Love Beer @ Borough
Photo by Jason B. Standing
Photo by Jason B. Standing
The H word. Photo by Jason B. Standing
The H word. Photo by Jason B. Standing
The formidable Imperial Stout. Photo by Jason B. Standing
The formidable Imperial Stout. Photo by Jason B. Standing
The M word. Photo by Jason B. Standing
The M word. Photo by Jason B. Standing

Welcome to our ongoing mission to explore what London has to offer the discerning lover of excellent beer - from pubs and retailers that take pride in the quality of their hoppy offerings, to local breweries and beer events. In this instalment we are guided though a sample of a brewery’s wares…

In a functional but pleasant room above The Rake (which we told you about a couple of weeks ago), people sometimes gather to taste and discuss good beer at Love Beer @ Borough’s regular tasting events. On one such occasion, we were invited to join in.On our Saturday lunchtime visit, the theme of the tasting session was ‘Meet the Brewer’ - in this case Mark Tranter, head brewer at Sussex’s Dark Star Brewery. Introduced, aided and abetted by Love Beer @ Borough’s ebullient Melissa Cole, Mark seemed a modest and unassuming sort of chap, yet passionate and eloquent about producing great beer. The dozen-or-so attendees were each passed a modest glass of American Pale Ale (a.k.a APA) and some tasting notes, and urged to get stuck in, while Mark gave a quick introduction to the process of brewing, followed by a more detailed description of how the beer came to be.As the discussion moved onto the different types of malt and hops involved, tempered by Melissa’s pronounced disdain at the adaptation of either word into an adjective (“the M or H words”), we were invited to sample different types of malted barley laid out in glasses in the middle of the room. We were cautioned against chowing down on the adjacent hops, which looked decidedly less appetising. Mark expressed his love of hops from overseas (such as the US), explaining how his curiosity about using such characterful ingredients in British ales led to the transformation of his small brewing operation producing beer for a few friends into a brewing company that produces 12 thousand pints per day.Over the next couple of hours we were talked through regularly-dispensed samples of six other Dark Star beers, including the flagship Hophead, an intensely strong Imperial Stout, a satisfyingly balanced Espresso beer (“the thinking man’s vodka and Red Bull”) and the aptly-named Six Hop ale - one of Mark’s ‘playground beers’, where he had managed to persuade or bamboozle the brewery’s accountants into giving him leeway to experiment with adventurous, unusual or un-economical ingredients and brewing methods.All of the beers lived up to Mark’s quiet enthusiasm. This was one of those moments that reminds us that life is too short to drink disappointing beer, especially when there are such magnificent alternatives as these. As Mark left us with the suggestion that hop plants are a close relation to cannabis, we departed the room with grins on our faces, in search of pies and pasties from the nearby market.Tickets for the beer tastings tend to cost £15. Contact Melissa at melissa@love-beer.co.uk or on 020 7378 9461 or 07798 568400, or check out the website.

Last Updated 27 May 2010