Redchurch Brewery, Bethnal Green, London
Redchurch Brewery occupies a couple of railway arches in Bethnal Green, employs about a dozen people, and brews delicious beer. Squeezed onto a mezzanine level above the brewing equipment is a cracking little taproom with a bar, some stools, a couple of tables, a wee DJ booth, and a dartboard. This is where Matt and I spent our evenings a few weeks ago sharing and pairing 6 Redchurch beers and 6 of our meats from Moons Green and Native Breeds.
We followed a simple format: handing around samples of a product while Mark, Tida, and Tim from the brewery poured glasses of the corresponding beer. Matt and I explained a bit about what we were tasting, how it’s made, why it’s made that way, and encouraged questions from the floor. The Redchurch guys did the same. We then discussed the pairing together. Repeat for 5 more rounds.
Those who joined us were as keen to learn about what we were doing as they were to taste each new round circulating. We always find this rewarding, and it made all four events great fun.
Great Eastern India Pale Ale – Moons Green Slow-Cooked Orange Glazed Ham
Ham. It’s simple and everyone knows it. It’s a clear example of genuine British charcuterie, but it’s so hard to find a good one. Moons Green’s is moist without being wet, and not too salty, providing a good platform for many beers. The IPA had a rich caramel colour, with tropical fruit aromas and punchy bitterness. Citra hops brought the magic by drawing out the orange in the ham. This was one of the pairings that made something new in the mouth, and in Matt’s view, the best of the night.
Paradise Pale Ale – Moons Green Rosemary & Garlic Saucisson
Rosemary doesn’t usually find its way in to dried sausage, but why not? We think there’s no good reason, and there is loads of it about, which is why we stick it in there at Moons Green. The rosemary presents itself in the finish, and paired with the low ABV of Redchurch’s cloudy, zesty session IPA, it’s a fuzzy-head-inducing early afternoon delight. It’s more of a ‘clean washing’ match, rather than everything combining to form something new. I thought the combination was reminiscent of kicking back on a haystack in France in the summer time, or put even more succinctly by Mark, ‘grassy + grassy’. Delicious.
Shoreditch Blonde – Native Breeds Wild Boar, Juniper & Caraway Salami
This is an excellent beer, and Redchurch’s best seller; German Pilsner malt paired with the classic European hops Saaz and Hallertauer Mittelfruh. It makes for a continental style blonde ale, with a floral aroma. We brought an aged wild boar salami to the party – 7 months old rather than the normal 2-3; it was gamey but had mellowed with age, the caraway came through evenly, and because it was drier than normal, the flavour was intense. Despite being a pairing for Grown-Ups, it made for pretty easy easting and drinking.
Aged Paradise Pale Ale – Native Breeds Air-Dried Nape (Coppa)
Natural product continues to evolve over its lifespan, and the guys in the brewery observed that the longer the Paradise Pale Ale kept going, the more character it acquired, with ripe (read: stinky) tropical fruit flavours. Upon investigation, they found that it had caught a unique Brettanomyces yeast strain from the arch; in many beers it is considered a contaminant, but in certain styles it is highly prized. As a result, Redchurch has isolated the strain for future stank.
Looking for something robust to stand up to this one, we chose the Native Breeds Nape, which is cut from an older pig that generally translates to a big, deep flavour. A barny cured meat to match a funky beer. Both were aggressive and not for the faint of heart, and we found that the pairing really succeeded in what was left on the palate rather than while eating it.
Bethnal Pale Ale – Moons Green Air-Dried Pork Jowl (Guanciale)
We generally take every opportunity we can to tell people that we call this ‘Face Bacon’. And always eager to make a point about how delicious fat can be, we brought it along and told the guys at the brewery that we needed something that would cut through it and get you ready for the next slice. Step forward the Bethnal Pale Ale, malty with a clean citrus hop aroma and finely balanced bitterness. Reminiscent of the first pairing due to the citrus, but this time the beer was a palate cleanser rather than a catalyst.
Old Ford Export Stout (Barrel Aged) – Native Breeds Air-Dried Silverside of Beef with Fresh Rosemary
We’ve always thought Redchurch’s export stout was excellent, and when Mark told us they found some aged in a whisky barrel that he was sure they’d finished ages ago, it was enough to stop us talking (which is a big deal). It was amazing. 9-ish percent ABV, chocolatey with a crazy caramel aroma. We paired it with the beef to see what would happen, and it made something as close to a dessert as we have any right to expect at a Meat vs Beer event. The texture of the beef was well suited to the heavier beer, and a little sweetness was brought out of the meat; it made a kind of meaty, caramelly chew. It’s hard to communicate how appetising this actually was with words, but it was the most moreish of the bunch, and a brilliant finish. We finished the last of the barrel aged stout by the end of the weekend, so you’ll have to take our word for it.
Thanks to Gary, Mark, Tida, Tim, Jessica, Spencer, Adam, and the rest of the Redchurch team for inviting us and making us feel so welcome, and thanks to London Beer Week for giving us an excuse to do it!