A&H was founded by two school mates, Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday, who started honing their skills home brewing in 2011 & our evening started with Jack explaining how they got to where they are today.
After winning early plaudits for the quality of their beers, including encouragement from wine & beer buff Oz Clarke, they entered one of their early brews, the Porter, into the International Beer Challenge 2013. Despite having no premises or labels they won a silver medal in the blind tasting so things quickly got a bit more serious.
After hearing the back-story Jack then explained how the Anspach & Hobday vision is to always to combine inspiration from London's rich brewing traditions with a contemporary approach to both ingredients and process which gives the best of both worlds.
This approach is reflected in those award winning labels – always a combination of the old & the new - and certainly seems to be working as A&H are now listed in over 50 pubs (details here), as well as having the honour of being London’s highest beer (served in the Shrangri-La bar on the 52nd floor of the nearby Shard) as well as being listed in nearby Michelin star Restaurant Story.
After that it was back out to the bar, where Jack guided us through a tutored tasting of his beers, paired by us with some of the best craft food London has to offer, including traditionally made cheeses from Neals Yard - Sparkenhoe Red Leicester & Stichelton, amazing charcuterie from Cobble Lane Cured & meaty treats from Borough market's Ginger Pig & Sillfield Farm.
As we worked our way through the beers Jack gave each an introduction, talking about its inspiration, the process & tasting notes before opening up a wider Q&A. We got plenty of questions and learned a lot more about how Jack & Paul use the best ingredients they can find, and experiment with traditional and modern methods to create their classic beers - so different to the mass produced stuff made by the bigger breweries!
Tasting The Beers
A hazy golden beer with a hoppy, fruity aroma - someone called it as mandarin & vanilla ice-cream, followed by a delicious fruity taste with notes of citrus & tropical fruit with grassy hints and nice hoppy finish. Really good.
A real stand out beer, this is a great brown ale - thick and chewy with a solid malt base. Lots of interesting flavours which are set off beautifully by the warming wood smoke & hints of vanilla that runs through the nose and palate. It has a lovely sweetness with touches of seasonal spice - perfect for when its cold outside and you are sat by the fire!
A light, hazy amber ale with a small, fine, white head the aroma is soft, creamy with a variety of citrus notes - orange, grapefruit & lime. Crisp taste, with a great combination of marmalade & key lime, together with a lovely creaminess, hints of straw, aniseed and very appealing slight minerally dryness to finish.
Anspach & Hobday's lead beer & a fitting way to end the evening. The Porter (6.7%) is rich, dark & roasted. Brewed to the same recipe as the first time it was home-brewed in 2011, it won Silver at the International Beer Challenge 2013 as home-brew and then Gold in 2014 as commercial brew. Rich deep aroma of freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate and dark berries, followed on the palate by a rich, complex toast & malty flavour. Very smooth finish with a perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness & well deserved of all its growing accolades.
All in all it was a great night - relaxed & informative, with a great chance to get all those brewing questions answered by a true expert while we enjoyed a great selection of some of London's best craft beer.
"What a fantastic event ... the Brewery tour was really interesting, beers were delicious, and gourmet tidbits sourced from all over London were very tasty too!"
"Thanks for arranging ... it was a good balance of information and tasting/socialising. I don't like feeling saturated with facts, so I was happy with the relaxed approach and invitation for further questions."
"Lovely evening in the brewery. Look forward to the next one."
More details on our next events can be found here