If you’ve ever passed through Hoxton Overgound station in East London, you’ve likely clocked Beagle. This sleek bar and restaurant sits underneath railway arches and specialises well-executed British fare. They have a tidy selection of local and craft beer at the bar, making it an ideal location for a curated beer and food pairing. Their recent partnership with Fourpure Brewing Co demonstrated just this.
Fourpure kick-started their quarterly beer and food pairing series here earlier this month, working with Beagle’s Head Chef, Thomas Ryalls, to serve up an impressive three course dinner complemented with five beers. Diners heard from John Driebergen, head brewer at Fourpure, who briefly discussed the thought process behind the pairings. While scrupulous care had evidently gone into every ingredient on the menu, the atmosphere was kept light, friendly and casual.
Guests sat down to a palate cleanser to whet the appetite, Tea Time, a session IPA with brash American hops, infused with orange and lemon zest and a healthy does of Earl Grey tea leaves. The result is a zingy and clean beer, as refreshing as a citrus-laden iced tea on a sweltering afternoon. It slipped down as conversation flowed, servers happily topping up glasses before the first course appeared. This bright and easy beer was the perfect conversation starter and set the fluid, lighthearted tone for the evening.
The starter emerged from the kitchen, a heaped plate of mussels, cured pork cheek, chili and coriander. The mussels had been steamed with Spice Rack, a complex IPA with evolving flavours inspired by – as the moniker suggests – the perennial spices found in every household spice rack. On the palate, there’s an abundance of citrus, some wood, pine and a hint of warmth. The mussels were plump, fat with the juices of the punchy broth. The IPA worked magnificently here, lending a clean zesty profile to the stock that tasted great mopped up with some rustic bread.
The meticulous approach taken with the menu was epitomised in the main course: beef short ribs, celeriac and ember-baked cabbage with Morning Star, a French oak and vanilla porter. The beer was delivered to Beagle days in advance, allowing the beef to be thoroughly marinated and braised in it. Tables shared a hulking plate of charred meat, which effortlessly slid off the bone, taken in with silent awe from diners. The Morning Star is a tremendous beer, its rich but sweet characteristics seeping into the beef and congealing into a moreish crust. The beer’s body, replete with chocolate and vanilla, and its creamy, smooth mouthfeel, made it a delight. Even the celeriac – obscured beneath a feathered head of cabbage – was surprisingly flavoursome, standing up to the richness of the beef.
The final course was accompanied by Juicebox – Fourpure’s citrus IPA. This year’s version is jammed with even more robust citrus flavours coming from the copious amount of orange zest added at multiple points in the brewing process. The dessert, a blood orange curd with buttermilk sorbet, brown butter milk crumb and mint, was aesthetically on point and the perfect foil to those meaty ribs. Tartness from the blood orange was juxtaposed with the clean, icy sorbet and a wisp of sharp mint. The bursting aromas and rush of tropical flavours in Juicebox was perfect to wash down the subtle dish.
The evening drew to a close with a coffee brown ale, Tennessee Coffee Ale, a malty beer infused with coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee beans and American Oak. The intensity of the coffee dominates, followed by notes of dark chocolate, caramel and finishing with light bitterness. This is a truly satisfying beer for coffee aficionados and was a pleasant way to round off a meal.
This was another victory for the beer and food pairing evenings that are becoming increasingly popular around London. They not only represent great value – in this instance, £35 per head for a four course meal and five portions of beer – but act as a great introduction to appreciating the unique characteristics of certain styles of beer. It's also a chance to meet the faces behind London's craft breweries, as the Fourpure team were on hand to answer questions and chat about their growth and future endeavours.
Fourpure will be hosting more beer dinners in the future, ensuring that each event is as meticulously calculated and executed as this inaugural foray. They've found a wonderful balance between great quality food and a relaxed atmosphere, making everyone feel immersed with the experience without being lectured. Getting the tone right is crucial, but Fourpure have sussed it.
I was invited along to the Fourpure x Beagle event by the brewery, but this is no way has influenced my enthusiasm for food and beer pairing.