The extremely excellent beers of Anspach & Hobday
Back in 2013, Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday opened a brewery with a bit of a vision, to do things slightly differently with ...... authenticity.
The craft beer scene had put on its trainers and was beginning to run. Where am I going with that analogy? Well some of the clothing being worn was a bit….. bright! A bit lairy perhaps? Beers were getting popular and a number of would-be craft brewers got a bit extreme with their vision for a high profile beer, vast amounts of hops for huge bitterness, voluminous fruit additions for tropical tastes, Doughnuts…Pastries, you name it it was getting chucked in! Some of those beers worked but a lot of them didn’t.
Paul and Jack knew that brewing, and primarily British and European brewing had a very long history stretching over many centuries. Many of the older recipes developed were very finely crafted, and worthy of considerable attention. After homebrewing in their flat together for a while, they took the plunge and set-up full time moving into fairly cramped but very central archway premises in Bermondsey, and Anspach & Hobday came to be born.
British beer is world renowned for it’s subtle complexity. Flavour that lingers, without smashing you in the face to start with. Anspach & Hobday honed their considerable skills and settled on a core range of beers. Pale ale, Porter, Lager, Sour dry hop, Ordinary bitter, IPA, Cream ale, Smoked Brown, Table beer. It’s a very clever line-up actually, because it covers the perceived taste-bandwidth of beer as a whole. But let’s not underplay this, each beer is very finely crafted and the recipes have been perfected to make them the best they can be. This is beer done properly, with love and passion!
Evolution is taken care of with a regular number of specials. Some will be one-offs, but a number return from time to time.
Having outgrown their brewing home in Bermondsey, the decision was taken to move to bigger premises. Croydon became the opportunity to instantly more than double their potential maximum output. A huge bonus for me also as they also became my nearest brewery! The opening of this southern Taproom was greeted with much enthusiasm and support locally, and we look forward to the end of Lockdown for it’s reopening.
One aspect of the move to Croydon was hugely important, the installation of a canning line. For a small brewery the ability to can opens many avenues for retail and supply. With lockdown putting an emphasis on home delivery, cans make that much easier. Anspach & Hobday have also recently been taken on as a stock line by London and south east Marks and Spencer stores. It's a great achievement, and testament to the quality of what they brew, and puts great beer within the reach of many more people.
Throughout Lockdowns V1 and V2.0 Anspach & Hobday have however been busy with online sales and home delivery, plus local click and collect. From within the excellent website you can buy beer individually, in small packs through to larger boxes, and also purchase gift cards for your beer lover and also beer subscriptions for regular monthly boxes. Plus a range of merchandise featuring their superb branding imagery.
I picked up one of their showcase boxes which is featured here as it gives a good spread of what they offer. I’ll describe a few.
The Ordinary Bitter is without doubt described accurately by A&H as “the cornerstone” of English drinking culture. I can’t think of a better way to put it! Hints of dark fruit and a slight spice. It will please glass after glass.
The Pale Ale is one of the oldest styles dating back hundreds of years, but it could not be more relevant than it is today, forming the backbone of the Craft beer industry. A&H’s version is crisp and light, and seriously drinkable.
The Porter is another very old beer mentioned as early as 1721, but pre-dating that by some time. Brewed in London it was the first beer-style brewed all over the world. Quite strong at 6.7%, this is perhaps the best classic Porter I have drunk.
The Lager, clean and light, and naturally carbonated by it’s own fermentation process A&H’s Lager conforms to Das Reinheitsgebot. An old German law that states beer should only compose of Water, Barley, Hops and yeast. It is matured in cold tanks until considered ready.
Another inclusion in the core range is the Table beer. A low alcohol session beer at 2.7%. Building a recipe for and brewing a low alcohol beer with genuine taste is not easy as they can tend towards, being rather bland, as is the case with many big company Macro-beer offerings. This however is a triumph!
Whilst we carry on with life as best we can during this pandemic, most of us have got used to such things as “click and collect” and researching and purchasing online. And I suspect that quite a few have begun to try different beers from here and there.
If you find yourself looking for unmatched quality and honesty that speaks to proper recipes and beer brewing, then Anspach & Hobday MUST to be on your list if they are not already!
Anspach and Hobday can be found at:
Anspach & Hobday, 118 Druid street, London, England, SE21 2HH.
020 8617 9510
The Croydon Tap (click and collect only currently)
Unit 11, Valley point industrial estate, Beddington farm road, Croydon, CR0 4QP
The Pigeon Bottle shop and Tap (click and collect only currently)