Tryanuary Day 1: Inspiration & Favourite Places

We love the idea of Tryanuary, who really wants to give up drinking for an entire month? It's not good for you anyway, drink in moderation throughout the year, not just like a maniac in December. There's a resolution to start 2018 with. You're very much welcome. 

Tryanuary is all about supporting your local beer industry, not abandoning it for the month. This year they are raising money for East Anglia's Children's Hospices. 

Every day this month we're going to share something with you, from recipes, to chats with breweries and friends in the beer industry. But today, on the 1st January 2018 we're going to tell you about our favourite places, people and beers that have inspired us to get to where we are today, a little self indulgent, but there we are, let's dive in.

The Crown & Anchor, Brixton

I (John) started as General Manager at The Crown & Anchor in September 2014. I didn't know a single thing about "craft beer", yet I was expected to buy it, in abundance, for a pub that was already in the CAMRA good beer guide, just two years after reopening. I didn't know what "session" meant, I didn't know why or how a stout was black (most of the time... shout out to BBNo's White Stout, that was a real treat in 2017, ya know?) and YOU BET I didn't know there were so many hop varieties. I EDUCATED MYSELF YA'L. A liquid education, what a journey. 

I fell in love with the pub, with the beer industry and before you knew it I was putting on tap takeovers, organising kitchen takeovers and running a bloody good pub. I don't know that Martin and Arber know how grateful I am for the opportunity they gave me to run such a cracking boozer, but they certainly know that the C&A will always have a place in my heart. They definitely don't know that some of their core values and approaches to running a pub are things that have stuck with me ever since (don't tell them, I don't want them to get smug). They've certainly put together a bloody wonderful pub and moulded me into a bloody good manager and gave me the freedom and confidence to take a new direction, explore the world of beer and learn from my own mistakes. 

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BEER PAIRING: My first ever event at The Crown & Anchor was a triple tap takeover with Beavertown, Belleville and Brixton (I LOVE ALLITERATION, OK?), it was also the first EVER kitchen pop up at The Crown & Anchor with "The Beefsteaks" so I'm going to choose a beer from that night, that will stick with me FOREVER (it stuck around for a long time) and that's a 10% (I think) Barley Wine, in cask, from Beavertown, called Bob Barley. 

Hop, Burns & Black, East Dulwich

I (John... it's still me) bloody love this shop! I got to know Jen & Glenn whilst working for Euroboozer and trying to sell them beer, I wasn't always successful, that's for sure but they are actually the nicest, friendliest and most knowledge people in their field. There's nothing like a nice "Not today pal" when you're a struggling beer salesman. 

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If you follow Hop, Burns and Black (WHICH YOU BLOODY WELL SHOULD!) you'll see that they are innovators, they do new stuff all the time, put on the most exciting events (which I never manage to get to) and are never standing still. Not only is the beer selection ON POINT, but you know 1) they're buying what they would drink themselves (and normally do) and 2) you're buying from bloody good people who are bloody good at what they do.

I've had numerous chats with these guys since Malt + Pepper started, they even lent me a copy of one of Mark Dredges books (GUYS! I will return this soon, I promise xxxx) when I told them about the concept. Maybe they thought I couldn't cook? Were they being shady? Am I going to have to delete this entire bit? I don't think I've ever left the shop empty handed, even when I was meant to be selling beer to them, that's the sign of a bloody good beer shop, no?

Jen, Glenn & your wonderful little team - I hope you find HB&B Number 2 in 2018 and that you will finally get to try some M+P food. 

BEER PAIRING: Well, take your bloody pick really, I'll go with anything from Cloudwater to be honest, we shared a pallet from Manchester once, they pushed out thousands of cans from everyone's favourite brewery during 2017. A cop out, but you can't expect me to pick just one beer for such a mighty, wee shop.

The Havelock Tavern, Brook Green

Back in 2010 I (Dan) had the privilege to work as AGM at The Havelock Tavern in Brook Green, W4. The privilege was not only to be part of such a fantastic and unique pub but also work with a very talented kitchen team. Our USP was that we changed our menu twice a day, every day. This was brand new for me and allowed me to learn about so many different styles, types and ingredients and also the diversity of food.

It was from here that my interest really started to grow and my passion to create new, exciting and obviously delicious food started. I worked with 2 incredibly talented head chefs who, despite the pub remaining “just a pub” were able to stay ahead of all competition, keep us above and beyond expectations and teach me a thing or 10 along the way!

Beer association would be Sierra Nevada. This is going back a long time and was something, once again, new to my palate which has helped me become the chef I am today. 

Brixton, South London

I (John... I'm back) moved to Brixton during the summer of 2012 from leafy Hertfordshire and gosh were my eyes opened to a whole new world. Brixton Market was at the very beginning of it's evolution into the foodie hub that it's become today, there was a community, a bunch of people trying new things. It's a fusion of cultures, of creativity, flavours and it had a grit to it that I hadn't really expected. 

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There is always somewhere new to dive in and eat, I tried foods and cuisines that I'd never tried before (shout out to my favourite curried goat from the guys on Pope's Road). I've always cooked at home for friends, for myself and for the 2.3 million housemates I've had since I moved to the capital. The abundance of fresh ingredients on Electric Avenue led to more wild experimentation, and eventually to experimenting with beer in food in my kitchen at home. With the addition of Pop a couple of years back I now get to see people like us, who are turning their passion for their product into a reality, and that is pretty bloody inspiring.

Brixton is a place that will, now, always, feel like home to me and it's absolutely shaped the way Malt + Pepper came to fruition and the way we'll continue to experiment at every opportunity. 

BEER PAIRING: I'm going to have to go with Electric IPA from Brixton Brewery.  This beer in cask blew my socks off, and it's now consistently tasty in keg too! The beers from these guys have got better and better over the years since their launch. I've worked with the guys quite closely whilst at The Crown & Anchor and stayed in touch with Jez as I've moved around a few different jobs. Good luck with your exciting expansion plans in 2018 guys, let's do an event together *eyes emoji*

Well, there it is, Tryanuary Day 1, ticked off. Thank goodness Dan was inspired somewhere not South London, I thought we were heading for a clean sweep. We've got a recipe coming up for you tomorrow, and a couple of decent beer chats later in the week. 

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