Dan Tapper on what to expect from the new Love Borough Chocolate and Coffee Porter: a unique collaboration between The Beak, Tap East and Borough Market
Image: Orlando Gili
As a nomadic brewer, I collaborate with many different food and drink producers around the country. One month I might be channelling the county of East Sussex, creating a stout aged in freshly emptied English red wine barrels. The next month, my attention might turn to Yorkshire, where I forage local fruit for a raspberry sour ale. But whatever beer I brew, the object remains the same: to capture a unique sense of place.
Few beers I’ve worked on embody this ethos more than Love Borough Chocolate and Coffee Porter. Made with hop flowers grown in the heart of the Market, it is the only beer I know of that boasts genuine London terroir. But its ties to the city don’t end there. There is a historical link: porter is a style of beer that originated along the Thames among dockworkers in the 18th-century. More still, this interpretation of the style has been made with ingredients sourced from two of the Market’s best-known suppliers.
In keeping with tradition, the beer is brewed to an alcohol content of 7.2%. Though considered heady by today’s standards, this would have been perfectly normal in 18th century London. To achieve this, we used six varieties of malt, including several kilned to an extremely high temperature. These roasted grains lend the beer its distinctive jet-black colour, as well as flavours of molasses, liquorice and smoke. A beer designed to be sipped and savoured, these malts were mashed in a way that would leave plenty of residual sugar, resulting in a corpulent body.
Mint, tea and marmalade
If malt is the beating heart of this porter, then hops are its undisputed soul. We opted for a classic English variety known as fuggles. The plants were tended to by Market gardener Jay for six months, before being hand harvested in September. Though grown in the centre of one of the world’s largest cities, the flowers had not lost any of their trademark characteristics. Less bitter and intensely fruity than their New World counterparts, they lend the beer delicate flavours of mint, tea and marmalade, which complement the beer’s decidedly malty backbone.
If you think you can taste actual coffee and chocolate in this porter then you’re correct, because the beer contains both in rather generous quantities. During the brewing process, we added several kilograms of St Lucian chocolate from Rabot 1745, as well as freshly ground Peruvian coffee beans from the Old Spike roastery in Peckham, which also operates the Change Please coffee cart in Borough Market. Together, these ingredients imbue the beer with flavours of raspberry, blackcurrant, leather and toasted oak, as well as a lingering briny acidity.
But don’t take my word for it…