As beer and food matching concepts go I think The Other Room Beer Bar has it nailed when it comes to their #EatTheBrewer events.
The basic formula is…
A: Approach one of their favorite breweries to host the night
B: Work with them to create the perfect menu to marry to their beers
C: Sell tickets and invite the brewers to come and co-host the event
The Other Room is located on Tower Bridge Road, a stone’s throw from the royal beer arches of Bermondsey, but is miles away from the spare brick and edgy vibe you get in most craft beer venues these days. A very cozy continental little place that wouldn’t look or feel out of place in Belgium or Holland. The sunny one room space is mostly booths with some high stools by the window. Perfect sort of place to read a book or write some experimental hops inspired poetry while you sip your microbrewed beverage of choice. ORB most definitely subscribes to the small is beautiful ideal with only six taps behind a bar that barely has room to fit one member of staff and a well-stocked fridge.
I was very generously invited along in April when The Mondo Brewing Company were the residents for the evening. I have been liking their interpretations of great beer styles as well as their homage styled names coming out of the Battersea HQ for awhile now. And I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to one of the co-founders Todd Matteson at Craft Beer Rising earlier this year.
However hosting on the night was the other half of Mondo’s all American dynamic duo Thomas “Tom” Palmer and lucky for me was seated with him and his little entourage. Must say that I had an absolutely kick ass time with them talking travel, food, Japan, politics and brewing pedigree (Tom’s Dad, Uncle and Grandad all worked for Budweiser) as well as cooing over their beers and their matches.
Todd and Tom both well-seasoned homebrewers as well as globe trotters met while working at the now not so highly regarded London Fields Brewery in 2013. After striking up a bond under challenging circumstances and getting some investment they set up shop in December 2014 at a warehouse a short jog from the Battersea Dogs Home.
Mondo poured six different beers to match with five dishes prepared in the ORB kitchen by the very talented Danish chef Mads Kærsaa.
To whet our appetites we were served a golden Belgian ale called Vader. Despite the name, I felt no invisible crushing tension on my throat or aftertaste of the dark side. Instead, it was sharp, grassy, lean and sure woke the buds up.
First was a Patersbier (Misspelled on the menu. Basically translates as Father’s Beer. Belgian style ale usually brewed at a lower ABV) with a sour cream cheese and cress on a homemade cracker. This was a stone cold match. The blossom honey, fresh clover, and horseradish of the Patersbier complimenting the tart cheese and cress beautifully. The dynamic flavour combinations were literally exploding in my mouth.
Spiders from Mars (Biere de Mars, German-inspired spring brew) with asparagus, parsley and croutons were certainly more muted but it was still a good match and enjoyed the beer’s warm malt and marigold character.
James Brown Ale was rich and meaty which was a great foil for lamp and parsnip, but was eclipsed by the match of the night; kohlrabi (type of cabbage), apple and cheese with Mondo’s American Black Ale served on nitro (A first for their ABA). The beer itself was on another level. Blackberry, boysenberry, and blackcurrant crushed up with charcoal and flecked with chicory then sprinkled with camp coffee on the finish. Sub. Lime. The pairing worked immensely well with the fruits and savory edges of the food everything lifting the palate into sensory overload. Magnifique as our French host Thomas would have said.
We finished up with the beer that put Mondo on the map, their London Alt (Dusseldorf style ale) with an orange mousse. Alt is a style I know well having sampled a goodly range on my visit there last year and feel Mondo’s interpretation is an honest one. Malty biscuit, breakfast tea, and faint citrus combine well and with the dessert had the effect of popping candy, a zesty bomb. Though the finish felt a little washed away.
However, with tickets only £20, and only room for 20 people, Eat The Brewer is top value considering the quality of the food and beers you are getting. Not to mention an intimate soiree with some top brewers.
Postscript- I have since been out to Mondo’s taproom and as well as being one of the most gleamingly clean and beautiful breweries I have seen in the capital, the taproom has the comfortable feel of a log cabin. The beers and their names are only improving chez Mondo with the likes of the impressive and dangerously drinkable Geronimo Double IPA or the sumptuous, complex Figgie Smalls (aka The Notorious F.I.G.) Belgian Dark Strong. Look out for Steamy Wonder Imperial Steam Lager and Miami Weiss Strawberry White IPA as well.
With imminent plans to expand their facilities, Mondo is surely not only one of hottest breweries to watch in London but perhaps in all of the UK.