In 1952 Pat “Pop” Newland was cutting up copies of the Daily Mirror newspaper so they could be used to hold East Londoners dinner at the fish and chip shop he worked in as a 11-year-old. After many years’ experience, he finally opened his own fish and chip shop Poppies in Spitafields Market, covering the walls with old 50s and beyond memorabilia, painting a picture of growing up in the East End of London. Filleting fresh fish daily from third generation Billingsgate fish monger and friend Joe Bush, Poppies soon got the reputation that it has today, a throwback to the old East End and quality British fish and chips.
In the heart of East London, under a Victorian railway arch in Hackney, Five Points Brewing Co have been brewing beer in 2013. 4 years later they have grown in production and have a solid core range of beers with seasonal and special beers being released throughout the year. In my opinion, Five Points Brewing Co are one of the best examples of a new craft brewery you can find on British soil, consistently brewing a top-quality range of core beers on all formats of dispense, from cask to can and keg to bottle, loved by both traditional beer drinkers and new school beer geeks alike.
Although generations apart, it is clear to see that the principles of both Poppies and Five Points Brewing Co are the same, good quality produce. So, it seems fitting that the East End of old would collaborate with the East London of present, pairing their products together and creating Poppies Pale Ale to pair with your fish and chips.
The beer pours a glowing pale gold with a small white head and slight carbonation. The beers was bottled this month and you could appreciate the freshness of the beer, it has a strong-sharp-zingy-biscuity aroma equalled with a fresh citrus-smooth-creamy flavour to start and a big bitter finish packing a real punch to end with. Sitting at a perfect sessionable ABV of 3.9% I think Poppies Pale Ale is a great example of an English Pale Ale, biscuit flavours from the malt and an interesting big bitter finish from the British grown Cascade hops. All the ingredients in this beer are British grown to match the British history of Poppies.
Poppies in Soho may not be the original Poppies restaurant but once inside you can’t help but feel you have stepped back in time with its retro décor. With perfectly cooked classic British fish and chips, that attracts queues out the door on a Friday afternoon, along with a DJ booth for the late-night weekend sessions it is easy to see why Poppies is as a popular as it is. It was in Soho that I had the chance to sit down and sample the goods from each company. I have been to some events and launches that could be classed as fairly “quirky”, this one seems to fit in that box, but unlike a few “quirky” events before this one just gelled perfectly. The excitement towards the beer from Poppies Soho staff and the evident passion from Five Points Brewing Co owner and director Ed Mason of working together on the beer, gives Poppies Pale Ale a genuine quality, and as it is only available at Poppies restaurants a special feel.
What I really liked about this beer is that it is a proper collaboration, Five Points didn’t just brew a beer and sent it off to Poppies, there was a coming together at the brewery where all parties (including Boutique Bar Brands) where they spoke about the beer they wanted to brew and tried a different variety of beers to find what they thought would work well with fish and chips. The extra effort put in to decide what they thought would go well with the fish and chips paid off, Poppies Pale Ale’s bitterness cuts straight through the grease in the fish and chips, creating a perfect mouthful which leaves you continuously wanting to take another sip and bite. Not all food pairings have to be fancy delicate food pairs (don’t get me wrong I still love these) but Poppies Pale Ale is a perfect example of two of Britain’s favourites, beer and classic British cuisine, thatcome together in perfect harmony.
Poppies Pale Ale will be officially launching exclusively across all Poppies restaurants Friday June 2nd on National Fish and Chips Day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our nations favourite Friday dinner than raising a glass of Poppies Pale Ale.
Disclaimer – I was invited to Poppies Soho to sample the beer with Poppies fish and chips free of charge, although I did not pay for either beer or food this has not affected my opinion. Thank you to Poppies, Five Points Brewing Co, Boutique Bar Brands and Street & Co PR company for the invite.