Borough Damson Porter 5% abv.
Borough Market, which is located in the London Borough of Southwark, close to London Bridge tube is one of the oldest foodie destinations in London. There are huge numbers of food stalls selling everything from Croatian charcuterie to Swiss cheese. This is surrounded by a selection of bars and bottle shops to enable you to compliment your food purchases with a suitable beverage. On a recent visit my eye was drawn to a display of bottles in the window of the market office. One was in fact a limited edition Borough Damson Porter which has been specially brewed for the market by Stratford brewer, Tap East.
Damson Porter is made with Fuggles hops which are grown by urban gardeners at Borough Market. The damsons were supplied by local market trader, Ted’s Veg. The beer is brewed with Pale, Amber, Chocolate and Roast barley. In addition to the local Fuggles hops some Brambling Cross hops are also added to the brew.
The idea of adding fruit to beer is nothing new. The Belgians have been adding cherries and raspberries to their sour beers for a long time. Porter is a very apt style of beer to brew for a market. Traditionally porter was a style of beer popular in the 18th Century with the market workers known as porters – hence the name. Porter went out of fashion and was eclipsed by its more dry and robust cousin, stout. The revival of small breweries in the UK which began in the 1990’s has led to a revival of old styles of beer such as porter. Even Guinness have re-introduced porters based on their old recipe books.
Damson porter pours almost black and has a slight grassy, tobacco aroma. It’s a very smooth drink with the fruit never overwhelming the complex tastes. Damsons, which are a type of plum have quite a subtle taste and are mainly used in jam making. You may perceive coffee, chocolate, tobacco, smoke and liquorice in this very subtle, pleasing brew. It would go well with a blue cheese of which there are many varieties available from the markets cheese stalls. Alternatively it would complement a dessert such as a fruit pastry sold by the market’s various bakeries.
Southwark has been home to many famous people including the actor Michael Caine, whose father was a porter at nearby Billingsgate fish market. So pour yourself a glass of this delicious local brew and listen to Madness celebrating one of Britain’s great actors with their song, Michael Caine, which got to No 11 in the UK charts in 1984.