[GUEST POST] Exploring a London Beer Boutique

The Beer Boutique store

It’s always wonderful to stumble upon a hidden gem in your local neighbourhood. And where there’s beer concerned, you know you’re on to a winner. When I casually strolled into The Beer Boutique in London one day, I found an assortment of niche beers and some fine selections for the ladies, too. Located in south west London in the quaint suburb of Putney, The Beer Boutique is fast becoming a leading specialist of quality beers. Stocking a range of more than 140 varieties from around the world, the beer undergoes a strict selection process before making it to the shop’s shelves.

Established by a Belgian beer enthusiast and an Australian who came to Europe to discover his heritage, The Beer Boutique was formed as a result of their passion for niche brews. Founding Manager Eddy Lancaster was responsible for arranging early renovations to the shop interior, securing beer suppliers and meeting the vision they had for the store, as you see it today. While the majority of the store’s brews are concentrated to European and British brands, The Beer Boutique does stock a few varieties from locations as far as Fremantle in Western Australia.


 

But the aspect that makes this store stand out over other beer shops is the ethos and passion that they follow. For The Beer Boutique, one of their main goals is to “spread the idea that beer can be as sophisticated as any wine or spirit”. Another is to demonstrate that lagers only account for a small portion of the beer spectrum.

One way that they are making people aware of this is through their regular beer tasting events where beers of different varieties are paired with foods that complement the flavour. Have you ever tried a Wit Beer with a salad? Or a Fruit Lambic with a rich chocolate dessert? It will get you thinking differently about consuming beer and more importantly, adds Lancaster, it will allow you to enjoy beer in ways that you never thought possible. “One of our biggest functions has been to educate people about the traditional elements while embracing new beers. That’s why we do a lot of free tastings, food pairing. That’s one way we get people to come together over beer,” he says.

For women who are new to beer, Lancaster’s recommendation is to introduce brews that are not too heavy or bitter. An ideal introduction is the Mort Subite cherry beer, a lambic brew made traditionally in the Pajottenland region of Belgium, just south west of Brussels. Lancaster says the beer is spontaneously fermented, which is how it achieves a sour flavour balanced with the fruit. “The beer is made using Kriek cherries, a sour Morello cherry, which is then normally mixed in with the pure beer into a vessel of some sort, like a big oak cask,” he says. With a soft effervescent texture – bubbly like champagne but not as tart – the consistency is surprisingly light, and makes for a refreshing dessert or aperitif beverage. Despite the beer’s syrupy scent the drink is not sweet and retains a tangy flavour from the rich cherry brew.

 

Another way Lancaster determines a beer to recommend to female customers is to establish the types of drinks they enjoy consuming and offer them something in line with their current preferences for flavours. “The bitter flavours, ladies can be more sensitive to it, so I have to establish how much of the bitterness they can take,” he explains. “If it’s someone that knows their beer, they’ll start looking in an area and I can centre in on that particular flavour and ask whether they want to try something different.”

Another trick, if Lancaster discovers that people are sensitive to the bitterness of beer, is to try pairing it with food, particularly if they have a sweet tooth. “I’d suggest a sour cherry beer and pairing it with a bar of dark chocolate. Then they should eat a small piece of the chocolate and take a sip of the beer. And most people are blown away. Essentially what that creates is a mouth explosion of the traditional Black Forest Gateaux flavours with the chocolate and glace cherries. It’s a lovely combination and it’s always popular.”

The Beer Boutique is at 134 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, South West London, SW15 2SP.

Sharon Green is a journalist and copywriter that has worked extensively across print and online media in the UK and Australia. To find out more, visit her website or follow her on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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