Anspach & Hobday
Posted on May 01 2020
This is a brewery in demand – one of the trendiest on the craft beer scene. There’s a constant buzz around them. Last time we visited, they were busy with a photo shoot with the latest foodie magazine.
Of course that was before lock-down, but things haven’t slowed down for these guys at all.
To get to their Bermondsey tap room, it’s an easy walk along the famed ‘Beer Mile’ – weaving under railway lines, along Almond Road and through the graffiti-decorated arch to Enid Street. Here you’ll find a great spattering of tap rooms. Head under one more arch and you’re onto Druid Street, where you’ll find Anspach & Hobday.
Where it all began
Founded by Jack Hobday and Paul Anspach, they have been on the Mile for six years, in premises that used to house a rope gym … though you wouldn’t know it when you’re there. They’ve recently moved their main production to Croydon, with an adjoining tap room to keep up with demand, making sure they continue to meet the Londoners thirst for their deliciously fresh beers.
As part of the new premises, they’ve installed a new canning line – a new venture and a departure from their bottles. It’s been a big decision, but the right one. More and more brewers have recognised the benefits of can – lighter, better for the environment and allowing more information and artwork for their beers. The myth has been busted that bottle is best! Some beers, they reckon, taste better (and keep better) in can, more akin to kegging that they also favour.
It’s not just in the UK that you’ll find A&H beers – they usually export 10% of production to France and Italy mainly, with a little to a bar in Madrid (a former employee connection) and they’re popular in Brussels too. Coals to Newcastle and all that.
The A&H team love a collab too – they’ve had two with Kentucky’s Against the Grain, producing It Doesn’t Matter What The Name Is (a double imperial stout) and The Flavour Graph (a smoked beer). A third collab is also on the way!
They’ve also collaborated with the legendary Brasserie de la Senne in Brussels, brewers with whom they’ve become firm friends, having met up often at past beer festivals. Their collab beer was named Anspach Porter, surname, of course, of Paul and also a former Brussels mayor and the name of a street near their brewery – Rue Anspach.
They brew beer for Germany’s great Oktoberfest too, though things are obviously uncertain for this year.
Paul has a dream to collaborate with the band The Polyphonic Spree. Recently they’ve got creative with a band called Thy Art is Murder in Australia – together they made a classic Berliner Weisse (which they turned black! Why not, hey?!)
The face you’ll most likely see out and about, promoting (and drinking!) their beers, is Edd (Clibbens, their Head of Sales). We know him extremely well – he’s a social butterfly – and can be seen at many beer festivals, pub quizzes (a couple of which he hosts) and is regularly in the tap rooms. Paul oversees production, with brewers Dan and Ben, while Jack concentrates on the business side (including crowd-funding, which facilitated the move to Croydon and the purchase of the new canning line). Jack’s real name is John, but they call him Jack … it’s a family tradition – each generation in his family has a boy called John and they alternate generations – one called Jack, the next John. Less confusing that way!
So how did it all start … what was the inspiration for Jack and Paul? These guys have been close friends since they were two. Jump a decade or almost two and Jack studied Psychology at UCL, while Paul read Philosophy at Kings. Naturally, they lived together in London and decided to try home brewing.
They made a Porter first, and when Jack started working at CASK Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico, he entered it into the International Beer Challenge. They won Silver! They continued to brew the Porter and, when they were a more established brewery, re-entered it and won Gold.
They’re still making that same Porter – priding themselves on consistency, as well as remaining true to the origins of the London beer scene. This is their signature beer, packed with roast coffee and chocolaty notes. However, it’s their Pale Ale that’s most popular and drives the business these days.
Overall, their aim is to make beer that they want to brew and that turns out to be a broad range – from a gentle Pale Ale to the whacky sea salt and chilli stout! Plus, every intern who works with them gets the chance to make their dream beer – pretty cool, we thought. The latest was Drake – his chosen style was a Witbier which we really enjoyed – a very tasty drop.
Edd tells us his favourite (outside of the A&H range) is The Kernel table beer, along with Taras Boulba by De La Senne and Burning Sky Saison à la Provision, which was the first beer to really wow him.
Mindful of the Planet
Sustainability is high up on the agenda for the team: they use renewable energy supplies and recycle whenever they can. Not that long ago, Jack wrote to David Attenborough to ask how he thought the brewery could be more environmentally friendly. They got a letter from David by return, and have taken the points on board.
Let's get quizzical
And, as mentioned earlier, if you want to test out your knowledge – beer facts or otherwise – Edd hosts pub quizzes at the Marquis of Wellington (opposite them) and Brew By Numbers. When we’re not in lockdown, it’s a great night out. Thankfully the pub quizzes are still going strong virtually and you can play along every Wednesday at 19:30 in the Publess Mega Quiz (hop over to @anspachhobday on Instagram or Anspach & Hobday on YouTube to play along).
Enjoy their beers
If, like us, you’re keener than ever to keep supporting these hard-working small breweries, then we recommend checking out Anspach & Hobday’s beers – we’re certain you’ll find a new favourite from them.