The Hip Hop Off at Mason & Taylor…

Thanks to Qype, I was lucky enough to get a sneaky preview of Mason & Taylor’s first ever ‘single hop real ale & craft beer festival…The Hip Hop Off! I’d heard a lot about M&T, which opened in December and was especially intrigued by their beer tasting flights, which are served in gorgeous 1/3 pint glasses in trays of either 3 or 6.

It was a day of new beginnings for me as I took my first ever trip on the (not so) new East London Line to Shoreditch High Street…merely a hop (apologies for the pun), skip and a jump from Mason & Taylor!

The sun was shining and upstairs was buzzing with an after work, long weekend, celebratory atmosphere, so I was a bit disappointed to be led into a fairly dark, empty basement…little did I know that this is where the Hip Hop Off magic was all set to happen…10 ales were rigged up on a specially constructed water-cooled gravity racking system in preparation for the festival the next day.

Now, I’m not what you would call a serious beer drinker, I don’t know if I should shout about it but I’m more of a lager fan myself. However, just listening to M&T’s beer aficionado, Steve Taylor, wax lyrical about it made me feel that I was well on my way to becoming a convert…what that guy doesn’t know about beer just isn’t worth knowing! His enthusiasm is completely infectious and I felt like we were in very capable hands, as he talked us through the 6 beers we were sampling…

Amongst others we tried Kernel’s IPA Citra, Thornbridge’s Kipling and Brodie’s Pink Pride, which contained fresh raspberries, adding a very fruity dimension without any stereotypical ‘fruit beer’ sickliness!

we also got to sample some of the food that they’d be serving during the festival, which had all been prepared using hops in some way or another…

My photography is shocking but I can verify that the duck breast, which had been smoked using citra hops was absolutely delicious!…

as was the venison that had been cured in hops and served with a chocolate and barley sauce…(meat and chocolate…how can you go wrong?)

Although the Hip Hip Off was a special event for the Easter weekend, M&T’s beer selection on a normal day is pretty darn impressive… ‘12 draught beers and ales on tap at any one time and a seasonal list of 40 bottled beers which changes every 2 months’. They source all of their beers through independent breweries including a couple of my faves…Kernel and Camden Town. They also serve up a tempting menu of small plates of food…ideal for sharing and soaking up some of the stronger  beers! :).

I feel it’s my duty as a newly converted beer drinker to sample more of Mason & Taylor’s wares very soon…let’s call it homework!

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