In the first review of an organic ale for my Focus on: Organic Beer, we investigate Pitfield Brewery and their Shoreditch Stout. Organic ingredients plus a little bit of hipster Shoreditch and you cannot go wrong, right?
This stout was produced using organic malt, hops and sugar cane. On the pour it was thick and viscous in its colour, dark brown with little to no bubble and just a sprinkle of a beige head. On both the nose and taste it carried notes of espresso with a little chocolate. Overall, not of overbearing strength (4%)with an enjoyable mellow taste with enough to savour.
Pitfield Brewery used to be based in the Shoreditch neighbourhood of east London before moving out to Essex. As per their bottle, ‘Pitfield Brewery has been producing award winning beers for over 25 years. All of our beers are brewed by hand in small batches using the finest floor malted organic malt and the best organic hops available. In addition to our usual range of 12 distinct, quality beers, each month we are brewing to an historic recipe. We hope you enjoy drinking our beer as much as we enjoy brewing them“.
While they began brewing in 1982 after opening a bottle shop the year before, it was in 2000 that their full range was certified organic by the Soil Association. This came after the success of their Eco Warrior beer, named after those in the environmental movement who use a more hands-on approach to protest. Since 2003, they have brewed a range of non-organic ales with historic recipes on a monthly rotation while the base range of 12 remains all organic. If interested you can either order them on-line through their shop or at City Beverage Company. You can find them located on my map here.
This beer is certified organic by the Soil Association. What exactly is the Soil Association, and what do they stand for? Here is a quick run down of the Soil Association, and our first organic facts.
- The Soil Association is a charity which operates as a members’ organisation supporting organic production through direct action and advocacy. It was founded in 1946 by a, ‘group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who observed a direct connection between farming practice and plant, animal, human and environmental health’.
- The Soil Association Certification is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soil Association which certifies 80% of the organic products for sale in England. It certifies products in line with European Union labeling legislation (no. 2091/92).
- A product can gain organic certification if it has at least 95% organic ingredients. There are non-food items such as salt, yeast and water plus some additives allowed, but no artificial colouring or sweeteners. For more information see here.
What’s in a name: Shoreditch Stout
For centuries, Shoreditch, the area on the north eastern boarder of the City of London (the square mile area originally settled as Londinium in the 1st c AD) has had a notorious reputation for the seedier and sinful side of life. Out of reach of the prying eyes and law of the Lord Mayor of London and his alderman, Shoreditch gained a notorious reputation for itself and what transpired in its dark alleys. In Elizabethan times, this was the first haunt of Shakespeare as he worked for what was probably Britain’s first purpose built play house, aptly called The Theatre. In St. Leonard’s Church, more commonly known as Shoreditch Church, is buried a number of notable actors of the age of Shakespeare, but its also the inspiration for modern acts like Bloc Party as per below with their lyric ‘let’s sleep in St. Leonard’s on this alcoholic day’ – it’s a love song.
Today, Shoreditch is one of the trendiest areas of London with the faithful flocking there in droves and skinny jeans every weekend to be seen. In fact, it is so quirky that being Normal in Shoreditch warrants its own website and jingle.
According to London Lore (Steve Roud 2008) there is disagreement about where exactly the name ‘Shoreditch’ actually comes from, the mid 17th c. legend far exceeds any truth. As legend has it, the area is named after one Elizabeth ‘Jane’ Shore, who was a courtier to King Edward IV. Supposedly she died destitute and in a ditch, hence lending her name to the area as ‘Shore’s Ditch’ or Shoreditch. While her story is historically accurate, her death and donation of her name to the neighbourhood are sadly not. The term Shoreditch had been around for nearly 400 years before that, but regardless of its validity Jane Shore still lives on to this day in its myth.
Regardless of the origin of the name, the area is replete in history and continues to be writing its own each day. For some fun, go seek out some organic Shoreditch Stout and hunt for the ghost of Jane Shore while plumbing the green of Hoxton Square. You never know what you’ll find as Shoreditch is anything but normal.