Published on January 19th, 2015 | by Gavin


Brewhouse and Kitchen, Islington

From experience, in my opinion wine is the only alcoholic beverage that offers truly added value to a meal.  Even as a die hard cocktail enthusiast, I struggle to make a convincing argument for cocktail and food pairing menus.  But I come across a rather interesting one in the form of beer and food offered by the Islington Brewhouse and Kitchen.  I have my reservations but seeing as I know little to nothing about beer, I took a trip with an open mind.

BK Islington opened in October 2014, and is brought to you by the same group that own Brewhouses in Highbury, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Dorset.  Despite being part of a chain, the pub has a traditional family feel shying away from the Wetherspoon’s one size fits all model.  This individuality is made all the more relevant by the pub’s penchant for craft ale from all over the world and an in-house brewery supplying ten brews on tap.  They even run beer brewing masterclasses on weekends.  It’s safe to say these guys know their beer, so I’m in the right place if I’m ever going to be convinced that craft beer can be matched with food.

Islington Brewhouse and Kitchen

Tonight’s masterclass consists of seven beers with six mini bites, offering an introduction to craft beer and the dishes on offer at BK Islington.  The evening is hosted by Boutique Bar Brand’s co-owner Phil Harding who starts off by asking what ingredients go into making a beer. I confidently shout out water, yeast and hops, but I’m stumped after that.  It turns out I wasn’t too far off though, as the only other essential ingredient is barley.

As our first beer and dish arrives, we are handed an impromptu beer tasting etiquette class, which is remarkably similar to that of wine insomuch that you must first look at the colour; follow your nose; and then finally swig.  We are told though, unlike wine, there will be no spittoons here as beer is made for drinking!


Whitebait and Er Boqueron Sea Water Beer

Whitebait with tartar sauce is the first dish and this is matched with Er Boqueron, a 4.8% Spanish pale ale made with sea water.  We are first told to try the ale on its own, so we get a sense of how the food can transform the flavour. I found Er Boqueron to be quite bland with not much flavour, however after a couple of bites of the fish; the beer’s flavour is enhanced tenfold.

And the extraordinary pairing continues with cheddar layered Welsh rarebit and 6.5% Bellerose blond ale.  I’m starting to understand now how the pairings work as the ‘hoppy’ nature of this French beer is perfectly offset by the mature cheese sauce of the rarebit.

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit and Bellerose Blond Ale

This continues throughout; my favourite being a pork sausage and rosemary honey ale combo.  The array of stouts, ales, and lagers we’ve tried are so diverse that you are bound to find one to suit any palette; and despite my initial reservations, I’ve officially been convinced that beer can, and is, a great match for many of our favourite dishes.

Altogether it was a good introduction to the world of craft beer to a complete novice like myself; and even relative experts may learn more about dishes to try with their favourite ales.  However, I would suggest eating afterwards because portions weren’t big enough to constitute a full meal, and if you do decide to stay in BK Islington, then you can’t go wrong with the famed beer can chicken, impressively served on its neck and is enough to feed 3 or 4.

Beer can chicken

Beer and food pairing priced at £25 and details of upcoming events published on BK Islington’s Facebook page.

Beer experience days priced at £99 including a 5kg mini keg to take home.  Held fortnightly on Saturdays 10am-4pm.


Brewhouse & Kitchen Islington, Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ

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About the Author

Born and raised in Croydon, South London, Gavin is a lover of cocktails, a passionate foodie, and a self-proclaimed ‘dancing god’. A (relatively) normal guy that decided to start blogging about his experiences around the city he loves.

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