Meetal Patel – Honey Beer Head Honcho
Pearly Queen Beer Company
1) What city are you in, how long have you been there for?
A: Pearly Queen is a London based honey beer company cofounded by my friend John Leiper and me. We have been keeping bees here since 2010, but only considered brewing after one night in the pub after a hard day’s beekeeping, when we decided to join our two loves – bees and beer.
2) Tell us more about your business and what have you got coming up in the next 12 months?
A: We use the honey from our urban beehives to brew our delicious Honey Beer (Honey Pale Ale). Using urban honey adds a complexity to the flavour and not, as a lot people expect, an overpowering sweetness – creating a delicious session beer.
We champion good beekeeping practices and keep our hives in a sustainable way.
Over the next twelve months, it’s all go! We are developing a number of promising relationships for beer distribution so as many people as possible can taste our great honey beer. We’ve just started working with the Fine Food Forager who really likes what we do. The reception thus far has been fantastic!
As a company we have a number of very exciting collaborations lined up too. We will stay true to our sustainable origins and a number of organisations here in London (as well as elsewhere!) are interested in getting on board.
We are also experimenting with some new Pearly Queen brews so as we’re not all about honey beer. It’s all a bit hush hush at this stage so I can’t give too much away BUT I am pretty sure you will all love the results… watch this space!
3) What personally do you think makes London such a great place to live?
A: London is one of the most exhilarating, diverse and cosmopolitan cities on the planet. This exciting mix of people, tastes, cultures and environments creates a heady vibrancy that’s unmatched.
Because of this swarm of activity we, and our peers have been able to do what we do and bring exciting flavours to those who are willing to try something different.
Honey and beer may not seem an obvious marriage, but the London approach to trying something new has really helped us. We now have some great fans and can help people connect with tastes that previously wouldn’t be given the time of day.
4) What if push comes to shove is your favourite all time London bar, brewery and beer?
A: Ouch! That’s like asking me to choose my favourite bee from one of our hives!
Two great places which always have an atmosphere, really knowledgeable staff and of course a fantastic beer selection are Simon the Tanner on Long Lane or The Ring, on The Cut. I have whiled away many an afternoon or evening in both of them… to the point where Nick, the barman at Simon The Tanner can confidently choose beer I would like – and get it right!
I think my favourite London beer is Southpaw by Gypsy Hill Brewery. I can’t think of a mood that would cause me to refuse a pint of that liquid heaven.
When it comes to breweries, I have a lot of respect for Meantime. Whilst they may have grown far beyond what they, or any of us, were expecting they have in many ways changed attitudes towards craft beer and helped open doors for people like ourselves to give it a go. Also, it’s a bit of a cheat, but as a Mancunian originally I love Cloudwater. Those guys come out with some amazing stuff. If I could bathe in their DIPA I really would, but then it probably wouldn’t taste quite so good…
5) Which brewery is doing the most interesting beer things in your city right now?
A: Canopy Brewing in Herne Hill have some great lines and are really good at combining flavours and choosing the right hops and brewing process. A few months back I popped in as they celebrated their birthday by brewing a Victoria Sponge beer which, apart from being genius, was actually really tasty too. A permanent line for the guys perhaps?
6) What are the top 3 places people anyone visiting London right now should head to for great beer, food, good times?
A: I am obviously going to say to come and visit our bee hives – we run beekeeping experiences throughout the summer so come and join us at one of them. Bees are vital for our environment and the inspiration behind Pearly Queen Beer Company. Whenever we run the sessions people are fascinated by them – it’s a great thing to do even if you don’t plan on being a beekeeper yourself.
It’s probably on most people’s map already but the Bermondsey beer mile is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon – the selection of micro breweries and excellent pubs on the mile mean you will have to start pretty early to fit them all in!
For food, I would say Pop Brixton. It’s a centre made from old shipping containers arranged around a central eating/drinking area. It has a range of food shacks and bars serving a selection of good beers, and because it’s semi covered in the summer it has great holiday vibe to it. It also houses a number of community growing projects, so it helps people connect with where their food actually comes from.
For those that want something a bit more low key, a great evening place is the Discount Suit Company in Spitalfields. It’s a small underground bar serving brilliant cocktails and drinks. And for something a tad more lively, Electrowerkz in Angel is a really interesting space with usually a gig or pumping night on with some talented DJ’s.
7) Who is doing the most interesting beer things worldwide for you right now? And where would be your favourite beer destination/adventure now if you could choose to head somewhere on holiday?
I really like the Einstok brewery from Iceland, partly because they concentrate on what they do best. They focus on beer that’s not overly fussy or complicated, but beer that is just plain tasty which I feel is something that could be lost sight of in the whirlwind of the craft beer explosion we are now in.
For a beer adventure it would be a toss up between Tokyo and Stockholm. I have heard the craft beer scene in both of those places is really at the top of the game. In Sweden a great mag to keep on top of whats going on is Cohops – they really know their stuff!
I’m hoping to go to Tokyo later this year and there is no doubt that I will be sampling some of the local brews whilst I’m there so I will report back with my findings!
8) What are your favourite tunes to have on whilst making/selling/enjoying beer?
Erm… the Kimsky-Korsakov classic – Flight of the Bumblebee of course…
9) What is one awesome discovery you’d like to share with our YEAST BERLINERS that you’ve found out on your own beer journey?
A: Beer and food pairings. No longer is beer confined to being accompanied by dry roasted nuts or a packet of ready salted – I love how people can really find some fantastic combinations of food to match the huge variety of flavour, body and taste of craft beer. The Hop & Tails supper club in Walthamstow create some fantastic combos. They really bring a passion for good food and delicious beer together with some great findings. I have been told our Honey Pale Ale goes really well with Green & Black’s Burnt Toffee Dark Chocolate, as well as with a fiery Thai red curry. The possibilities are endless!
10) Finally – where can people experience your honey beer and find you at next?
A: Our honey beer is currently stocked in a number of places around London including (but not exclusive to!) Mother Kellys in Hackney and Sylvan Post in Forest Hill as well as via Craft Metropolis online. We have recently been stocked in the Ivy House in Nunhead which is London’s first community ran pub so a place that fits with our values and somewhere we really admire.
*You can read more of our exclusive interviews with top people in beer here