Until my mid Twenties I had an on-off relationship with football. As a child I supported Liverpool. When I hit my teens however I discarded the beautiful game, Kevin Keegan and Emlyn Hughes in favour of The Jam, Two Tone, cigarettes and boys, – preferably those resembling Terry Hall or Paul Weller.
In the early nineties a friend took me along to the old Den to see Millwall play Leicester City. Apart from spotting Danny Baker behind me on the terrace Millwall left little impression on me. I should add I have since developed an aversion Leicester City FC, the reasons for which will become clear….
Around the same time I also started going to Selhurst Park to watch Crystal Palace and by the time I met my husband in 1995 I was a confirmed Eagle.
On the plus side my husband introduced me to real ale – I had previously been drinking Guinness or mass produced fizz masquerading as beer. But where there’s a yang there is often a yin and in this case he is a lifelong West Ham fan…
This has at times been tricky. In 2004 six weeks after our wedding in a cruel twist of fate, we travelled to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff where Palace met West Ham in the Championship play-off final. Palace won with a late goal and I will never forget meeting my husband after the game. Me in my Palace colours and him draped in his West Ham flag looking extremely down in the mouth.
I tried to be sympathetic. I had been at Wembley a few years before in 1996 when Steve Claridge had popped up in extra time and done the same to us for Leicester City. Now you see where my hostility towards Leicester City comes from – unlike the rest of the country I wasn’t elated when they won the Premiership last season. I still hold a grudge which I know I should get over of but I just can’t!
Now combining football with drinking may not sound like a good idea if you believe sections of the popular press but plenty of supporters indulge in a social pint before a game without dire consequences. Let’s face it a majority of us know our limits plus having paid to see a game we aren’t likely to render ourselves incapable of remembering the ninety minutes although sometimes we would rather forget.
Reflecting beer’s current renaissance football fans demand decent beer. I have previously blogged about the award winning Supporters Club bar at Leighton Orient. Palace have an annual beer festival and this season West Ham fans have been offered a selection of real ales at their new home in the London Stadium.
Grasping an excellent opportunity the Truman Brewery based half a mile from the London Stadium have a match day membership scheme for hammers called TruRib. For a small membership fee of £10 TruRib members can go to Truman’s bar at their Eyrie Brewery before matches. My husband has signed up which is great as members can take a guest along.
Now that explains the Tru but the Rib part of the name..? Moving from his patch outside West Ham’s previous home, the Boleyn Stadium to Truman’s yard is Rib Man
Rib Man alias Mark Gevaux is a West Ham supporting ex-butcher who serves baby- back rib meat in rolls with sauces he has created which aren’t for the faint hearted. With names such as Holy Fuck and Christ on a Bike you get the idea.
I read an article about Rib Man in the Observer Magazine last March and the opportunity to stuff my face with this amazing food whilst drinking Truman’s beer was just too good to pass up. So despite West Ham beating Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park the previous week, for the love of good beer and food last Saturday I deserted South London for the day and headed East to West Ham territory on match day and the Truman Brewery to get my hands on a beer and a Rib Man rib meat roll.
We arrived at Truman’s yard just after 1pm. It was just getting busy with people sitting under a gazebo watching the Spurs game. We headed for the bar first. There were three beers straight from the cask and three on keg , their Lager, Roller IPA and Pale Ale. Cider and soft drinks were also available.
We started with Truman’s cask Pale Ale Lazarus 4.2% ABV. I’ve had this beer in the past and know it’s excellent. A refreshing easy drinking session Pale with a malt finish.
The smell in the yard from Rib Man’s stand was enticing so tentatively eyeing up the sauces we ordered our rolls, Husband opting for a small and me a medium. When offered sauce, hoping for clemency we asked rather pathetically if a mild one was available? Smokey BBQ Sauce was suggested so we took our chances.
I love my food and every so often I find something that knocks my socks off. Normally something simple like when a Spanish friend introduced me to Padron Peppers cooked in olive oil and sea salt or my recent conversion to Shish Kebabs after years of overlooking them. Don’t ask me why I had always overlooked this skewered delicacy but on my way home from Wembley after watching Palace beat Watford to go through to the FA Cup Final in my euphoria I fancied a take away. I tried a lamb Shish from my local kebab shop – Eureka! I am now addicted!
The religious references in Rib Man’s sauce names are wholly appropriate as his rib meat roll really was a heavenly experience! You know when you are eating something so good that you just don’t want it to come to an end? Well this is how I felt whilst greedily devouring the rib meat roll. The meat was beautifully tender and moist. The BBQ sauce which seeped through to the bread roll turning it a luscious shade of amber had just the right amount of kick to enhance the whole experience-Oh why didn’t I order a large?!?
The Lazarus was perfect for washing down this divine creation.
Next from the now busier but well organised bar I ordered Fire Starter. Also a cask with a 4.2% ABV which as it says on the pump clip is a hoppy red ale. An instant hit of hops leading to rich, sweet notes with a finish of burnt toffee. I really liked Fire Starter and it made a great liquid pudding after the rib meat.
If you are not lucky enough to have a West Ham Fan in your life do not despair, Rib Man is at Brick Lane on Sundays.
Truman’s is a name synonymous with brewing. Originally established in Brick Lane in 1666, sadly the brewery closed in 1989. But in 2010 it was re-established by a pair of beer enthusiasts. Going from strength to strength in 2013 not only was the Eyrie opened in Hackney Wick but they also recovered the original Truman’s yeast from the National Collection of Yeast Cultures where it had been stored since the 1958.
Heritage is important to the guys at Truman’s hence their desire to forge a direct link with the past by using the original yeast. They are passionate about East London and there’s a lot to like about the area. The Olympic Park and Stratford shopping centre have transformed this corner of London. Hackney Wick is a vibrant district with a good feel. The architecture is a mix of new builds, old warehouses and eye catching graffiti. And for us beer lovers it’s an oasis with breweries such as Five Points, Hackney Brewery and Pressure Drop.
As well as Truman’s there are tap rooms at Crate Brewery and Howling Hops. So having waved my husband off on his way to West Ham versus Sunderland, I did the short walk along the River Lea to pop my head into Crate and Howling Hops Tank Bar.
I last visited these two tap rooms on a lovely sunny August day last year when Queens Yard where both are located was packed with people enjoying the weather and the beer. Despite being a mild October day there were less people around however this Saturday. The last few stragglers were leaving for the West Ham game as I arrived.
Crate Brewery’s bar and Pizzeria sits on the River Lea. The bar staff were friendly and helpful offering tasters of beer. I had a half of the Crate Amber Ale 4.5% on cask. The Amber has a good mouth feel with dry almost tea-like astringent qualities- lovely!
There is a monthly menu of beers including guest bottles ranging from Lambics to Darks as well as cider and wine.
The aroma from the amazing looking stone baked pizzas served straight from the oven was too much! I would have ordered one if I hadn’t gorged myself on Rib Man’s wares . Currently on the pizza menu amongst traditionals such as Margherita or Prosciutto and Rocket are Sage with Truffle and Kashmiri Dahl.
Finally I popped into the Howling Hops Tank Bar. Ten different beers are served from tanks behind a long bar such as their American Brown, West Coast IPA and Pils. The Tank Bar has long benched tables which stretch the length of the room and like Crate there is a turn table which although wasn’t in use I can imagine you would have a good night here. I saw posters advertising a cheese and beer event from the previous night which looked good.
Howling Hops offer wonderful looking food from Billy Smokes Barbecue such as Beer Sausage Sandwiches – hot-smoked beef and pork sausages containing Howling Hops Beer or as an alternative to all this meat how about a smoked Pepper and Avocado Sandwich with (not mega hot) House Hot Sauce.
West Ham beat Sunderland 1 – 0 with a late goal so I guess Hackney and Stratford were happy places Saturday evening. As for Palace…? We lost 3-1 to, yes you’ve guessed it… Leicester!