The initiative, called London Hop Shoot Festival, was aimed at raising awareness of hop shoots as a viable ingredient for menus and food pairings.
Beer writer Melissa Cole said: “Similar to asparagus in flavour, but with a slightly earthy element, hop shoots are delicious simply steamed and tosses in seasoned lemony butter; used like samphire in a delicate seafood risotto or you can even pickle them for use all year round.
“And there is a world of potential London-brewed beer matches for any hop shoot dish, whether it’s light, lemony golden ale for the more simple preparations to intricate saisons and beyond to counterpoint more complex dishes.”
Hop shoots are notoriously expensive, selling at roughly £730/€1000 per kilogram, due to the difficulty of cultivating the shoots and the brief time period they can be harvested in as well as the fact they must be hand-picked.
Some of the pubs that got involved with the scheme included the Drapers Arms, Islington, M&B site the White Horse, Parson’s Green, the Bell, Walthamstow and the Hop & Berry, Islington.
Peter Haydon, spokesperson for the London Brewers’ Alliance, said: “Hop shoots give you not only the promise of something tasty to eat in the short term but the long-term prospect of the bine, from which they come, producing glorious hops to use in the making of beer.
“The idea is not only to showcase how delicious hop shoots are but to get restaurants thinking a little more about beer and its diverse potential as a food pairing. With nearly 80 breweries in Greater London alone, there are certainly plenty of brews to choose from.”
Real ale salad
Six site pubco Red Mist Leisure recently created a 'real ale salad' incorporating the expensive vegetable.
Mark Collins, group chef at Red Mist Leisure, used hop shoots and leaves form the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden, in Tongham, Surrey, to create the salad, along with watercress, Montgomery cheddar, pickled walnuts and pear quince with a dressing based on Hogs Back’s TEA beer.
It was available from 17-19 April at the Stag on the River, in Eashing, near Guildford.