26 July 2010
We really enjoy when Bob’s MyUncle contributes on mybeerbuzz…and thankfully he’s back from London again:
The Hop Exchange
I came across it, accidentally, on the way to dinner with friends during a recent trip to London. A couple of days, and a Google search later, I went back for a closer look.
Opened in 1867, it served as the center of the hop trade. Hop growers from across England brought their crops, either by train or by boat, to sell in an open market. Before a fire in 1920, the structure was four stories high and capped with a glass, greenhouse-like roof, which allowed the hops to be viewed in natural light, and gave an open air arcade feel to the building.
While transactions primarily took place on the floor of the Great Hall, business was overseen by offices tucked away off of the towering balconies. Below the Great Hall lay the Hop Cellars, nearly an acre of underground vaults that stored and sheltered wine trade. The hops themselves were kept in warehouses on Southwark Street, and the surrounding neighborhood, servicing the local breweries.
From the 17th century on, the Bankside area of London was the center of brewing. Several large breweries populated the river bank, including the Anchor Brewery – the largest in London, only meters from the future building site of the infamous Tower Bridge. In 1832, the Anchor Brewery was destroyed by a fire. Today, the Anchor pub stands in its place.
Aside from the Anchor Pub, Bankside is now home to many great pubs and microbreweries including the Market Trader and Brew Warf. If you are in London and so inclined, the area historically known as “the Hop Quarter” is off the tube’s London Bridge stop, and well worth a day (or more) of exploration.
Incidentally, the photos here were taken on the lamb. Upon entering, sheepishly I might add, I noticed a sign opposite that reads “Please check in with the guard on duty.” A glance over to the desk; no guard. My friend kept watch as I snapped the photos, the last one a little blurry as the guard, returning from the loo, crossed the floor, his hands is the air. We quickly ducted out the front door, around the corner, and into the Market Trader, where I had a very nicely hand-pumped Deuchers’ Scottish IPA – so all was not lost.