Meant to bean

Brewing with the unsung hero of British agriculture


It’s not unusual for Beer52’s head brewer and winemaker, Carlos de la Barra, to consider how everyday consumables could contribute to the character of a beer, but on the serendipitous occasion that he stumbled across a barbeque flavoured fava bean snack, recently released by The Honest Bean Company, the combination struck an immediate and ingenious chord. Some research, several months and a lot of emails later, Carlos found himself peering through the steam of a mash tun, and pouring heaps of beans into the dark, roasty wort that would become the Fava Magic stout. He’d been waiting for the right time to unleash the hidden history of the humble fava bean on a Beer52 box. 

“We added some enzymes that would free up all the nice sugars in the beans, so the yeast used could metabolise it, and from there it was plain sailing” says Carlos. “We got some amazing foam, and even tasted the bean pulp after we’d mashed it and there was absolutely no flavour left, we got it all.” This rich, dark and well bodied beer supports those smoky, savoury and clove-like notes that punctuate the brilliant barbeque spice mix used by The Honest Bean Company to flavour its fava snack. Being the foody bunch they are, Honest Bean co-founders Adam Palmer and Zoe Palmer-Oates, kindly and enthusiastically, shared the spice mix recipe with us. 

Adam and Zoe are brother and sister, and grew up spending weekends on their grandfather’s farm in the Yorkshire Wolds, which Adam would later assume the responsibility of running. “The farm came into the family in the early 50s” begins Adam, “and at that time it was of a moderate size, but as agriculture developed, it became too small to sustain an income with. Our solution was to turn the crops we grew into the products we sold”. He started off growing rapeseed and pressing it for oil, then dabbling with the idea of making hummus with pulses grown on the farm. It was at this point that the base bean he and Zoe were experimenting with became the object of their endless enthusiasm. 

They discovered that although fava has been grown in Britain since the Iron Age, and is still grown in abundance, the UK is the world’s second largest exporter of these beans; a crop that’s not only a superb source of sustainable plant based protein, but is nitrogen fixing (great for the soil, and particularly for barley!) and packed full of iron, fibre, and other vitamins and minerals. What Adam and Zoe were amazed to discover is that in spite of all the humble fava’s nutritional value and negligible carbon footprint, the fava grown in the UK that escapes export, has traditionally been grown and used for animal feed in spite of its suitability for humans.

Since 2020, The Honest Bean Company has been banging the drum for fava, not only advocating for the beans on the basis of their dietary and environmentally friendly benefits, but inviting people to taste for themselves how delicious and versatile a pulse that’s been grown on our doorstep, can be. The fava you’ll find in The Honest Bean’s snacks have been grown in the UK, dried on the plant in the fields, then harvested, roasted, flavoured and packaged. 

Pick up a pack to enjoy with the Fava Magic stout in this month’s box. Stockists of The Honest Bean Company's snacks include Holland and Barrett, Booths, Selfridges, Ocado, Coop Yorkshire, and Beer52 subscribers can get 20% off all orders placed directly though The Honest Bean's webshop using code BEAN52.

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