Hack to Tap

On Friday I set out to Stratford as a means of tracking down some of the East London beers – and it made sense to get the Overground from Stratford So-Called International. (It would make sense to walk, but the Olympic legacy means you need to circumambulate the Olympic Village, tripling the distance.) Having by instinct sat at the front of the HS1, I exited the station by a difference escalator than usual and, in search of Caffe Nerd, realised I had found Tap East. I’ve been here twice before, but both times had taken rather longer routes back to the station. This may not be a useful recovery.

Hackney Central is convenient for the Cock Tavern, Mare Street, a single square room on a corner, entry through the corner. I’m guessing the space was subdivided at some point, but it’s a cavernous space dominated by dark wood. I didn’t count the hand pumps, but there were four Howling Hops, two Redemption, a Brodies, and something from the west country, along with five cider pumps. Tempting though the Redemption was, I decided to focus on two of the onsite beers – the Session Wit, which was delicious and it hardly felt like 3% and the Chocolate Stout 5.2%, which tasted okay, but I’m no stout fan. Rather than continuing with the Mild or the other stout, I decided to risk a Brodies Mocha, ticking off a second new-to-me brewery, but weighing in at a hefty 9% and tasting like MDF in a glass. Smoky, coffee, chocolatey, but dusty and not entirely pleasant.

I hit Mare Street and headed south – walking past London Fields where there is another brewery and buying a couple of their bottles for the train. I began to recognise where I was, having stayed in the area for a couple of nights, and cut left toward Victoria Park and the Britannia, where I was hoping for something from the Hackney Brewery. It’s a wide, shallow pub, with an area curtained off but clearly knocked through into a single room. It was one of those pubs that doesn’t seem to have enough tables for its size, but there was friendly dog visiting. The empty beer pumps were unpromising, but at opposite ends there was Laines Best and Hackney American Pale Ale. I risked something from Sussex – it’s Brighton – having had a poor Laines before. This, alas, ran to form – if this is Best, I don’t want second best – but the Hackney American Pale Ale at 4.5% was also poor. The Laines had a flavour of pear drops, and there was something off (sour) about the Hackney, making me wonder if this was a cellaring issue. I must try one elsewhere, but I’m in no mood to retry Laines.

Heading further east, into industrial decline, I located the Crate on the edge of the Olympic Park and next to what I take to be the river Lea. This has a post-industrial vibe, but of a 1980s municipal leisure centre feel, large white bricks, improvised seating in an l-shape around a slanting bar in front of the pizzeria cookery area. I think this place would be fun to come to; at least four beer pumps, with chalked pump faces. I went for the Golden Ale, which, although not unpleasant, had a bit of a generic craft beer taste at 3.8%, and their IPA at 5.4%, which was much more pleasant. I would definitely come back.

I walked to Hackney Wick station, noting a more direct route, and dropped some money drunkenly, and watched a train go by with an open door. Another arrived ten minutes later, packed, and I caught this back to Stratford. After some calories and a coffee, I found the Tap East and had a Tonic Ale 3% and had an IPA of some description. Whilst I like their three stouts, there’s something I don’t like about their ales. There’s a certain… soapiness… about them which doesn’t work for me.

And then, back to the train, and a bottle of London Fields, a Marynka IPA which was very tasty. (I understand marynka is a Polish variety of hops.)

So, four new breweries tried, but in retrospect staying in the Cock Tavern would have been smarter.

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London’s Barrelling

Of course, defining London gets difficult – including Croydon may well be stretching a point, but one of them call themselves South London. A lot of these I know from bottles at St Pancras. It’s likely to be out of date almost immediately – I found it hard to track down start dates for some of these and webpages for others. Tracking down the actual beer will be a helluva day out – a trip to Hackney seems in order.

  • Beavertown, London, N1 5AA. (2011). Associated with brewpub, Duke’s Brew and Que. Had a couple of nice bottles; love their design.
  • The Botanist, Kew Gardens, Richmond, London Brewpub.
  • Brew By Numbers, 66 Southwark Bridge Road, London. (2012). Microbrewery, only seen bottles.
  • Brew Wharf, Borough Market, London Bridge, London. (2005). Brewpub.
  • Brodies, London.  (2008). Brewpub is King William IV, Leyton also Old Coffee House, Soho.
  • Brupond, Leyton, London. (2012).
  • By The Horns, Wandsworth, London. (2011).
  • Camden Town, London. (2006). Tried some of their bottles; I think I’ve had keg.
  • Clarence & Fredericks, Croydon. (2012). Croydon, of course.
  • Crate, Hackney Wick, London (2012). Brewpub. Or brewpizzeria.
  • The Cronx Brewery. (2012). Croydon, so Surrey if we’re being pedantic.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge, London. Brewpub. 320 Goldhawk Road, London, W6 0XF. Lager?
  • East London, London, E10 (2011). Had a couple of these; very nice.
  • Florence, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London. Brewpub, The Florence. Also A Head In A Hat?
  • Fuller’s, London. (1699). One should possibly boycott them on grounds of their support for austerity measures.
  • Hackney, East London. (2011).
  • Hewitt’s, Croydon. (2011).
  • Howling Hops, London. Brewpub, Cock Tavern, 315 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ.
  • Lamb, London. Brewpub, 9 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick, London, W4 4PH
  • Late Knights, Penge. (2012).
  • Little Brew, Camden, London. (2012)
  • London Brewing Co., 13 North Hill, London, N6. Brewpub, The Bull, Highgate.
  • London Fields, London. (2011). Had a bottle.
  • McLaughlins Horseshoe, London. (2006). Brewpub 28 Heath St, Hampstead; main brewing is with Camden Town.
  • Meantime, London. (2000). Enjoyed some bottles. Various pubs, including Greenwich
  • Moncada, London, W10. (2011)
  • Partizan, London. (2012). Had a great bottle.
  • Portobello Brewing Co., Kensington. (2012). Really enjoyed their pale ale. Want more.
  • Pressure Drop, Stoke Newington.
  • Redchurch, London, E2. Bottles. Also Redchurch Brewery Tap Room, 275-276 Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, London, E2.
  • Redemption, London. (2010). Had a couple of nice pints.
  • Rocky Head, Wandsworth. (2013). Have a bottle as yet unopened. Dated 2012, mind.
  • Sambrooks, Battersea, London. (2008). Enjoyed a couple.
  • Tap East, London. Brewpub, Stratford Westfield. Enjoyed their stouts.
  • The Kernel, London. Some fantastic bottles.
  • Truman’s, London. (2010). Old name revived. Had an ok bottle.
  • Twickenham Fine Ales, Twickenham. (2004)
  • Zerodegrees, Blackheath, London. (2000). Brewpub with branches elsewhere. Lagery to my taste.

Lincoln Green

I’m off to Lincoln for a few days in a couple of months, and I think the only beer I’ve drunk from the county is Batemans. This seems to be the dominant brewer in the area; Poachers and Cathedral Heights are also local, so I hope I can find those.

  • 8 Sail (Sleaford, 2010)
  • Austendyke (Spalding, 2012)
  • Axholme (Scunthorpe, 2012)
  • Bacchus (Mablethorpe, 2010, brewpub)
  • Batemans (Wainfleet, Skegness, 1874)
  • Blue Bell (Spalding, 1998)
  • Blue Cow (Grantham, 1997)
  • Brewsters (Grantham, 1998)
  • Cathedral Heights (Lincoln, 2011)
  • DarkTribe (Scunthorpe, 1996, brewpub)
  • Fulstow (Louth, 2004)
  • Grafters (Gainsborough, 2007, brewpub)
  • Hopshackle (Peterborough, 2006)
  • Leila Cottage (Skegness, 2007, brewpub)
  • Malt B (Alford, brewpub)
  • Newby Wyke (Grantham, 1998)
  • Oldershaw (Grantham, 1997)
  • Poachers (Lincoln, 2001)
  • Riverside (Skegness, 2003)
  • Sleaford (Sleaford, 2010)
  • Swaton (Sleaford, 2007)
  • Tom Wood’s (Barnetby, 1995)
  • Two Halves (Market Deeping, 2004, not in full production)
  • Willys (Cleethorpes, 1989, brewpub)

Breweries of Kent and Kentish Breweries: A Chronology

I’ve been blithely saying the number of breweries in Kent has doubled or something in the last ten years. Let’s crunch the statistics. This obviously omits the closed breweries of Kent, a topic that demands much more research than I have time to do right now.

More Than Ten Years Ago:

1. Shepherd Neame (1698)
2. Goacher’s (1983)
3. Larkins (1987)
4. Nelson (1995)
5. Hopdaemon (2000)
6. Swan On The Green (2000)
7. Millis (2002)
8. Ramsgate aka Gadds (2002)

Five to Ten Years Ago:
9. Whitstable (2003)
10. Westerham (2004)

In Last Five Years:
11. Moodleys (2008)
12. Old Dairy (2009)
13. Wantsum (2009)
14. Abigale (2010)
15. The Canterbury Ales (2010)
16. Farriers Arms (2010)
17. Kent (2010)
18. Royal Tunbridge Wells (2010)
19. Tonbridge (2010)
20. Black Cat (2011)
21. Canterbury (2011)
22. Hop Fuzz (2011)
23. Rockin’ Robin (2011)
24. Caveman (2012)
25. Goody (2012)
26. Ripple Steam Brewery (2012)
27. Tir Dha Ghlas Brewery (2012)

Kentish Breweries and Breweries of Kent

Just a convenient listing of Kent breweries – I’ve tried them all (possibly aside from Moodleys), but don’t feel up to commenting on all of them. Omissions: Rother Valley, as just in Sussex, and Curious, as a vineyard beer.

  • Abigale (Ashford) (2010)
  • Black Cat (Tunbridge Wells) – Brewpub (2011)
  • Canterbury (Canterbury) – Brewpub – an ever-changing range, most of which I like (2011)
  • The Canterbury Ales (Canterbury) – not quite sure about them, only liked a couple (2010)
  • Caveman (Swanscombe) – Brewpub – fantastic first beer, Citra (2012)
  • Farriers Arms (Ashford) – Brewpub (2010)
  • Goacher’s (Maidstone) (1983)
  • Goody (Herne) – have potential, not quite there (2012)
  • Hop Fuzz (Hythe) – shaky start, but some interesting beers (2011)
  • Hopdaemon (Sittingbourne) – Incubus is my standard drink, Golden Braid is good, Skrimshander pretty good (2000)
  • Kent (West Malling) – want more of this, love them (2010)
  • Larkins (Edenbridge) – uses the original Royal Tunbridge Wells brewery equipment (1987)
  • Millis (Dartford) (2002)
  • Moodleys (Penshurst) (2008)
  • Nelson (Chatham) – not really a fan (1995 as Flagship; Nelson since 2004)
  • Old Dairy (Cranbrook) – hit and miss, I fear, more hits than misses (2009)
  • Ramsgate aka Gadds (Broadstairs) – well-established, trustable brand (2002)
  • Ripple Steam Brewery (Dover) – interesting start (2012)
  • Rockin’ Robin (Maidstone) (2011)
  • Royal Tunbridge Wells (Tunbridge Wells) (2010)
  • Shepherd Neame (Faversham) – never really liked, some of the seasonals are ok, as is Spitfire in bottles (1698)
  • Swan On The Green (West Peckham, Maidstone) – Brewpub (2000)
  • Tir Dha Ghlas Brewery (Dover) – Brewpub or Brewbistro (2012)
  • Tonbridge (Tonbridge) (2010)
  • Wantsum (Canterbury) – hit and miss, not really sure yet (2009)
  • Westerham (Edenbridge) – mixed experiences, better draught than bottle (2004)
  • Whitstable (Maidstone) – some really good beers, but go off easily (2003)