Tasty Titbits has been out and about eating and baking cakes of all sorts over winter. Now spring has officially arrived it’s time to kick back, enjoy the sunshine, appreciate the blossoming flowers and enjoy some tasting of the liquid kind. What better way to feed our thirst, but to visit some local East London breweries and check out the thriving craft brewery scene. Our first stop was The Redchurch Brewery in Bethnal Green. This brewery can be found in Poyser Street, under the railway arches, alongside various other businesses. Jane and myself casually walked up to the main door, with our camera and notebooks in hand and were greeted by a tall dark, rather confused man in wellies. I think it’s fair to say he was slightly taken back by two little ladies knocking on his door asking to take his photo and have a nose around.
This confusion soon disappeared as Mr Wellies aka Owen, took us up to The Redchurch Brewery taproom and gave us our first introduction to the craft beer scene. Our curious faces and little knowledge of the craft beer scene surprised Owen, but his passion for beer soon took over and he patiently explained the process behind their beers and the birth of The Redchurch Brewery. The taproom is located on top of the brewery, where the bar and tables are recycled from beer crates, giving the room a sense of branding and funk that we found very warming. Served chilled and carbonated these beers claim to be more flavoursome than the well-known high-street branded beers and have been especially brewed in a way, that is cost effective and apt for small brewers. The hops are selected from both the UK and also imported offshore, to create variety and depth of flavours. This small company consist of 4 men and are able to brew 7 different beers with an ever increasing circulation; Owen hinted they may need to expand soon.
We found the history of craft beer intriguing and were astounded to find that the Campaign for Real Ale did not recognise their craft as real beer. But not to be downhearted, Owen told us about the Craft Beer Festival that took place in 2013, celebrating their trade and hopefully to become an annual event. Apart from this festival, Owen spoke about the trade meetings that many brewers, young and old, big and small attend to share tricks of the trade, chat and even share equipment. Blue Patch loved the sense of community in this field and Owen’s passion for craft beer.
Moving on from the railway arches, less than 30 minutes walk up the road in Warbuton Street is London Fields Brewery. An established brand this brewery is larger than The Redchurch and benefits from a brewery, taproom and an events venue on site. The London Fields team were ready and waiting and Dominic directed us straight to their taproom on arrival. Looking more like a trendy up town bar, the London Fields taproom serves drinks, food and snacks. Very kindly Dominic arranged for us to meet some of their brewers who gave a behind the scenes tour where the real magic happens.
Dominic then handed us over to Rod a master brewer. Although fairly new to London Fields, Rod was able to impart his knowledge of UK brewing and how the London Fields brand sets itself apart from local competitors. London Fields employs brewers from across the continents, who are able to share their knowledge of native brewing methods and flavours. They pool their knowledge and create innovative, well flavoured and in some cases unique beers. Rod introduced us to two of his colleagues: Tom from the States who learnt his craft in Japan and Fabio from Germany – with whom I was able to practice some German. The banter and close working relationship between the gentleman was apparent and that’s before we got tasting. Last year London Fields brought out a bootlegger series consisting of three beers: a German Weizen Doppell Bock, an American Black Ale and most excitingly a Pumpkin Ale. Who would have thought instead of pumpkin lanterns at Halloween, you could settle down with a pumpkin beer infused with local spices. Proof (and not just the alcohol type) of great things that local produce and innovative thinking can create.
Finally we sat down with Jack back in the taproom, who gave us the ins and outs of the London Fields sales and the craft beer consumer market. Much like Owen at The Redchurch Brewery, Jack commented on the importance of the craft beer community; where it is less about competition and more about representing the craft. Jack was very interested in the Blue Patch idea of community which, he said, mirrored the values of the contemporary craft beer culture. He echoed Fabio’s words ‘beer should not be a complicated drink. Instead it should be something welcoming and enjoyed after a hard slog at work; as simple as coming in from the cold and switching on the kettle for a cuppa.’ Jack was nice enough to give us four beers to sample, I shared my two with my dad, being the lovely daughter that I am. You can check out our twitter page @BluePatchTeam for pre-beer pictures. Not normally a beer drinker, I found the beers surprisingly refreshing served chilled, packed of flavour and slightly strong (not that I’m complaining). Both ranges from the Redchurch and London Fields can be found in local bars, independents stores and of course in their taprooms.
Check out the breweries and let us know your opinions on craft beer.