01 December 2016

London Fields Brewery Tap and pubs on the Black Path to Hackney

London Fields Brewery Taproom
The programme for the 33rd Pig's Ear Beer & Cider Festival at the Round Chapel, Clapton, included a feature by Stephen Harris about Hackney pubs 'Along the Black Path' on pages 12/13.
Stephen writes that 'The Black Path is an old drovers' route from the wilds of Essex, through Walthamstow and Hackney to the slaughterhouses and markets of the East End. It is surprisingly still visible on the ground and links a series of good pubs in a largely traffic-free environment.'
Inspired by this article, I planned a trip to visit some of these pubs and the London Fields Brewery Tap which I missed on a previous trip near this area, featured in my previous post 'Brewery tap rooms from Bethnal Green to Walthamstow - part 1'.
My trip would start at London Fields Overground station, and end near Hackney Central Overground station, allowing a side trip to the CAMRA Pig's Ear Beer & Cider Festival afterwards.
London Fields is served by Overground trains from Liverpool Street, via Bethnal Green, every 15 minutes during weekday daytime hours. It was a bright, crisp morning on Tuesday 29 November, 2016, the opening day of the 33rd Pig's Ear Beer & Cider Festival.
From London Fields station, head south along Mentmore Terrace which lies in the eastern shadow of the elevated railway line.
On the way you will pass the brewery site and some street art. The taproom lies at the end of Mentmore Terrace and extends into the space beneath the railway.
There is plenty of seating and it was nice to find it warm inside on a cold day.
On this occasion, I ordered a flat white coffee and would later purchase bottles of London Fields Brewery beer to take home.
Food options included a Berlin brunch to share and Berliner Stulle (open topped sandwiches) from Noemi and the friendly Brünch team who have experience providing Berlin style pop up events.
Reading matter, including a magazine from Berlin, is available.
Another nice touch is finding (Ventnor Brewery) green bottles of water and glasses on the tables.
Before leaving I had a chat with Jack who gave me advice on which beers to buy. Jack, who was previously at the South Western Arms in Southampton, recommended a visit to the Cock Tavern in Hackney, so this would be one of the Black Path pubs I would visit later. Jack admitted to being an Ullage reader so I was pleased to leave him with autumn and winter issues of West Berkshire CAMRA's magazine.

The table above summarises a few notable points from my subesequent visits to four of the pubs on the Black Path. I only stopped for a half pint of pale ale from a local brewery at each pub. On this occasion I didn't visit The Albion (Goldsmiths Row), Cat & Mutton (Broadway Market) or Oslo (Hackney Central) which are featured in Stephen's Black Path article.
A few photos follow. Click on the headings below to visit the website for each pub visited.
Regent's Canal - under Cat & Mutton Bridge

 The Dove

The Dove, Broadway Market

Ceiling of The Dove
Pub on the Park

Pub on the Park, Martello Street, London Fields

 Old Ship Inn

Old Ship Inn - Front entrance - Sylvester Path

Cock Tavern

Cock Tavern, Mare Street, Hackney

Cider range - Cock Tavern
After a late lunch and coffee, I walked to the Round Chapel, for the Pig's Ear Beer & Cider Festival, via the walled garden walk just beyond St Augustine's Tower which leads to Sutton Place and then north along Urswick Road.
Sutton Place
The Round Chapel


This section of the Black Path is a walk worth repeating especially as some pubs were missed.
Broadway Market, between the Cat & Mutton pub and the bridge over the Regent's Canal has a variety of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants including several bookshops and F. Cooke - a traditional Eel, Pie and Mash shop. On Saturdays a street market is based at Broadway Market.

31 October 2016

Brewery tap rooms from Bethnal Green to Walthamstow - part 2

Part 2 - South Hackney to Walthamstow

Hackney Central - View from top deck of 55 bus
As well as visiting Signature Brew for their 5th birthday party, my tap room trail on Saturday 29 October, 2016, included Redchurch Brewery, Forest Road Brewing Co, Wild Card Brewery and Pillars Brewery.
After leaving Forest Road Brewing Co (see Part 1) it was soon possible to ride northwards on the top deck of a 55 bus with destination Leyton (Bakers Arms).
Clapton Pond
Madina Mosque Trust (Clapton)
Once past Hackney Central station, the bus continues to Clapton Pond and passes the Clapton Madina Mosque at Lea Bridge roundabout before following the Lea Bridge Road over the river Lea.
River Lea, Lea Bridge Road
At the Markhouse Road stop, I got off the bus at the junction and walked southwards down Church Road, past the closed Antelope pub and then right into Wiseman Road.

Signature Brew

Now I could see the Signature Brew 5th birthday party throng inside Leyton Business Centre. Signature Brew started brewing collaboration beers for musicians in 2011. After crowdfunding, Signature Brew were able to establish a 10 barrel brewery here in 2015. This party was a (free) ticketed event and after giving my name at the gate I went straight to the outside bar.
As well as keg beers, there was a good choice of cask ales on stillage including some guest beers, all at £4 pint. I chose a half pint of Signature Pale, the brewery's flagship beer. Now tt was possible to wander around the temporarily expanded area with my plastic glass.
It was bad timing for catching any music from the high stage - stage diving not recommended!
I ventured inside the brewery itself and went upstairs to the 'Backstage Bar' which has a window looking down at the mash tun.
Only Signature brew keg beers were served here and I chose a half pint of Roadie 'all-night' Session IPA (4.3% ABV) which won Gold in the Small Pack Standard Bitters & Pale Ales category of SIBA's South East Independent Beer Awards 2016.
A variety of rock memorabilia items adorned the walls of the bar which is lit by overhead lamps. Half casks, painted white inside, form repurposed lamp shades.
Hourly brewery tours were offered during the afternoon and looking down from the bar window I could observe one in progress, led by Tibor.
The Earl's Serious Sandwiching food truck was doing a good trade just outside the brewery. Thanks to Signature Brew for laying on this party. I look forward to next year's!

Returning to Church Road, you can catch a 58 bus back to Lea Bridge Road and on to Walthamstow Bus Station. From there walk or transfer onto a small W12 bus towards Woodbine Place (Wanstead). In this direction, the bus is able to drive down the restricted one way part of Orford Road which passes Walthamstow village shops and pubs. Soon afterwards I rang the bell to get off in Addison Road.

Turning left into Shernhall Street you soon reach the entrance to Ravenswood Industrial Estate and a sign for Wild Card Brewery at the gateway.
In the main section of the estate you will find Mother's Ruin Gin Palace (the blue building on the right), Chris Bracey's God's Own Junkyard with a huge selection of retro signs including many colourful neon signs (further up on the right), Pillars Brewery (the green building on the left) and Wild Card Brewery (further up and around the corner to the left).
I had time for a quick browse inside the neon wonderland that is God's Own Junkyard. There is a cafe inside with coffee, cakes and seating.

Wild Card Brewery

Wild Card Brewery is obviously a popular destination as the benches and tables outside the brewery were full of people with beers from the brewery or pizzas from the gazebo set up just outside.

Inside the layout is informal with a simple bar at the far end and an area for DJs in another corner. The stylish Wild Card t-shirts and take away Wild Card bottles are on sale.
The brewery vessels can be viewed at the near end of the building.
Beers are reasonably priced with Wild Card cask ales £3.30 pint and keg beers £4.00 pint. Guest beers are £3.80 pint cask and £4.80 pint keg. There were four handpumps for cask ales and my choice was a half pint of Sir Thomas Gardyner - a session IPA by Brick Brewery and named after a 17th century Peckham orchard owner. Fortunately, I was able to find a place at the end of a bench on one of the shared tables outside and watch as more people arrived from a side gate leading to Summit Road.

Pillars Brewery

Sat 29th October, 2016, was the second day of taproom opening for Pillars Brewery, previously named Four Pillars Brewery.
Inside, the blackboard over the bar lists only lagers, including Untraditional Lager, a 4.5% ABV session IPL, which was my choice (£2 for 1/2 pint). It seems likely that Pillars Pilsner (4.5% ABV) or Amarillo Fest (5.6% ABV Oktoberfest lager) would have tasted better to me on this occasion.
The branded pint glasses were used for serving pint and half pint measures. The tap room was busy and my glass must have just come out of the dishwasher but the cold lager soon chilled the warm glass.
From a stool at the end of a narrow metal table, I was able to observe the recently painted decor of the main seating area with emphasis on the word 'Untraditional' picked out in orange and aqua letters against a dark blue background. There was music playing but it didn't sound very clear in this room.
After looking around, the reason for the poor sound quality became obvious. There are brewery vessels separating the main bar area from a second area on the other side with DJ equipment and futher seating which is where the music was coming from.
Pillars Brewery - DJ area and additional seating at rear
The Simatec brewery equipment, manufactured in Vaie, west of Turin, looked new and impressive with various accessories and controls.
For the shortest walk back to Walthamstow Central, I left the estate by the side gate leading to Summit Road and then turned right along Orford Road passing The Nags Head.
The Nags Head, 9 Orford Road
The Ancient House
A little further along at the Church Road junction, it was a pleasant surprise to find The Ancient House, one of several preserved buildings in the Walthamstow Village Conservation Area.
Church Path is a pedestrian link from Church Lane to St Mary Road which passes behind Vestry House Museum.
With time to spare I turned south into West Avenue when some street art caught my eye. Subsequent research shows that 'Not all those who wonder are lost' is a work by Lilly Lou and part of a 'Paint Your London' festival. On reaching Orford Road, I turned left and headed back to the Walthamstow village shops seen earlier from the W12 bus.
The Queen's Arms on left side of Orford Road
There was time for a final drink in Walthamstow but neither the Queen's Arms
or The Village Pub in Orford Road had the beer I was looking for.
Sign to The Castle, Eden Road, Walthamstow Village
Instead I followed a sign at the junction with Eden Road pointing south to The Castle.
The walk had been worth it as I was able to enjoy a half pint of Hackney Brewery American Pale Ale in pleasant surroundings.
St Mary Road - Street Art by local artist, Mark McClure
On the way back to Walthamstow Central (Victoria Line) I stopped to get a photo of another piece of street art from the 'Paint Your London' scheme at St Mary Road, approaching the junction with Hoe Street.

With four pubs in Walthamstow Village and the two brewery taprooms at the nearby Ravenswood Industrial Estate, all within easy walking distance, there would seem to be the makings of a good trail, just within this interesting conservation area, for another occasion.

Brodie's Brewery

If the Signature Brew 'Backstage Bar' is not open, an alternative brewery tap room trail would be to substitute it with the King William IV, 816 High Road, next to Brodie's Brewery in Leyton. The pub is open daily from 11am (noon on Sundays) and serves the largest range of Brodie's beers.
Note that bus W16 (towards Chingford Mount) stops on Lea Bridge Road nearby and also stops on Shernall Street (Addison Road stop) conveniently for Wild Card & Pillar Breweries in Ravenswood Industrial Estate.