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.

30 October 2016

Brewery tap rooms from Bethnal Green to Walthamstow - part 1

Part 1 - Bethnal Green and South Hackney

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 Brew Co, Wild Card Brewery and Pillars Brewery.
St John's Church, opposite Bethnal Green tube station entrance


Redchurch Brewery

Starting from Bethnal Green (Central Line) tube station, it was only a short walk to Redchurch Brewery, situated in railway arches at 275 / 276 Poyser Street.
South end of Poyser Street from Cambridge Heath Road
North end of Poyser St from Old Bethnal Green Rd
Take the Cambridge Heath Road (West) exit from the tube, head north until you reach Poyser Street or look for the signs where the elevated railway crosses Old Bethnal Green Road.
The illuminated sign makes the brewery easy to find. Take the steps on the left up to the tap room on the mezzanine level.
This is a big bright space with plenty of wooden furniture. The hard surfaces are softened by the use of billowing hessian fabric. The audio equipment produces a good sound and snooker player Steve Davis is one of the DJs who provide the musical background for evening events.
Redchurch Brewery Paradise Pale on resin bar surface.
There are 10 taps behind the bar serving the full range of Redchurch Brewery beers.These are listed on the blackboard next to the bar and include Brick Lane lager (4.7% ABV), Bethnal Pale (APA - 5.5% ABV) and Old Ford Export Stout (7.5%). The surface of the bar includes a 'r b' logo formed from hops and grains and covered in clear resin.
By arriving at opening time (noon) I had the benefit of Kieran's kind offer of samplers of the saison style beers from taps 8 (Tartelette - mixed fermentation Berline Weisse - 4.5% ABV), 9 (Dry Hopped Sour - with Cascade - 5.4% ABV) and 10 (a refreshing low alcohol Grisette made with Lemon Thyme, Chamomile and some Cascade hops). I would recommend all of these but instead chose a half pint of Paradise Pale (3.7% ABV). Prices are reasonable e.g. £2.30 (1/2) or £3 (2/3) for the low and medium strength beers.
 Cartons and Chilled bottles of Redchurch Brewery beers are also available to take away.
As I was still the only customer, I took the opportunity to give Kieran a copy of Ullage, the West Berkshire CAMRA beer magazine and inform him about West Berkshire Brewery and Wild Weather Ales from the Newbury area. We also chatted about some breweries we both know - East Sussex based Franklins Brewing Co and Andy Parker's Elusive Brewing. We agreed that beer and music go well together and learned from each other that End of the Road festival (Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset) and the Kelburn Garden Party (near Largs, west of Glasgow) are good festivals for music and arts in natural surroundings. 
Although, we could have chatted longer, it was time for me to go in order to visit the four further brewery tap rooms on today's 'mission'. Kieran recommended a visit to the nearby Kings Arms in Buckfast Sreet, near Bethnal Green Road on any future visit. Before leaving I was able to get photos of the brewery and bottling line on the ground floor
Bottling line - Redchurch Brewery


Five Points Brewing Co

After a walk or a short bus journey (106 or 254 north owards Hackney) and crossing the Regent's Canal, you will pass the Five Points Brewing Co warehouse and distribution centre. (The Five Points bar is Mason & Company at Here East - Technology Innovation Centre, Olympic Park, Hackney Wick. The brewery itself is at Institute Place, near Hackney Central station, and tours can be booked on the second Saturday of each month.)


Forest Road Brewing Co

Soon after, turn west into Westgate Street and just before the railway arches, on the south side, is the gated entrance to Netil Lane, the location of Forest Road Brewing Co.
Take care not to trip over the base of the gate and you will see the green painted Forest Road Brewing Co tap room located in one of the railway arches which opens on Saturdays.
 There is seating outside and parking for bicycles.
Inside, I would find Rudder serving at the bar and a mixture of seating options including a sofa, a bench for a low table and stools at the bar and at a high table.
Rudder explained that Work, the Forest Road Brewing Co beer is currently brewed by Pete in Flanders, Belgium by Brouwerij Van Eecke, the Poperings hommelbier brewery. The flags behind the bar include the Massachussetts flag, Pete's home state. The other beers available were SAS Pils from the same Belgian brewery group, Partizan Saison Lemongrass and The Kernel Table Beer. Current beers at the tap room can be found on the website.
Forest Road Brewing Co - Work
A half pint of Work was £3 and served in a plastic cup. My Work, a 6 grain unfiltered IPA (5.4% ABV), tasted good but had a hazy appearance and was more fizzy than a cask ale.
An indented bottle of Work, just under the Forest Road sign, caught my eye on the chipboard wall opposite my table. Noticeable from his accent, Rudder is from Alabama and he may have chosen the Southern style music playing on the system during my visit. Before leaving, I was able to purchase 2 chilled 33cl bottles of Work to take home for £5.

From Mare Street, I would catch a 55 Bus to take me near Signature Brew. See part 2 for further details.

London Fields Brewery

Another possibility would have been to include a visit to the taproom at nearby London Fields Brewery tucked away between Mare Street and London Fields park at the south end of Mentmore Terrace, just under the arches, which is open until midnight, seven days a week.