Hackney's best microbreweries
Love craft ale? You're in the right neighbourhood: Hackney is home to nearly one in five London beer brands
BEER, it seems, is big business. Last year, 170 new breweries opened across the UK, creating a total of 1,285, or one for every 50,000 people. That’s the largest number to be operating since the 1940s and Hackney – home to almost one in five London beer brands – is not immune to the boom.
Here is our guide to the borough’s best microbreweries:
Five Points Brewing Company
3 Institute Place, E8 1JE
Launched by the team behind De Beauvoir’s Duke of Wellington pub, Five Points is a small indie company which brewed its first batch of Five Points Pale Ale back in 2013. It now has four more beers: Hook Island Red, Railway Porter, Five Points IPA and London Smoke.
It’s very much a local affair: the owners and founders live in Hackney, the brewery runs an apprenticeship scheme for 18 to 24-year-olds from the borough and five per cent of profits are invested in local charities and community projects.
It’s also green: their electricity comes from 100 per cent renewable sources. So you can feel good about reaching for a second bottle…
Arch 358, Laburnum Street, E2 8DD
Founders Peter Hills and Jon Swain were working in a pub when they first started dreaming of this place. In 2011, they finally found a railway arch in Haggerston and made it real, starting as a cask ale brewery with three types of beer. In 2014, they added kegged and bottled beers and became fully fledged members of the craft beer scene.
Meticulous about their sources, they use UK malt and hops and cite Hackney’s ‘fantastic creative environment’ as their inspiration to create new beers. We’ll drink to that.
London Fields Brewery
365-366 Warburton Street, E8 3RR
Another microbrewery, another railway arch… This one, off London Fields, also has a bustling onsite bar complete with a food menu designed to complement their beers.
Vice Magazine and Adidas have hosted parties in their 500 capacity venue, the Brewhouse. There are music nights, beer festivals and launch parties for seasonally special and limited edition beer batches. You can even get married here. Technically, you never need leave. Though your doctor would probably disagree.
The People's Park Tavern
360 Victoria Park Road, E9 7BT
Overlooking Victoria Park, this is a pub with a difference. It has an onsite brewery, one of three operated in London by the Laine Brewing Company. Technically, it’s called a five barrel brewery. In practice, that means that each batch they brew creates another 1,440 pints for the punters.
After fermentation, the beers are cask-conditioned then dispersed and dispensed directly through the hand pumps along the pub’s long bar. So you can get a fresh pint of People’s Pale Ale, Random Pale Ale or Red Empire, every time.
Queen’s Yard, White Post Lane, E9 5EN
Originally brewing in the basement of the Cock Tavern on Mare Street, Howling Hops has grown up and moved on. Their new brewery, in Hackney Wick (above), has 20 times the brewing capacity and London’s first ‘tank bar’. Its 10 beers are delivered straight from the row of gleaming steel tanks behind the bar, dispensing with traditional bottles or kegs, in a mission to make the beer as fresh as can be.
Since this system also means the beer doesn’t have to be pasteurised or filtered, the beer maintains more natural and subtle flavours. What effect this has on your hangover, however, has yet to be established.
Unit 7 Queens Yard, E9 5EN
Howling Hops' next door neighbour is also its brother-in-brewing, Crate: an airy canal-side pizzeria, which also has its own microbrewery attached.
Founded by long-term Hackney Wick residents Tom and Jess Seaton, and Nick Hinchley, it’s a hipster paradise. The pizza is crisp, the toppings creative, the beer is craft, and the beards are out in force.
East London Brewing Company
Unit 45, Fairways Business Centre, E10 7QB
This 10 barrel microbrewery is a labour of love. Its founders, a married couple, launched it in 2011 with a two-year-old and a newborn in tow, having quit their jobs to pursue their dream.
They started with a pale ale, then added a bitter, and now, having expanded into the next door unit, supply a healthy selection of pubs, restaurants and off-licenses around the capital, with their range of seven regular ales. They even have a brand new online shop through which you can buy their entire range and have it delivered to your door. Because in the pub, it is frowned upon to drink beer in your pyjamas.
The Eyrie, 2-3 Stour Road, E3 2NT
One of the greatest names in British brewing is back. Truman’s Brewery was founded 1666 and, for a brief period in the 1800s, was the biggest brewery in the world. It sent Imperial Stout to the Russian court and IPA to the British Raj. In 1989, however, the brewery and pubs were closed and Truman’s shut its doors.
In 2010, two local beer enthusiasts, James Morgan and Michael-George Hemus, re-established it, recovering the original yeast strain from the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (we know…) where it had been cryogenically frozen (we know…) at -196c since 1958.
In the summer of 2013, the operation moved to its current 40 barrel brewery at the Eyrie in Hackney Wick. From here, they make an eclectic range of beer in cask, keg and bottle that has picked up a number of industry awards, proving that bigger might not always be better, but cryogenically frozen yeast is always the best.
Pressure Drop Brewery
Unit 19, Bohemia Place, E8 1DU
A five minute walk from Five Points and housed in – yes, you guessed it – a railway arch in Hackney Central is Pressure Drop, a brewery that describes itself as ‘three blokes doing lots of cleaning and trying to make the tastiest beers we can.’
They’re doing a pretty good job, too. The naming of the beers, particularly, verges on genius. There’s ‘Wu Gang Chops The Tree’, a wheat beer ‘conceived as a perfect accompaniment to classic roast chicken’; and ‘Friemann’s Dunkelweiss’, ‘smokey and slightly sweet’ and apparently the perfect hangover cure when paired with a BLT.
Now try saying either of those really fast after a couple pints…