“We smelled you from two streets away, and came over to check it out.”
Surely, this is the best thing a brewer can hope to hear – prospective converts following their noses, Bisto-like, to discover a brewery.* This applies even more to producers who have recently opened an on-site bar, perched above the brewing equipment. I overheard this comment from a young London couple who had just pushed open the door and climbed the metal stairs to the Redchurch Brewery tap, in Bethnal Green. What better advertisement could a manufacturer have than the drifting aroma of their craft, dispersed on the breeze?
*providing the smell emanates from the developing beer rather than the brewers themselves…
Redchurch started life back in August 2011, having been founded by ex-solicitor Gary Ward. When I arrived, Gary happened to be standing in the street, about to open up to the public – the tap only does so once a week, on Thursdays. It turned out that my visit was just the fifth occasion he’s had people upstairs, drinking his beer on site. That must be hugely nerve-wracking, akin to inviting people into the house you’ve built and then having to serve them cake, as well. Gary shrugs it off, though, clearly delighted and amazed in equal measure that people turn up to his railway arch in east London to drink beer.
The bar has a great feel to it, with pallets, crates and picnic tables seemingly thrown together in that charmingly hipsterish fashion. Gary confesses that the hardest thing of all to pick was actually the music, as a rumbling train overhead momentarily drowns out the sound of Joy Division. Most of the entire Redchurch range is available at the bar, either on keg or bottled – from the soft citrus of Bethnal Pale to the earthy, honeyed caramel of Double IPA Chinook. The stand-out, however, is Great Eastern IPA – at 7.4% it brilliantly combines floral honeysuckle with bitter, pithy orange zest. Hands down, it’s the most under-rated British IPA of the moment.
Currently, Gary and his team brew three times a week and spend the other two hand-bottling (or vice versa, depending on orders). The brewery space has plenty of room to expand – half of the ground-floor area is taken up with the kit, the other half is stock that can eventually be moved elsewhere. Gary gave me a taste of Brick Lane Lager, straight from the conditioning tank – which is always a fascinating way to sample, giving an exact picture of how the beer is developing. The Brick Lane is conditioned for a month in the tank, then for a further month in the storeroom. What could be more London than that? Lagered under a railway arch in Bethnal Green. Redchurch are clearly well aware of their surroundings.
The Redchurch Brewery
273 Poyser Street, Bethnal Green E2 9RF Map
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The Brewery tap is open from 6:30pm each Thursday, but hopefully soon on Friday and Saturday nights as well. You can read further thoughts on the bar from Tandleman here, and Robbie here.