My first encounter with One Mile End Brewery– like most good things– stemmed from the search for a decent beer. Ambling into the recently renovated White Hart pub in early 2015, I was intrigued to find that it now hosted a microbrewery in its basement. There’s a long line of successful independent breweries in London with similar humble origins– most famously Howling Hops at The Cock Tavern and Beavertown at Duke’s Brew & Q– and a microbrewery is therefore the beginning of brewing lore. So something exciting was fermenting in Whitechapel at the White Hart, it seemed.
Even then, one thing was immediately apparent: the sleek branding, replete with quirky illustrations of Victorian caricatures and prominently emblazoned with the brewery’s moniker, demonstrated confidence. This was reinforced by the innovative selection of styles that were on offer at the bar. I recall tasting several iterations, mostly out of probing curiosity; some of the flavour combinations were atypical and baffling, but this was still early days. On this occasion, I settled on the Salvation!, a quaffable pale ale with a good dose of bitterness from US hops, but tempered with a creamy wheat backbone. It was fresh, balanced and accomplished.
Fast-forward to April 2016 and One Mile End was represented at London Brewers’ Market in Old Spitalfields Market. I was intent on visiting the stand to assess how the brewery had developed in the interim– while I ‘d stopped by on occasion to have a pint in the White Hart, it was clear that One Mile End had unconstrained potential and ambition. The variations and range of dynamic specials that alternated on each visit to the pub indicated that a brewing frenzy was going on beneath the street.
I was fortunate enough to chat with Simon McCabe, One Mile End’s head brewer, at the Brewers’ Market. Having cut his teeth at Redemption Brewing Company, his talent was assured and his adventurous spirit was palpable. After a brief chat, he was pouring me samples of everything– including a barrel aged raspberry sour stout still being fine-tuned. Not shying from high ABVs, the stout came in at 8% and was chased by a half pint of their blood orange wheat DIPA at 7.4%. I wrote my impressions of the latter as part of my round-up of the event for London Brewers’ Market here. By way of a summary, I was sufficiently impressed by the complexity of both beers.
Around the same time in April 2016, One Mile End announced that they were expanding and opening a new brewing site in Tottenham. Specifically, they would be increasing their production fivefold on a 12.5 BBL kit at the former Redemption Brewery site– McCabe’s former stomping ground. While The White Hart would still be used for onsite brewing, the new, ample space guarantees that One Mile End is about to muscle its way into beer fridges across London and further afield.
At the end of May 2016, beer was already in the new fermenters. The brewery has also teamed up with Western-themed East London pop-up, Django Bango’s Gold Rush, to produce a special beer: a golden ale that promises a refreshing accompaniment to the immersive hootenanny. Their Snakecharmer IPA was previously offered at an earlier incarnation of the same pop-up earlier this year– I discovered this first-hand, once again, haphazardly.
While my relationship with One Mile End has been characterised by serendipity, it’s apparent that they are on the cusp of something colossal. Their catalogue currently boasts a good range of core beers that includes their Snakecharmer IPA and their Hospital Porter– but the one-offs and experiments with barrel aging have captured the attention of beer drinkers across the capital.
Snakecharmer IPA and Salvation! are being rolled out across the capital already, but don't miss out on going straight to the source– The White Hart Brew Pub– to try something more challenging. And if you happen to catch them at an upcoming London Brewers' Market (they'll be in attendance at The Hackney Summer Fete on Saturday the 9 July) , beeline to their stall. Simon might just have something he's working on that will have you rooting for One Mile End too.