April Fools Day saw the spring edition of London Brewers’ Market set up in the Old Spitalfields Market. Held in conjunction with the Independent Label Market, this seasonal event brings together London’s newest and esteemed craft breweries in one picturesque East London setting. It always attracts a huge audience and on April 1st 2017, 25 London breweries were in attendance.
Fortunate with the weather – which was clement but not sweltering – sunglasses were at the ready and the atmosphere was that of a teeming beer garden. This event typically draws in a large segment of London’s beer drinkers, from those whose work in the industry to those who've merely stumbled upon it. Even the most ambitious beer drinker can’t cover all of London’s industrial estates and railway arches, so the Brewers’ Market offers a chance for them to catch-up with the city’s quickly evolving scene.
New breweries such as Affinity Brew Co and Brewheadz participated, offering drinkers a chance to taste some beers currently generating a buzz in bottle shares, blogs and social media. At the Brewers' Market, if those filling your glass aren’t the brewers themselves, those responsible for the beer are always within earshot. It's guaranteed that regardless of who is actually pulling your pint, they'll be animated with passion for their craft.
Based on research and recommendations, there were some beers that I sought out, but it’s crucial to be open to everything. Revisiting old favourites is never shameful as well, as Fourpure Brewing Co’s citrus wunderkind, Juicebox IPA, was as pleasing as ever. I’ve been enjoying the new core IPA, Push Eject, from Hackney Brewery over the past months and its intense tropical flavours make it a juicy beer I'm happily returning to. And, frankly, there's nothing that a clean Five Points Brewing Co Pils won't cure when the sun is beaming.
New to me was Affinity, a brewery based in Tottenham that’s been impressing with its Belgian-inspired range. A brief chat with the founders, Ben Duckworth and Steve Grae, was fruitful; they have some exciting plans in the future that will eventually see their beers moving from a shipping container to the taps inside Five Miles London – a music and events venue that's based on the same estate where their taproom currently sits – which is set to open this year. I settled on the Parasol, their hazy Belgian Ale with hints of citrus, spiciness and bread in both aromas and on the palate. It's a complex and easy-drinking beer that I look forward to revisiting.
Another new brewery conquered was Brick Brewery from Peckham – well outside my East London comfort zone – whose Rhubarb Sour Berliner Weisse was an tremendous introduction to their range, presenting puckering tartness with big sways of rhubarb in the body, finishing on a crisp bitterness that proved exceptionally refreshing and one to add to the list of summer beers.
But it wasn’t light beers getting all of the glory, as the nadir of Saturday’s beers was something very unusual and dark in colour: the Blended Black Framboise from One Mile End Brewery. Two parts barrel soured with Brettanomyces, one part barrel aged Gose, gin botanicals and raspberries. This beer was exceptionally palatable, offering tempered sourness, big cocoa notes and juicy, jammy raspberries. Lightly carbonated and velvety smooth, any hint of the 8.1% ABV was completely lost in the deliciously sweet tones. This was exciting, accomplished and a good return to One Mile End, who have impressed me with their experimental approach in the past.
The spring edition of the London Brewers' Market was not only a pleasant day out, but a glance at the benchmark of the styles and quality of beers that London will be enjoying this summer. Sours, IPAs and Berliner Weisse won't surprise, but there's always room for something a bit more rounded and complex like the Blended Black Framboise. Thankfully drinkers are being and breweries are being increasingly adventurous; in my mind, it's always the accomplished - but atypical - beers that are the most memorable at London Brewers' Market.
Now to wait patiently for summer...