2016 in review: The new East London pub crawl
Yes, 2016 has been an exhilarating year on a number of fronts. Following from last week’s post on two events that didn’t make the Brewing East editorial cut, there’s still more to chuck into the ring. One of the most significant triumphs this year has been the growing list of new places to find beer in East London. Homerton and Limehouse hosted two prodigious openings this month alone.
But first, an event held at my current favourite drinking haven.
Mason & Co’s Northern powerhouse takeover (Thursday, 20 – Sunday, 23 October 2016)
Perhaps the most welcome addition to the East London landscape is Mason & Company, a taproom-style bar situated in the new Here East development in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Brainchild of Ed Mason, owner of The Five Points Brewing Company, this venue lies between Stratford and Hackney Wick. Previously, only Tap East, a diamond in rough plonked down in the behemoth Westfield Shopping Centre, excelled as an oasis for good quality beer on keg and cask in the E20 postcode.
Since June of this year, Mason & Co have hosted a series of events, including tap takeovers from the likes of Beavertown Brewery and Cloudwater Brew Co and a Thanksgiving feast for American ex-pats (or merely the eternally hungry). Their kitchen is manned by Capish?, who serve up legendary meatball subs slathered in their trademark marinara sauce or chicken parm sandwiches that hit the spot every time.
Their excellent Northern Powerhouse Takeover event showcased an expansive selection of beers from breweries up North. The beer list ranged from old favourites to the rare, with a couple of collaborations thrown into the mix. For an astounding five quid, a wristband could be purchased that entitled drinkers to three 1/3 pint servings of the beer and a souvenir Mason & Co branded teku glass.
Some of the featured breweries included Northern Monk Brew Co, Magic Rock Brewing Co, Wylam Brewery and Track Brewing Co. I remember the beers that I tried, which were surprising and excellent in equal measures. First was Attack on the Bounty, a coconut black IPA developed by Northern Monk with tattoo artist and illustrator James Butler and Siren Craft Brew. It was packed with tropical flavours with strong aromas of coconut and pineapple. Opaque inky black with the addition of some roasted malts, imparting rich chocolate notes, this was a liquid marriage of a Bounty Bar and a piña colada. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but it resonated with me.
This was followed by my first taste of the juicy Hypnotist from Magic Rock, a modern take on a hazy New England IPA, and Hops ft. Epic, another IPA from Northern Monk alongside Epic Brewing Company from New Zealand.
All in all, it was fantastic value for three gorgeous and memorable beers. The event had attracted some large groups who were happy to put a few fivers down and work through the menu. It was one of the most fruitful Saturday afternoons spent in 2016.
Craft Beer Co Limehouse opening (Tuesday, 6 December, 2016)
The preview party for E15’s Craft Beer Co christened the new venture, which lies adjacent to the Limehouse DLR station and offers the area a fresh prospect for a varied beer selection. Across 21 taps and 6 cask lines, the selection on the night was solid and a crowd of brewery representatives showed up for the occasion. Little Things that Kill, a session IPA from Weird Beard Brew Co and Tartelette from Redchurch Brewery’s Urban Farmhouse project tasted beautiful and fresh. The Siren Craft Brew’s Squealer, a Sour/Berliner Weisse fermented with raspberries, was one of the most talked about beers of the evening – and the keg had shown up just the day before, so it was a late addition to the inaugural line-up.
The venue is comfortable and convenient if you're in the area. Management and staff were enthusiastic and helpful and it’s been a bustling spot since it opened to the public. Patrons are assured an extensive selection of rotating beers as expected from Craft Beer Co in a small, but very comfortable, setting.
BrewDog Homerton opening (Friday, 2 December 2016)
Some will remember the locally-loved Hommerton pub, The Plough, which closed its doors last year to much anguish. Today, in its place is a shiny new addition to the BrewDog franchise. This BrewDog boasts more casual environs when compared to its larger, more ostentatious central manifestations. It’s a softened, watered-down incarnation without the heavily industrial touches of exposed piping and ventilation systems. Instead, it’s a neighbourhood convening point with couches, group tables and some stools pulled up at the bar. There’s no lit-up marquee display of the beers on offer, instead a wall of A4 papers displayed on clipboards on plywood. There’s a roaring pizza oven and a tidy food menu that caters to carnivores and vegans alike. Local guests have consistently included Hackney’s The Five Points Brewing Co.
This subtle incarnation of a BrewDog bar seems to have slipped under the radar, despite being only a few minutes away equidistantly from the Homerton and Hackney Central overground stations. The staff are enthusiastic and passionate about beer and the Assistant Manager is friendly with a vast knowledge about everything on tap. It’s another worthwhile addition to East London and only a moment away from the excellent community-saved Chesham Arms, making a pub crawl across Homerton and Hackney something to get into your 2017 diary.