Brewery news – November 2020

Comings and goings: the publication of the Good Beer Guide gives us an opportunity to review the comings and goings on the London brewing front over the last year (to September). Overall, we have lost five but gained ten, which, given what the year has been like so far, is most encouraging.

The breweries which have opened are: Concrete Island, Exale, Fearless Nomad, German Kraft, Greywood, Mikkeller, Old Kent Road, SlyBeast, Urban Alchemy and Wrong Side of the Tracks. Happily, there are also a number of new breweries in the pipeline and we will report these in this column as and when their opening is confirmed.

The five that we have recorded as closed are: Crate, Kew, Laines (Four Thieves), Reunion and UBrew. With Crate, this is their separate brewery only; their bar and pizzeria, the White Building at Hackney Wick, is still open. There may also be several others, mostly brewpubs, which didn’t start brewing again after lockdown was lifted.

CAMRA aims to appoint a brewery liaison officer for all breweries and they perform a vital task, especially in keeping the unique breweries section in the Good Beer Guide up to date. This information comes initially from them. Their efforts are coordinated by our Brewery Liaison Coordinator, John Paul Adams, to whom I am most grateful.

Dog’s Grandad: this new project in Brixton had hoped to open in April but they were not able to obtain a licence until October. The plan was to start brewing in November, with a taproom opening in due course. They are based in a railway arch close to the Brixton Brewery’s tap room.

Mondo: the brewery is a member of the Work in Progress network which aspires to create a more inclusive and representative beer industry. As part of their Progress Beer series, Mondo have collaborated with the Queer Brewing Project (QBP) to brew an American brown ale called Chosen Family (5.2% ABV). It was due to be available from mid November. The proceeds are going towards MindOut, an LGBTQ+ mental health service. Lily Waite, the founder of the QBP told the Morning Advertiser, “This collaboration with Mondo is the first Queer Brewing collaboration in a short while, and what a collab to come back to! I’m always keen to brew with a seasonal focus, so brewing a brown ale for the autumn is a dream! This beer is everything I want to be drinking as the nights draw in, with cosy toffee and dried fruit notes overlaid with a delicious, but subtle bitterness, and I’m particular excited about its impact too. MindOut is a charity QBP has supported in the past and, with all of the pressures of the pandemic, I’m pleased to be supporting their vital work in bettering mental health amongst the LGBTQ+ community.” Mondo’s co-founder, Todd Matteson, added, “We’re working to build a business, and help shape an industry, that’s reflective of the community we serve.”

Park: cask versions of Gallows and Killcat have recently been available at local pubs such as the Norbiton, the Black Horse and the Royal Oak, New Malden. Home deliveries, especially of canned beer, have been successful, particularly Killcat (3.9% ABV) and Tread Lightly (3.2 % ABV. Tread Lightly uses hops grown locally. An unusual beer to look out for, also in cans, is Kveik IPA (6.3% ABV) which is brewed with a yeast which originates from Norwegian farmhouse beers. With thanks to Dave and Gill Morgan (BLO).

Portobello Brewery: Mark Crowther has joined Portobello as chairman and has also invested in the company. He brings with him a deep knowledge of the trade. He was formerly chief executive of the Channel Islands based Liberation Group, is currently a non-executive director of Downing LLP (who support the Antic pub chain) and has previously worked for Carlsberg and Diageo. Mr Crowther commented, “I am delighted to have been appointed as chairman, giving me the opportunity to work with a talented and experienced team at one of London’s leading independent brewing companies. Despite the current economic challenges, we are looking forward with excitement to implementing our plans to grow this business in the coming years.” The company is splitting into two operational divisions, the brewing operation and the pubs division. They currently have two pubs, the Hack & Hop at 35 Whitefriars Street (EC4Y 8BH) and King & Co, 100 Clapham Park Road (SW4 7BZ) and are looking to expand. Stop Press Portobello have taken over the management of 13 pubs previously run by Antic London. More next time.

Sambrook’s: the move to the Ram Quarter (the former Young’s Brewery site) has inevitably been delayed because of COVID but the lease has now been signed and Sambrook’s are on site. The first brewing equipment was expected in early November, with more to follow at the end of the month. Test brewing is scheduled for early December. Work has also started on the Heritage Centre, under the guidance of John Hatch, who joined the company on 1 November. John is, of course, the current holder of the John Young Memorial Award and brings with him a wealth of brewing experience. John’s nano-brewery remains in operation. The Heritage Centre, which hopefully will be open before Christmas, will show the history of brewing in London over three floors and will include a small off licence. Unfortunately, the opening of the brewery tap has been put back to next spring because of current trading conditions.

Wimbledon: Gareth Larkin has moved on so there are now joint head brewers, Max Scan and Michael Prentice. Michael is the son of Derek, who is still very much involved. In the summer, there was a collaboration brew with Laine’s, brewed with Laine’s yeast but produced at Wimbledon. Most of it went to Laine’s pubs in keg but there was some available in cask. Wimbledon are now exporting to Japan. With thanks to Martin Butler (BLO).

Compiled by Tony Hedger