I’m not sure when our pubs and brewery taps will be allowed to open again but here is something to look forward to. The Bermondsey Beer Mile is now well established but a group of four breweries is now giving discerning beer drinkers a northern alternative.
Walthamstow (E17) has a long and rich industrial history, with factories, mills and workshops once covering much of the area. In the last few years however, there has been an influx of cafés, artists’ studios and, of course, breweries. The starting point is Blackhorse Road station on the Victoria Line, just 20 minutes from Oxford Circus. The station is also served by the Overground’s Gospel Oak to Barking service. The four venues are all off Blackhorse Lane, to the north of the station. All the venues on the Mile are children and dog friendly.
If you want to make a day of it or get in some exercise first, the Walthamstow Wetlands, created from Victorian reservoirs, are close by. They are London’s largest urban wetlands and are a haven for many species of waterfowl, some of which have flown thousands of miles to be there.
Once reopening comes, given the ongoing uncertainty, it might be best to check the brewery websites before setting out on a long journey. Booking may be needed at times.
After starting life in a converted shipping container in Tottenham, Exale moved to their current site in late 2019, where their new 20 hectolitre plant will give them more consistency, quality and control. They have a distinctive style, brewing complex but balanced beers inspired by ingredients that they find around them every day, from foraging in Epping Forest to collaborating with local coffee roasters and chefs. The taproom is converted from an adjacent former furniture factory. It features plants and cloud lights together with a fish tank that feeds their aquaponics system. The outside seating area is heated and sheltered and has space for over 100 people. Beer is available from ten taps and cocktails are also available from the Victory London distillery which shares the brewery space. Food is provided by pop up vendors. There is music on Saturday nights plus tasting events throughout the year. Co-founder Mark Hislop says, “We chose Blackhorse Lane to be our home because, being from the area, we knew how much we loved E17 and felt connected to it already. We are so lucky to be surrounded by this amazing community of brewers, makers and creators who all share our core principles and values. Also, being based on the edge of the wetlands and Epping Forest allows us to directly source many of our ingredients through foraging, so it helps us keep our carbon footprint low and work towards being a sustainable business, something that is hugely important to us.”
Unit 2C, Uplands Business Park, London E17 5QJ.
Signature Brew was founded in 2011 by Sam McGregor and Tom Bott and won the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA)’s Brewery Business of the Year in 2018. Their original aim was to supply decent beer to music gigs and they have brewed in collaboration with many bands, including Idles, Mogwai, Alt-J, Slaves, Mastodon, Frank Turner, Rodney P, Enter Shikari, Sports Team and Dynamite MC. Their Brewer’s Bar, located inside the brewery, has large indoor and outdoor seating areas, serving up to 12 beers plus regular street food and live music. This will be enhanced shortly by Pilot Radio, a series of limited edition beers brewed in SB’s pilot brewery. Only 200 pints of each Pilot Radio beer will be brewed, although any that prove especially popular will be upgraded to a full brew. Tom Bott says, “We knew when we chose Walthamstow as a base for our brewery that we were coming in to a highly energetic area filled with an impressive selection of creators and makers of all kinds but to have a newly created collective of supportive and inspiring brewers as our neighbours is more than we could have asked for. We hope E17-ers, Londoners and beer aficionados from around the country will enjoy discovering such an eclectic range of beers, whilst being able to chat to the people that make them.”
Unit 15, Uplands Business Park, E17 5QJ.
Wild Card Brewery was founded in 2012 at the Ravenswood Industrial Estate in Walthamstow where they brewed Mondays to Friday and then served their beers from the brewery over the weekend. They quickly outgrew the original site and, with the aid of crowdfunding, moved to their current location in 2018. Head Brewer Jaega Wise has become well known for her broadcasting on beer and the brewing industry.
Unit 2, Lockwood Way, E17 5RB.
The Barrel Store at the original site (Unit 7, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, Walthamstow, E17 9HQ) is also still open.
TRUMAN’S SOCIAL CLUB
The site was originally acquired for a new brewery because Truman’s were outgrowing their original site at Hackney Wick. Although this may yet happen, Truman’s have decided to ‘go with the flow’ for now and use the 26,000 square foot space to create the UK’s largest beer hall, with room for 650 people. There is also a flexible event space and a large beer garden with plenty of cover and heating for the winter. The site has been specially designed to be both safe and relaxing, featuring foot-operated sinks and a special ventilation system to increase air circulation. There is a choice of 20 beers, both Truman’s own and guests, along with food from various East London food traders.
1 Priestley Way, London, E17 6AL.
With thanks to Alex Godfrey of Right Hand PR for the original information.