Cronx: a brewery not just for Croydonians!

Beer is in Mark’s blood; his parents owned a wholesale business, so he knew the trade. His dad introduced him to cask beer and he was hooked. He saw small breweries being set up and decided that it was what he wanted to do and so, back in 2012, he got together with Simon Dale and the Cronx Brewery was born. Mark said, “I didn’t realise the learning curve was so steep” but they persevered. The brewery was, and is, a bit isolated, being in the New Addington district of Croydon.

Cronx’s first venture into on-sales, in 2016, was in the Boxcar complex next to East Croydon Station, where the bars and restaurants are situated on two floors around a central well of seating. As Mark explained, “It enabled us to get our name out there”. They closed the bar in 2021 however when the lease ran out and, although they had the intention of opening another bar, things didn’t quite go to plan. Mark said, “There was a delay in finding new premises. We found a place, next door to where we are now. We put in an offer in 2022 but movement was very slow. However, eventually, the Council offered us these premises, which were better and we opened here in 2023.” The bar, situated on the High Street, sells two cask beers and a range of kegs plus ciders. The area at the front is quite cosy and there is further seating in a corridor-like area plus additional seating upstairs that provides a bird’s eye view of the bar. Next door to this area is a mini cinema where movies are shown regularly and there is also both stand-up comedy and karaoke. A pop-up kitchen operates on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and, at other times, customers are welcome to bring in their own food.

Joe and Mark

Joe Benedict, Cronx’s general manager, oversees the bar but Mark still likes to do the odd session “To keep my hand in and hear what customers say about the beer.” Mark remains the main brewer but, when Simon left, he had to find someone to help so he appointed Kev as his assistant. Mark said, “Kev had worked in a number of pubs around Croydon including our bar in Boxcar. He was keen and so I trained him up but I have only missed three or four brews to date.”

The brewery itself remains in the original premises. It’s a 12 barrel brew length with three 12 barrel fermenters and one small one. “We started with two open fermenters but have moved to conicals, with the exception of the small one. During lockdown we installed a mini canning line, which helped keep us going, plus we started an online shop. Regardless, we had to furlough everyone in the bar,” said Mark. During the initial lockdown, they were doing boxed beer in a bag, which Joe delivered in his car. Like so many breweries, the pair reflected that people were just pleased to see them and wanted to chat. Since lockdown, they have continued to develop their online shop, including a beer club that delivers beers to customers’ homes for a monthly subscription.

The Tap

Over the years, the brewery has moved from 100% cask to a blend of keg and cask. The range of beers has grown, although one of the earlier beers, the moreish strong porter, Entire (5.2% ABV), has remained in the portfolio. It has won a couple of SIBA awards and rightly so. Cronx’s beers are not often seen north of the river so, if you find yourself in the area, pop along to the Tap; it’s about 15 minutes’ walk from East Croydon Station (once you have found the right way out!) at 71 High Street.

The name ‘Cronx’, incidentally, is a conflation of the Bronx (as in New York) and Croydon’s CR0 postcode. Originally intended to be derogatory, it has now become a slang term for anything ‘Croydonian’. All comers are, however, welcome to drink Cronx beers.

For more information click on the Tap, and for the brewery For the London Tasting Panel’s tasting notes on Cronx’s beers; go to the brewery section on the London CAMRA website.
Christine Cryne