Matthew Curtis is a London-based beer writer and writes about beer on his blog, Total Ales. He the co-author of Craft Beer: The 100 Best Breweries in the world, and is currently working on a new book, Beer & Craft: Britains Best Bars and Breweries. Photos from this article are from Dianne Tanner.
London Brewers’ Market returns to the Old Spitalfields Market on Saturday the 28th of March and with it a host of London’s brightest and best breweries. There’ll be gallons of what is some of the very best beer being brewed in the capital right now, to both drink in the market itself and to take home to enjoy later on. With almost eighty breweries in the city, creating beer from the traditional to the innovative, it can be difficult to know what to try next. As a result much of our attention is focused on a handful of larger and more successful breweries simply because their presence is more widely felt. Here, I’ve chosen a handful of breweries, some new and some with a couple of years already under their belts, that are not to be missed at the Market this March.
Orbit Beers – South London’s Orbit bounced onto the scene in 2014 with a range of beers inspired by both music and travel. You can always guarantee that a great record is spinning in this brewery when its beers are being created. The beers span from the traditional to the modern, both the Neu Altbier and Nico Kölsch are extremely accomplished recreations of classic German styles. These beers are subtle and nuanced with a depth of flavour that makes them both incredibly drinkable. On the other hand, Ivo is a pale ale that favours juicy, citrus forward, new world hop varieties and has more than a nod towards the modern pale ales of the United States. As well as these dialled in core brews look out for Orbit’s specials such as Leaf, a smoked Alt. I expect big things from this brewery in 2015.
One Mile End – Orbit aren’t the only new brewery on the scene worth shouting about. One Mile End are already making waves with the forward thinking brews that emerge from beneath its brewpub, The White Hart in Whitechapel. As well as American influenced beers such as the jammy, hop packed Snakecharmer IPA this brewery is already bowling people over with a range of whisky barrel aged stouts and porters. Another beer to watch out for is its farmhouse pilsner, an unusual fusion of two styles that somehow just clicks. Make sure you visit these guys early, as their specials are certain to sell out fast.
Brixton Brewery – The first thing you’ll notice about Brixton Brewery are the eye-catching labels that are as vibrant as Brixton itself. You may also notice that each of this brewery’s beers take their names from some of the South London borough’s landmarks. You’ve got Effra Ale, a traditional amber ale named after the River Effra that flows beneath Brixton’s concrete and the pithy, grapefruit-tinged Electric IPA named after the famous street that sits just behind the station. One Brixton beer not to be missed is the zingy Atlantic Pale Ale which uses both North American and Australian hop varieties to produce a beer that’s packed with flavours of lemon zest and mango.
Redchurch Brewery – When it comes to bold, envelope pushing beers in London you might first think of The Kernel, Partizan or perhaps even Brodie’s but one name that also deserves the same high praise is Bethnal Green’s Redchurch Brewery. Take for instance its Old Ford Export Stout, it’s as dark as midnight and packed with huge aromas of liquorice, pine resin and grapefruit zest. In my opinion it’s one of the best beers the city of London has to offer its beer drinking public and is one of several brilliant beers this brewery has to offer. Another beer not to miss is the dank and resinous Great Eastern IPA that actually coats your mouth with hoppy goodness as you drink it. If you’re lucky you may even get to try its new Wild Isolation sour, a beer that was the result of a happy accident and will have you heading back to the bar for more.
Rocky Head Brewery – It’s hard to believe that the Rocky Head Brewery has been brewing its American inspired beers since 2012 and that they haven’t made more of an impact in this time. Despite this, they seem happy with their lot and those that know these beers know just how good they are. Just ask anyone who has tried its eponymous Pale Ale, packed with flavours of citrus and tropical fruit, you’re certain receive almost universal praise. You’ll be doing yourself an injustice if you don’t head to their stand at the London Brewers’ Market, make sure you seek out their Imitera IPA, you won’t be disappointed.
There are of course plenty of other fantastic breweries appearing at the London Brewers’ Market but if you’re seeking something new, different, or a little bit special then you’ll surely find it at the stands of these five fantastic breweries. Do yourself a favour and head down to the Old Spitalfields Market on March the 28th and make sure you take an extra big bag to bring plenty of the city’s best beer back home with you.