Saturday, 30 March 2013

Visiting London Fields Brewery

Brew-master Ben (C) London Fields Brewery
It feels like barely a week goes by at the moment without another brewery opening its doors in London. I sometimes find it hard to keep up. 

There is however, one London brewery that I've kept coming back to in the last year. A brewery that have positioned themselves right at the heart of Hackney's thriving beer scene: London Fields.

LF's brilliant Hackney Hopster has become a regular drink for me as I can always pick it up from Oddbins on my way home from work. I've also taken a shine to Black Frost Stout and to be honest, pretty much every other beer of theirs that I've tried.

It was only a matter of time before I'd have to see their brewery and learn a bit more about what they do. After briefly being introduced to Ben, their master brewer whilst I was in a bit of a drunken haze at Craft Beer Rising, I got in touch about swinging by their Hackney brewery.

I've visited a few breweries in my time, but not nearly as many as I would like to. London Fields really stood out to me. Going into the railway arches that they call home, you're immediately drawn into a bustling hive of activity with brewers and other staff working all around you. It's cramped an industrious with a slightly DIY feel to it. The place has a spark to it that many bigger breweries lack.

I stood with Ben and my mate who had joined me for the trip, in one of the few spaces where we weren't going to get under people's feet too much.

(C) London Fields Brewery
It was only a couple of minutes of being in the brewery before Ben poured us a pitcher of Shoreditch Triangle, their excellent IPA. He then gave us the back story to the beer, which is made with three American hops and three malts (hence the name!) and is supposedly inspired by the mystical ley-lines of Shoreditch! A huge grin crept across Ben's face as he added this last detail.

Whatever the influence for the IPA, it's damn good. It has a great big whack of citrus that is balanced by just right level of sweetness from the malt. It's exactly what I look for in an IPA. I can also confidently say that it tastes better being supped in the brewery - but this may of course just be a matter of perception.

In the space of just two years, the guys at London Fields have built a brewery which has quickly gained favour amongst London drinkers and further afield too. Ben joined them about eight months ago and is keen to ensure that their beers remain diverse and exciting.

Alongside Hopster and Triangle, their core range consists of Love Not War (Red Ale), Black Path London Porter, a wheat beer and an unfiltered lager. Alsongside these, they're producing LTD editions such as a black IPA and an Imperial Stout (that will be ready very soon).

It's great a see a small brewery like LF producing decent quality lager. It's obviously a bit tricky for smaller operations due to its need to condition for longer, but their unfiltered lager is to my mind one of their best beers.

Throughout this year and beyond, expect big things from the London Fields guys. Their brewery tap room currently opens just at weekends, but once their full licence is approved, it should be open throughout the week. It's a great place to have a brewery fresh beer and try out some of their LTD editions.
The Tap Room (C) London Fields Brewery

I asked Ben about what other styles he'd like to produce. His roots are in Germany, so expect to see some of that influence coming through in the future. He talked enthusiastically about brewing a Kölsch, the lager/ale hybrid that other UK brewers such as Thornbridge have started producing. We also had a chat about sour beers, which is something I would love to see them have a go out. 

As we walked around the brewery drinking Black Frost Stout, it became clear how passionate Ben is about the brewery and being part of such a vibrant beer scene in London. He clearly views his fellow London brewers more as contemporaries than competitors but is spurred on by the innovation that is happening at the moment. This of course is great for us; the drinkers!

After our tour of London Fields, we set off into the cold and snow of delightful March afternoon happily chatting about the amazing beer being produced throughout Hackney and beyond. The tour formed the start to a great day that later took us to Crate for pizza and more beer before ending up at the ever fantastic Camden Town brewery bar.

I can't end this post without doing a quick plug for an event they have coming up. On the the 4th and 5th of May, London Field's will play host to London's Brewing, which is beer festival organised by the London Brewers Alliance. Get on down there to sample fantastic beers from London Fields and many of London's other top breweries. It looks set to be a great little event!

A massive thank you to Ben and all the guys at London Fields for their hospitality.

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