Sample the delights of North London's vibrant brewing scene
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One of the great things about being a beer-drinker in London is the vibrancy of the local brewing scene.
Thanks to the craft-brewing trend that began in the late noughties, there is now a brewery in just about every postcode. According to CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) there are some 130 independent breweries across the city, including 72 with taprooms and 20 brewpubs.
Among the most famous is Beavertown https://beavertownbrewery.co.uk Founded in 2011 by Logan Plant, son of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, this off-the-wall brewery is known for its psychedelic branding and potent, American-influenced recipes. They originally set up in Haggerston, until a large investment from Heineken in June 2018 allowed them to build a shiny new brewery in Tottenham Hale where their taproom is now a popular destination for both Londoners and beer-loving tourists.
Also founded in 2011, by couple Andy Moffat and Sam Rigby, Redemption Brewing https://redemptionbrewing.co.uk/ can be found at Compass West Industrial Estate in Tottenham. Today they have a Match Day tap room and a loyal local following, as well as being much-respected among London brewers for their focus on sessionable cask ales (rather than the hop-focused, high-alcohol American styles that many craft brewers favour). They produce a core of six cask beers. I’d recommend starting with the 3% ABV Trinity and going from there.
After these early adopters many others followed. The Muswell Hillbilly Brewers https://www.muswellhillbillybrewers.co.uk/ - known to their friends as Pistol Pete, Mart Dude, Steve and Beer Bob - were home-brewers for over a decade before signing up to UBREW. This is the UK's first 'open brewery', where members get to brew their own beer at premises on Bermondsey's Beer Mile. After getting bored of the journey to south London, they registered Pistol Pete's cabin as their brewery in September 2016 and started selling to enthusiastic drinkers at Ally Pally Farmers Market.
They’re now based on Avenue Mews in Muswell Hill, where they have a three-barrel brewery and a tap room with their own and other local beers on draught. One of the great things about them is they love to source locally: planting their own bergamot, using coffee from W Martyns in Muswell Hill for their Breakfast Stout, and growing their own hops in local gardens. So far they’re growing the traditional English hops Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, Prima Donna and Challenger, as well as the US hop Cascade. My personal favourite is their Tetherdown Wheat Saison, while their Black IPA is delicious if you like a dark, complex brew.
One of the newer names to North London's beer scene is Jiddler’s Tipple https://www.jiddlerstipple.com/ aka Jacob Liddle. He started out home-brewing in his flat in Wood Green and has now become a familiar face at many of the farmers markets. Famous for his love of vintage shirts, he’s based all of his can designs on his favourite shirt patterns - and his beers are deliberately lower-alcohol and easy drinking. I’m a big fan of the Bog Standard lager.
With helpful connections in the food industry (Jacob works for Borough Box) and Two Gold Stars at the 2020 Great Taste Awards for the Everyday Pale Ale, Jiddler’s Tipple seems to be doing the right things to build a following. Jacob will be talking about his journey into beer and giving a guided tasting with snack pairings on September 16 and the event is hosted by us at Fridge of Plenty Crouch End - we'd love to see you there.
Other local brewers well worth a mention:
The Goodness Brewing Co, an independent brewery and taproom set up by five friends in Wood Green, which grew out of a community project to get local people to grow hops and make an annual beer together;
Beerblefish, a social enterprise in Edmonton who provide training and mentoring to ex-forces personnel to re-skill and re-enter the workforce and produce a great Ginger Beerble.
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Gorgeous Brewery, a family run outfit attached to brewpub The Bull in Highgate - try their Pacific Pale Ale Goofyhoof if you like low bitterness and tropical notes;
Earth Ale, based at the Chocolate Factory in Wood Green, whose passion for sourcing local ingredients extends to foraging in local woods for ingredients - try Waiting For Nettles for a dark, earthy ale made with nettles.
Julia Kirby-Smith is director of Fridge of Plenty in Crouch End and a trustee of the food charity Feedback. Book tickets for the Jiddlers Tipple Beer Tasting on September 16 at https://fridgeofplenty.com/products/thursday-night-tasting-events?variant=40297835823253