Maida Vale taproom a bottle shop and bar ‘with a small b’
- Credit: Archant
Regulars drop into Real Ale in Formosa Street for a take away or one of eight lines of freshly kegged daught beer
Real Ale in Formosa Street opened two years ago as a bottle shop selling craft beers to thirsty Maida Vale drinkers.
But it's since diversified into offering wine and spirits and serving drinks on site - a kind of hybrid between a shop and a pub that suits modern lifestyles.
Josh Bryant, who manages the shop and taproom, says customers might drop in for a take-out then stay to try one of their eight lines of freshly kegged draught beer, or one of their wines by the glass.
"They can chop and change," he says.
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"Some will make an evening of it, others will pop in, stop and try a drink, have a look at the fridges and buy more to take home.
"It seems to suit people's lives today and it's a comon format among craft beer places - bottle shops and bars with a small b."
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At a time when the capital's pubs are under pressure from changing drinking habits and lucrative housing developments, perhaps they are missing a trick in not tapping into the taproom revolution.
"Offering drink on site is very attractive to craft beer drinkers," adds Josh.
"Most pubs I go to, I don't even bother looking for something interesting or I will be disappointed. They are often tied to sell certain beers, they are good solid beers but not very interesting."
By contrast he has got to know his regulars and their favourite beer styles and is always seeking out new samples for them to try.
"Certain breweries are favourites with regulars but we try to mix it up with the keg beers. I might be looking out for IPAs or sour beers for a customer to try."
Brick Brewery in Deptford has made a beer especially for their house lager (there are two other branches in Notting Hill and Twickenham)
Northern Monk in Leeds and pale ales from Pressure Drop in Tottenham are also popular.
Josh adds: "Customers can buy keg beer in plastic growlers so they can drink good quality fresh beer at home".
He cites a dry hopped lemon sour beer with hibiscus and ginger from the White Hag Brewery in Ireland as a recent seasonal summer tipple or Haze Juice IPA as a tasty option.
Real Ale's fridges also include biodynamic natural wines and craft ciders.
"Our custsomers are well educated as to what they like, but also open minded to try new things," he says.
So after several years with new breweries seemingly springing up in every neighbouood, has the craft ale market reached its peak?
"It's not far off its peak," muses Josh.
"There are not as many new breweries opening up, and major players are consolidating, but it is growing in terms of the number of customers.
"We've had people who have been new to us and asked what kind of lager have you got? And they try some then keep returning.
"Once you have tried these interesting styles for a few months it's hard to go back."
The next event at Real Ale is a Meet The Brewer Evening and tasting coming up on September 21 with Brew Yonder from Somerset who specialise in beers fermented using naturally occurring yeasts, foraged herbs, botanicals and seasonal fruits. Jasper the head brewer will be at Real Ale from 5pm to chat about the beer and from 6pm-7pm will help lead a Beer and cheese pairing session (with cheeses from Neal's Yard) Attendance is free but to join the beer and cheese tasting costs £12. Tickets from realale.com