Beer Guide London Visits 20 – Hackney Wick
Both Hackney and Hackney Wick have long been great beer destinations, the home of several breweries who went in search of a new, cheaper, part of London to set up once Bermondsey started to fill up. The area around Hackney Wick station in particular offers a good little crawl with virtually no walking required. And the fact I can get the train direct from Richmond makes it especially appealing to me.
I turned left out of the station’s main entrance and took the two minute walk (if that) in to Queen’s Yard which houses three brewery tap rooms. I started by the canal with the first stop of the day being Crate Brewery. The beer choice here is good, and the pizzas are excellent. Although all the brewing kit is in evidence it is my understanding that Crate beers are now brewed elsewhere with somebody else using the kit to brew their beers. I could be wrong, and if anybody knows the definitive position then I will happily update my information. It’s canalside location makes this tap room particularly popular, especially on a nice day, and the queues for both beer and pizza can build up.
A couple of doors down the yard is the entrance to the days second visit, Howling Hops Tank Bar. This is the impressive tap room of the excellent Howling Hops brewery and it is claimed to be the first tank bar in the country. This simply means that behind the bar are ten massive tanks from which the beer is served, and these are in turn filled from the brewing kit immediately behind them, it doesn’t get much fresher than this, and the beer miles are measured in feet! With ten beers available there is always a good selection, and it is much better now that they no longer charge the same for a half pint as for two thirds, a particular bug bear of mine from their early days.
Time to head to the other side of the yard and the newest of the three tap rooms, Old Street Taproom. Originally based in Bethnal Green, but very restricted for space, they moved the brewing kit to these new premises in Hackney Wick. They did initially keep the original tap room open but that has since closed with everything now centred here. Whilst their original home had a bijou charm they now have room to spread their wings and showcase their range of beers, a good selection of which is always available here. Special mention must go to the Quad that I sampled here, a collaboration brewed in Croatia with a Slovenian brewery also involved, it was very good and dangerously drinkable at 9.7%
It was now time to leave the yard and stagger around the corner to the fourth stop of the day, and the only new visit. The Lord Napier Star has been a long standing landmark by virtue of being boarded up and covered in graffiti, yet remarkably after 25 years in this state it has been reopened as a pub, and a very good one at that. In a nod to it’s former life the upper storey has been left with it’s colourful graffiti. 8 beers on tap plus a handpump and a small packaged selection are available with a good choice of London breweries available, I went with a beer from Mammoth on my visit.
It was time to take the short stroll to the other side of the railway line for my fifth and final visit of the day, Beer Merchants Tap, in my opinion one of the best bars in London right now. This is a huge venue that is the bricks and mortar presence of the Beer Merchants online store. There is always an excellent choice of draft beer available, but should you somehow not see anything you fancy then you can always turn your attention to the numerous fridges. Special mention to the cheese and meat plates that are available, supplemented by food trucks outside. You could, and indeed I have, spend the majority of your day here drinking some excellent beers, and if you find a bottle you particularly like then you know you can go and order from them online.