It was only October 26 last year when I ran the story revealing the plan to open the Beer Merchants Tap, in Hackney Wick, London. Fewer than four months later, the project has been crowdfunded and the venue is open. And no, it doesn’t look hurried. In fact, it seems like it’s been there ages. Comforting and familiar.
I was there on a quiet Sunday afternoon, the day after the end of Craft Beer Rising which had, apparently, seen it very busy. Saturday (February 24) had been the official opening.
Manager Andy, who leads a team of nine staff, gave me a guided tour, taking in the main bar area, the cellar, and what will be the blendery, currently seating, awaiting its first barrels later in the year.
There’s a big take-away selection of bottled and canned beers, or you can drink in with a corkage fee
Thanks to Google maps, I had no problem finding it, and it was a gloriously sunny day, with people sitting outside and in. The bar offers a dozen or so cask and keg beers, and there are several chiller cabinets offering an array of bottles and cans, sorted by category. Peckish? There are charcuterie and cheese boards, as well as proper pork pies.
There are events planed, meet the brewers and tap takeovers, starting with a Trappist session with Jef vanden Steen on March 7.
The beer selection on the bar is varied and well thought, with British and foreign beers. Burning Sky Porter (4.5% ABV) was on draught, black, with very roasted malt notes on the aroma, almost charcoal. On the palate, a little berry fruit, a hint of coffee and some vanilla.
On the golden side, Tiny Rebel’s Beer Money Inc (6%) had a juicy fruit hop punch on the palate, but contrasting dank notes, too, although those were more apparent on the aroma. Biscuit malt balanced with lemon, grapefruit and a hint of unripe pear.
It’s seating at the moment, but this is where the Tap’s blendery will be. Barrels will be lined up along he left-hand side wall
Beer of the session, though, was Lost and Grounded’s Paternicity (6.8%), golden with a white head that stayed well, and vivid stone fruit dominating the flavours, with some light citrus notes in support.
Also on were beers from White Hag, in Ireland, Garage, from Spain, Kona, out of Hawaii, and Belgium’s De la Senne. The fridges reflect the modern world and British craft beer scene and include plenty of cans from the likes of Northern Monk, Marble, Wild Beer Co and Burning Sky.
I know there are plenty of activities already in London for the keen beer explorer, but you really must add this to your intinerary. I went to Hackney Central station then got a 30 bus to Hackney Wick, after which it was less than ten minutes’ walk to the tap. You can’t miss the beautiful brick building, functional yet attractive.
The cellar, which as well as being vital to the bar operation, will also be used for training Beer Merchants clients