Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
I've followed the progress of Beavertown Brewery since they first started churning beers out of Dukes Brew and Que on a 4BBL kit back in 2011. I remember the first time I tasted Gamma Ray, I liked it, I knew right away they'd be an important addition to the UK brewing scene. It wasn't until a few months later when I blind tasted a more dialled in batch of the same beer at the Craft Beer Company's ill fated pub quiz that it really clicked. It buzzed with rich, pithy, juicy grapefruit and I wrote 'Kernel Citra IPA' on my answer sheet. It was the start of a pretty tight relationship.
As I wander half lost around the back streets behind Tottenham Hale station a small quiver of excitement suddenly runs through me. I hear music, smell food frying and see a small crowd gathered outside a warehouse with its doorway flung wide open. I join friends at a picnic table just outside the entrance. The sun is attempting to shine as hard as it can through a few rainclouds but people don't take notice of those. Instead they sup schooners of sours, pale ales and imperial coffee stout. They stuff their face with pulled pork, burgers and falafel. Some play 'cornhole' a game which simply involves throwing small beanbag through a hole from distance which isn't as easy as it sounds. All while owner/brewmaster/brand ambassador Logan Plant hops around, simultaneously entertaining the needs of his customers and his young son.
I wander inside, slip past a monolithic wall of yet to be filled cans, wolf down a slider and join a small queue at the bar which sits opposite a row of gleaming fermentation vessels. Ten beers covering a gamut of styles to keep any beer lover happy are being poured. These beers, including my favourite Gamma Ray are being sold for near half of what I've seen them go for in London's most popular beer destinations. Some people opt for thirds, a few upgrade to halves but most seem content with British craft beer's new poster boy measure the two-thirder. Many also grab cans to take home so that they can continue their drinking experience elsewhere long after that big front door closes. A Lemon Phantom Berliner Weisse sets me up, it's as tart and refreshing as a can of cloudy lemonade but with an extra smack to the chops.
I've written about Beavertown and their beers many times but I never seem to get bored of doing so. I feel like I know them inside out and yet in some respects I feel like I know them hardly at all. The first piece I wrote for 100 Best Breweries was about them and despite it being published as recently as March it's already well out of date. Gone are the days of brewing in a cramped Hackney restaurant and a slightly less cramped Hackney warehouse. This 30BBL brewery is the next step, a surefire sign that British 'craft beer' has evolved, this is phase two, now it's time to get serious.
Everything about the facility Beavertown have dubbed 'Big Beaver' makes me think of the North American brewery explosion that happened the late 80's and early 90's. Now world renowned breweries such as Lagunitas, Deschutes and Bear Republic have expanded again and again to keep up with a demand that just keeps getting bigger. Lagunitas now runs two immense breweries that cast a long shadow over an operation such as Beavertown and yet even they struggle to keep up with the worlds ever increasing thirst for good beer. As I sit with my two-thirder of twisted, tart, refreshing sour beer I feel as if I'm within a mature, established environment even though they've barely been here two months. In fact I feel almost as if I'm back in Colorado, a place I regularly long to be. Except, now I don't have to travel 5000 miles, I just have to take the number 41 bus five miles down the road.
Beavertown Brewery is located at Lockwood Industrial Park, Mill Mead Road, Tottenham Hale, London, N17 9QP. The tap room is open every Saturday from 11am-5pm.