A trip out to London's new brewing heartland of Hackney has brought me to London Fields Brewery and their rather wonderful taproom. Hop vines adorn every ledge in this warm and rustic bar, completely at odds with the railway overhead and the industrial estates surrounding. And the choice of poison isn't too shabby either, with twelve keg and six cask lines serving up an array of beery delights, including a good number of rare and seasonal offerings alongside a couple of guests. They are even open seven days a week – bonus!
Starting on a number of their core range, there is a remarkably high level of consistency with the majority being fine tipples, even if nothing quite sticks out as spectacular. Both American pales, the more traditionally American Shoreditch Triangle IPA and the West Coast variant Hackney Hopster, are rich on the hop front with the former especially having huge grapefruit tones on both the nose and the palette. I am rather taken with the story behind their red ale, Love Not War, the beer first being brewed during the riots two years ago when the brewers were trapped inside the brewery. The beer itself is a lovely red with hints of cinnamon amongst the sweet biscuit maltiness. It is reasonably bitter too, seemingly more so than either pale, and at just 4.2% is very drinkable.
My favourite here among the regulars is (rather unsurprisingly) the Black Path Porter. Rich plum flavours abound on the nose, and these continue upon first taste as it reveals itself to be a vibrant and fruity porter. The taste mellows quickly to a dark chocolate aftertaste, with a suggestion of syrupy liquorice underneath. The only criticism would be that the final flourish, especially in bottle, feels a little too watery for one that offers so much to begin with.
Amongst the seasonal specials, autumn has taken centre stage. The incredibly fresh smelling green hopped pale Harvest Ale is packed with tropical fruits on the tongue as mango, orange and passion fruit come through immediately, but fade too quickly. The Pumpkin Ale does exactly what it says on the tin, a very nice example that is satisfying with plenty of pumpkin to feast upon, as other warming spices bubble up. But these are tame in comparison to Gyle 666, their spiced brown ale. I was urged to have taste before buying even a third, and it is easy to taste why it is too much for many. A huge hit of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and rounded off by a sledgehammer blow of chilli. Really quite an extreme beer, but very flavoursome as it leaves the mouth with that warm tingling for long after.
London Fields Brewery certainly has my favourite London taproom, and some lovely beer to match. The seasonal range in particular is interesting and well executed, although the none-appearance of Black Frost again this year is a major disappointment. Well worth a visit.
For more information, check out the London Fields Brewery website.