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Beer Moves

5 Jul

Hackney’s ever-expanding beer waistline.

This time last year there were no breweries in Hackney. As I write today there are four, that I know of, let me know if I miss any here, or if you’re starting one. Exciting times for the borough’s beer lovers or as I like to call them: beerliebers.

The first mover and shaker in Hackney was London Fields Brewery, started in August 2011 they have been on a rapidly rising trajectory ever since. With recent expansion to a larger sized brewery and now occupying four railway arches in London Fields they are going from strength to strength.

Over in De Beauvoir the next brewery to start the beer flowing was Beavertown Brewery, based in a pub/barbecue restaurant called Duke’s Joint. Billed as a “Brew and Que” they brew beer and serve it with American-style barbecue (long smoked not short incinerated) and a lot of rock and roll attitude (in a good way). Hardly surprising as the brew guy, Logan Plant, is the son of Rock God Robert.

Third out of the blocks is the eponymous Hackney Brewery. Started by a couple of Hackney residents with a pedigree of working in some of the best gastropubs around. They are having a meet the brewer event at The Seabright Arms (why not a Hackney pub?) THIS MONDAY (9th July 2012). So you should go, so should I!

Finally we have a brand-spanking new microbrewery and pizzeria called Crate over in Hackney Wick. Not quite open yet, and not actually in Hackney, just Hackney Wick which apparently is in Tower Hamlets…er whatever, it’s beer and that makes it alright. Chill.

London Fields Brewery
www.londonfieldsbrewery.co.uk
 
Beavertown Brewery
www.beavertownbrewery.com
 
Hackney Brewery
www.hackneybrewery.co.uk
 
Crate
www.cratebrewery.com

Chilli Down Me Trousers

22 Jun a jar of hoxton beach chutney

Blog-neglect, childcare and stained trousers.

I’m a terrible blogger, I have been neglecting my blog, I will never do it again, I’m sorry. I do have an excuse; I am the proud father of a new tiny Tommy Rumbles who has put paid to endless hours of flanneurism and bloggology, the little so-and-so!

I was in Clissold Leisure Centre with the baby strapped to me, trying to prevent him waking up. We were waiting for his mum to finish her swim and I was too scared to venture far, cos I’m not equipped to deal with a tummy-rumbling two month old. So I thought I’d venture into the Hoxton Beach Café which is the new(ish) misnomer for the in-centre café.

I like what I found! They bake their own sour-dough bread on the premises, make their own pizza and serve some delicious Lebanese specialities. I had a falafel wrap, it was massive and delicious. Packed with tangy pickles and chilli sauce which I managed to drip all down my trousers and over my shoes, but that was because I was standing up to eat. I was not trying out a new standing-up-eating regime because I was in a leisure centre, but because the little tinker strapped to me kept stirring when I tried to sit down.

Top tip for the Hoxton Beach Café falafel wrap, sit down and enjoy it.

Hoxton Beach Café
in Clissold Leisure Centre
63 Clissold Road
London N16 9EX
www.hoxtonbeach.com

Stokey Smokie is Okey Dokie

24 Dec Hansen & Lydersen front door

Stoke Newington smoked salmon in the Norwegian style.

Buying fish on Twitter is a first for me. A week ago I took advantage of the generous offer that Hansen and Lydersen posted on Twitter; 20% off for Tweeted orders picked up from the smokery. Perfect. I get money off and a chance to visit a smokehouse producing famously great smoked salmon 10 minutes walk from my house! This is Tommy Rumbles territory. Big style.

So yesterday I set off to pick up my side of Norwegian-style smoked salmon. I got to Shelford Place N16 and wandered down past a ramshackle collection of artist studio spaces. At the end of the lane I started to get a whiff of fragrant smoke and a hand-written sign directed me round to the left. This place is well tucked away, it feels like you’re discovering a secret lair. Under a fire-escape staircase is an unassuming red door stencilled with a salmon. I’d arrived.

Inside the scene was a little chaotic. White tiled walls covered in red marker pen with numbers and calculations like the scrawlings of a mad professor, sides of salmon wrapped in paper being loaded into boxes and lists ticked off. It was Christmas order day in full swing. Clearly they are selling a lot of salmon and the logistics of getting them out on time are not controlled by Microsoft handheld stock check machines, but by humans. Imagine the elves in Santa’s grotto on 24th December, that scene recreated so many times in Disneyesque Christmas films, but instead of toys think beautiful blushing pink salmon. In the corner of the room a wood-burning stove was connected to a flue which led out to a dark and smoky room just beyond. And the smell was amazing.

Salmon smoking

Salmon smoking

At the centre of the activity was a tall, blond-haired chap in wellies and an apron. The smokemaster; Ole Hanson, conducting operations with a steely scandinavian calm. As the delivery driver left with his box of orders the atmosphere relaxed a bit and focus shifted to getting queueing customers supplied. All were welcome to step through the rough-hewn portal at the back of the room for a tour of the smoke-room. Everything has an artisan quality, functional but also beautiful, from the chopping block fashioned from a log, to the smoke-room and cold storage areas where the delicately coloured fish hang like Christmas baubles. This is a guerilla salmon smoking operation and all the better for it.

I can’t wait to try the salmon I bought (saving it for Christmas day), but I also couldn’t wait to blog about this place, because it’s such an experience. If the sights and smells of Hansen and Lydersen are anything to go by this salmon is going to be amazing!

Hansen and Lydersen, 3-5 Shelford Place, London N16 9HS
Smoked salmon chillin'

Smoked salmon chillin'