It isn't often I venture to a brewery I've never heard of which is nonetheless within walking distance of our London flat. Oh there are plenty of breweries I have never heard of that are within walking distance of the flat, but normally I can't be bothered looking for them. You know the drill. A squashed railway arch with a few rag, tag and bobtails of scraped together vessels; a hardly heated, cramped bar with German style benches, lookalike, barely drinkable, overpriced beer and that "What the fuck am I doing here when I could be in a nice pub?" feeling.
But last Friday, gripped by the news in London Drinker that Mechanic Brewery - no me neither - had introduced cask beer got me thinking that the mile and a half walk might be worthwhile. Easy peasy from here. Get up to Whitechapel Road, turn left after the Blind Beggar and you are nearly there. Now Whitechapel Road is a bit like Karachi in places with its street food stalls, clothing shops, Asian sweet and kebab shops and more. It is a polyglot place which I kind of like. Something for most people and interesting. We walk along there quite often and while no fan of Asian sweet shops, the kebabs and pakora always attract me.
Turn left, past Sainsburys and keep going. Council flats are the order of the day and the place gives off an atmosphere almost of a small town, though you are only a few hundred yards from the bustle and the buses. There is nobody much about. A railway line looms ahead and we turn right. Suddenly, abandoned old London taxis are everywhere. Old as in will never move again. Like a dinosaur cemetery, they lay as if awaiting discovery by some future explorer. Here and there lights in arches show people hard at work, dismembering carcases and applying them to bust up taxis. This is where London cabs come mostly to die and for some, a Frankenstein like afterlife as spare parts.
Under another bridge, the underside of which was littered with more of the dead, we see a row of lights. "That'll be the brewery" I thought. It was. An open metal gate, an arch with that heavy plastic drop down sheeting that you struggle to find a way through, but we did. Inside it was just as already described, but empty apart from the barperson. It was warm though and good sounds emanated from speaker above the bog - unisex - or is it gender neutral now - of course.
The beer list was fine. I tried three thirds. A mild, a curiously appealing lime stout and a more standard pale beer. E had a creditable can of Kolsch. I chatted to the operative. They don't have cask in the Tap and only do it for festivals, but he admitted many people ask for it, so a handpump will be installed. We agreed the mild would much better suited to it than keg dispense. As we drank up our host mentioned there is three other breweries round the corner. Thanking him,we left and went round in the direction indicated by the jerk of his thumb. More defunct taxis littered the streets. We saw no signs of a further brewery, just an old and derelict pub, with a single electric bulb, creepily lighting some upstairs room through tattered Addams Family like curtains. This looked like a fine place to get murdered, so we made our way by a different route, back to Whitechapel Road.
Mechanic Brewery is fine. You can see why it is named as it is. Quite good in many ways. We'll call back in daylight and maybe manage that elusive brewery crawl.
Still not been in the Blind Beggar. Must remedy that. It looked busy.
Sadly no spicy food for me.That was vetoed. Well no spicy Asian food anyway. My usual Vesuvio pizza from Pizza Union in Leman St was unlike them, sadly a bit overdone.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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