The new craft beer scene that has emerged in the capital is now notoriously based in the East. For better or worse, it has become the penchant of the trendy, the arty and the bohemian (genuine or faux). Testament to this is the amount of increasingly well-known micro-breweries cropping up in this one particular area. Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and its surrounding area seemingly boasts one every few miles. What is occurring in Trendyville UK is a collection of interesting folks who are passionate about what they make. It is perhaps then, appropriate that delved within the mix of this setting thrives the Beavertown Brewery and the ‘Duke’s Brew and Que’.
The brewery is run by Logan Plant (above), a bright, fashionable man who’s demeanour matches the environment of his fun and easy-going bar to which the brewery is adjoined; in fact, it is so closely linked that the mash tuns almost infringe on the bustling kitchen that produces high quality Yank-inspired food.
Amiable bar manager of the joint, Hannah Vernon (above) jokingly expresses her desire for Logan’s up-coming larger brewing premises in order for her to run a more conventional bar and cellar without bits and pieces in the way. This aspect though is delightful for a punter like me that likes an odd little quirk.
When we first arrive, we are informed that Logan is still en route and will join us shortly. Without missing a beat, I leap towards the bar and immediately clock out of the corner of my eye, the wealth of home-made products on cask and on keg. After sussing these, I am in the process of spotting the rich array of Beavertown beers in bottle when we are greeted warmly by the man himself, seemingly thrilled that we have already ordered two samples of his cask offerings. Almost on the spot, Logan proceeds in talking us through the beers that we have chosen (‘M.O.A.B’ brown ale 4.2% and ‘Neck Oil’ best bitter 4.3%). Of the latter, scrupulously criticises his own usage of dry yeast in that batch and I am reminded of the inherent meticulousness apparent when speaking to other brewers.
Brewers can be their own harshest critic, but it is also very clear when they are happy with what they are doing. Logan is clearly delighted with the way his brewery is producing beer and almost revels in the prospect of making mistakes in the pursuit of the right flavour. Raised in the West Midlands, Logan recognises his informal introduction to the beer world as the time he spent in his youth drinking the fragrant best bitters of that region. It is the same Black Country area that he refers to when explaining his intention of creating a set of good, solid, session ales that Beavertown will produce consistently, ones that people will come back to time and again.It is with these ales that Plant’s formal education at Sunderland’s ‘Brew Lab’ becomes apparent.
All of the beers within this category show the hallmarks of a professional with a strong grasp of ingredients and its resumption in to something that is both tempered and thoroughly flavoursome. So, it is mostly these beers that Logan plans to get in to some of the other good beer bars whilst concocting and honing his more experimental numbers. It is this subject that we move on to next.
Whilst state side, he clearly caught wind of what the brewing world was doing there, what ingredients they use and their clear willingness in always trying something new when producing a tasty beer that people remember as much for its taste as its originality. On several occasions, the eponymous Brooklyn Brewery, played host to the aspiring brewer and it clearly left its mark. With zeal, energy and a plethora of generously distributed bottles, Plant explains to us, his ‘Alpha’ series, a selection of more experimental beers that show the American influences in the flavours that he plays with and how they are used. These are predictably, strong, fragrant and astonishingly good with the beers ranging in flavour from zesty lime and citrus to a more mentholated and savoury hoppiness.
I feel it is important that Logan is keeping his beers limited in their distribution, and the simple reason is that he believes firstly in working out your craft to the best degree before trying to blitz every bar in a London-sized area with your product. Secondly, he believes in keeping some of the more special stuff within the confines of ‘Duke’s Brew & Que,’ after all, it’s nice to have the beers in context of the brewery itself.
After finishing the numerous bottles of Beavertown beer that Logan had kindly provided for us (couldn’t let it go to waste), he escorted us downstairs to where all the magic happens, his brewery. There is a hectic feel to the place. Bricked walls painted a grubby white play host to a selection of interesting-smelling tanks, pots of fermenting cedar wood and a dynamic-looking device that Plant has named ‘Sputnik.’ At the same time, there is a more organised-looking side that is the inner workings of the bar’s cellar (this is evidently Hannah’s side).
We are treated to the smells and scents of an up-coming invention; there are the aforementioned chips of cedar wood bathing in potent whiskey and a large vat of stewed hops giving off strong aromas of basil, peach and sorrel.
A small glass containing a dark, viscous mixture makes me wary that I am looking at the beginnings of what will become Logan’s black I.P.A which I am informed will be a heady 7.5%. What emanates from those cellar walls is a perfect illustration of all the passion that he had speaking about upstairs.
Logan has recently employed the services of his assistant, James. Although he only spoke to us briefly, James’ passion for the product appeared to be equal to the head brewer’s and the two seem to be like two peas in a pod (not just because of their mutual support of Wolves). With the promise of a move to bigger premises, one hopes that this inventive pair will continue to be just that. They have hit upon a very good formula. They have a delightful bar and diner in the ‘Duke’s Brew and Que,’ and they have a selection of good stalwarts whilst maintaining a steady stream of increasingly interesting experiments. There are just fewer than 30 micro-breweries in London now and with it being the new chic thing for a bar to have, there will be more. This is one that has got it just right.