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Collab International Women’s Day brewing event for families affected by knife crime epidemic

Join Earth Station Brewery and Brixton Brewery as they work together to celebrate women while raising money for critical local charities working to stop London’s knife crime epidemic

Earth Station Brewery in Newham and Brixton Brewery in Lambeth are both located in London boroughs struggling with serious youth violence problems. Jenn Merrick, founder of Earth Station, wanted to raise awareness while also raising money for local charities working with young people to stop the bloodshed by doing what she does best: brewing beer. So she came up with a plan to do both: brew a beer that would also benefit families and young people affected by this issue. As a community-based business with strong local ties, Brixton Brewery were immediately on board to be a part of it. They will be throwing open their brewhouse for a very special Open Brew Day event at their Dylan Road Brewery on 9 March. Proceeds from the beer made on the day will go to Asta Community Hub and Fight for Peace in Newham and Indigo Youth in Brixton.

The Saturday 9 March date is a nod to the growing tradition of International Women’s Day open brews (the official IWD is Friday, 8 March) celebrating the role of women in the beer industry. The event will bring together mothers and women passionate about keeping our young people safe from violence to learn about brewing and brew up a Limited Edition special beer, to be released around 31 March for Mothering Sunday.

According to Jenn Merrick, who was Head Brewer at Beavertown Brewery before leaving to start Earth Station, “I’ve lived in Newham for 12 years with my wife. We have cultivated a deep love for this part of London. Now, raising two little boys in the area, we are faced by serious problems with knife crime, the criminal exploitation of children and one of the highest levels of youth violence in the UK. It’s an issue that has affected my family very directly. I want to do everything I can to raise awareness of the issue, and make a positive contribution to changing things for local children.”

Xochitl Benjamin, a co-founder of Brixton Brewery, and Brixton-based mum of two young children says “Jenn and I immediately connected on this – as women, and as mothers. At Brixton Brewery we are committed to our community, and are really excited to be able to support Jenn’s vision. It’ll be a fantastic day celebrating women while making a beer that will raise money for local charities in Brixton and Newham.”

It’s not just the two breweries that have come together to support this initiative. Junction Studio, the award-winning designers of Brixton Brewery’s colourful labels are mentoring young artist Cory Samuels on the label graphics. Leading industry suppliers, including Yakima Chief hops and Simpsons Malt have donated raw material, while Label Express, Saxon Packaging and Ball Packaging are providing labels, boxes and cans.

Earth Station x Brixton Brewery Open Brew Day for Women & Communities is open to any woman who would like to come along and find out a bit more about what goes into their pint while having a unique experience for a great cause. It’s free, but please register here.

The beer, a hoppy pale ale, will available in 30L keg and 330ml cans.

Pre-order now by contacting info@brixtonbrewery.com

 

 

 

 

 

Our new brewery OPEN PARTY! All the info you need

Our new brewery OPEN PARTY! All the info you need

We are very excited to be hosting our New Brewery Open Day Party on Saturday, 22 September from 12 til 9pm! We’ve planned a day of beer, music, food and fun for kids of all ages. It’s a SOLD OUT event so we’re expecting it to be a fantastic, busy good time. If you didn’t get tickets, you can still turn up on the day but ticket holders will have priority. Here are a few other important things to know:

  • The first 100 guests get a free beer!
  • We have a pretty big space but once we are at capacity, it will be one-in, one-out, with priority for ticket holders.
  • There is no parking on our site on the day, but there is free parking on surrounding streets nearby.
  • Our Station Road Tap Room and Brewery on Brixton Station Road will be CLOSED this Friday/Saturday as our staff will be busy with this party.
  • Kids are welcome and do NOT need a ticket. There will be an activity area for kids.
  • If you look like you might be under 25, PLEASE BRING PHOTO ID to get served!
  • There will be a range of food & drink on offer, including beer (obviously!), wine and non-alcoholic drinks at a range of prices for kids, grownups, meat-lovers and veggies alike. We’ve brewed up a couple of one-off specials, including Brixette, a lemongrass infused grisette style beer, and Ribbon Cutter, a hazy, double-dry hopped pale ale, but you will also be able to get your regular favourites.
  • We are happy to accept cash or card.
  • We have an accessible toilet, and the brewery has ramps and level access to public areas.
  • There is a dedicated baby-changing/feeding room.

Our brewery is an indoor/outdoor space so it will be a good time, rain or shine!

See you there! Team BB

Brixton Fund uses community currency for local good

Brixton Fund uses community currency for local good

Brixton has an extraordinary range of ambitious social organisations trying to make life better in our area. As a community business, we try to support as many of them as we can to give back to the area that inspired and welcomed us, including the ‘hyperlocal’ Brixton Pound/Brixton Fund. 

The Brixton Pound is among the most innovative, visionary and high-profile groups working locally. It’s a currency aimed at keeping money circulating in Brixton, and encouraging a diverse range of businesses and services to stay in the area. The money, with its colourful and distinctive paper notes featuring local heroes like David Bowie and renowned social activist Olive Morris, has been operating since 2009. You can spend your notes, or sign up for the electronic version, at numerous businesses around Brixton, including in our off-sales and Saturday tap room.

Not content with merely inventing a new money, the Brixton Pound organisation went on to launch the Brixton Fund, a local grants scheme that directly funds projects that benefit the area. They also opened the Brixton Pound Café, a ‘pay what you feel’ café on Atlantic Road serving up delicious food, often made from donated surplus produce. Money raised from both the pound and the café go towards the Fund. When the staff of the Ritzy Cinema approached us about collaborating on a new, limited run beer, we all felt strongly that proceeds should also go to the Brixton Fund. The result was Britzy XPA, an extra pale ale brewed with all British ingredients that has raised more than £1000 directly for the Fund.

That means more money to support what Lucy Cava of the Brixton Fund calls ‘hyperlocal’ projects. She says, “What’s really nice about the Fund is that it ties the project to the local area and people can see what they are funding.” Lucy highlights the example of a recent initiative by WeRise, a social business that helps young people build professional networks and get project-based work experience. WeRise successfully secured funding for its PressGang, a week-long project that had 10 young people working with the Brixton Bugle to produce media content for the Brixton Design Trail 2017. It was an exciting opportunity for talented but unconnected young Brixtonites to get a taste of producing high quality multimedia material, guided by a team of professionals, and will likely have a lasting impact on its participants.

Lucy points out that the Brixton Pound organisation provides more than just funding. “Our ambition is to make the Brixton Pound Café into a community hub and platform for local groups. We provide support through the Fund, but there are other things that groups need, including affordable space to carry out their activities. That’s where our café comes in.” On the day we spoke to Lucy the café was a busy with members of Lambeth Better Together, the group formed in the wake of the death of MP Jo Cox, which has received money from the Fund to bring together people on opposite sides of the Brexit divide to encourage greater understanding and exchange of experiences between Remain-voting Lambeth and Boston, a Leave-supporting constituency in Lincolnshire.

In the last round of funding in 2017, the Brixton Fund had more than 40 applications for its grants. Check here for more information about the 2018 funding round, or find out how to support the Fund. Follow @brixtonpound on social media.

The Brixton Pound Café is at 77 Atlantic Road, SW9 8PU. Follow @brixtonpoundcaf on social media.

We’ve got the last keg of Britzy XPA on in our Tap Room so you can get a taste Saturdays from 12 til 6.

Brewing success means big expansion news

Brewing success means big expansion news

As we announce an exciting partnership to build a new brewery in Brixton, we look back on how we got to where we are, and forward to the next step on our journey…

Like so many of the good things in life, it all started over a pint. We met in 2010 in Brixton’s former Hive Bar, brought together by that common delusion of early parenthood that your life won’t change much. Of course you can have a baby and still hang out in the pub and chat to the couple next to you who also have a baby and are hanging out in the pub. And the next thing you know, you’ve started a brewery together. We all shared a love of Brixton and beer. We were exhilarated by the surging craft brewing scene in the UK and we knew we wanted to be part of it. Our mission was clear: to put Brixton on the map for great beer.

At first, we had few of the skills, none of the space or equipment, and little of the knowledge that we needed. But we had all of the confidence that it was possible, and a strong vision of the kind of business we would be – rooted in our local community; and the kind of beers we would brew –flavoursome, distinctive, but always balanced and accessible. We secured space in a railway arch in central Brixton and in 2013 Brixton Brewery was born.

Four years on from launching, we are a thriving community business brewing at our maximum capacity in the railway arch. We have around 15 employees and our beers have given people as far away as Italy and Hong Kong a little taste of Brixton in a bottle. Yet demand keeps rising, and we can’t keep up. It’s a nice problem for a small business to have, but it’s a problem!

We know we want to grow, and to be at the forefront of the brewing industry, and of our family business. We want to be in the brewery every day, working alongside our extraordinary, hilarious, creative and talented team. We also know we want to remain in Brixton, this fantastically eclectic place that has inspired and nurtured us, and given us the names and characters of many of our popular beers.

These days industrial space in central London is the rarest of commodities. To expand, most businesses are forced to move production to the outskirts. For us this was unthinkable and having missed out on a unit up Brixton Hill earlier in the year, we couldn’t believe our luck when we found the perfect, albeit much larger space just 600 metres from our current brewery.

It could take our brewing capacity from 12,000 pints a week to 60,000 and enable greater control over the process. It could help us keep brewing our consistently top quality core beers, while we experiment and innovate through our Ltd Edn range in our original brewery and Tap Room. It could mean more jobs and opportunities. And it was available.

To realise this unique and ambitious chance to grow in our home we needed serious investment. It was with pretty much perfect timing that we were contacted by Heineken UK. They had noticed us, liked what we were doing and wanted to see if we could work together somehow.

We invited some of the Heineken team for a brew day and were impressed by their knowledge, passion and insight. We got to know them slowly, felt that we had common ground, and built a relationship of mutual trust and respect. We were delighted that they believed in our vision too. They wanted to support us through investment in the new brewery, and eventually, through helping us get our beers out there to be enjoyed by more people. We are hugely proud of our success story, and see this partnership as the ideal way to keep the important things – the beer character, Brixton and our team – the same, while growing and evolving.

We will continue to be a great place to work, a proud London Living Wage employer and an approachable and accessible part of Brixton, supporting other businesses and community groups like the Brixton Windmill, the Design Trail and the Brixton Pound Fund. We look forward to rewarding our extremely hard-working team, and creating around 30 more jobs locally, while making our beers more available. We will be adding cans to our range for the first time, and transforming our Tap Room into a community-focused space for enjoying our beers and hosting events.

We hope it’s clear how much we value the enthusiasm and support we’ve had so far. It’s helped us transform from a small, family-run business, into a well-recognised local and national brewery. There’s an enormous amount of hard work ahead of us getting our new brewery up and running. We want to thank everyone for supporting us so far. We can’t wait to share the next step on our journey to do what we set out to do in the very beginning: put Brixton on the map for great beer.

Cheers!

Jez & Libby & Mike & Xochitl

 

Find our more about the new brewery, or just come down for a look at who we are and what we do. Join us for our annual Christmas Open Day party in our Tap Room. There will be brewers, music, gifts and beer. 16 December 2017 – Arch 547 Brixton Station Road SW9 8PF – 12 til 8pm.

Some key facts:

  • Brixton Brewery’s founders will be the majority shareholders of the business, in partnership with Heineken UK.
  • The founders will continue to manage the business and guide its future.
  • Our brewery and Tap Room at 547 Brixton Station Road will remain open and functioning. Our regular Tap Room hours are 12 til 6pm every Saturday.
  • A new 30BBL Gravity Systems brewhouse will be installed in Spring 2018 in a 15,000 sq. ft. industrial unit on Milkwood Road.
  • Please follow us on social media @brixtonbrewery for updates and job opportunities.

Our new beer collaboration celebrates an ageing Brixton landmark

Our new beer collaboration celebrates an ageing Brixton landmark

It’s one of Brixton’s many hidden corners with a story to tell, yet people stream past it everyday without even noticing. But look up through the trees near the railway bridge at Coldharbour Lane, with the Barrier Block estate looming behind you, on the side of Carlton Mansions, and you’ll discover a fading piece of Brixton’s incarnation as a hotspot of murals and political street art.

Photo: London Mural Preservation Society

Nuclear Dawn, the mural, and the namesake of our newest beer, a botanical sour, was finished in 1981 by the artist Brian Barnes. The evocative image of a giant skeleton draped in US and USSR flags gleefully dropping bombs over London is damaged by time and obscured by graffiti. The London Mural Preservation Society says, “It represents our history of a shared experience and a reminder that war is not something we want. Sometimes when we don’t have a voice and we can’t shout loud enough, the murals speak for us.” The message Nuclear Dawn conveys feels uncomfortably current these turbulent days.

We’ve always been fascinated by this skeletal spectre of death and destruction, as a piece of art, and as a reminder of Brixton’s long and strong activist streak. When we were thinking of Brixton based inspiration for our latest brew, it came to mind. We got in touch with Brian Barnes, and it’s a huge honour that he was happy for us to use the graphics in our label design. He painted it, with help from the residents of Carlton Mansions, including Dale McCrea, who came up with the idea as part of efforts to re-build following the Brixton riots.

 

Cam & Bates beer geekin

Sometimes things come together on so many levels that they seem almost pre-ordained. This feels like one of those times. We’ve long wanted to do a collaboration with Bates and Miranda, the family behind Duration Brewing. We actually first met Bates about a year before the brewery was born at a beer event, realised we both lived in Brixton, and kept in touch. Then when we were picking up our operations in the early days, we asked Bates to help us out. His extensive brewing knowledge and passion for beer was just what we needed to scale up and keep putting out consistently great beers. That wasn’t forgotten and we knew we wanted to work together again.

Bates ended up in Brixton via South Carolina, but Miranda moved here as a child, and is a true local girl. Her uncle was active in the street art scene of the 70s and 80s, and has an extensive slide archive of Brixton’s murals, which Brian Barnes’ assistant was trying to locate for a research project on Brixton murals of the 70s and 80s. Miranda put them in touch. Connections within connections…

Peeling mangoes…

Nuclear Dawn Botanical Sour is packed full of tropical fruits and botanicals from Brixton Market and is much anticipated as our first ever kettle sour, a beer style that uses lactobacillus bacteria to produce a characteristic tangy flavour.

For Bates and Miranda, Nuclear Dawn’s flavours are tinged with bitter and sweet; this brew marks their farewell to Brixton as they get ready to leave for Norfolk, and their new farmhouse brewery. They’re giving up the life of urban gypsy brewers to set up in an ancient priory site on Abbey Farm, West Norfolk. Follow their founding story and read about their range of pre-release beers, including Nuclear Dawn at www.durationbeer.com and across social media @durationbeer.

Brixton Brewery x Duration Brewing Nuclear Dawn launches Saturday 28 October from 12pm til 8pm at Brixton Brewery, Arch 547, Brixton Station Road, London SW9-8PF. There will be art, artists, music and brewers. Join us! 

Grainspotting: Brixton Brewery x Ritzy Cinema Present A Very British Ale

Grainspotting: Brixton Brewery x Ritzy Cinema Present A Very British Ale

What do you get when you take Brixton’s best-known brewery, its most historic cinema and its most innovative social enterprise scheme? If you add a good dose of all-British ingredients, and a name in no way inspired by A Certain Referendum you may have heard of… you get BRITZY XPA, our new one-off extra pale, extra British ale collaboration with our friends at the Ritzy Cinema, with proceeds going to the Brixton Pound’s community-focused Brixton Fund.

We started with an idea of seeing what we could do with all-British ingredients. The craft beer industry has been pretty heavily dominated by New World hop varietals and flavours, but we have been increasingly impressed by what you can do with what you find closer to home.

We’ve used Epic and Jester from hop merchant Charles Faram. Jester has an intense, punchy aroma of new world proportions, with flavour notes of grapefruit and tropical fruits. We’ve combined them with British ale yeast and our regular Maris Otter (Grand Cru) malt from Warminster Maltings, which has been producing extraordinarily high quality malts using a method virtually unchanged since it first started in 1855. For us, craft brewing is so much about sourcing the best ingredients and using them skilfully to extract the maximum flavour.

The result is a typically British mix of irreverence, dry wit and irony, with undertones of misguided colonial nostalgia. A pint is probably best enjoyed on a disappointingly rainy summer picnic on a windy beach, during the blitz while you and your friends sit around Not Grumbling. But a sunny day on the Ritzy terrace, overlooking the action in Windrush Square would be a close second.

We’re so pleased with this exceptionally flavoursome, very pale and slightly hazy brew, that we can’t resist a little New World-style shouting about it. We took our time perfecting the recipe, and nearly as long cracking each other up with terrible film-inspired punning name possibilities – a pint of With Ale and I or Yeast is Yeast anyone? – before sticking with the straightforward combination of Brixton and Ritzy, with the pleasing symmetry of Br-for-British also sneaking in there.

You can get Britzy while it’s cold and available, on tap exclusively for a limited time at the Ritzy Brixton from 8 July. All proceeds from our side, plus an optional point-of-sale donation from tap sales at the Ritzy will go directly to the tireless community work of the Brixton Pound’s Brixton Fund.

Brixton Brewery Tap Room is open Fridays from 6 til 10 & Saturdays from 12 til 6.

 Brixton Brewery is proud to be an accredited London Living Wage employer.

Four seasons under the arches

Four seasons under the arches

In some ways, running a brewery has a soothingly timeless rhythm to it – the daily same-ness of making beer, testing beer, packaging beer and selling beer. In other ways, the quality of the beer and character of the brewery itself are shaped by the rhythms of seasons. We brew our beer in an arch under a railway line, very much open to the elements, and to the life of Brixton Station Road. It’s easy for people to stop by, stick their heads in and see what we’re up to – and many do. Usually they walk away with a few bottles to try. Conversations often start “I was just walking past and…” The openness makes it easy for us to keep in touch, to get to know regular customers, and to make new connections. We love the space, even as it has its layout challenges and size limitations.

We’ve been around for over three years now, and every year we’ve grown, our beer has travelled further and further from Brixton, and our team has grown and changed as we have. This past year has been no different. We’ll start with autumn, because that’s the season in which we first started.

Autumn

Autumn 2016 marked our third birthday, and was probably the year in which everything really came together for us as a well-oiled brewing business. Things felt more steady and planned, and a bit less improvised as we moved out of the start-up years. We celebrated with the launch of Hurricane (link), our double strength Atlantic APA, a storming whirl of crisp hoppy energy that gained many fans. We had a special label designed for occasion, in which the B for Brixton became a 3. A surprising number of people wrote to ask for it as a souvenir for three-year-olds they know named Brixton. Happy third birthday to Brixtons everywhere. Hurricane will be making a repeat appearance at this time in 2017.

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A label detail from our celebratory third birthday Hurricane IIPA

Winter
Christmas is the season of our annual Megawatt Double IPA, crafted specially to take the edge off the winter chill and bring a little cheer to the early nights. We welcomed some much-needed new members to the brewing, office and events staff just in time for the manic Christmas season. Every hectic December working day, we took a moment to give thanks to our Meheen bottling and labelling machine, which is pretty much all of our Christmas presents come at once. Last year at the same time, we were hand bottling, capping and labelling every single bottle ourselves. We’ve long prided ourselves in our hand-crafted approach but we were pretty happy to let the robots take over the boring bit so we can focus on more interesting things. Like new recipes, and consistently top quality brews.

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One wise Megawatt (far left), Yoda and a warthog…

Spring

As the weather warms, our thoughts inevitably turn to lager. We started making our Coldharbour Lager in 2015 and it quickly became one of our most popular fine weather beers. Making lager can be tough for small breweries. They need to slow ferment in cold conditions, and the process takes around three weeks. Compared with just a few days for ales, this means that precious tank space is out of commission for a lot longer. Capacity has always been one of our biggest challenges – we mainly sell it as fast as we can brew it. But you can’t mess with seasonal drinking favourites, so this year we’ve managed to squeeze in a few more tanks and fermenters. Coldharbour Lager will be keeping you cool and hydrated in barbecue season 2017 and beyond.

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More tanks mean more beer! Increased capacity in Arch 547

Summer

Foodie destination that Brixton is, it was only going to be a matter of time before we sorted out a collaboration with a local chef. We developed the deliciously spicy Market Saison, subtly flavoured with green tea and Jamaican sorrel flowers, for Masterchef winner Tim Anderson’s brilliantly experimental ramen restaurant Nanban. For an extra twist of keeping it local, we enlisted the exuberant talents of resident designers Eley Kishimoto for the label. The Market Saison will be available again this spring with some new flavour combinations planned.

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Our Market Saison collaboration with Nanban, label by Eley Kishimoto

That, in a few short paragraphs, is a quick blast through our brewing calendar. We remain eternally grateful for the incredible support we’ve had from friends, family, the brewery team, Brixtonites, beer lovers, and our trade customers. It’s been a wild ride for us as brewers and business owners. We’re still growing and developing new recipes while keeping our core range of beers fresh and flowing. Brixton continues to be a great inspiration for us. We’re happy to be here, making great beer.

If you want to a chance to see the brewery, find out more about us, and have a unique night out, come along to one of our regular tour and tasting sessions (details and tickets here), or check out our Tap Room, open 12 til 6 every Saturday at Arch 547, Brixton Station Road.

New brew launch: Brixi Saison offers modern take on traditional worker’s brew

New brew launch: Brixi Saison offers modern take on traditional worker’s brew

We’ve collaborated with renowned Belgian brewery Brasserie de la Senne to create Brixi Saison, a modern classic saison-style beer. In a further celebration of all that is so exciting about Brixton and beer these days, the striking label design uses the Connect Brixton print designed by EleyKishimoto as part of Brixton Design Week 2015.

We first heard about Brasserie de la Senne through the hopvine as it were – it was recommended by friends as brewery as dedicated to flavour, quality ingredients and a local ethos as we are. We love their dedication to making truly distinguished and deliciously well-balanced beers. So we were pretty pleased when they agreed to work with us on a special collaboration of Belgium-meets-Brixton beer. Master Brewer Yvan came to London from Brussels to work with us on our limited run saison. Saison is a French-Belgian style farmhouse ale that was traditionally brewed in the winter to refresh seasonal summer workers, saisonnière, from whom the beer takes its name.

We learned loads from our crash course in brewing Belgian style and we’re proud of the result. We wanted to add a new twist on this classic beer style so we’ve used New World Galaxy and Vic Secret hops along with European Noble hops. The result is a beer that is dry, fruity and refreshing, with the slight spiciness characteristic of a saison. As with all of our beers, Brixi is bottle conditioned and un-fined (making it vegan-friendly).

A message on a bottle

We always like to add a bit of local history to your pint. Brixi Saison is named for the Saxon lord Brixi from whom Brixton takes its name. Brixton is derived from Brixtane, meaning stone of Brixi, referring to the boundary stone once placed here.

When fashion meets fermentation

At Brixton Brewery we’re well-known for our colourful and distinctive branding, based on exuberant African batik fabrics. International design company EleyKishimoto is also known for its fantastically eclectic patterns and has long been based in Brixton. So it was particularly cool to be able to use one of its motifs for the Brixi label. The pattern, Connect Brixton, was designed specially for Brixton Design Week 2015. As well as being on our labels, Connect can be seen painted on the pavement of the Brixton Design Trail street gallery on Ferndale Road and outside the Brixton tube station. The designers say, “the intertwined grid like pattern represents the spirit of Brixton in more than a single layer.” We say: it looks fantastic and is the perfect visual match for our beer!

Join us for the launch of Brixi Saison – 17 October, 12 til 8pm, Arch 157, Brixton Station Road, London, SW9 8PF 

Naming our beers, Part 4: a Coldharbour in a heatwave

Naming our beers, Part 4: a Coldharbour in a heatwave

Our label design (see above) once again uses vibrant colours and takes African batiks as its inspiration. The zig zag lines reflect the facade of the distinctive brutalist-inspired Barrier Block estate on Coldharbour Lane

Our Coldharbour Lager made its debut just in time for Britain’s hottest June day on record. The heat wave was typically short-lived but the beer has staying power as a properly refreshing and crisp thirst quencher. It’s great for hot summer days, or for those times when you just want to kick back with an ice cold beer that combines distinctive craft flavour with the classic lightness of a lager.

Coldharbour Lager is a good-time beer, named for the freewheeling Coldharbour Lane, home to legendary drinking dens like The Dogstar, the Prince Albert, the now disappeared Cooltan Arts (Check here for a fascinating look at a piece of lost Brixton) and at least one club too underground to even have an obvious name. It’s not uncommon to be on your way to work while people are still wandering home along CHL on the morning after a heavy night before.

The street is the perfect inspiration for our Pilsner-style beer, with its Bohemian origins. With a heady floral aroma taken from noble hops, this is a lager with loads of personality. When the brewery was still something of a distant daydream back in 2011, Coldharbour Lager was the name of one our first theoretical beers, so it feels pretty close to our core.

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Brainstormed beer names from back in 2011. Two have made it to reality (so far).

Travellers to Central London once used Coldharbour Lane as a stopping off point to rest for the night – a coldharbour was a basic shelter where travellers could rest and find sanctuary from the elements. Crack open a bottle of Coldharbour Lager and take refuge from thirst.

Naming our beers, Part 3: A taste of Mexico made in Brixton

Naming our beers, Part 3: A taste of Mexico made in Brixton

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This is the third in a series about the real-life inspiration for our beers, most of which are named for places around Brixton. Read Parts 1 & 2 here and here.

We were still pretty young as a brewery when the brilliant people of Wahaca/DF Mexico approached us about doing a special beer for them. The Lupulo was a bit of a departure for us, but it was one we were only too happy to make. Who wouldn’t want a chance to brew up a little taste of Mexico-in-a-bottle? The Wahaca team is known for being really supportive of their suppliers, and seeking out the best local flavours and colours wherever they can. It’s been a great relationship for us and challenged us to make the best beer possible to go with the bold, spicy flavours of Mexican food.

We chose Lupulo for the name because it means ‘hop’ in Spanish and we’ve concocted a feisty, hoppy brew that’s strong enough to stand up to the boldest of cuisines. If you can’t get on a plane and get to the real thing, you can head down to Wahaca Brixton or DF Mexico and at least have a taste. Salute!

Here’s Jez and the team , looking particularly good in soft focus, talking about the Lupulo, the brewery, and about our collaboration in this awesome video made by Wahaca.

They’ve got some other great videos in the series as well, looking at some of the other local craftspeople that contributed skills to Wahaca’s particularly striking Brixton restaurant. This one describes artist Jo Gibb giving chairs a new and beautiful lease on life, and in this one, the local spray paint artists who took on the job of making a landmark Brixton building even more distinctive explain their vision.

Naming our beers, Part 2: the Electric vibe

Naming our beers, Part 2: the Electric vibe

This is the second in a series about the real-life inspiration for our beers, which are named for places around Brixton. Read Part 1 here.

Our Electric IPA is, appropriately enough, the strongest of all of our core beers at 6.5% abv. We don’t want to over-do the connection with conduction (there are pun hazards everywhere here), but it does have a way of striking you with a jolt as you take a nice long swig. Expect an expertly crafted balance of malty sweetness, hoppy bitterness and strong floral aromas. It refreshes you as it wins you over with its outgoing and confident flavours. The Electric is a bold assault on the senses and has long been one of our most popular beers.

It’s named after Electric Avenue, one of Brixton’s most colourful and storied thoroughfares. The name itself commemorates the fact that it was one of the first London streets to get electric lights. The street was immortalised in song by the 1982 Eddy Grant anthem Electric Avenue. Who among us hasn’t lurched around a dance floor robotically shouting ‘we’re going to rock down to Electric Avenue…’ at least once? – but, though the early electronica beat and catchy chorus is often understood to be a celebration of the ‘vibe’ of area, the song actually refers to the 1981 Brixton Riots.

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Photo: The lightening bolt label design perfectly captures our striking Electric IPA!

Pretty much any time of day or night there’s something happening on Electric. In the day, it’s home to a noisy and fragrant street market selling all kinds of exotic fruit, veg and other imported goodies. After the stalls have been packed away, the nighttime revelers come out. If you take the time to look up and away from the street-level bustle, you’ll see that Electric is lined with gracious Victorian buildings, arranged on a stately curve to draw in wandering shoppers, a remnant from an altogether more refined past. For all its tatty, eclectic charm, refined probably isn’t a word you’d use for today’s Electric Avenue. Brixton Buzz has a brilliant photo essay on ‘the rise and fall of Electric Avenue’, documenting it from its heyday as one of London’s premier shopping streets to today.

We’ve always thought of Electric Ave as the beating heart of Brixton, which is why it’s the perfect name for one of our most distinctive and ‘electrifying’ beers.

Want to know more about anything we’ve said here? Here’s where we got our information:

  1. Brixton Buzz, The Rise and Fall of Electric Avenue
  2. Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant on Songfacts
Naming our beers, part one: the River Effra and the Ale Effra

Naming our beers, part one: the River Effra and the Ale Effra

The word ‘Effra’ can be seen all over Brixton – the legendary Effra Hall Tavern, The Effra Social, Effra Road, Effra Parade. It seems an inextricable part of the many layers of Brixton. In this case, it’s the layer that flows deep beneath us. The River Effra is one of those evocative lost rivers of London that successive centuries of urban development have covered over so that they now pass unseen under our feet. Imagine a time when the traffic-clogged Brixton Road was crossed by bridges over a 12-foot wide waterway. We could have been the Venice of South London! Or, perhaps more likely, the Amsterdam. In the early 90s, the arts-based social justice group PLATFORM led a mock campaign to uncover the Effra. The Effra Development Agency was a pointed send-up of the PR babble of the Docklands Development Agency, which was hard at work transforming the rugged Docklands into the shiny beacon of international capitalism that it is today. Brixton’s always been a place where ideas – from the sublime to the surreal – are embraced.

Our label was inspired by Brixton’s agricultural past, including a tile inlay that was once located on a shop in Effra Parade showing the River Effra winding through an unrecognisably pastoral Brixton, complete with fields, farmhouses, and a startlingly blue cow.
Our label was inspired by Brixton’s agricultural past, including an image on a tile inlay once located on a shop in Effra Parade showing the River Effra winding through an unrecognisably pastoral Brixton, complete with fields, farmhouses, and a startlingly blue cow.

When we were developing and naming our session beers, it was obvious that one was going to have to be an Effra. We opted to make it our take on a classic English bitter crossed with an American style amber ale; smooth and full-bodied, with a slightly bigger hit of citrusy hops than you normally find in traditional ales – a twist of lime at the end of a rich mouthful of maltiness. It has a refreshing undercurrent (how appropriate for a beer named for a subterranean river) of grass and pine. It’s a great all-round beer that works well with hearty food, and delivers a substantial, thirst-quenching flavour all on it’s own. We’re paying tribute to the spirit of the once-mighty River Effra, which once openly flowed just west of where the brewery now stands, and to Brixton’s more bucolic past. Local paper, the Brixton Blog/Bugle gave a nice little write-up of the inspiration for the Effra in their recent series on the beers of Brixton.

The brewery is open for tasting, buying and hanging out every Saturday from 12 to 4. Please come in and give the Effra a try for yourself.

Want to know more about the River Effra? Here’s where we got our information:

  1. Walking the River Effra
  2. Wikipedia
  3. PLATFORM