Blog : Brewery life

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! 

Jez talks to Deskbeers about starting a brewery in Brixton

Jez talks to Deskbeers about starting a brewery in Brixton

Meet the Brewer: Brixton Brewery

Jez, Libby, Xochitl and Mike started Brixton Brewery back in 2013 and quickly established themselves as a mainstay of the UK craft brewing scene. Taking inspiration from the explosion of UK brewing at the time, and influenced by both US and European styles of beer, we love that the vibrancy of SW9 shines through in everything Brixton brews.

We asked Jez to answer a few questions for us about getting started, brewing life and what it means to run a world class craft brewery in your own neighbourhood.


DeskBeers: What (and where) was the first beer you ever brewed?

Jez Galaun: Our first brew was as complete novice home brewers back in March 2011. Mike, my former neighbour and co-conspirator (aka brewery co-founder) bought a Mr. Beer kit online and it came with everything we needed. You get a tin of malt extract, yeast, hops, plastic fermenter, bottles etc and we “brewed” it up on the stove in his flat and fermented it in his airing cupboard!

Just the other week we found photos of us brewing and later tasting that beer wearing fictional “Brixton Brewers” t-shirts our wives Libby and Xochitl, the other brewery Co-Founders had made for us as a surprise. I got quite emotional looking at them.

DB: How did you come to start your own brewery?

JG: We met in the Hive Bar, which is now Craft Beer Co. Brixton in 2010. We both had new babies and were having some Sunday brunch. We got to talking, and it turned out that we actually lived on the same street — right across from one another.

The same year I’d visited The Kernel with a friend one Saturday morning in their original home on Maltby St and that was my eureka moment. Soon after we were all having a burger and a pint of Amstel, again in Hive Bar and I made a flippant remark about how we should open a local microbrewery.

Things were kind of taking off in the London beer scene, and Brixton was becoming known as a bit of a foodie destination, so it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Mike seemed to like the idea and sent me an email later that week to tell me he’d ordered the Mr. Beer kit. Not wanting to be outdone I immediately bought BrixtonBrewery.com. Every journey starts with a single step and that was ours.

DB: Describe your brewing ethos in a few words.

JG: We’re always seeking balance. We never set out to make the strongest, the hoppiest, the wackiest, the most bitter beer. We want our beers to be incredibly tasty but not slap you in the face.

DB: What’s the best thing about running your own brewery?

Community. We’re part of the local Brixton community and the wider craft beer one. This has allowed us to make lots of great friends and connections with like-minded people and businesses and also build a great community around us through the tap-room. It’s those experiences that make all the hard work worthwhile.

DB: What’s the worst mistake made while brewing?

The first brew we did to commission our commercial brewery was our flagship Electric IPA. We scaled up our home-brew recipe and overshot massively on the grain bill! The mash-tun overflowed and the beer came out at almost 8%. We were aiming for 6.5!

That batch went down the drain and delayed our official launch slightly but we learn fast and thankfully nailed it on the second attempt. In hindsight choosing your strongest beer as a first brew isn’t advice I’d give to someone else starting out!

DB: What’s the most important attribute you need to be a good brewer?

Quick thinking! What we do is a genuine craft, we’re not just pushing buttons. To make consistent beers the brewer has to react to variations in raw materials, temperatures, water chemistry etc. You also need to be something of a jack-of-all-trades. Since starting the brewery I’ve had to do everything from setting up the Wi-Fi to getting my forklift licence, to using a microscope to count yeast cells.

DB: What advice would give to someone starting out?

JG: The industry is changing so quickly. You really need to hit the ground running, I don’t think you can learn on the job anymore, like we did. There’s no substitute for experience but luckily it’s an open industry and people are happy to help with advice.

We certainly got our fair share in the early days and try and reciprocate that favour now. We’ve actually recently become mates with three guys opening Nigeria’s first craft brewery, Bature Brewery and I’d like to think we’ve helped them and others on their journey, much like we’ve had help on ours.

DB: Which brewery would you most like to collaborate with?

JG: Good question. We’ve only done 3 collabs so far, one with Brasserie De La Senne from Brussels, another with Volcano Coffee Works and most recently with chef Tim Anderson. All of their philosophies and approaches really resonated with us. For us collaboration needs that mutual respect and learning.

We’ve recently launched a range called Ltd Edn to do more experimental beers, and that’s a great way to open up to more collaborations, so it’s something we’ll be pursuing for sure.

When we started, we had a brewer called Emanuel who worked for us for a while and then moved back to France to open his own brewery, which I haven’t visited yet. It would be really cool and interesting to go over and check out his set up and do something with him. His brewery is called Les Trois Croquants. France has been a bit slow to get into craft beer so we’re all for supporting Emanuel in his quest to make it happen.

DB: As a brewer, where would you like to be in 5 years time?

JG: If you read the side of our bottles you’ll see “Brewed Fresh in the heart of Brixton” and whilst we’re bursting at the seams currently that’s our pole star. It’s not just marketing. We started in Brixton, it’s a place that constantly inspires and nourishes us and we will do everything we can to stay here as we hopefully continue to grow.

DB: If you had had to listen to the same song forever whilst brewing, what would it be?

JG: Mr. November by The National. I’ve seen it performed live a fair few times (check it out on youtube) and Matt the bands frontman goes absolutely crazy and climbs into the crowd. Every time I hear it those memories come back. The process of brewing and drinking beer does that for me too — it creates and evokes memories.

DB: You are stuck on a desert island. You discover a cool box with one can of Stella and one can of Carling. What do you do?

JG: Drink the Stella, use the Carling to break open coconuts.

DB: You can drink one style of beer for the rest of your life. What do you pick?

JG: That is a painful choice to have to make, but probably IPA. Our first brew, as I said, was our Electric IPA, and it’s the style that kind of got me in to craft beer in the first place.

You can do a lot with it — we’ve got the Megawatt Double IPA, which is a pretty strong 8%, but then we also do our Low Voltage Session IPA, which is 4.3%. It’s a really versatile style, and you can do a lot with all the different hops that are out there, adding such a great range of flavours. It works well with food, and it’s an all-around solid beer style. As long as I could try lots of different IPAs, I should be able to survive with this tragic limitation.

DB: What was the last beer you had that wasn’t one you brewed?

JG: A Dugges Pale Ale. A friend from Sweden came to visit last weekend and brought me a bottle. He was completely floored that I recognised a small brewery from a small city in his home country. It just shows how global and interconnected our “movement” is!


Thanks again to Jez for taking the time to answer our questions, and to the whole Brixton team for turning out great beer day in, day out.

We love craft beer and finding out about the people behind them. If you do to, why not subscribe to our low-frequency newsletter to be notified when we publish the next interview?

A bright SPARK! & other adventures in experimental brewing

A bright SPARK! & other adventures in experimental brewing

Our new Ltd Edn range is what happens when we let our brewing imaginations run wild and see where it takes us…

We’ve always said that our beers are all about balance – the right combination of bitter, sweet and crisp. We’ve never tried to be the hoppiest, the booziest, or the most out-there with the flavour combinations. Mostly, we’ve aimed to make beers that people actually want to drink, not beers that a few people might try, but others mostly just talk about (possibly in tones of slight horror). On the other hand, we definitely want to create exciting, innovative beers. We’ve noticed that more people have developed more experimental tastes. So now we’ve got more capacity in the brewery we’ve started experimenting too.

We’d like to introduce you to our Ltd Edn range (yeah, it’s just pronounced Limited Edition). Ltd Edn tests out new styles, techniques and flavour combinations, but always stays on the right side of balanced and drinkable. It’s the beer you might take a bit of a risk on. We’re working hard to make sure that the risk pays off, and leads you to something to savour and enjoy.

We start out by making a small batch, like the home brewers we originally were. If it works, we scale it up. By the time it reaches you, it’s been tested, tweaked, tested again, and is all ready to enjoy. Each batch will be available for a short time only (ltd, even), and when it’s done, we’ll be on to something else. So be quick or it will be gone like the vowels on the labels.

Our Ltd Edn range features a pared down label design, combining two bright colours on a white matt background. It’s a bit of a departure from our trademark multi-coloured labels, but the pared-down design reflects the more experimental and temporary nature of the beers.

First up, for summer 2017, is SPARK! Table Beer. We were up for the challenge of packing massive flavour into a low-ABV brew. SPARK! is a hop-forward hazy pale ale, brewed with Vienna and oat malt. It fizzes with bright melon and stone fruit flavours. You get all the electric pleasures of a great beer, without the jolt of a high ABV.

The next experimental pilot brew is already fermenting away – it involves live cultures, ginger and rum and promises to be tart and exciting. We want to make sure that we’re always trying something new, and so are you.

Join us in our Tap Room to try SPARK! and our full range of beers. Our summer hours are Fridays from 6pm til 10pm & Saturdays from 12 til 6. 

 

 

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.

hurricane-birthday-web

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.

MarketSaisonLabel

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.