Blog : Our beers

Pour yourself a pint of ambition!

Pour yourself a pint of ambition!

Brixton Brewery x Big Chill collaboration launches lower ABV ‘9 to 5’ Desk Beer for Big Chill’s redesigned workspace

Lower alcohol beers are having a bit of a moment. Our newest brew, 9 to 5 Desk Beer is a 2.8% ABV pale ale collaboration with Big Chill King’s Cross. Big Chill wanted to celebrate the relaunch of their flexible work/social space with the ultimate beer to take you smoothly from your workday ventures to your evening adventures. The result is a lower ABV beer you can enjoy just as easily during working hours, or from 9pm to 5am if that’s more your thing. It’s the anytime brew that you can really work with.

9 to 5 is a hop forward, lightly hazy pale ale, brewed with Australian hops Galaxy and Vic Secret. It fizzes with bright peach flavour and stone fruit aromas. We’ve packed in all the full free-time flavour of a stronger beer, without the productivity-crushing punch of a higher ABV. 9 to 5 is part of our Ltd Edn range of small-batch, limited edition brews.

Say no to endless cups of the same old coffee and savour the full flavour of a workday beer! Never let making a livin’ be all takin’ and no givin’!

Brixton Brewery x Big Chill 9 to 5 Desk Beer is available at Big Chill Kings Cross and Big Chill Brick Lane from 28 February 2018, and other fine beer suppliers, including online at brixtonbrewery.com and eebria.com, while supplies last.

9 to 5 Desk Beer 2.8% – Pale Ale – apricot, peach and citrus flavours. Light and flavourful.
Brewed with Galaxy and Vic Secret hops.
Available in: 330ml bottles

 

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! 

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.

20161217_111223

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.

20170216_165027

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.

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.

WP_20150125_00_24_31_Pro
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

V2-lupolo

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.

BBGlassElectric1

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