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“I consider myself a custodian for this moment in time”

“I consider myself a custodian for this moment in time”

Walton Lodge is a beautiful red-brick Edwardian building which was built in 1904 to house a then-thriving family-run laundry business. After almost 120 years the laundry finally closed, but the building itself still stands proud at 374 Coldharbour Lane- only now it houses an all day bistro and wine shop run by New Zealand-born MELANIE BROWN. We went to visit Mel at The Laundry to talk about her time in Brixton so far, and what she’s doing to try and preserve the legacy of this amazing building.

Q: We’re a long way from New Zealand! How did you end up becoming a business owner here in the UK?

When I was 15 I dropped out of school. Even at that age I just knew that the hospitality scene was far more my bag than anything else, and I trained to be a chef instead of going to university.

Eventually I moved to London to work in the restaurant industry. Brixton captivated me immediately because it has such a dynamic cultural presence. I think it’s like nowhere else in London and when I moved South of the river I always knew I wanted to be part of the community here one day.

Then when Pop Brixton started I jumped at the opportunity to open a New World wine bar and shop there, which we crowdfunded to build.

Q: How did you come to be the custodian of Walton Lodge?

I used to drive past Walton Lodge every day on my way into work at Pop Brixton and I found myself drawn to it straight away. I thought that such a beautiful building deserved for somebody to do something amazing with it. So I’d been driving past it for about three or four years, totally captivated by it, and then I heard that the landlord was opening up discussions.

There were a massive number of people that were interested but I think the landlord was supportive of my application because he really wanted an independent business in the building rather than a big chain; and he knew what I’ve done in Brixton before so he trusted that Walton Lodge would be safe in my hands.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the building?

The Newland family owned and ran Walton Lodge as a laundry for 119 years. They also had satellites throughout South London and would wash all the linen for the big hotels in Park Lane. It must have been an huge operation for many years but in 2014 they couldn’t sustain it any more so they closed the doors. That’s when our landlord purchased and renovated the building.       

When I started digging into the history of Coldharbour Lane and the building and the people it really resonated with me. History and provenance has always been a strong love of mine and this building has so much of that.

I consider myself a custodian of the building for this moment in time and I hope I do everything that I can do to preserve its integtrity and the story within it.

There’s just this overwhelming energy about the building and I think that’s due to the amazing business that was run here previously. How many businesses run for over 100 years? An amazing family as well, some of them have come down to eat here and they were absolutely gobsmacked when they walked in.

Q: How has the history of the building inspired you?

We’ve created a collection of wines called New Press, produced in New Zealand with a prestigious winemaker in Marlborough, and the New part of New Press is from New Zealand and the Newman family, and the Press part is linen press and grape press.

The style of our menu was also inspired by the Edwardian era (during which the laundry first opened its doors), when a new more relaxed way of eating and dining with lots of sharing and platters was introduced by King William VII to the UK.

So we’ve created a menu of dishes designed to share. It’s all about the casual excellence of hospitality.

Q: How has COVID impacted your business?

The first few months were great, we were very busy over Christmas time, and everything had been going really well. Then COVID hit. Out of the blue, we were closed for three months.

We managed to pivot the business when we were able to reopen as a general store. It was a great way for us to try to reconnect with the community and think about how we could best support them in this crisis. We used that time to develop a reopening strategy with our locals in mind- they’re the people that sustain and drive us.

It’s been great to see it so busy again since we’ve reopened. We’re fortunate to have this prime position on Coldharbour Lane, and it’s helped that we have the terrace with plenty of outdoor seating.

Q: What do you think of Coldharbour Lager?

As a business on Coldharbour Lane, we couldn’t not stock Coldharbour Lager- we love everything about it! It’s fresh, bright, thirst-quenchingly delicious. Everyone loves it!

Portraits from our Characters of Coldharbour Lane series will be on display at the Brixton Brewery Tap Room from 23rd September or you can see them as they drop on Instagram @brixtonbrewery. Look for Coldharbour Lager at bars and bottle shops throughout London and beyond (or shop via our website here). Grab one and take refuge from thirst 

Design Your Own Beer competition results!

Design Your Own Beer competition results!

When we launched our Design Your Own Beer competition, we were in the first surreal week of lockdown and we thought people might welcome a little distraction from everything going on around us. We often get asked about our colourful and distinctive labels inspired by the normally colourful and buzzing Brixton (it’ll be back one day soon!) and we were excited to see what people would come up with on their own.  

We invited people to download our beer label template, come up with a creative name and get colouring in! To say we’ve been absolutely blown away by the imagination, the effort and the all-around care that went into the submissions would be an understatement. We’ve loved each and every one – from the most professional to the crayon and stick figures – we salute them all. Some people wrote to tell us the story behind their design, others let the artwork speak for itself. There were lots of tributes to key workers and to Brixton. Some took our existing labels as inspiration, and others went gloriously off in their own direction.  

Our initial plan was to pick a winner and send them a case of beer, but when it came to judging, we realised that choosing just one would be impossible. So we’ve decided to pick four winners and a swathe of runners up – and all will have prizes! Our overall winner will receive 24 beers, each category winner will receive 12 beers and we’ve got keyrings and pins for all of our runners up. So, without further ado…

OVERALL WINNER: Nathan Reed, Clap Your Hands

Beer Design Winner

COLOURED BY HAND WINNER: Josh Kerry, Bricktop
Runners Up: @Char_br0iled, Stay At Home Brew and @tunsofbeer, Recharge

LOCKDOWN LIFE THEME WINNER: Emma Hayes, Stockpiling
Runners Up: @julia_peculiar_, The Staying Inn and Stewart Kerr, National Hero Special

PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER: Luke Fuller, Two Meter-You

And some more of our favourites.. there were so many good ones!

Thank you everyone who took the time to enter; it’s definitely brightened up our lockdown, and hopefully yours too. Stay safe! Love, Team BB 

We’re raising funds while you raise bread!

We’re raising funds while you raise bread!

In what we hope is exciting news for all you home bakers out there, we have decided to make our own supply of brewer’s yeast available to buy on our webshop!

The coronavirus lockdown has had many unforeseen consequences. Maybe one of the less expected has been a national shortage of yeast, which has prevented many of us from being able to perfect our bread-making skills while we have the time.

When we heard this news (then confirmed the absence of dried yeast in all our local shops!) we knew that we had to do something to help. We checked our stock of brewer’s yeast and realised that we had enough to spare, and decided to make some available to buy on our website. We really hope that by doing this more people will be able to indulge in the joys of home bread-making and that we can raise some additional funds for Norwood & Brixton Foodbank while we’re at it.

You can head to our webshop to buy the yeast in 30g sachets (enough for 6-8 loaves) for £5 including postage. All profits are being donated directly to the foodbank.

We’re also including an easy-to-follow recipe for home-made bread with every order, including some tips and tricks from our two resident baking experts – delivery driver Roberto (the acknowledged Master) and brewer Francesco. Although not exactly the same as the dried yeast sold in supermarkets (both are Saccharomyces cerevisiae), brewing yeast works well in most bread recipes. Yeast is yeast, you might say.

Our first attempt turned out pretty well!

 So get baking! And don’t forget to tag us in your baking pics @Brixtonbrewery

PS: We are still donating £5 from all Brixton Brewery T-shirt sales to Norwood & Brixton Foodbank- just FYI in case baking isn’t your thing!

PPS: For more information about the foodbank, including how to donate directly, and what items are critically needed, head to their website: https://norwoodbrixton.foodbank.org.uk/

Route & Branch: Our journey with Norwegian farmhouse brewing

Route & Branch: Our journey with Norwegian farmhouse brewing

Alberto, our Lead Brewer, once left us for a 6-month sabbatical in Norway. There, brewing among the rugged fjords and endless snowscapes, he heard the story of kveik, a heritage mother yeast, passed from farm to farm in rural Norway, creating the basis for a thriving but not widely recognized style of farmhouse brewing with this extraordinarily active and fruity yeast at its heart. It was recognised in its rural isolation and introduced more widely to a restless and curious beer world, ever thirsty for new flavours and techniques, by Norwegian beer lover Lars Garshol. From there it has taken off, with the different local kveik offers added to yeast banks and coveted by brewers for an incredible ability to ferment quickly and at very high temperatures. When he came back to us, Alberto, a restless and curious brewing mind, was determined that we would test out this yeast and discover its full range of possibilities.
 
We’re starting with a traditional Norwegian farmhouse brew using a blend of two kveik yeasts – Kvoss and Hornindal and flavoured with fresh Irish juniper branches during the mash. We’ve dry-hopped with generous helpings of HBC 472 hop, with its mellowing and warming coconut and vanilla flavours. HBC 472 is the sister of the popular Sabro hop, known for its distinctly pina colada aromas, but this one delivers a softer character.
 
Expect a brew that bursts with rich flavours and fresh aromas of a Norwegian wood – sharp, piney juniper, the tangerine tang of the super fruity kveik itself, layered onto the lightly toasted base of Vienna malts.
 
Route & Branch Juniper Amber with kveik
ABV, IBU: 5.48%, 15
Malts: Vienna, Rye Crystal, Torrified Wheat
Hops: HBC 472, Huell Melon  

Route & Branch Juniper Amber is part of our Ltd Edn range of small batch experimental brews. AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY in 30L Keg.

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