Pillars Brewery Launch Party

In Drink, Uncategorized on October 16, 2016 at 3:44 pm

You may have noticed my posts display a certain love of all things ale as well as local. So I was  most excited to receive an invite from Kayleigh Bell to the launch party of Four Pillars Brewery (now rebranded to just Pillars Brewery). So stopping off at Central station to meet my beer geek friend Helena who came as my +1 off we went to the Ravenswood Industrial Estate.

(I hope there was never a wood full of ravens that was demolished to make an industrial estate. That would be sad.)

You know the phrase “So new the paint was still wet”? Well…


Shiny new!

The door to Unit 2 was unadorned but on entering the smell of fresh paint was most clear🙂

On entering we were greeted by the effusive Omar Razaq, brewer and ‘co-pillar’, who gave us a very warm welcome and led us to the bar, telling us about their beers. The brewery does have a standing tap room serving all their beers on draught.

Pillars Tap Room

The tap room. From here, off to the right of this shot, you can see all their fermenters while you drink the produce.


Ooh, check out your fancy taps!

So, lets go through the lovely beers. I consumed one of each as I am a dedicated reviewer. I was lucky enough to have a chat with Pillars founder Gavin (I didn’t get his business card, sorry Gavin!) who explained them to me:

  1. Untraditional Lager (4.5% ABV) this is an ‘Indian Pale Lager’, cold fermented for 8 weeks. It’s intended as a session beer and is wonderfully well rounded. Many IPAs tend to jack up the hops to compensate for mediocre undertones but Untraditional lets them play the same rhythm as other flavours. Currently this is the flagship brew which is going out to the restaurant and pub trade (I saw Joe, the owner of the Rose & Crown, there). There are no immediate plans to sell to the off licence trade as bottling/canning is an extra complication to a new business but Gavin seemed open to the idea in the future.
  2. Pillars Pilsner (4.5%) I think Gavin was trying to tell us this was going to be called ‘Pillsner’ but the clever wordplay got a bit lost. This is a ‘Work in Progress’ beer that may be part of the product line up but currently is just being sold through the tap room. It’s the most typical of the line up but is a very nice, light colour, quality Pilsner that I can see doing very well in restaurants.
  3. AmarilloFest (5.6%) An Oktoberfest style lager made with a rare box of American Amarillo hops. This was a bit of a special one-off brew and my favourite of the evening. Deeper flavour with the higher ABV giving it more body and caramel solidity. Again, this one is destined purely for the tap room.

Gavin went on to explain that along with their ales Pillars tap room will also carry local wines (a couple of reds, whites and a rosĂ©) and some local spirits (although not gin to avoid annoying the neighbours at Mother’s Ruin). They will also have bar snacks including crisps made at a nearby farm!

One interesting point in the conversation is why they chose the Ravenwood estate. I assumed that they wanted to be in that creative nexus but apparently there is a shortage of small industrial space in Walthamstow. When Unit 2 became free they snapped it up, despite being a bit bigger than they were planning for.

Which was a surprise, looking at their beautiful hardware.


Cold fermenters

Currently they have 120 hectolitres of capacity which ferments each batch for 8 weeks. That’s 780 hectolitres a year according to the simplistic maths. That sounds like a lot to me!

The evening progressed with fancy canpĂ©s and more chat. I had my coat off a bit but soon needed to put it back on like all the other guests. Gavin told us they had electric heating but it wasn’t yet ready due to technical issues. But the excellent soundtrack, delightful finger food and of course fabulous beer made for a great evening.

Having to walk Helena back to Central for her trip home we decamped at 10pm but ended up chatting outside with Omar again and Rob, one of the Wildcard bar staff. The warmth and joy of the indie beer scene was very evident and we spent quite a bit more time learning of other brews to try and pubs to try them in.

I think Pillars have placed themselves perfectly. Geographically their tap room will add to the mass of the social sun that the estate is becoming. The business ideals seem sound and I can see Untraditional doing very, very well in London’s pubs and eateries. And finally in product; IPA’s as a beer style are currently immensely popular. Their tap room is serving a very different lineup from Wildcard (although I can see them becoming two bars of the same ‘venue’).

The official launch of the tap room will be at the end of October.

Save Higham Hill Library Campaign

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2016 at 8:50 pm

So my local library is under threat of being sold off to developers. There is a campaign to save (Facebook group) it with a petition in progress.

When I spent 3 years out of work the library was a refuge. I’d read papers in there and browse books. In Winter it was simply somewhere warm I could sit for a few hours when I couldn’t afford heating.

Please sign the petition and spread the word.

Punk Waltham Forest Music History walk

In history, music on September 17, 2016 at 8:34 pm

As part of the Punk Waltham Forest there was a walk given by local music historian Mark Hart. As fans of modern music history (god, I get so excited by those BBC4 specials) my partner and I decided to go along. Apparently there were 50 free tickets but we forgot to book some, so in true punk fashion we crashed the gig anyway.

Early on in the walk Mark made the point that music needs infrastructure to flourish; publishers, recording studios, live venues, agencies.

Our guide, Mark Hart.

Our guide, Mark Hart.

I think this was what I learned most from the walk, that a community like Walthamstow needs to provide resources to have a vibrant artistic community.

And what resources. Starting from the Small Wonder exhibition (which I wrote about last week) we went on to the EMD/Granada (I’m not using it’s silly new name) to learn how it replaced it’s failing film takings with income from live music. Buddy Holly, John Coltrane, James Brown and Gene Vincent and most famously the Beatles all played there. Mark told us a number of stories of it’s music hall days.

As we traversed Hoe Street Mark told us about local recording studios, mastering studios, Small Wonder itself (now the Arbat Eastern European Store) and many others. Of band members who grew up locally and long gone clubs (I love that the Human League recruited their backing singers here!). Of Ian Dury famously at Walthamstow college and how 21 of the 30 students in his class went to the Royal College of the Arts. We ended at the Assembly Hall, well across the park from it as a rather spendid wedding was happening with drum music! We learned of the famous Sex Pistols gig but also of the inspiration that ripped out of that night as it did many of their concerts. But also how it hosted Placido Domingo, Joy Division and The Fall.

The splendid wedding party

I made copious notes during the walk but frankly instead of dumping what I learned here I’d rather just give a sense of the talk and encourage people to go on the walk when Mark next runs it (he has before). It really is very beautiful and not just historical; Mark spoke movingly of the ‘stow’s cultural melting pot and how the modern Grime scene has grown and is growing out of here. About how some young kid might be hearing some national music in a cafe or corner and taking that into their own music to make the next big thing. Making some more history to feel proud of.