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…
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 rosé) 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.
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 canpés 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.