Imagine the scenario. You're tired from walking for what seems like forever, your patience is wearing thin, people keep bumping into you and your throat is dry and you have a thirst that water just won't quench. This is the reality for a number of people whenever they leave the house to go shopping. Now imagine this in one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. Hell on earth right? That's where you are mistaken. In the market area of the Westfield there is a haven for the tired, thirsty and just plain fed up. This haven from the maddening crowds is the brew pub Tap East and they are serving some great craft beer to the masses.
As part of the London 2012 olympics preparation there was extensive construction in the Stratford area with the Westfield shopping centre expanding and the search for new businesses to fill the created space beginning. This situation turned out to be very fortunate as Mike Hill was looking to add a microbrewery to his already burgeoning beer businesses. After a bit of negotiation the site for the new brewpub concept became available for fitting out in June 2011 with an agreed moving in date of September 2011. This resulted in a lot of things having to be mobilised very quickly and after some serious hard work they managed to meet the timelines and opened within three months of having signed the agreement.
After signing the agreement the search for a brewer was undertaken and this resulted in Jonny becoming part of the Tap East team and taking charge of their brewhouse. Jonny is a scientist by training and as brewing is very science focussed there are endless possibilities for someone with a creative and analytical mind to really put their stamp on the beer that they make. It was this blank canvas that really intrigued Jonny into pursuing a career as a brewmaster.
Tap East brew 2-3 times a week on their DME brewing system originally from Canada, creating 9 casks per brew. Their main focus currently is on supplying their brew pub with any surplus being either bottled or sent to pubs in and around London. Their future plans for the brewery are including looking to continue brewing out of Westfield and adapt the kit they have to suit their short to mid terms needs. Some potential upgrades include the possibility of installing a keg washer and filler as they currently only supply cask, which will no doubt make the CAMRA members out there happy but it does mean that if not all of the beer is drunk in an appropriate time frame it will have to be poured away.
The core range of beers from Tap East consists of six different brews:
East End Mild - True to the classic mild style this beer is full of roasted flavours and has an exceptionally smooth mouth feel.
Jim Wilson Bitter - Again true to the classic British bitter style this has some caramel notes to it and is finished off with the use of bittering hops to give the classic flavour profile of a Best Bitter.
IPA - This is brewed with different hops each time it is created so that you are never sure what you are going to get. Could it be a timeless classic or an experimental concoction.
Coffee In The Morning - A coffee stout with a good tan head, this uses coffee beans from another Westfield occupant, Grind. It has a very smooth mouth feel and the coffee compliments the traditional stout characteristics.
American Pale Ale - A citrus forward and intensely hopped beer which uses Citra and Chinook to give a real taste of the USA here in the UK.
Tonic Ale - A Pale ale which a milder citrus flavour than the American Pale Ale. This also has a mild bitter finish and is very sessionable.
Their aim is to have a core selection of beers which regulars and visitors can enjoy whenever they visit, as well as having a broader range of beers for people who wish to try something new and expand their flavour horizons. Jonny bounces ideas off people for new recipes by interacting with other brewers through the London Brewers Alliance as well as gaining inspiration from trying other peoples brews. He recommends that if you are looking to create something unique you really need to test you palate and see what is out there as this will help you to discover what favour combinations do and more importantly don't work. He also recommends that home brewers shouldn't be put off by there being a large number of offerings in a particular style as each one has it's own specific flavour which the brewer has tried to impart.
In addition to their own micro brewing activities they have the bar side of the business which includes 16 taps, both cask and keg, which are regularly changing with their own and guest beers. On top of this they also have over 100 bottles from around the world including the Porter from Anchor brewing in San Francisco and traditional Belgian beer styles such as Gueze. Their recurring event, LP (long play) Wednesdays are now being a much sought after fixture where they ask customers to tell them their favourite albums and they then select one and play it in full for everyone to enjoy.
So the next time you are wondering around the Westfield and are starting to feel like things are getting the better of you, why not take a break sit yourself down in Tap East and enjoy a drink. Believe me when I say this, it really does help to re-centre you after making it through the hustle and bustle of crazed shoppers on a weekend.