Pick through around fifty metres of knackered furniture in a dark alleyway next to Bethnal Green underground station and you’ll stumble across far more than just a great deal on a used sofa. Old Street Brewing (confusingly located a thirty minute walk from Old Street station) nestles in one of the arches beneath the London Overground.
This is very much a taproom in a working brewery. The tanks for mashing and boiling gleam against the far wall for all to see, pushed aside to make space for seating at the solid wood bar and high tables. Behind the tanks you can pick out signage from beers gone by, spray painted onto dismantled wooden pallets.
Behind the bar you’ll find four kegs holding the house brew, plus taps drawing another six beers from the “cellar”, a chipboard shed. There’s a can fridge with another two dozen beers to select from and optics with pre-mixed cocktails on the wall. This is not a venue that likes to limit your options.
How’s the beer? Not On The Menu is listed on the menu as a 5.6% English Ale; dark chestnut and cloudy, this beer has some serious lacing and aromas of oak and nuts. The aroma from Infinite Bliss takes a while to build but eventually assaults you with syrupy pineapple. Its smooth wheaty body carries citrus, resin, and more pineapple, without being overpowering (and at 5.3%, it’s practically a session by modern standards). Do You Feel Lucky, Punkin is an imperial pumpkin ale brewed with 25 kilograms of honey roasted pumpkin and two litres of cinnamon vodka, the server tells me. It’s surprisingly clear and disturbingly easy to drink for an 8% beer.
Variety and choice are the watchwords for Old Street Brewing. I’m already planning my next trip to see what beers they have on at the weekend, and I’m sure there’ll be many more visits to follow that.