Winter has arrived, and it feels bitterly cold here in London. Not to be deterred The Hopflower ventures to North London to try a couple of Tap Rooms.

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Suddenly Winter has arrived, and it feels bitterly cold here in London.   Not to be deterred by this abrupt change of temperature however I ventured to North London at the weekend to try a couple of Tap Rooms.

I blogged last week about tap rooms in South London and I have previously blogged about Hackney, so in the interest of balance I feel it’s only right that I do a quick blog about my trip up North.

Now this trip was actually a birthday present from my wonderful siblings.  I’m a woman of simple tastes and I don’t need much so when it comes to Christmas or Birthday presents I’d rather have a nice day out.  My Brother and Sister decided to take me for lunch then to the taprooms at Beavertown and Pressure Drop breweries in Tottenham – they know me well!

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Now if there’s one thing we have all learnt its that prep is important; when going drinking its vital to line your stomach first.    So, we went to El Botellon, a Tapas and South American Restaurant on Seven Sisters High Road which proved to be a great choice.   It was packed and lively for a Saturday lunchtime.   After a few Tapas I had King Prawns in a coconut sauce which came with both Fries and Rice – a king-size portion of carbs to absorb a beer or two, job done.

With fully tummies we braved the cold – blimey was it cold,  and walked to the unassuming looking Lockwood Industrial Park around the corner from Tottenham Hale tube.    We headed first for Beavertown’s tap room.

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In amongst the brewing equipment were tables of people enjoying  a Saturday afternoon beer.  I made the point in my last blog that I like the family friendly aspect of Brewery Taprooms and Beavertown’s dog and child friendly atmosphere is no exception.

As well as the tables inside the brewery, there are tables outside and in a large heated gazebo.   It was very busy, and the atmosphere was buzzing ; Young, old, scruffy, smart or lycra cycling gear, no-one cares as it’s just a lovely relaxed place to spend some time.

The bar is in a side room and has a queuing system which is really efficient.   There is also a great take away selection which I took advantage of.  We perused the list of beers hanging outside the bar and I particularly liked that Beavertown mentioned Pressure Drop’s tap room on the bar menu.

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I started with Hop Harvest 2018, 5.2%, a fresh hopped Saison with a bite of carbonation followed by mild tart notes as you’d expect from a Saison.    I thought the fresh hop notes added an interesting twist.

Next, I tried the Black Betty Black IPA, 7.4% .   I always love a Black IPA and this one is particularly good with notes of smoke and blackcurrant.  I liked this so much I bought  a couple of cans to take home.

I also tried a slurp of my brother’s  Beavo Lager, 3.9%, absolutely crystal clear Beavo is beautifully fresh.  Finally, I nicked a mouthful of my sister’s Farewell to Arms Sherry Sour with Cherries, 7%, which is a good well balanced Sour.

A selection of Street food including Vegan options was available and smelt tasty, but we were still full from our lunch and decided to move on to Pressure Drop’s tap room.

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Around the corner, past a fleet of funky looking Beavertown vans bearing the brewery’s distinctive graphics Pressure Drop’s lovely brewery tap room was welcoming  in the cold weather.   Inside were a mixed clientele including toddlers, twenty something’s dressed up for Halloween and pensioners;  bright fairy lights and again plenty of seating on bench tables amongst the FVs; I love it !

First, I tried the fabulously pink Orla, a Blackberry, Damson and Bay Berliner Weisse which at 3.8% was a good beer to start with before hitting the Alive and Well Session IPA, 3.6% with Motueka and Columbus hops.

A cloudy blond beer with a hoppy nose, Alive and Well is bursting with resinous hops and has a finish of orange peel.

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By now it was early evening and getting chilli so something dark and warming was called for.   I had a bottle of Pressure Drop’s Street Porter, 6.5%.   This is gorgeous with notes of treacle and smoke.

Both breweries take deposits for their glasses.  The Beavertown glasses are straight sided tumblers like the ones used for cider in Spain.   I kept mine along with the cans I had bought as a little souvenir.   Pressure Drop also offer you money back on your glass or rather cleverly I thought a bottle of beer in exchange.   Unsurprisingly I took a beer.

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The Taprooms closed at 8pm which is probably just as well as we had got very cosy amongst the FV’s and mash tuns.   But off we went into the night, heading south of the river with our beer and glasses clinking in our bags.

Don’t let the cold weather put you off venturing to these tap rooms.   The staff are friendly and the crowds happy, so the atmosphere and great beers are enough to keep you warm!

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Cheers

Pride of South London. Maybe I’m just a bit of a Beer Groupie!

We’re the Pride of South London Crystal Palace fans sing as we enjoy a prolonged stay in England’s Football PremierLeague.   These days South London also has a lot to be proud of beer wise too.

I remember not too long ago admiring the Brewery Tap rooms in the States and being a tad jealous we didn’t have so many here in the UK. Not only providing great places to enjoybrewery fresh beers, tap rooms like breweries provide employment and are often family friendly; during a trip to the Brooklyn Brewery four years ago I was amazed when my New York friend was able to meet me in the tap room with her two-year-old son in his buggy.

Tap Rooms also help demystify breweries making beer attractive and accessible to a wider range of people.

Happily, things are changing with more and more breweries opening tap rooms nationwide.

In South London The Bermondsey Beer mile has long been a pilgrimage for beer lovers.  There are also tap rooms at the Brockley Brewery and Gipsy Hill Brewery.

Slightly closer to where I live two more Brewery Tap rooms have sprung up so I decided to visit a couple of Fridays ago.

I kicked off my evening at the Ignition Brewery Taproom in Sydenham which opened in September.

What makes Ignition a brewery to be truly proud of is the fact that it is a micro-brewery set up to train and provide supported jobs for people with learning difficulties in the area.

I met the founder of Ignition Brewery, Nick O’Shea  a few years ago through mutual friends.  At the time Nick was busy trying to win funding and support for the Brewery.   

Fast forward three years and Ignition Brewery have a brewery and tap room in Sydenham High Street.   

In my opinion surpassing Nicks original mission To increasethe number of jobs for people with learning disabilities and to produce great beers the Tap room also provides a community hub.  It is bright and welcoming with a relaxed feel.   The staff cheerful and helpful, and the choice of beer satisfies all tastes.   Ignition’s core range of three; Lewisham Pale Ale South of the River 4.2% abv, Jumpstart IPA 4.6% abv and Well Oiled Machine Porter 4.8% abv are all available in bottles.   On tap the night I visited were South of the River andJumpstart plus specials Blood Orange IPA 4.5% and Lewisham Brown Ale 3.8%.   

I had a bottle of the Well Oiled Machine, a sumptuous Porter, followed by a pint of Lewisham Brown Ale.   Not normally a favourite beer style of mine, the Lewisham Brown was great; rich and full bodied.

Other drinks including the ever-popular Gin are available so fear not if you have friends who have not yet been converted to the hopped beverage.

As well as drinks, there is a good selection Ignition merchandise for sale so opportunities to support this great business abound!

I was lucky enough to be shown round the gleaming brewery by a member of staff.   I always love a nose around a brewery – maybe I’m just a bit of a beer groupie!  The guys pride when showing us around was evident.   

The ultimate plan is to provide a model that can be replicated nationwide.   I hope to hear of similar projects in the future.   

This is such a great idea so keep up the good work Ignition.

Down the hill from Sydenham, is Penge Hight Street.   Like Crystal Palace Football club, Penge is also enjoying somewhat of a renaissance.   

With an emphasis on community not for profits community group the Penge Tourist Board are working hard to enhance life if this corner of South London by engaging with residents and local businesses.

One of the events on their website is a late night at the Alexandra Nurseries in November with beer from Southey Brewery.  

On the site of the now defunct Late Nights Brewery, Southey began life a few years ago and later opened their tap room

Tucked away down a tiny side street Southey Brewery’s tap room is charming and characterful .  Vintage fixtures and fittings, book shelves and a comprehensive drinks menu, this tap room is a little gem.   

Another great selection of beers were on offer the night I went with six on keg including Penge Pilsner 4.8% and a Belgian Wit 5.5% with Session Bitter and Pale Ale on cask.

I enjoyed a couple of pints of keg Black IPA which is always a favourite of mine but managed to resist the tempting packs on monster munch and the bowls of peanuts on the bar.

For non-beer drinkers or if you perhaps simply fancy a change there are wines and spirits including Tequila available as well as soft drinks if you have the misfortune to be the designated driver for the night!

The cosy atmosphere of the Southey Tap room made it an absolute pleasure and I was sorry when it was time to get my train home .   

Cheers