London Fields Brewery, Three Weiss Monkeys
In what seems fitting for a brewery located in one of the most vibrant parts of the capital, London Fields Brewery has a colourful history. In 2011, Jules Whiteway and Ian Burgess decided in a pub, over a pint, that Hackney needed a brewery. Just four weeks later they had produced their own beer under a railway arch and were selling it commercially, all against the backdrop of the London riots.
Things were going quite well until 2015 when Jules got into a spot of bother with the law. HMRC got involved and it looked like the brewery was headed to the wall. Step forward an unlikely saviour. Carlsberg, in partnership with Brooklyn Brewery, acquired the business outright in 2017. Whilst some eyed the deal with a hint of suspicion, others reserved judgement. After all, one of London’s craft beer pioneers wouldn’t have to turn off the lights and that had to be a good thing, right?
Martin Entwistle, Managing Director at London Fields Brewery, describes the set-up in a bit more detail. “We are run as a joint venture between Carlsberg and Brooklyn. What that means in practice is that we’re a small team of 8 people, all based in London Fields and we look after everything to do with beer. We’re a standalone business and very much in control of our own destiny. Our partners are there if we ever need advice, but there’s minimal interference in our day to day. Brooklyn have helped design our new brewhouse, and Carlsberg offers us a route to market. The money that we took from Carlsberg and Brooklyn to build our brewery and renovate the taproom is a loan. It’s not a gift. We’ll pay that money back by making great beer and by building a great brand”.
Martin has spent 20 years in the beer industry and has earned a wealth of experience in the process, but he’s quick to add that it is head brewer, Talfryn Provis-Evans, that runs the show.
“Talfryn’s the man. I’m here to run the business side of things. He gets complete freedom to brew what he wants and all I want is for him to produce beer that gets people reappraising London Fields and to be impressed by it”.
Talfryn comes with an impressive CV, boasting Beavertown, Crate, St Peter’s and Redchurch Brewery. He was selected after a “rigorous” interview process led by that ended in him getting “hammered” with Garrett Oliver, the famous Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster.
“A friend of a friend told me that they were looking for someone to build a brewery from scratch. That sounded right up my alley. There are no moral or ethical issues for me. I know that what we do in this brewery is 100% going to be brewer-led and will come from me or the other brewers that we employ”.
Whilst the new brewery is being built, the London Fields core range is being brewed and overseen by Talfryn at Truman’s Brewery, a mile and a half down the road from home. “They make really good beer and that’s why they were top of the list when it came to contract brewing. I jump on my bike and head down there to check on how our beer is getting on”.
The core range consists of a Pale Ale, a Lager and a Wheat Beer, all of which are vegan, unfiltered and unpasteurised. It has evolved since Talfryn came on board, but he has tried to go back to the breweries roots wherever possible, as demonstrated with this week’s beer, a white IPA… or in Martin’s words “a hopped-up wheat beer”.
“I contacted the original brewer of this beer (it was first brewed in 2013) to see what he was trying to achieve with it” explains Talfryn. “All we’ve done is taken it back to what it was originally. It’s 50% wheat and 50% barley and fermented at the right temperature to get a sh*t load of banana flavour. Then we dry-hopped it using citra and mosaic hops to give it a tonne of citrusy notes. We found that if you can find the balance between banana and citrus it makes everything a lot lighter. The finish is nice and dry. With all of our core range, we want the beers to be sessionable and accessible”.
Recent specials coming out of the brewery include a lychee and coconut sour, a banoffee pie inspired ale and a low-alcohol blueberry and ginger sour. The new taproom, which will include tanks serving brewery fresh beer, will be open towards the end of this year.
One thing is for sure. They won’t be moving home anytime soon. “The location is key. When we’re building our brand we want it be a real reflection of this part of Hackney. We’ve used a local artist to design our packaging and many of our beers are inspired by the locals. Music is another big part of our culture. This part of town and these arches are amazing… creative… inspirational... and we very much feel a part of this community” says Martin.