London's microbrewing craze: From banking to beer

By Rob Virtue on December 21, 2013 8:15 AM |

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There's a brewing revolution taking hold in the capital - and it's based on a growing passion for ales.

James Yeomans was an analyst at Lloyds in the City before he decided his future lay in the very different world of beer.

He quit his role in the debt capital markets origination team before starting Hop Stuff Brewery in September.

Three months on the firm has proved to be a big success working out of its Woolwich base at Royal Arsenal.

"In my job I didn't enjoy the lack of tangible worth, leaving the office at the end of the day and not being able to touch anything I had made," said James, 24.

"Now I work in my brewery and can see people enjoy what I make. I've always loved beer and have always been interested in how you get distinct flavours in ales.

"Since moving to London in 2010 things have gone crazy in the cask beer industry. It was something I really wanted to get involved with."

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James got the business up and running thanks to crowd funding, from which he was able to raise £58,000.

Since then, Hop Stuff has been busy developing tasty beers including the 4.3 per cent light Fusilier, a 5.6 per cent Indian pale ale and a 7.4 per cent porter.

It's now distributed to an ever-growing number of pubs and bars across east and south-east London.

"It's been going well," said an understated James. "There are a lot of breweries springing up but apart from Meantime there aren't really any around south-east London, so there is a gap in the market.

"The brewers in the capital all seem to be similar to me. They got bored of walking into the pub and seeing the same pints on tap. There's been a real lack of choice.

"And in London when Young's moved out of Wandsworth, that was the end of commercial brewing in the capital. The mictobreweries are now filling that gap."

The optimism created by the ongoing regeneration of Woolwich is reflected in Hop Stuff's growth.

And the brand also teases out the area's history with beers such as Fusilier and Gunners Porter.

"Woolwich has had a hard time recently for horrific reasons but we've seen so much positivity in the area since," said James.

"There's a great vibe in the town with developments like Royal Arsenal coming and various businesses arriving. It's a good place to be right now."

Go to hopstuffbrewery.com.

The others:

Truman's Beer

■ The company has been brewing in Suffolk for the last three years and has now returned to east London in Hackney.

Truman's Beer is the recreation of the historic brewery formerly based in Brick Lane. Its links to its old incarnation are still alive - the new brewers took a 1958 yeast strain stored in liquid nitrogen from the Truman's archive and used it for its latest beers.

Go to trumansbeer.co.uk.

Zerodegress

■ The Blackheath microbrewery and bar had a lengthy closure before reopening at the end of last month.

Zerodgrees is a family-run company with four venues across the country. It's promise is no preservatives, additives, pasteurising or filtering. The south east London bar is now 13 years old and uses a computer-controlled German system.

Go to zerodegrees.co.uk

Old Brewery

■ A restaurant, a bar, a cafe, and an experimental workshop, which allows brewers to create limited edition beers.

Based in the heart of Greenwich, within the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, The Old Brewery is part of Meantime, the group that has grown to become an international brand, while still managing to keep to its principles of microbrewing.

Go to oldbrewerygreenwich.com

RLA's at The Old Loyal Britons

■ The pub just off Creek Road in Greenwich opened three months ago and promises to only sell London brewed beer at its pumps.

Definitely worth a visit for the range of beers that are on offer. The management team is also planning to brew its own ales in the New Year.

So, not a microbrewery yet but another strong prospect in the pipeline.

Go to ewbrewery.com.

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