The 21st June marked an important date on the natural calendar, Summer Solstice (or The Longest Day). It’s a point at which we celebrate Midsummer and more daylight hours, a good time then to also mark the official opening of a pub which boasts a sizeable sun-trap of a terrace, so that’s exactly what happened. On the 23rd of June I made my way to Highbury for a Midsummer party to greet the latest addition to the Brewhouse & Kitchen portfolio.
I’d not ventured into Highbury before (nor to a B&K in fact), so getting into London with plenty of time to spare I had an opportunity to wonder a little and see what else was on offer in the area and, although new to me, it all felt a little familiar. B&K shares the neighbourhood with a number of contemporary independent coffee houses, a cafe/pantry hybrid, theatre pub and an old-school health food store. The vibe is eclectic, balancing a somewhat bourgeois vibe with that of something a bit bohemian, it all felt a bit Brighton-esque; a good place for a brew pub.
The pub itself is set back fromthe main road, on a corner with that sun-trap of a terrace out front hinting at its interior with an urban chic aesthetic; it looks inviting. Inside it’s stylistically ‘on trend’ with industrial pipework, exposed brick, chains and old wooden shutters hanging from the ceiling. Again, all very familiar and ‘seen it all before’, but this look is one that fits this establishment well, a nod to the buildings’ industrial past as a tramshed whilst being very much in-keeping with its new role as a working brewhouse. The space is warm, welcoming and one that will appeal to a range of different folk, with the stand out feature being that shiny new brew kit, head brewer Pete still polishing the tanks as guests arrive for the evenings’ event. It sits proudly at the back of the room, looking over the drinkers and punters lined up at the side bar.
The beers on offer that night varied in both style and quality. The first sample of the evening was the 3.6% traditional bitter, Tramshed. This is a decent take on the style; a pleasant balance of light toast, gentle caramel and that classic bitterness; a beer I would happily session and continue to find little nuances in character. Following Tramshed was Romford Pele, a 4.5% Golden. Light in body, that classic biscuit malt profile with a lemon and grapefruit citrus weaving throughout before a reasonably dry finish. Tasty but not overly memorable. Colonia Estivo caught my eye, a Rye beer with a 5% abv and a refreshing peach-forward fruit character, yet the body was very light, almost watery in the finish and I couldn’t detect any of the rye character. Illustrator displayed a fuller, more flavoursome character though, a 5.5% black IPA producing a tussle between citrus fruits, pine and a dry roast bitterness. The latter wins with an added spiced celebratory kick. It was the porter that really got my attention though, and I opted to get a full pint of this. Going by the name of NO.19 Brown Porter, this 4.5% brew boasts coffee aromas with a brown sugar sweetness and smooth waves of coffee, toffee and a hint of vanilla over the palate; a very likeable beer. I hear that the beers on the night had been brought in from the B&K Islington pub, but the kit should be up and running as I type this.
If the B&K-own cask offerings aren’t your thing then bottled brews line the fridges behind the bar and kegged beers are on tap, such as the ever popular Beavertown Gamma Ray and Camden Pils, the listings for which can be seen on the board behind the bar, although prices are as detectable as the rye in Colonoia Estivo.
Being an out-of-towner I can’t see myself travelling into London to drink here specifically, especially as there are other chains along the South Coast, I will however be sure to swing by for another pint of Tramshed, Illustrator and/or No.19 if I’m near-by. The walled terrace is a draw in itself, and the combo of a decent pint of cask being paired with some delectable grub (the sample of pork belly was melt-in-the-mouth brilliance) and a seat outside in the midsummer sun is one that I won’t dismiss anytime soon.
To find out more: http://www.brewhouseandkitchen.com/
Thanks to Su-Lin for the invitation and warm welcome on the night, and to Pete and the B&K team for their hospitality.
Disclosure: I didn’t pay for any of the beer I drank on the night, but I don’t believe that swayed my opinions.