BREW WHARF – LONDON’S UNSUNG BREWING HERO
We were pointed in the direction of this article by Ben, celebrating or reminding us of the days we spent in the Goldfish bowl in Borough Market. That kit is now ours, it's now the foundation of the beers that'll come from Breakwater. (and yes, BrewWharf, is connected to BreakWater in the BW) - thank you Ben!
"Take a look in the current Good Beer Guide at the list of breweries that have ceased brewing in the past year and you might find yourself thinking ‘Hmm, really? I thought they were still going?’ With so many new breweries springing up in London over the last few years, we tend to have a bit of a blind spot when one of them closes its doors but for me the loss of Brew Wharf last year left London a lot poorer. Indeed I’d argue that Brew Wharf played a major part in kick-starting the microbrewing upsurge in the capital, paving the way for the revolution that has given London more than 70 new breweries in under ten years.
When they began, back in 2005, you could pretty much count the number of breweries in London on one hand, and their original beers, Wharf Bitter and Wharf Special were more or less unspectacular imitations of very similar Young’s beers that had been relocated to Bedford. Over the next few years however things at Brew Wharf began to get interesting with the arrival from the USA of a head brewer who famously never brewed exactly the same beer twice. They became pioneers, being one of the first (if not the first) London brewers to brew the sort of pale, hoppy, American-style ales that are commonplace today. Not absolutely everyone will thank them for that but for me ‘Hoptimum’ and ‘Reaktion’ were particularly memorable examples of the style.
Brew Wharf was doing single hop beers long before they became common. They brewed a hoppy 3% ABV beer (‘abc’) before Kernel down the road made table beer fashionable. It was, in all likelihood, the first brewery in London to produce Cream Ales, Black IPAs, Saisons and Breakfast stouts – and in cask too, which isn’t always the case.
Almost everything interesting that we associate with the ‘craft beer’ movement was being brewed at Brew Wharf a year or two earlier and, by consistently pre-empting the bandwagon, Brew Wharf were about as cutting-edge and exciting as a brewery can be.
Their beers were seldom available outside their Borough Market home and they never went down the bottling route for wider distribution. I don’t know if it was a lack of ambition from his Vinopolis paymasters that drove brewer Angelo to move across London to Brodies but he left, wasn’t replaced and Brew Wharf was no more. It went quietly and unceremoniously, without splendour or parade, and while Brew Wharf bar lives on, it sells only changing guest beers and Meantime keg. A sad loss."
by Ben Nunn, published in the London Drinker in April/May 2015