How and when and why was CRATE Brewery started?
The 3 of us who started CRATE (Neil, Tom, and Jess) met back in 2012, and we realised that we all shared a vision to build a brewery and restaurant where everything from the beers to the pizzas to the furniture, was all hand made on site from scratch. We wanted to open a place that celebrated the creativity that was happening in one of the World’s most exciting areas, Hackney Wick.
What was the first beer that you brewed?
Our first beer (attempt!) was our cask golden ale. Unfortunately, the brew didn’t entirely go entirely to plan, thanks to a duff heat exchanger, we had to dump the beer down the drain. That promptly blocked up the drains and we flooded the yard with steaming sticky wort! The second time we made it, and it became an instant classic – traditionally brewed and cask conditioned with bags of New World hop additions, a 3.8% crowd-pleaser that we brew most weeks.
Your brewery is based in an old factory – has it always been there and how did you get the premises?
Our brewery and restaurant is based in The White Building on Queens Yard in Hackney Wick. The venue has had an interesting past, having previously been part of a sweet factory, then a slightly nefarious print factory, before falling into disrepair and becoming a hot spot for free parties. With the help of local artists, carpenters and builders, we managed to get in there and fit out the building in about six months, opening just in time for the Olympics.
Do you think the location of a brewery influences the character of a beer?
Being based in East London means we are in one of the most exciting areas for brewing in the world. We are constantly inspired by all the amazing food and drink in this area, and that feeds our creative processes for designing recipes. Coming from such an artistic area means that we are also lucky enough to be able to recruit lots of exciting and creative people who are the lifeblood of what we do.
How often do you produce your limited editions? And how many do you tend to produce each year?
We brew two limited editions per year that are available beyond our taproom walls (our current favourite is the Citra Sour, a tart and tangy citrus hit), but we also offer a variety of special beers from our brewery. This winter we have our delicious chocolate orange stout pouring from cask, and coming up next is a barrel-aged barley wine, that clocks in at a punchy 11% ABV. The bar is where we try out all our weird concoctions, then the very best of these get put forward to become part of our canned limited editions.
Whats sets CRATE Brewery apart from other breweries in London?
We’re a brewery that o ers more than just great beer, we create experiences that bring people together to enjoy a good time. Our community helped make our ideas a reality, and we continue to attract people who are open-minded and enjoy celebrating the good things in life – like amazing flavours.
What is CRATE Brewery’s company ethos?
CRATE has always been about the beer. But under the surface there was always something more. From how Neil, Jess and Tom met to how they brought the community together around an idea. Around a purpose. Around a crate of beer. CRATE is a playground for inspiration. Where freedom of thoughts and actions let creativity thrive. Where visions have the chance to materialise, and where the people around you help turn belief into action.
Can you talk our community through what to expect on one of your brewery tours?
Our brewery tours give customers a real insight into the world of CRATE and into the world of brewing. This involves pulling back the curtain on our team of brewers to showcase how they do what they do – from selecting the right ingredients, to choosing the right equipment, to evaluating the final product. It’s very much an interactive and sensory tour, where smells and tastes guide you through!
CRATE is crowdfunding. Are there exciting plans in the future at the brewery?
Thanks to all the amazing support we’ve had to date, we’ve been able to grow CRATE to a point where we now produce over 1 million pints of beer a year that are enjoyed nationwide, and make over 100,000 pizzas a year for our home here in London. We’ve got some really exciting plans to develop what we o er, and it feels right that we give our supporters and lovers of great beer the chance to join us on this journey.
Here’s what we’re planning:
– A new state-of-the-art pilot brewery for more experimentation, collaboration, and brewing fun
– An innovative new restaurant with beer and sustainability at its core
– An updated taproom that can serve more beer, more pizza, with more seats, and faster service
– 1,000 sq ft of affordable workspace dedicated to encouraging creativity in food and drink
– New event space with a year-round programme of cultural events
What is the idea behind the monochrome branding and design of your labels?
We’ve always had monochrome labels as it has just felt right for the brand. We are not a brand that makes lots of unnecessary noise – our beer does all the talking for us. We love great design, and this format allows us to showcase that, whilst also giving us brilliant stand out on the shelf from all the other beers.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with our community about CRATE?
Flavour is at the heart of everything we do at CRATE, so we really hope you love drinking our beers.