I don’t get to North London much and don’t know much about the area. However even I, despite my lack of footballing knowledge, know White Hart Lane, one of the closest (as it is conveniently located an equally not-short walk away from three) stations to the site of the Redemption Brewery in Tottenham. Coming up to a year old (with their first brew being run on January 10th 2010 according to the last entry of their short lived brewery building blog) they are one of the only (maybe the only) brewer in North London and are now distributing beer to a number of pubs across town. However, when I say ‘they’ I mainly mean ‘Andy’ – Andy Moffat, former banker turned brewer, who is head brewer, delivery man, cleaner, PR and generally everything at the brewery.
Andy quit his job in 2008 and started working on setting up his own brewery, signing the lease on an empty industrial unit in September 2009 and getting everything ready to brew (including building the brewery inside his warehouse) at the beginning of 2010. They can make more but at the time of my visit (September 2010) are producing about 20 casks a week of their two beers – Redemption Pale Ale and Urban Dusk.
Brewing is on quite a different scale to most of the brewery tours you might see, with the brewery being a warehouse divided into five chunks – the main brewing floor (with mash tun (for mashing), copper (for boiling), and hot and cold liquor tanks (for holding hot and cold liquor…)), the fermenting room (with fermentation vessels, where the yeast does its magic), the conditioning room (with conditioning tanks, where the beer can sit and think about what it’s done before going into a barrel), cold room (full of barrels of beer) and the loft (with sacks of malt and leftover bits of brewery). Rather than the chemical plant feel of a big brewery this has more of an edge of scaled up home brewing, with a lot of homemade equipment as key parts of the process. The main brewing kit was bought from Slater’s when they upgraded to a larger capacity, but there are also a number of bits joining together the beer making process that were manufactured slightly closer to home – the wooden malt hopper for dropping malt into the mashtun more easily than carrying it up a ladder, the long drainpipe for running liquids around and even the barrel washer, bolted together from pipes, pumps and a water tank.
Despite the slightly jury rigged feel it’s very much a modern brewery, with careful measurement, knowledge of the science of brewing and lots of cleaning all going along with the hard work of making the beer. Andy knows what he’s talking about, as you’d expect, running us through the brewing process as we wandered around. It’s the regular beer making thing – mash malted barley with hot water, drain the liquid into a copper and boil it, with hops being added at various stages, cool it down to a temperature that yeast likes (20-26°C), add some yeast, leave it to become boozy, drain it into a tank to settle and age a bit before filling it into casks and shipping it to pubs. The trick is getting tasty beer out of the end of the process – happily Andy does.
The two brews Rdempetion makes are quite different – one dark and one light. The Redemption Pale Ale is a golden ale with a sour citrus start leading to a lightly malty body, all bittered up with some nice overarching hoppiness. It finishes with a nice bit of fizziness and some lingering hops and is very much to my summer taste. The Urban Dusk is almost the opposite – a dark browny red beer with a chocolate malt nose. Hazelnuts and coffee grounds come out in the taste, with a dry slightly bitter body and dryer, more grainy bitter finish. I stuck with the PA on the night but I’ll be looking out for Urban Dusk as the nights start to draw in.
At the moment Redemption beer is only available in cask, although in a casking-for-bottling trade with Evin O’Riordain of The Kernel Brewery (who I very much approve of) Andy has done some experimenting and one day we might see bottles appearing as well. At the moment distribution is limited to the London area (as Andy has only so much time to drive the beer to the pubs in his van) but if you drop him an email I’m sure he’ll tell you where it’s gone. In the meantime the Bree Louise and Doric Arch by Euston station often have the beers on (and are both good pubs anyway).
Redemption Pale Ale
3.8% cask conditioned pale ale
4.6% cask conditioned bitter
Many thanks to Andy for letting us play in his brewery for an evening, and to Sian and Qype for organising the trip. As usual I took more piccies than have appeared here and you can see them over on flickr.