By Brody Rossiter
Hackney Brewery: Heavily Hopped
It’s a blisteringly hot Monday morning in the middle of August and Hackney Brewery are scheduled to brew their latest collaboration beer: a heavily-hopped IPA with New York City’s Finback Brewery. Jon Swain, one half of Hackney’s founding duo alongside Peter Hills, has taken an early train to Kent to procure only the freshest hops for the brew; a particularly dedicated endeavour given the weekend’s festivities at London Craft Beer Festival.
Hackney have wholeheartedly embraced the spirit of collaboration throughout 2018. February saw the awakening of “Sleeping Giants”, a New England Pale Ale brewed with another of New York’s highly acclaimed and hype-inducing breweries, Kings County Brewers Collective (KCBC). The beer was Hackney’s latest stride towards situating themselves as not only one of London’s most significant independent breweries, but one that comfortably can stand beside the UK’s best when it comes to sought after brews that deliver big on quality and flavour.
Strength In Depth
The high-profile collaborations, seasonal releases and an ever-improving core range bolstered by the work of head brewer Darren Walker has highlighted Hackney’s thirst for progression while catching the attention of beer lovers across the UK. A rebrand that included the shift from bottles to brightly coloured cans bearing the bold artwork of artist Pete Fowler, further highlighted the brewery’s focus on both quality control and contemporary branding.
“We’ve wanted to release our beer in cans for years, but we needed to make sure it was up to the high standards we’ve come to expect from progressive brewers. The combination of our new brewhouse, our fully controllable fermenters, a lab facility for consistency and quality and Pete Fowler’s superb artwork means that we’re now in total control of the beer and how it looks.” – Jon Swain
Spring saw the launch of “Millions of Peaches” a fruity sour with a herbaceous touch of aromatic basil. The beer mirrored the approachable nature of US sours, bringing fruitiness to the fore while retaining a refreshing tartness in the background.
Summer proved the perfect time to unveil a crushable top fermented Köln style Lager that married faithful Czech Saaz hops with Columbus for ultimate drinkability with a US hop twist.
The future holds even more opportunities to branch out with a barrel-ageing program beginning to take shape and new seasonal releases that pair perfectly with colder weather and longer nights.
“We’re trying not to give too much away because we like to surprise people but we’ve been working on something special with an awesome local coffee company that’s ready in about a month and later in the year we’re brewing something a bit more wintery with some friends from New York.” – Peter Hills
The Spirit of Collaboration
This latest collaborative IPA continues the trend of Hackney Brewery producing approachable, attractively packaged and flavour-packed beer inside the confined yet undisputedly authentic surroundings of two Hackney railway arches – with an added incentive for hop hunters in the form of invaluable input from one of the finest breweries based on the US East Coast.
“After long conversations over beers as how to go about brewing this beer, Kevin and Basil have pushed us as a brewery to embrace new methods. It is the first beer where we have propagated our yeast (London III) especially for a brew. Also the dry hopping ratio is off the chart from what we have done before. The freshest Vic Secret, Enigma and Citra hops are packed into this beer, that makes it super juicy, and London III yeast adds huge fruity depth.”
Renowned as one of the very best when it comes to hop-forward styles, Finback are responsible for brewing up some of most consistently impressive New England-style beers New York has to offer – their sours and pilsners aren’t too shabby either. Jon considers the brew day, and those which came before it, as experiences which will continue to pay dividends long after the last can of Deep Water has been cracked.
“We have always considered collaborations as a chance to learn from a hands on point of view new techniques and ways to be able to make the best beer we possibly can. This is a truly special beer for us on our journey and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to be able to brew with them.”
Part of the Family
While transatlantic collaborations may well be a new trend to Hackney, the brewery are no strangers to community when it comes to craft beer. The approachability of Hackney’s beer is matched by the approachability of the team behind it – that includes the four legged additions of Bruce and Gruff. Since its conception in 2011, the brewery has grown to become a much-loved fixture of London’s vibrant brewing landscape and one which will remain and evolve for many years to come.
“We’ve made some big changes at Hackney and we’re all looking forward to even more exciting projects with friends in the future. We’d definitely like to open a venue where we can let more people know about who we are and what we do. We’re always learning, experimenting and sharing what we’ve been up to and it’s great that there are like-minded breweries in this industry to do that with.” – Peter Hills
Here’s to the future.