One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s Advent Calendar is the collaboration beers we’ve created alongside some of the UK’s leading brewers. We’re delighted to have Boundary, Howling Hops, Cloudwater & Signature Brew all creating exclusive brews, and can’t wait for you to try them!
We’ve caught up with the brewers to hear all about these brilliant new beers as well as find out a bit more about the people behind the brews. This week, we chatted to Chris Hall from Howling Hops and heard all about what to expect from the forthcoming seasonal special!
For those who don’t know Howling Hops, can you tell us a bit about the brewery?
Our brewery and (the UK’s first) Tank Bar have been based in the heart of Hackney Wick since 2015, but our history goes back a bit further.
Our owner Pete Holt first dreamt of his own brewery after he’d taken on The Southampton Arms in Kentish Town back in 2008, just as London’s craft beer revolution was beginning. After taking on The Cock Tavern in Hackney Central in 2011, the dream took form in the pub’s basement, where over 100 different brews established the Howling Hops name.
A number of expansions in capacity failed to meet the growing demand, and eventually a ‘proper’ upgrade became a necessity. Nearby Hackney Wick held the answer, with a site in Queens Yard that held space not just for a brewhouse, but a sizeable taproom.
The inspiration for the Tank Bar came from the beer halls of Germany, with communal seating, long benches and fast-flowing glasses of fresh beer. It was a unique concept in 2015, shirking the railway arch aesthetic dominating London beer for something just a little more interesting.
Ten stainless steel serving tanks stand tall behind the bar, and right behind sits the Bavarian Brewing Systems brewhouse itself. Beer simply doesn’t get any fresher. Some of the recipes (and the idea of serving tanks) carried over from the Cock Tavern basement days, but in time a firm core range of full-flavoured, drinkable and modern beers took shape.
So, the German influence is pretty apparent here… Are the beers of a similar theme?
With a nod to our continental inspiration, German beers feature regularly in our tanks, none more so than our core lager bier Das Köolsch, along with seasonal Hefeweizens. Much of the beer range is taken up by modern, hop-forward beers with different spins. Pale XX is a classic, zesty American Pale Ale, House IPA is a juicy New England IPA, while Tropical Deluxe packs New England flavours into a lighter, more British 3.8% session pale.
Our growing catalogue of Single Batch beers features a number of collabs with prolific European brewers, including Basqueland, Track, and Fjäderholmarnas. There are also regular new iterations of New England IPAs, Imperial Stouts and other styles, like fruited sour IPAs, Goses and Hopfenweisse… and now our collab!
Now you’ve mentioned the collab, can you tell us all about it?
For a seasonal twist on our favourite sour beer style, Gose, we turned to the wholesome, fruity flavours of warming winter desserts like fruit crumble for inspiration. We thought the combination of rich, sweet plum and zingy gooseberries was perfect for a winter sour beer. We’re really pleased with complex, peach blush colour the fruit has given to this beer, as well as the deliciously sharp, tangy flavours.
I’m keen to get tasting now, so this’ll be the last question – what else should we be drinking from you guys?
Well, you’ll always find us drinking Tropical Deluxe and Das Köolsch at the end of shift! We also have new recipe NEIPAs releasing every couple of weeks or so. All the new knowledge we gain from brewing these feeds into how we make our core hoppy beers, so we like to think we’re constantly refining and evolving!
What else? We’ve got a delicious new Porter about to be released, called New Old London, which we’re really happy with. Also keep an eye out for two barrel aged Imperial Stouts launching before the end of the year. Well Shot and Yūki poured at LCBF and went down really well, so we’ve packed lots of cans and kegs in time for Christmas!
The Gooseberry & Plum Gose is an exclusive collaboration beer between HonestBrew & Howling Hops and is available in our Advent Calendar along with 3 other limited edition collaborations. Check out more beers from Howling Hops here.