There’s Godzilla drinking tea, an American president and a beaming sun in shades. These are only a few examples of the bottle labels from Hackney Brewery. Established in 2011, this laid-back brewery has evolved and helped revolutionise the London brewing scene faster than anyone could have predicted.
“We had no idea that there would be a craft beer revolution,” jokes Jon Swain, co-owner of the Brewery, as he sits in his little self-built office overlooking the space where he and his small team, and Scruff the dog, work hard to brew over ten thousand litres of beer a month.
“Pete and I were just a pair of home brewers with an aspiration for doing something that we loved.” Both Swain and his business partner and friend, Peter Hills, first began brewing beer for friends and family and, on a whim, what was once a hobby became their livelihood.
They pride themselves on being one of the first breweries in London, and the first in Hackney, who produce locally and source locally. Swain emphasises the love that goes into every aspect of their business: “We trace all our ingredients back to the source, the farm, and the farmers.”
Working in conjunction with various businesses in Hackney, they credit the creative environment of the borough in driving the “innovation and development for new beers, new methods and new flavours.”
Perhaps one of their most interesting collaborations is their Japanese inspired ale, infusing green tea and sushi rice into their brew, creating a new innovative flavour not seen anywhere else. Despite the brew’s success, Swain makes it clear that not all of their modernisations work out quite as well as their green tea ale, or their highly anticipated and sold-out pumpkin infused ale. They’ve gone through various failed recipes and some spur of the moment decisions to get their distinct drinks.
“Over the years the passion to grow and evolve has risen in all of us here,” says Swain.
Hackney Brewery has grown in such a way that their drinks are being served in pubs, bars and restaurants all over London, but Swain promises their little company is staying firmly where it is; their love of Hackney is shared by the whole team.
The guys at Hackney Brewery believe “it’s the people who make Hackney what it is” and swear that the borough will be home for years to come.