When I wrote this post back in December I had no idea of the extent to which London Fields Brewery’s capacity to operate as a living brewery had been diminished. It was only when the London Evening Standard reported on the job losses that the situation became clear – I understand its licence to brew was revoked on the day of the raid by HMRC.
This news is lamentable. Anyone who knows me is aware of the regard with which I hold, or held, London Fields Brewery. So this turn of events has saddened me; firstly as I feel for the staff who have lost their jobs, and secondly because I have doubts that the contracted beer will be the same beer as that brewed in Hackney. I know contract brewing is relatively commonplace, but people make beer and now the people are gone (having said that, the above article suggests the beers have previously been contract brewed). Many would argue that this brewery’s beers haven’t been their best for some time, but I have always found Shoreditch Triangle one of the best examples of the style brewed in this country, consistently so. But the next time I see it on tap or bottle I will order it with a sense of trepidation.
And what of the staff? It must have been a difficult working environment knowing the writing was on the wall, to put your heart and soul into your work with the threat of redundancy hanging over you. I can only hope that the team were already considering their options before the axe was swung and have found pastures new.
The brewery seems to be concentrating on selling the taproom as a venue/events space now, if its tweets are anything to go by. And good luck with that – after all, it’s still an operating business, and an employer, despite what this week’s Time Out article stated (if the proprietor had less on his plate he might be inclined to take the magazine to task).
But for me, I lament the demise of the brewery that raised my consciousness of the beer scene in London. I don’t believe in boycotts; as stated in my previous post, we need to make the distinction between the brewery (or more accurately now, brand) and the ownership. And it has a legacy: many of the leading lights in the London beer world cut their teeth at London Fields Brewery. I don’t have high hopes but I’ll drink the beer when I see it, and I’ll drop into the taproom when I’m nearby, as it’s a place that has always had vibe. London Fields Brewery was good to me, and I won’t forget it.
Photo courtesy of Cindy Schultz under creative commons via Flickr