Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Best on tap in Waltham Forest

Local pub owner Robert Woodland on what to drink at the borough's breweries

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Exale's taproom on the Blackhorse Beer Mile (credit: Exale)
04 March 2022

Over the past few years, Waltham Forest has seen a surge of independent breweries, many with taprooms that allow you to enjoy the beers fresh and as the brewer intended. It’s an exciting development for me personally, as the proud owner of The Stag & Lantern micropub in Highams Park, and now that the darkest depths of winter are out of the way, I figured it was a great time to offer my recommendations to fellow craft beer lovers.Over the past few years, Waltham Forest has seen a surge of independent breweries, many with taprooms that allow you to enjoy the beers fresh and as the brewer intended. It’s an exciting development for me personally, as the proud owner of The Stag & Lantern micropub in Highams Park, and now that the darkest depths of winter are out of the way, I figured it was a great time to offer my recommendations to fellow craft beer lovers.

One of the original breweries to open in the area was Wild Card Brewery, founded in 2012 by Jaega Wise, whose subsequent success has meant frequent TV appearances on the BBC Food Programme and The Wine Show. After moving their main facility to the Blackhorse Beer Mile, their original Ravenswood location is now The Barrel Store, where they focus on barrel ageing beer. I recommend trying their Pale Ale (4.3%) or if you’re feeling more adventurous, see what barrel aged beers they have available.One of the original breweries to open in the area was Wild Card Brewery, founded in 2012 by Jaega Wise, whose subsequent success has meant frequent TV appearances on the BBC Food Programme and The Wine Show. After moving their main facility to the Blackhorse Beer Mile, their original Ravenswood location is now The Barrel Store, where they focus on barrel ageing beer. I recommend trying their Pale Ale (4.3%) or if you’re feeling more adventurous, see what barrel aged beers they have available.

Just around the corner from Wild Card is Pillars Brewery, which opened in 2016. Locals may recognise their distinctive orange kegs, which are often seen at pubs in the local area. Pillars focus on lager style beers, such as pilsners and helles, meaning this is a great place to take non-craft beer drinkers. Their Hop Lager (4.5%) is a wonderful introduction beer that keeps a clean lager profile with a hoppy twist.Just around the corner from Wild Card is Pillars Brewery, which opened in 2016. Locals may recognise their distinctive orange kegs, which are often seen at pubs in the local area. Pillars focus on lager style beers, such as pilsners and helles, meaning this is a great place to take non-craft beer drinkers. Their Hop Lager (4.5%) is a wonderful introduction beer that keeps a clean lager profile with a hoppy twist.

An honourable mention must also go to Real Al Trap Taproom, which is located between Wild Card and Pillars. Real Al supplies a huge range of cider to local businesses (including mine), and as such, their taproom always features a fantastic selection of ciders. Fruit cider lovers should definitely try out the Seacider range, which boasts flavours like Raspberry Ripple.An honourable mention must also go to Real Al Trap Taproom, which is located between Wild Card and Pillars. Real Al supplies a huge range of cider to local businesses (including mine), and as such, their taproom always features a fantastic selection of ciders. Fruit cider lovers should definitely try out the Seacider range, which boasts flavours like Raspberry Ripple.

Moving on to the other side of Walthamstow, just a few minutes north of Blackhorse Road Station, a new ‘Beer Mile’ has emerged. Home to over four breweries, with more likely to come.Moving on to the other side of Walthamstow, just a few minutes north of Blackhorse Road Station, a new ‘Beer Mile’ has emerged. Home to over four breweries, with more likely to come.

Exale Brewery opened just before the pandemic but comes from a great brewing background. They often release experimental and interesting beers, alongside their core range of pales and lagers. Their large taproom has frequent DJ nights and a late licence, so definitely a good evening out. A beer I’d recommend to check out is Krankie (4.2%), an Irn Bru flavoured sour. Whilst not for everyone, it’s a beer that shows off their forward thinking approach to their craft.Exale Brewery opened just before the pandemic but comes from a great brewing background. They often release experimental and interesting beers, alongside their core range of pales and lagers. Their large taproom has frequent DJ nights and a late licence, so definitely a good evening out. A beer I’d recommend to check out is Krankie (4.2%), an Irn Bru flavoured sour. Whilst not for everyone, it’s a beer that shows off their forward thinking approach to their craft.

(credit: John Moore)(credit: John Moore)

A few minutes walk away is Signature Brew, renowned for their collaborations with musicians, including Alt-J and Mogwai. They’ve just recently built a swanky new taproom unit outside the brewery, which means visitors no longer need to brave the elements outside! I recommend trying their Backstage IPA.A few minutes walk away is Signature Brew, renowned for their collaborations with musicians, including Alt-J and Mogwai. They’ve just recently built a swanky new taproom unit outside the brewery, which means visitors no longer need to brave the elements outside! I recommend trying their Backstage IPA.

Near the top end of the Blackhorse Road Beer Mile is Hackney Brewery, who recently relocated from our neighbouring borough. Their new taproom boasts 20 beer taps, featuring the freshest from the brewery and guest beers from around the UK and the world. Mysterious Spectre is one of my favourites: a hazy pale ale that is packed with a punch of hops and a full body that makes it easy to drink.Near the top end of the Blackhorse Road Beer Mile is Hackney Brewery, who recently relocated from our neighbouring borough. Their new taproom boasts 20 beer taps, featuring the freshest from the brewery and guest beers from around the UK and the world. Mysterious Spectre is one of my favourites: a hazy pale ale that is packed with a punch of hops and a full body that makes it easy to drink.

Finally, looking to the south side of Waltham Forest is the Gravity Well Taproom in Leyton, who have quickly gained a reputation as one of the best up-and-coming breweries in the UK. Their taproom is located underneath one of the archways at Leyton Midland Road Station and is open 7 days a week. Head Brewer Ben pays incredible attention to the quality of their beer, brewing exceptional beers one after the other. I recommend trying their Galaxies Apart New England IPA, a hop-bomb of a beer with loads of fruit aroma.Finally, looking to the south side of Waltham Forest is the Gravity Well Taproom in Leyton, who have quickly gained a reputation as one of the best up-and-coming breweries in the UK. Their taproom is located underneath one of the archways at Leyton Midland Road Station and is open 7 days a week. Head Brewer Ben pays incredible attention to the quality of their beer, brewing exceptional beers one after the other. I recommend trying their Galaxies Apart New England IPA, a hop-bomb of a beer with loads of fruit aroma.