“Would we brew Goose Island IPA here? 100 per cent. I would love that”24 Feb 2017
By Will Hawkes
You may have noticed a lot more Goose Island taps around town recently. The brewery - which, like Camden Town, is owned by AB InBev, the world’s largest brewing conglomerate - is making a concerted effort to impose itself on the London scene, with a new bar in Balham expected to be followed by others. But might it be also soon be brewed in London? Jasper Cuppaidge, founder of Camden Town, was positive about the idea as Craft Beer London had an exclusive first look around the brewery’s huge new Enfield site recently.
“We’d be 100 per cent open to brewing that here,” he says. “We don’t have an IPA and I don’t we will, so it would be a learning process for our brewers. We’d be happy to help anyone from the Agora Project. I would love that.”
Camden’s ability to devote brewing capacity to Goose Island IPA would depend on how much was needed: the brewery’s initial capacity will be 200,000 hectolitres (rising to a ceiling of 400,000) but Cuppaidge expects Camden to be brewing 100,000 in the first year. (By comparison, AB InBev’s recently shuttered site in Mortlake, The Stag Brewery, was capable of well over 1m hectolitres, while Camden’s site in Kentish Town makes just 19,500hl a year).
Whether Goose Island is ever brewed here or not, the opening of Camden Town’s new brewery - brewing is expected to start in late April, with full production in June - is a huge moment for the capital’s resurgent beer culture. 110 people will be employed here, more than 50 of them on the brewing side. There are 28 fermenting vessels, from 100 hectolitres to 700 in size, and a very impressive Krones-built kit. There are six concrete fermentation ‘eggs’ (see below) and a yeast propagation system for Camden’s five strains. You can see where the £30m has been invested.
Camden’s output is currently 65 per cent Hells, their pale lager. That will remain the case but Cuppaidge expects the brewery’s other brands - such as IHL, which is only brewed three times a month at the moment - to get more exposure. There’ll be nitrogenated Camden Ink and Gentleman’s Wit in a can, too, plus a new beer currently in development to celebrate the opening of the new brewery (“The brewers are currently working on that so I don’t want to give too much away,” says Cuppaidge).
The influence of AB InBev is obvious, and not just in terms of the funds invested. An impressive new lab will be partially kitted out with equipment from the Stag Brewery. A visitor’s centre will open late June or July. “It will be in the brewery,” says Cuppaidge. “You’ll come up [to the centre] and be sitting in the brewery itself. We really want to be a part of Enfield.”
Visitor facilities have been scaled back from the initial plans, when there was talk of a music venue too. Perhaps it’s because this former Ford plant, which has been built from scratch by Camden, is a bit difficult to reach from the rest of the borough, situated as it is on an industrial estate - albeit with a view over various bodies of water, including the River Lee Navigation.
Cuppaidge is keen to get other brewers involved, from fellow members of the London Brewers’ Alliance to other breweries in the Agora Project. “It’d be great to have a meeting here,” Cuppaidge, one of life’s uncrushable enthusiasts, says. “If not this year, then next. It’d be great to get beers from everyone and have a big craft weekend. Have you tried Wolf Pup, the session IPA made by [fellow Agora member] Golden Road? It’s incredible, the best I’ve had.”
And Goose Island IPA brewed in Enfield? We shall have to wait and see.