Here’s a riddle for you, what’s big, shiny, and contains pork scratchings? Actually, that’s a rubbish riddle because the answer is in the tittle of this post. That’s right mates, the answer is Pillars Brewery, which is Walthamstow’s newest brewery, and the latest slice of cool to open on the Ravenswood Industrial Estate. The arrival of Pillars means there are now two brewery’s on this estate. I’ll say that again, there are two brewery’s in the same place, blimey my E17 cup runneth over. Pillars had a press launch a couple of weekends ago which they kindly invited me to. I couldn’t go as I was swanning around the streets of New York on holiday (I do occasionally leave Walthamstow). As I missed the press launch, I put the opening date in the calendar, circled it in red pen, and waited for the coming of the Pillars. The waiting ended this weekend, and off we went to have a nose around, and of course, try a beer or two.
First things first, Pillars is big, actually it’s vast. When you walk in the first thing you hit is the tap room, and to your right is the brewing kit, and there’s lots of it. A row of enormous stainless steel tanks line one wall, pipes wrap around the brewery, rising and falling like a roller coaster track. Endless valves, buttons and control panels call out to be touched, it’s like the brewing equivalent of the bridge of the SS Enterprise. This is the kind of place that I could get my self in trouble in if I were left there alone. You know how it is, you see big red buttons that look like they shouldn’t be pressed, and all you want to do is press them. My friend used to call this a mouses ears urge, because she had the urge to break the ears off her aunts crystal mice, even though she knew she shouldn’t. I feel much the same about big red buttons, which is one of the many reasons I don’t work in the nuclear industry.
I like that punters can wander in amongst the brewing tanks, and was surprised to find there is another room beyond the brewing kit. I’m guessing this back section of Pillars is going to be used mainly for keg storage, but the presence of a mic stand, PA kit and guitarist indicate it could also be a performance space. Having wandered around the tanks, and successfully resisted the temptation to press big red buttons, I went back to the tap room at the front of the space. Normally tap rooms have to be multi functional, i.e. during the week the brewer uses the space to work in, but due to it’s size, Pillars is a bit different. The tap room feels more like a bar than a work space, and a nice space it is. A concrete topped bar sits at one end, metal tables fill the floor, and a counter and stools mark the border between bar and brewery. The space works really well, and although it’s huge, it feels cosy because it’s divided up in to different areas.
Now for the important stuff, the beer, or in this case, the lager. Pillars brew lager, not craft ale, which for me is a bit of a challenge as haven’t been a lager drinker for a while, not since I was tearing around the mean streets of Sidcup as a student in fact. I ordered their signature brew, the Untraditional lager, and I was pleasantly surprised. This isn’t the lager I remember from my youth, it’s about as far removed from the fosters I drank at uni as is it could be. It’s tastes sort of like a ale lager hybrid, taking the best of both and putting it in to one glass. I’m not ashamed to say that I really liked it, I wonder if that means I have to surrender my CAMRA card?
Ravenswood was already home to Mothers Ruin, Gods Own Junkyard, and Wildcard Brewery, so I didn’t think it could get anymore exciting, how wrong I was. The four friends (Three of which are brothers) who founded Pillars have a done a great job with the space. They bring something slightly different, both in terms of product and building, which I think compliments the other businesses on the estate. And I that’s an important word, compliment not competition. Wildcard, Mothers and Gods Own, have always had close relationships, there has always been a spirit of cooperation between these other businesses, I hope Pillars fit in to that way of working. If you fancy trying Walthamstow’s latest booze related offering, you’ll find them in unit 2 on the Ravenswood Estate, you can also check them out online.