Is This East London’s Answer To The Bermondsey Beer Mile? • Blackhorse Beer Mile

Teamwork makes the dream work, as the saying goes. And when said dream is offering freshly-pulled pints to a trail of happy Londoners, you’re going to need one heck of a team. Thankfully, just such a squad has been assembled for the Blackhorse Beer Mile, a new trail of breweries and taprooms promising a delightful day of pints and (very) brief walks. Following it’s official launch party back in May 2022, you can be sure they’re more than ready for you and your thirsty mates.  Here’s a guide to the stops, in the recommended order, starting from Blackhorse Road Station, Walthamstow.

The first stop comes just a short amble down Blackhorse Lane, minutes away from Blackhorse Road Station. Describing itself as London’s biggest beer hall, it’s hard to argue with the statement upon stepping inside. The walk to the bar from the entrance is almost equal to the walk you just took from the station! Fortunately, the walk to the nearest seat is much shorter. Even more fortunately, Truman’s does a fantastic job sourcing food and beers.

You’ll be able to line your stomach in advance of the day’s (slight) walking and (less slight) drinking with delicious food. And the mile’s choice-paralysis starts immediately as you try to choose from the 20 draft beers available, from both keg and cask. Alongside Truman’s’ own core and special-edition brews, there’s an emphasis on products from local and specialty producers across the guest offerings.

It’s the perfect place to start the mile, both thanks to its bustling ambience and fantastic selection.

Cross the road from Truman’s and shuffle down the pavement a few steps (no, not Square Mile, that’s coffee, not beer), and you’ll find yourself at Signature Brew. Consistently winning awards, Signature takes both music and beer seriously – crafting drinks that go perfectly with live music, chats with friends after a gig, or for festival drinking.

They frequently collaborate with musicians, and collabs in the past have included the likes of alt-J, Frank Turner, Mastodon, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Idles, and many more. Beloved by musicians, their beers have been found at pop-ups hosted by the Foo Fighters, and pouring at shows by such legends as The Killers and Metallica. They’re icons of the London craft beer scene for a damn good reason. The Brewer’s Bar at their Blackhorse brewery has plenty on offer, from their perfectly-dialled-in core range (from the Studio Lager to the Roadie Pale), to their special release and seasonal brews.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself lingering for a while here. Even if only to explore the whole place.

3. ExAle

The third stop on the Blackhorse Beer Mile is ExAle, home to some of the wildest and weirdest beers around. ExAle forage some of their ingredients from nearby Epping Forest, and work with local suppliers such as coffee roasters to help produce their unique beers. Another example on the mile of a place where the beers are stupidly fresh, having come straight from the tanks feet away, the beers are always on point, even if they seem absurd at first glance.

You’ll typically find a variety of sour beers and hoppy, hazy beers ranging from table strength (2-3%) all the way to DIPA and TIPA strength (8-10%) and everything in between. If you’re lucky, and need a quick break from the beers, they might even have their frozen margaritas available. But, if they have their famous Iron Brew Sour (guess what soda it might be modelled after), that’s one you simply cannot miss.

10 taps of beer to choose from, with cocktails and a natural, organic wine menu alongside a Japanese kitchen serving up delicious food, ExAle maintains the standard of quality and choice that pervades the Blackhorse Beer Mile.

4. Beerblefish Brewing Co.

Beerblefish Bottles
Credit: Beerblefish Brewing Co.

A good gauge of how the mile has been treating you so far is seeing how much you struggle with pronouncing this brewery’s name. If you struggle, maybe ask the bartender for a pint of water first, before diving into the beers they have on offer. Emphasising heritage beers made from traditional nineteenth century recipes, Beerblefish is a social enterprise brewery. They’re conscious of their environmental impact, and help out and give back to their community in tandem with their operation.

Beers on offer range from dark, warming stouts and porters to light, crisp lagers and hoppy pales. Beerblefish Brewing Co. is almost certain to be the dark-beer drinkers stop of choice. They’re also vegan-friendly, opting out of adding any animal products to their beers. They see no need for animal products in beer, certainly not ingredients whose only purpose is to make a beer clear!

Unlike most of the offerings on the Blackhorse Beer Mile, Beerblefish are best known for their cask ales. They invite you to “come and see them in their natural habitat, poured straight from the cask using a gravity system.” It’s the kind of experience that illustrates just what make cask ale so great: delicate, well-brewed, and incredibly moreish.

5. Wild Card Brewery

Originally starting over on the other side of Walthamstow (opposite neon paradise God’s Own Junkyard), the brewery’s success allowed them to relocate to this bigger site back in 2018. Their original location is now The Barrel Store, which serves up fresh beer and pizza and houses their barrel-aging project.

At the new brewery, the site of the Blackhorse Beer Mile’s fifth stop, you’ll find their core Pale, IPA, and Lager, as well as their creative seasonal brews and one-off specials. Adding prestige to the great taste of their beer, head brewer Jaega Wise is a published writer who waxes poetic about wild and sour beers in her book ‘Wild Brews‘. You know you’re in good hands here, and you’re almost sure to find an example of one of the beers that Wise is so passionate about pouring at the bar.

6. Hackney Brewery

And so it all winds down as you enter the last establishment on the Blackhorse Beer Mile. But that doesn’t mean anything for the beers, as the quality here easily holds up to par of the rest of the mile. Originally started up in a Hackney arch, Hackney Brewery has quietly become one of the longest-standing breweries in the London craft beer scene. A sip of their beer, and a survey of some of the wild and wonderful flavours they’ve managed to cram into their beers, makes it clear why.

At the taproom, 20 taps serve up super fresh Hackney beers, alongside some of the best brews that the UK and the US have to offer. With three seating areas and an open-air vibe to the whole affair (even indoors) the vibes at Hackney Brewery are all about relaxation and hanging out with a group of friends. It’s the perfect end to the mile.

After all of that it’s off home with you to have a sleep and recover. Tell the friends who couldn’t make it what they missed out on. And then do it all again. Once you’ve recovered.

Also published on Medium.