I first heard of Crate Brewery, when my dad and myself ordered a couple of pints of their pale ale at The Orange pub in Pimlico (which just happened to make number 3 in my ‘Top Three London Pubs’). Now, I’m new to beer, I grew up in Wales and went to university in the west country… I’m a proper cider glider, so when I decide I’m going to order a pint I usually end up spending at least 20 minutes talking to the barman and tasting pretty much everything they’ve got on tap. On this particular occasion, I got into a conversation about this little brewery, called ‘Crate’ in Hackney Wick. This was interesting to me because I live in East London, and Hackney Wick is actually pretty close. After that, I was pretty keen to check out Crate Brewery, word on the street was that they also did pretty great pizzas so you know I was down there like a shot! Since then, I guess I could call Crate my ‘local’ bar/ eatery. It’s close, and I’ve been there a lot since I moved to London just over a year ago, particularly their spin-off bar ‘Mick’s Garage’ which is where I spent most of my weekends this summer… but we’ll get to that later.
Crate is located on the ground floor of what appears to be an old East London factory building, called The White Building, a space which also accommodates art and technology exhibitions. The building sits on the Hackney Wick side of the Lee Navigation, a canal route that runs from London all the way to Hertfordshire, on the other side of the canal you’ll find Stratford’s Olympic Park, now home to West Ham United. And if you live in London, and read the Evening Standard on your way home everyday, you may be aware of Crate from the bar’s recent controversy with the football team, having banned West Ham colours after matches following some post-match misbehaviour (jumping in the canal and what not).
Football hooliganism aside, Crate really is perfectly positioned for a few Sunday afternoon pints and one of their hand-rolled pizzas, so it’s no surprise that it gets pretty busy on a sunny weekend. And, although it’s definitely a ‘hipster bar’ (I didn’t want to say it, but there isn’t a better description) there are always plenty of families sat outside with with their children in the daytime. (Note: you can only book for groups larger than 10, so if a group of you are planning on heading down there I suggest you get there early)
Crate change their menu every month, although every time I’ve visited I’ve not noticed any differences on the pizza menu, so I assume that it’s generally the beers that change, with a variety of guest beers appearing each month. The pizza menu isn’t what I’d call traditional, but it has plenty of veggie options, which I always approve of. Starting from £8, it’s got everything from the classic Margherita, and spicy salami pizzas… to Middle Eastern lamb (which I’m informed is very goo) to Kashmiri Dahl, topped with dahl, yogurt and fresh bananas… which haven’t been brave enough to try yet (pineapple on pizza is enough for me!). My personal favourites are the sweet potato, stilton and walnut, and the sage and truffle topped with grated potato… apparently I like potato on pizza. I’m told the prosciutto and rocket is very good too. On my most recent visit I tried the courgette, feta, red onion and gremolata pizza, which was a disappointing choice for me, I’m not a big fan of piled up pizza toppings so I’ve really only got myself to blame.
But, first and foremost this place is a brewery, and their drinks menu is perfect for pint lovers. Crate’s pale ale, porter, golden ale, IPA, stout, lager and cider (amongst others). They’re all pretty darn delicious, and are available at both Crate and Mick’s Garage, which is just around the corner. Mick’s is a warehouse bar just around the corner, the main bar ‘Jarr Bar’ is downstairs, and serves cocktails and komboucha alongside crates beers, Shuck Shuck’s meat smoking food shack and The Bean Shed café are also downstairs, so this isn’t just a place for drinking. There’s sofas outside, table tennis and table football upstairs, and DJs playing long into the night (on decks balanced on Crate beer kegs) most weekends. As I mentioned at the start, this is where I spent the majority of my summer.
If you’re in East London and fancy a pint, I definitely recommend taking a trip to Crate. It’s open from noon Monday to Sunday, and is located in Queens Yard, Hackney Wick. There’s always something going on at Mick’s Garage, and you can also book their Brew House for special events (seriously, I’ve seen people have weddings there).