10 tall shiny metallic giants stand side by side in a room, watching over a hall full of people, old and young, male and female, “Hipster” and “CAMRA member” alike. These 10 giants are like a visual example of how far beer and the drinking of beer has come within the past couple of years. First we had cask ale changing their pump clips from the same boring selection across most pubs to a much wider and better quality selection, then we had the introduction to beer other than the usual mass produced names flowing through keg lines, the can then made a statement about how the beer inside doesn’t have to be rubbish, nitro was next but that all wasn’t enough, the beer geek clearly wants more and Howling Hops provided the answer to “what’s next”?… Beer straight from the conditioning tank that’s what!
Hackney Wick was uncharted territory for me, to be honest the overground line itself is pretty foreign to me as I hardly use it. As soon as I see Howling Hops Tank Bar I knew I had to make a trip over to Hackney and see these great big silver giants in person, it was also a good excuse to finally go check out Crate Brewery too as they are right next door to each other.
Entering the Tank Bar from the side entrance you have a small bar to your right where you can get drinks for those who might not enjoy beer, which is good as it encourages work friends to join you who might not appreciate the fine tastes of beer (just yet… Who knows while they are there they may discover they do!). Directly in front of you of you are the 10 tanks full of Howling Hops beer from a side on view, to be able to truly take in all its full glory you should stand in front of them and admire.
As you walk to the main bar the hall opens up to your right to reveal 3 long rows of tables with small tables and stalls scattered around the edges of the room as well as room to stand. When I visited on a Saturday night it was packed, person after person sat next each other taking up the long tables and filling the air with loud chattering and creating a real buzzing atmosphere. We were lucky enough to get the last two seats in the house at a small table in the far corner.
Also in this area to the right of the tables and behind the smaller bar is the kitchen where the staff were rushed off their feet cooking burgers and meat platters for the masses that sat under the hanging lights enjoying their Saturday night. The food looked good, I was intrigued to see their meat platter but didn’t see anyone ordering it.
Behind the huge tanks is the brewery and the equipment used to fill up the tanks with beer as well as all the storage for the ingredients used to brew, you can view all this on your walk to the toilets as they are also located here.
This place is going to be shooting straight to a lot people’s favourite place to drink, it’s a first of its kind in the UK and already in its opening week it’s making a lot of noise. It’s open 10am till 11pm all week long (wow) so for those who may enjoy their visit a bit more quite there are times where you can enjoy the beers with less bodies around you. When I visited there were only 7 of the beers on out of 10 but the others will soon be ready.
As great or as well designed as any venue can be for drinking beer in it is only as good as the beer being served and if the low hanging lights, long tables, great vibrant atmosphere wasn’t enough to convince you to take a visit to Hackney Wick then the beer will. We only had 3 of their beers, Pale XX, Black XX and Smoked Porter and they were incredible, the best beers we had all day on our brewery/bar crawl. Black XX is everything I want in a black IPA sweet, grapefruit, roasted malt bitter finish. The Pale XX was punchy pineapple, juicy, hint of biscuits, peach, mango and so easy to drink! The smoked Porter was a gorgeous smokey, slight bacon notes and brown bread with a dry finish. The giants don’t just look awesome they have the substance to be more than just impressive on the eye!
All in all its simple, if you’re into your beers you have to visit Howling Hops Tank Bar, no excuses! It’s a unique place at the moment in London and it brings together the feeling of a German beer hall with the American tap room culture and is bringing the different groups within the British beer scene together.