Beer Merchants Tap opens in Hackney

Susanna Forbes

Susanna Forbes

06 March 2018

Cave Direct’s first bar, the Beer Merchants Tap, has opened in Hackney Wick, less than three months after its successful crowdfunding bid.

Based in a handsome brick building, Merchants Tap mixes urban chic with some of the beer world’s funkiest graphics. While the Beavertown and Lervig images that grace the space are impressive, it’s the mighty wall of taps, the 20-page beer list and the seasonally changing flanks of bright, floor-to-ceiling fridges that are the key attractions.


One of the main attractions
One of the main attractions

That, and a state-of-the-art cellar on show via a lengthy glass wall and the forthcoming blendery, the UK’s first.

‘There are two elements of the Beer Merchants Tap,' prime mover Jonny Garrett told Imbibe. 'First it’s a shop window for Cave Direct. If you want to you can come to Cave Direct for your whole beer list. We have 22 taps [here]. Second, it’s about training. We are going to offer flavour training, crash courses in beer, line cleaning courses, cellar management courses. All the stuff you need to run a bar.

‘We want to combine a great beer shop with a bar. Inspired by the US experience, the bottle shop is our USP. In most pubs the packaged sales are quite low. We want to make it 50:50.

‘The technical training will start in about two months, and will be available to all trade customers. With so many beers being offered you need to know when it isn’t at its best or when it might get worse quite quickly. Should you detect oxidation at the point when someone is trying to sell you a beer, then it is only going to get worse by the time you put it on sale.

‘In the room with the cellar will be our blendery. There will be 40-50 barrels plus hopefully a foeder and a maceration tank. We will hold events in [the blendery] with beer dinners and training. Every month will be linked to a theme. Next month is Beavertown. Belgian in September, Germany in October.'

‘We’re going to have a heavy focus on our Belgian breweries and beers, because that is the heart of our company and what we do,' he added. 'We’ve been collecting and ageing Belgian beers for years, and we’ll be releasing these vintages to drink in. Some are very rare indeed. We’ll also have our own sour blending project, inspired by the lambic breweries of Brussels and the surrounding areas, which will be a great educational tool as well as a dream come true for many of us!’

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