Bermondsey brewery Fourpure opened the doors on London’s biggest taproom last Saturday, having spent £500,000 to transform an industrial unit a few doors down from the brewhouse.
The 5,000 sq ft, adventure-themed ‘Basecamp’ bar, with its horseshoe island bar boasting 43 taps, and variety of fittings – from hanging seats to diner-style booths and a 10ft ‘departure lounge’ mural painted by artist Mercy Eade – is intended to bring American-style taproom culture to the capital, according to marketing manager Adrian Lugg.
‘They do hospitality really well over there,’ he says. ‘The idea was to create a place that’s warm, welcoming and inviting, with educated and friendly bar staff.’
The taproom also has the spaciousness of American venues, albeit with one key addition for the British climate: many, many heaters. ‘We wanted to make somewhere that’s light and airy and open,’ Lugg added, ‘but we don’t want customers to freeze to death!’
The project began a year ago, he says, and the build took two months. The space incorporates a shop for off-sales and merchandise, a mezzanine floor and the Treehouse tasting room, from where brewery tours will begin (Fourpure’s tours currently rank 23rd on TripAdvisor’s list of things to do in London).
It’s licensed for around 400 customers, although more can be accommodated outside, and it will be open seven days a week. Food is provided by hot-dog specialists Oh My Dog! and live music is planned.
A rebrand is due in September; furthermore, the brewery is soon to own six units in a row, from number 22 to 26b (the taproom is number 25), and currently employs 110 people. It's now brewing 24 hours a day and is expected to make 40,000 hectolitres of beer this year, up from 27,000 last year.
Fourpure has also launched a new beer, Monsoon, a ‘juicy’ pale ale intended for the London market. ‘It won’t go out of our distribution area, and it won’t turn up in cans,’ says Lugg. ‘If you drink this beer, you’ll be drinking it as fresh as possible.’
Meanwhile, co-founder Dan Lowe is preparing to leave the company, albeit not for at least another year. He’s planning to move to Los Angeles with his young family.
London has plenty of taprooms, although many of them – notably others on the ‘Bermondsey Mile’, of which Fourpure is the southern tip – are only open at the weekend.
The Kernel, the brewery that really kickstarted London’s beer revolution in 2009, has recently announced plans to open a taproom a few doors away from the brewery in Spa Business Park. Beavertown, meanwhile, plan to open their new brewery in Enfield in March 2020, which will incorporate a 12,000 sq ft visitor centre.
Little Creatures, which is also owned by Lion, has recently opened a brewpub in King’s Cross but Lugg says that, at the moment, there are no plans to sell beers from other members of the Lion group.
Although the taproom is located at the back of an industrial estate, Lugg is confident it will attract plenty of custom. ‘We want people to arrive on our trading estate in Bermondsey, be a little baffled by the surroundings and then [we want to] blow them away when they step inside the bar,’ he says.
Given Fourpure’s rapid expansion, more venues in London seem a definite possibility in the near future. Lugg doesn’t rule it out: ‘I need something to do now this is finished!’ he says.