“We’ll be making porter, dark lagers, barleywine and a rude-boy IPA, on top of our three core beers. Beyond that – who knows?”
Classic, drinkable styles and a strong ale to remember are on the menu as London’s most outspoken brewery, Forest Road, prepares to open its new production site
Two types of breweries open in London these days: small ones, where a homebrewer has decided to turn his or her skill into a business, and huge ones, where an injection of corporate cash allows a craft brand to expand rapidly. Forest Road’s new brewery is not like either.
But Forest Road is not a typical brewery. In an era when much of London brewing appears to have made an accomodation with multinational investment, Forest Road’s Pete Brown has continued to bang the drum for independence despite plenty of people wanting him to keep quiet. “Anyone is allowed to sell their business, of course,” he says, “but drinkers deserve to know about it, and they should care, too.”
Started out of a backpack 5 years ago, Brown and Forest Road have big plans. The new brewery in South Bermondsey/New Cross will be the sort of place that any brewer would love to have. There’s a semi-automatic, 50-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse capable of producing 30,000 hectolitres a year (that’s over 5m pints), although Forest Road expects to make 11,000 (almost 2m pints) in the first 12 months. It’s an amazing piece of kit, not least because it was partially designed by one of modern beer’s greatest brewers, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, from whom it was bought. There’s lots of space to expand into, and it’s close to Bermondsey and the centre of London’s beer world.
Ground works began in June.
“The brewhouse will change Forest Road, because I’ll finally be able to brew my own fucking beer again,” says Brown, whose beer has been made under contract elsewhere since the company was founded in 2015. “Customers can expect what they get now, but a 20 per cent increase in quality. Our beer is going to be so clean you’ll be able to see your own reflection in it from a bar table away.”
It should be operational early 2021, allowing Brown and brewer James Garstang to hone and perfect POSH and WORK, the two beers they currently make, and add a few more too. “We’re going to christen the kit with a barleywine with as much grist as I can possibly put in it and then rack that into barrels to forget about,” says Brown.
“Then we will start cracking into the first batches of POSH and WORK done on our own system. We are undoubtedly going to belt out a rude-boy IPA in the Autumn, and we really want to start exploring dark and amber lagers and porters when it turns cold. That’s all I can see in front of us for this year – but who knows?”
One thing is for sure. Forest Road won’t be doing things because they’re fashionable or easy. “I am into nuanced, subtly complex, drinkable beers,” he says. “James and I both appreciate the cradle of tight, subtle yet confident flavor-profiles in beers made for drinking. I have been focussed on this since inception. I like drinkable beers!”
For more information, contact Pete Brown on email@example.com