hoppist deliver a monthly box of beer for Londoners looking to discover the amazing beer brewed in & around the city. In our Meet the Brewer series, we take you behind the scenes to meet the people behind the beer
We caught up with Calum Bennett, Head Brewer at CRATE Brewery
Who are you and what do you brew?
Calum Bennett, Head Brewer.
We Started as an English style craft brewery, back in 2012. Originally brewing a small core range of Golden ale, best bitter and IPA. These days we brew a full range of styles, from Pilsners and Pale/IPA to Sours, Brett & Wild beers
Where is your brewery?
By the River Lea in Queen’s Yard, Hackney Wick
How big is your kit?
We’ve grown gradually over the years, from Brewpub/Microbrewery kit, (800L) with 2 fermenters, to 10 brewer’s barrels, 700,000 lts pa. We brew roughly 8 times a week
How & when did CRATE get started?
CRATE opened in July 2012, with the Bar and Pizzeria on the river Lea. We built it all the furniture and bar ourselves on a bit of a shoestring budget, with a lot of help from friends and the local community
How did you get into brewing?
I’m self taught, and the oldest serving employee at CRATE. Started in construction building the bar, worked in the Kitchen, Brewing with Neil (one of our directors) in the brewery, moving up to Head Brewer
What are your brewing influences?
The Kernel Brewery, in the beginning. They really set the benchmark for craft beer quality. Now, Omnipollo, as they keep brewing interesting and unusual beers
Where do you like to drink in London?
The Leytonstone, it’s my local
How do you go about developing a new beer?
We let our imaginations run wild a bit, write up a recipe and then do a small batch. They then get tested through our bar. Using our Lemon Gose as an example, we’re confident in the process when using fruit peel/zest, so we can apply this to other fruit / sour beers
What’s your favourite type of beer to drink and to brew?
To Drink; Magic Rock Salty Kiss. It’s a great beer, don’t see it everywhere. To Brew; Wild beers, Brett Raspberry because its more art than science; it changes all the time
What’s the best beer you’ve ever made?
Our first Black IPA from 2015. We made it on the micro kit in the bar as a test brew. Great flavor and depth
What advice would you give to people just getting into craft beer?
Just brew what makes you happy, and enjoy the process
What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve brewed with?
Sumac, za’atar & Thyme. A bespoke brew for a client that has North African cuisine restaurants
Have you ever completely screwed up a beer, either homebrewing or commercially?
Absolutely. Accidentally pumped 300L of porter, into a pale tank once. There’s been a few failed test brews, but you have to make mistakes & try things to progress
What’s next for the brewery, and are you working on anything exciting right now?
We’re looking at a new site to expand the brewery, increasing our sour range, more wild beers, and some fun collaborations
What do you think the next big beer style will be?
Lager-styles and pilsners. It’s gone down the IPA/Pale route for so long it’s bound to swing back to lighter beers