Brewpub, bar, specialist (Utobeer)
The Great Eastern Market, Westfield Stratford City E20 1ET
T (020) 8555 4467 W www.tapeast.co.uk f Tap-East tw TapEast
Open 1100 (1200 Sun)-2300 (2200 Sun). Children welcome until early evening.
Cask beers 6 (Tap East, Thornbridge, unusual guests), Other beers 9 keg, 130 bottles, gift boxes to take away, Also 2 ciders.
Food Sandwiches, ploughmans, cold sharing platters, Outdoor Tables on square, Wifi. Disabled toilet.
Tastings, Meet the Brewer events.
In their quest to offer a retail experience for everyone, big shopping malls these days tend to sprinkle in the occasional enclave of independent specialists among the globalised megastores, and in Westfield Stratford City, this function is partially fufilled by the Great Eastern Market, a cluster of smallish shops and stalls selling Eastern European artisanal breads, Japanese snacks, Turkish and Indian sweets and posh chocolates. Rather hearteningly, Westfield decided with a few weeks to go before opening that a craft beer brewpub would complete the offer, and invited the people behind Utobeer and the Rake in Borough Market to come up with one, so long as it was ready by official opening date in mid-September. So when Tap East first launched, it was with a temporary bar and no brewery, and the paint literally still wet. The effort was heroic, but the haste showed. A few months on, things are more settled, the bar is properly equipped, a gleaming copper brewhouse stands proudly behind glass, and the place is growing into one of London’s essential beer destinations.
There are still challenges. The bar is right opposite Stratford International station, but this end of the complex has much less footfall than the section nearer the domestic station, although during the Olympic and Paralympic Games it will be the arrival point for passengers on the fast Javelin service from St Pancras. The box shaped space, with one glass wall and another open onto the mall, doesn’t encourage intimacy. A combination of high stools and sofas, designer lampshades and an attractive two-tone polished wood bar back doesn’t quite make it look like a place where you might install yourself for an evening, though the polite, friendly, helpful and well informed staff might well persuade you otherwise.
If they don’t, the beer list should — although it’s slightly more populist than you might find at the Rake, there’s still plenty of great beer to be had. Six handpumps usually dispense three home brewed beers — usually decent pale ales and stouts and exclusive to the venue — and guests from breweries like Black Isle, Dark Star, Freeminer, Oakham, Otley and Thornbridge. The keg range changes — Brooklyn Lager, Sierra Nevada pale and the like make regular appearances but others might come from British brewers like Lovibonds or Thornbridge, or from Germans like Köstritzer and Schlenkerla.
Bottled beers slant towards the USA and Belgium: beers from Ommegang, Rochefort, Saranac, Senne and Sudwerk join London’s own Kernel, real lambics from Boon and Cantillon, craft cans from Caldera in Oregon, big bottles from Dutch eccentric De Molen and classic Bavarians from Augustiner and Schneider. All the beers are also available to take away and there are gift packs too. There’s no hot food, but the sandwiches, meat and cheese boards, pork pies and Scotch eggs look tempting indeed, and there are plenty of other places to eat nearby.
With the density of the transport network that now converges on Stratford this must be one of London’s best connected fine beer haunts, a brave venture that deserves to succeed and a great opportunity to convert a new audience to craft beer. It’s well worth dodging the hordes of branded bag-clutching shoppers to make a special trip, and you certainly shouldn’t miss the opportunity if you’re passing through. For more about Stratford City, see the entry for the Cow.
Insider tip. In fine weather the outdoor tables on the public space between shopping mall and station are the best seats in the house.
National Rail/DLR Stratford International, Stratford Overground/Underground Stratford Cycling Link to NCN1, LCN+ 16 155 156 Walking Link to Capital Ring