The LOAH taproom will be the first place where drinkers can sample LOAH’s three core beers on draught as well as special collaboration beers made in partnership with some of the UK’s best brewers.
EWA had a chat with Co-Founder Hugo Tapp to find out more.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how LOAH came about?
I'm Hugo, I'm originally from South London, grew up in rural Shropshire, then like a homing pigeon returned to within a couple of miles of where I was born. I've worked in drinks the whole of my career. I started in wine, winemaking, vineyard management, sales, and then launched an online wine merchant. Our intention was to open a really interesting wine bar filled with natural and funky wines. We were a little bit ahead of our time though, and the business never really got off the ground. After a couple of years regrouping I started LOAH in the midst of the first lockdown. Back then (just a couple of years ago!) there weren't that many non-alc beers on the market, and most of them seemed to be trying to replicate mainstream lager. As a bit of an alcohol-avoider I became pretty interested in this part of the drinks industry and lockdown was like a pressure cooker. I tried them all and inadvertently forced my family to do similar. The resounding feedback was that despite some being good, they weren't very interesting. So I set out to make something unique and interesting.
It's always been about flavour and striving to make something that delivers, and I think we're finally getting there – after a load of catastrophic brews, one involving an exploding tank! All our beers have a fruit edge to them, and we try to impart flavour at every step of the process – yeast strains that create background flavour, hops that match the fruit, then fruit itself. Now we're selling our beers across London to a variety of places, mainly in East and North London as well as Whole Foods, and we're about to launch all our beers on draft too.
What are your ambitions for the taproom?
The LOAH Tap Room was unintentional to be honest, but means that I'm finally realising the dream of operating a bar (just without the wine). I came to look around some studio space here at Hackney Downs Studios. I originally planned to have a ground floor studio where I could keep a pallet of stock and just run sales from it as most of our customers are based in the surrounding area. Then Elliot suggested we take a quick look in one of the arches, and suddenly a whole new business plan came to mind. Our beers and brand are all about unlocking the possibilities of a clear head, and the creativity that comes with that. But I was finding it hard to demonstrate our links to the creative arts in reality beyond stock sponsorships and activity that was looking pretty expensive for us as a small brand.
Immediately I could see the space being a bar, but also a rotating exhibition space (one of the walls is massive), a record store, a place to hold parties, to show films, and anything else we can think of (suggestions from the community very welcome). It's really an opportunity to showcase the brand and how we can support the creative arts. All within the context of inclusivity, as anyone can drink our beers.
What can residents and locals look forward to?
The bar will be open daily and on weekends (Mon-Fri 4-9pm, Sat 12-9pm, Sun 12-7pm). There'll be all of our beers on draft, some limited edition beers and collaborations, plus an interesting selection of soft drinks too. All on discount for residents of course. We're giving a section of the room over to Larry from music collective B.M.C to run a little record store, with a listening station. He'll be regularly rotating the selection to keep it interesting and we'll be holding a monthly Saturday afternoon party.
We're also keen to offer up the exhibition wall to residents. This summer we would really like to do a series focusing on illustrators – so if anyone is looking for a space to exhibit we can do a show hanging works, or even designing straight onto the wall. We're making plans for a couple of other activities in here too so watch this space!
Address: Arch D, Hackney Downs Studios, LOAH Taproom, London E8 2BT
Opening: Mon-Fri 4-9pm, Sat 12-9pm, Sun 12-7pm