There’s a brewery in Stratford!?

Westfield Stratford City shopping centre inside photo
It’s a rare depar­ture from our usu­al two-blog­gers-one-voice approach, but Bai­ley sug­gest­ed I write this one alone, because I have to declare two inter­ests in com­ment­ing on Tap East: my broth­er works there and it’s “on my manor”. I grew up and have lived in East Lon­don for most of my life; I used to work in Strat­ford and my Dad lives there now. To see it explod­ing into Olympic-inspired life is rather spe­cial for me. I real­ly do remem­ber when all of that was just fields (or waste­land, at any rate).

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of shop­ping cen­tres but, if you have to have them, West­field Strat­ford City isn’t bad. As well as wel­come brands like Lego (big kid…) there are some quirky shops and cafes around the Great East­ern Mar­ket, which is where you will find Tap East, the first and only brew­ery in a UK shop­ping cen­tre.

Inside you will be greet­ed by knowl­edge­able staff (I am very impressed by how much my broth­er has learnt in such a short space of time) who will help a baf­fled shop­ping refugee or hold their own with a lone­some beer geek at the bar, if required. When we arrived, they were gath­ered in a hud­dle, sniff­ing beer and dis­cussing its aro­ma. A good sign.

Eight hand­pumps dis­pense local brews and reli­ably excel­lent guests (e.g. Oakham, Brent­wood). We liked Tap East’s John Edward Edwin bit­ter in par­tic­u­lar. On keg, var­i­ous joys includ­ed Harviestoun’s Old Engine oil, per­haps the next step on from Cam­den Ink in the Guin­ness fan’s voy­age of dis­cov­ery? And there are bot­tles galore, so even the most adven­tur­ous beer geek should be able to find some­thing new.

The main dif­fi­cul­ty it will have is try­ing to feel even remote­ly as cosy as a pub when it is, after all, in a great big breezy shop­ping cen­tre, with­out a sep­a­rat­ing door, and with cen­tral­ly piped music to boot. Obvi­ous­ly, Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary in the mid­dle of a reces­sion will also make for chal­leng­ing trad­ing con­di­tions. And there’s also plen­ty of com­pe­ti­tion, with Brodies and the Red Lion also offer­ing excel­lent beer geek des­ti­na­tions near­by.

How­ev­er, our expe­ri­ences of being squashed in the Craft Beer Co., Cask and the Southamp­ton Arms on the same week­end would sug­gest the mar­ket is not sat­u­rat­ed, and Tap East is a wor­thy com­peti­tor to all of those in terms of the beer offer­ings, with the added advan­tage that you might even get a seat, all for the sake of a few min­utes on the tube.

A cou­ple of years ago, we were excit­ed just to find a pass­able pub in Strat­ford. How times have changed.