We drop in to see a brew in action at CRATE’s new warehouse in Hackney Wick and meet the Head Brewer, Neil Hinchley. We find out about the inspiration behind CRATE and why the trend for craft beer is only getting started – as demand for fuller flavoured beers continues to rise..

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What inspired you to brew beer?

First and foremost it was enjoyment of beer itself. Having grown up making gorse and nettle wine in my parents kitchen at home, I already had a basic understanding of ingredients and fermentation processes. When I hit my 30s and my interest in beer began bordering on obsession it consequently wasn’t much of a leap to start home brewing. Having had a couple of reasonable successes I started to enjoy the sharing of my beers as much as the brewing of them.

How did Crate Brewery come about?

The 3 of us who run CRATE brewery met via a very random family connection – we all had the same vision to create and an awesome brewery, with a bar and pizzeria based in the amazing area that is Hackney Wick. When The White Building (our home) announced they were looking for people to run a food and drink operation to accompany the artistic activities in the rest of the building, we jumped at the chance. We launched just in time for the olympics and haven’t looked back since. 6 months ago we opened a second much larger brewery on the other side of the yard to keep up with demand, and we just bought a barge to further extend the family!

Where do you source your Malts from and is sourcing locally important to Crate?

We source the vast majority of our malt from the UK (Norfolk and Suffolk). The UK has some of the finest malt in the World, and we’re very proud not to have to look further afield.

Favourite beer you've brewed?

We love them all! Yesterday we got our new pale recipe into keg, and its absolutely delicious. Single hopped with Nelson Sauvin (for bittering and aroma) and coming in at 4.5% its a very quaffable, fragrant, and tasty treat!

What other beer brands do you like?

Too many to mention, but a few of them: Hair of the Dog, Weird Beard, Kernel, Bear Republic, Dogfish Head, Maui, Evil Twin..

What's your thoughts on the current industry, has it become quite a crowded marketplace or is there still room for new entrants?

Theres still loads of room for growth, craft beer is a tiny niche in the beer market. Once you start to appreciate fuller flavoured beers theres no turning back, so I can’t see the trend ever reversing.

Why has Hackney Wick become such a haven for independent food and drink businesses?

Lots of artistic and creative types coupled with good warehouse stock and transport links means this is one of the areas that attracts young businesses and startups.

What advice you would give to aspiring craft brewers or food entrepreneurs?

It sounds obvious, but just get involved! Theres a huge appetite for artisan made food and drink so just start making and refining. With so much going on it means there’s loads of options to get involved, but with lots of other operators you need to be really really good to shine.