Today I’m going to a Cider Fest!
The Crate Brewery was suggested to me a few weeks ago. I went along to meet a couple of friends. It was easy to find from Hackney Wick train station, just follow the stream of hipsters heading that way – it’s the only thing to get off the train for. A night on the porter ales resulted in a three day hangover. However, subsequently checking out the Crate Brewery site, I discovered that a Cider fest was planned.
How delightful, a cider fest with lots of proper ciders, almost on my doorstep! Now, I’ve planned and prepared, and made sure I didn’t get lashed the night before. It looks like a nice, bright day, and it’s not a long journey on the train, though if you’re not arriving from the east, the plethora of Hackney-named train stations can be a bit disorientating – get off at Downs, walk to Central, arrive at Wick.
As before, I follow the trickle of hipsters (It’s more of a trickle than a stream, this early in the afternoon). The Crate is in a big white building, aptly called the White Building, sitting just next to the canal, with several canal boats moored next to it, and even some people taking kayaking lessons overlooked by a load of fashionable boozing folk. The Cider Fest is being held in the brewery building, by the entrance of the courtyard/carpark. It’s been made to look like a traditional Somerset farmyard building, with addition of hay bales to sit on, and a band. No pigs or cows, though there’s still 10 hours to go, but there’s a manly menu of pork, beef or big mushrooms, and a healthy, long table covered in a couple of rows of cider boxes.
The queue’s not too bad, I approach the table, and pick out one that looks like it might be nice. The Hecks Brown Apple. ‘Good choice’, says the barman, and I think I’m off to a good start. I hand over four quid – not too bad for Hackney – and find a spot to sit, in front of a stack of hay and try to keep the bits from blowing in me pint. The Hecks is bright orange, almost hazy and slightly sparkling, in a paper cup. The smell is of fruity goodness, and it tastes sweet and spicy warm, with a smoky kick, and an almost menthol hit. In fact, looking at my string of adjectives, it’s a whole night out in a glass – a pint, a curry, a fag and some chud. Ok, so maybe just a slow Tuesday night out, but it beats Coronation Street and a Pot Noodle.
This place is kicking already, as the band sing ‘don’t stop, tomorrow is all we got’, I notice the rafters strung with skull and crossbones bunting, and wonder if the band are actually giving us a warning. If the scrumpy doesn’t get you, the canal might! Everyone seems to have a box of food, and the queue is growing. When I arrived, there were lots of middle aged people in sensible clothing, but now the kids have woken up, and people are arriving with ribbons and sequins on their faces, cavalry jackets and sports socks with brogues. The breeze is cool and picking up and blowing suspicious things into my pint, but the Hecks is nicely warming, it wouldn’t be out of place on a winter’s night. I feel there’s some liquorice in there too. As the party hots up, I decide to join the queue with a third of my cup left, as it may take some time to get served again. I’m looking forward to finding out what other lovelies are on offer.
(another Crate Cider Fest post is to follow, soon)