For many people like myself shopping centres can be the bane of our existence. To us shopping centres are not shrines to creativity and flair but behemoths of capitalist greed, and incubators of the tertiary service industry slowly destroying the former middle class. But some of them have breweries! A great example of which is Central City Brewing in the Central City mall in Surrey British Columbia, which i believe is among a handful of shopping centre breweries scattered around North America. Although the shopping centre brewery isn’t necessarily odd in North America, in more traditional Europe it is. Thus Tap East stands as an Oddity in its small brewery located in the Westfield Shopping Centre Stratford.
Despite being in a shopping centre the quality of ale served was unencumbered. In addition to the beers brewed on premises Tap east also has several beers on tap (Don’t order a grolsch) and a very high quality collection bottled and canned beers some even from America. But lets be honest, when at a brew pub you get the beer they brew… its a rule.
So what did they Brew?
The East End Mild- A classic british style that in the past indicated fresher rather than aged beer and now more predominately means a lightly hopped beer. This beer followed Mild guidelines and was malt forward, with a really pleasant toffee maltiness that was light on the palate. Coming in at around 3% ABV this is a great example of the classic english ale that has great flavour and allows you to enjoy a few in a single sitting.
Coffee in the Morning Stout- England in no newcomer to the coffee-d beer craze and this in another of note. The coffee itself came from just down the hall from a coffee shop called “Grind” (the official drink of westfield?) and was added in the whirlpool stage of brewing. The beer itself is full of coffee flavour, and had in my opinion some acidity which you may or may not enjoy.
Tonic Ale- This is a superb session beer. Built on a light malt base this bright blond beer has fruity hops that are light yet ever-present. A Well done beer.
The beer wasn’t the only great experience, after chatting with the assistant manger i was introduced to the brew master who graciously took me into his brew house. He explained to me many of the interesting tidbits i’ve noted such as how the coffee was added to his Stout. He noted the difficulty of his brewing in his small brewhouse and i had to agree having heard similar stories from the many similarly small brewhouses in Vancouver. But just like in Vancouver, this small brew house put out some great beer. To top it all of when i mentioned i was planning on brewing a british style ale when i returned home the brewer sent me on my way with some English Hops (Bramling Cross). So if you find yourself in a Shopping mall in Stratford or more likely in Borough Market, find tap east, you won’t be disappointed!