Tap East is a microbrewery/bar based in Westfield Stratford serving what can only be described as an amazing and extensive range of beer. On the taps they serve a number of their own brews plus selected others from other popular breweries (Harviestoun and Buxton but to name two) and there is a bottled range from America, Argentina, Australia, and Belgium plus local provision from the likes of The Kernel.
The location obviously has plus and minus points. Directly opposite the exit from Stratford International Station (three words that simply don’t belong in the same sentence) and at the far end of Westfield, it is somewhat tucked away in the corner of the food market area. Well worth going out of your way for as long as you are prepared to navigate your way through a throng of some of the most ignorant and rude people on the planet.
The bar itself is relatively small with the brewery visible through a large glass window. There are a couple of sofa areas and a scattering of tables creating an interesting ambience and feel. The customer profile is an interesting mix of shoppers and beer lovers and it was also refreshing to see groups of women selecting and enjoying the bottled range over the mass produced offerings available. The one problem with the location is that the ‘twat factor’ would seem to be quite high as it obviously attracts occasional shoppers looking for some retail respite. While I was there one guy sat opposite me was slugging Thornbridge Jaipur from the bottle – heathen!
I found the bar staff not overly friendly or willing to offer advice on the beers on offer which is a shame because it can be the staff that really make or break craft beer bars.
One final thing about Tap East and a nice little twist that I have never seen before – ‘take away beer’! You can get a 2 litre bottle for £24 or 1 litre for £17.50, not sure whether it was just for their own brews but either way a really great little idea.
Anyway, onto the beers…
First up was The Tap East American pale ale ‘APA’ (4.3% ABV). A light golden colour with a strong citrusy American hop aroma, the initial taste is of grapefruit and those lovely citrusy hops. This fades to reveal a bitter hoppy peppery aftertaste will a long dry finish. This could easily be a session pale ale as it has a fairly low ABV and is very easy to drink. Rating – 3/5 bottle caps.
Next up another Tap East brew, AKA (4.7%). According to Untappd this is an Irish Red Ale and is a dark ruby beer that was almost instantly not to my liking. Strong bitter sweet aromas and an aroma and taste like flat cherry coke. A very bitter aftertaste with almost rum/spirit like undertones, this eased throughout as the drink evaporated but still a little too harsh for me. Rating – 1/5.
Last up was High Tor (6.3% ABV) from the Buxton Brewery, an ‘India red ale’ that pours with lovely dark amber colour with little carbonation and a decent sized head. Initial aromas of grass and being around a brewery (that yeasty smell – you’ll know what I mean if you’ve smelt it!) There is a creamy initial taste with toffee and malt undertones giving way to lingering spicy peppery hops leading to a dry, bitter finish. This is a beer that looks and feels like a proper English bitter but with a bit of an American twist. Rating – 3/5.
Price wise, good value for their own microbrewery beers (£1.60 for a half) but I thought £3.25 was a little steep for a half of the Buxton.
More information on Tap East can be found at http://tapeast.blogspot.co.uk/ or via Twitter @TapEast