BeerVisits - UK - Europe - USA/Canada - World

Pub Visit - England

Cock Tavern 1 BuildingSaturday 8th December 2012

Bob Thompson

This was a visit to a pub that turned in to an impromptu visit to a brewery. However I have filed it as a Pub Visit as that's how it started. I knew that the CAMRA Pigs Ear Beer Festival was on at the same time just a half mile up the road, but was surprised that the pub was completely empty. Tim, the barman, told me this was unusual. I said that I thought the pub would be very busy in the evenings and he said that from 19.00 the previous night he doubted whether it was possible to squeeze any more in.

This is a basic pub whose obvious strengths are the home-brewed beers and traditional ciders. The only concession to modernity that I could see was a digital juke box. The floors are bare-boarded and the walls have some historic signs from the Ind Coope, Whitbread and Wenlock breweries, the last two being fairly local with a lot of pubs in the area. Despite this, the pub was a Truman's house as witnessed by the stone signage outside that was so typical of that brewery.

Food is of the sort you'd expect from a town pub thirty years ago with Roast Pork and Cheese & Chutney Baps, Pork Pies (four varieties), Sausage Rolls and Pickled Eggs. Of course there are the usual crisps, nuts, scratchings, etc. Worthy of mention though is the Vegetarian Scotch Egg; never heard of one of them before.

Cock Tavern 2 Bar
There are eight keg taps for those who think it is cool to drink gassy beer and I was amused to see that these were on average, 60p more per pint than the cask beers.

Now't so queer as folk, as they say, especially those are prepared to pay premium prices for an inferior product that gives a greater return for a pub or brewery because it has an almost indefinite shelf life. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

Anyway it was the cask beer I was here for and there were the following, all from the brewery in the basement: Pale Ale (3.9%); Chocolate Stout (5.2%); Old London Victorian Stout (6.5 %), Five Hop IPA (6.1%); American Amber Ale (5.5%); US Pale XX (5.0%) and Green Bullet Single Hop Ale (4.5%).

Cock Tavern 3 Drinking areaOn top of that, this pub is a speciality cider outlet with a fine collection of traditional ciders and perries.

They had: Dorset Nectar (Bridport, Dorset) Dry Cider (6.5%); Gwynt y Ddraig (Pontypridd, Wales) Medium Dog Dancer (6.5%); Gwatkin (Abbey Dore, Herefordshire) Norman Cider (7.5%) and Squeal Pig Medium Perry (4.5%); Millwhites (Hemel Hempstead, Herts) Cider (7.0%); Broadoak (Cutton, Somerset) Bristol Port Traditional Medium Cider (6.0%) and Fosseway (Shepton Mallet, Somerset) Somerset Glory Medium (6.0%).

I tried the Green Bullet Single Hop Ale and liked it a lot yet thought there should be another hop in the mix to give it a bit of balance. Anyway I'm grateful for the opportunity to try it as a single hop variety beer, it probably won't happen again. The other beer tasted was Pale Ale which was brilliant. It was a beer bursting with hop flavour yet not strong; the perfect session beer; a classic.

Cock Tavern 4 BreweryI asked Tim about the brewery and said I thought that there couldn't be a lot of room for it in the cellar of what was not a particularly large pub. In response he asked if I'd like to see it. Of course I jumped at the chance and was soon negotiating the steep wooden steps into the depths. There were three separate areas.

The brewery was opposite at the bottom of the stairs. Tim explained that it was a four barrel plant that normally would produce sixteen nine gallon firkins.


Cock Tavern 5 CellarI asked how often they brewed and he said that it was up to three days a week. When I said that I thought that was a lot, he said that they also supplied the Southampton Arms in Kentish Town and a wine bar that were under the same management.

He commented that they had completed their twenty-seventh brew the day before; this since the brewery commenced business in July 2012.

We then went into the main room which is used mainly for storage of full and empty casks and basic materials and finally through a door which was the pub's cellar and was also used for more storage. Everything was incredibly cramped I was amazed that they can produce such great beers in such a confined space.

It was a marvellous visit and I thank Tim for his hospitality and I'll be back soon.

Important Information:

The Cock Tavern, 315 Mare Street, Hackney, London E8 1EJ. Tel: 0871 951 1000

Open: Monday to Thursday 12.00-23.00; Friday and Saturday 12.00-01.00;
Sunday 12.00-22.30

The pub is less than five minutes walk in a southerly direction from Hackney Central which is served by trains of the Overground. It is less than ten minutes walk from Hackney Downs station which hosts Greater Anglia trains from Liverpool Street station.
The following buses pass along Mare Street: D6, 48, 55, 106, 236, 254, 277 and 394. The nearest stop is Hackney Town Hall.