St John at Hackney Brewery in a nutshell: A lively, community-focused pub in Hackney with an on-site brewery.
Where is it? At Bohemia Place a two-minute walk from Hackney Central overground station.
What’s the vibe? The non-profit brewery is connected to the local church, and there are plenty of ecclesiastical touches – 250-year old pews line the walls, a ceiling of blonde wood beams echoes that of a contemporary church, and a striking stained glass window-like front reflects the particularly approachable attitude of the pub. Co-founder and general manager Luke Scanlon has quickly established an all-are-welcome attitude – young hipsters mingle with local families and in-the-know tourists – while giving back to the local community. A bespoke piece of artwork was commissioned to capture the spirit of Hackney, with individual characters extracted and dotted around the menu, etched onto pint glasses and stitched onto uniforms of the Hackney-born bar staff.
What’s the drinks menu like? There are twelve beers chalked up behind the bar at any one time; six brewed on-site twice a week (including a session IPA, an imperial stout and a dry hopped lager that’s somewhere between an IPA and a lager) and six guest beers (try the fruity, sour mandarina bière de saison from The Kernel Brewery).
Wines and spirits aren’t a second thought here; Luke grew up in Australia and is passionate about wine, so offers a favourite Clare Valley shiraz as well as soft and spicy montepulciano, citrusy albariño and zesty Italian trebbiano. Spirits are all sourced from the area (Fifty Eight Gin, Our/London vodka, East London Liquor Company rum), while non-alcoholic options come from craft soda brand Square Root.
Is there any food? Current chefs in residence are έla, serving superb fresh Greek Cypriot food. Dunk warm pitta into freshly made dips to start – creamy tzatziki with bursts of refreshing cucumber, silky hummus and smoked aubergine with pomegranate molasses.
Order a pitta stuffed with tender pieces of grilled chicken thigh, crunchy red cabbage and pickled carrot, smoky baba ganoush and pomegranate molasses. Fat little skinless sheftalia sausages are super soft and caramelised, and halloumi, made by a Greek family down the road, is how halloumi should be – large pieces of pull-apart salty cheese with golden griddle marks.
Where to go nearby for dinner: Stay for the satisfying and fresh Greek food, or it’s a short five-minute walk to one of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants, Nest (book in advance for their well-priced tasting menu, or click here to make the recipes at home).
olive says… This is the kind of spot you go back to time and again, with friendly bar staff, chatty punters and a welcoming attitude. Ideal for midweek drinks, a weekend celebration or a long Sunday lunch (roast menu to come soon).
Written by Alex Crossley
Photographs by Nathan Pask