With independent and unique beers in vogue, there’s never been a better time to open a bar dedicated to the art of the grain. At Taproom they don’t take themselves seriously, but they are serious about the beer.
Taproom offers the sort of pared-back décor you’d expect from a place geared towards the art of beer drinking. The main focus of the space is on the bar, with its numerous casks and neat little rows of taps. Here, the beer isn’t just functional, it’s also decorative, with several casks directly behind the bar encased in eye-catching glass and chrome, while chalkboards depict the top picks of the week with which to wet your whistle.
The exposed brick and artistically rough-around-the-edges style is partly due to the fact that this used to be an old council office, and so Taproom retains a Victoriana look reminiscent of a railway arch microbrewery (Kernel Brewery, London Fields Brewery and Camden Town Brewery all reside under the rails) crossed with modern dive bar for effortless urban kitsch. It’s further enhanced by artwork produced by local artists, which is a nice touch. Downstairs in the basement, instead of a cellar there are tables and chairs available to watch sporting events on a large screen, which can also be used for those making a presentation in a quirky choice of venue.
The problem with many beer-focussed boozers is they can be intimidating for the Average Joe walking in off the street and hoping for something familiar on tap. Luckily, Taproom is all about making beer accessible to all, and any attitude is left firmly at the door. The staff are very friendly and more than happy to suggest brews based on your mood or taste. They’ll never flummox you with the semantics of what makes a craft beer and what makes an ale. Here, reassuringly, it is all just beer. Yet although it’s kept simple, that doesn’t mean the staff don’t know a great deal about beers or aren’t passionate about them - far from it.
Taproom’s atmosphere is further softened thanks to a schedule of live music downstairs that covers a broad range of eclectic styles, from jazz to live harp music. The only genre Taproom steers clear of is indie, with this more than catered for in nearby Camden.
As you might expect from a beer lover’s pub, Taproom’s food menu takes a bit of a back seat to the drink offering. They cleverly pair food with brews – grassy, hoppy IPA is matched with nutty Comté or Stilton with rich black pudding and peppery salami. All of the meat and cheese boards on offer are comprised of high quality produce from foodie favourite Borough Market. If you don’t fancy any of the above then just grab some olives, silverskin onions, bread, homemade style chutney and crackers.
Beer is the star of the show at the aptly-named Taproom, with some unusual and tasty choices available both on draught and in bottles. Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout is award-winning for a reason with a creamy texture, full-bodied flavour and a hint of sugar to sweeten the palate. Also good is the increasingly popular – and locally brewed – Camden Hells, which is nice to see on tap given the bar’s proximity to its north London neighbour. Moving further afield, the Liverpool IPA impresses with its citrusy notes. And if you’re convinced that beer is just for the boys then Offbeat Brewery’s choices will soon change your mind with its two female brewers taking the helm, producing a top-quality product.
Other highlights on the menu include American Black Ale from London Fields, part of the excellent Bootlegger series, with caramel undertones and notes of nut and chocolate. Also good on cask is the Five Points Hook Island Red beer, a specialty grain beer that is aromatic and full-bodied with a hoppy aftertaste. Bottled beer expands the selection significantly with choices from US favourites Flying Dog, Scottish Brewers Harviestoun and London craft pioneers Kernel Brewery.
Feeling overwhelmed by the selection? Taproom delivers on the promise to keep beer simple while opening your mind to new choices. Their beer flights are fantastic value for money with three 1/3 glasses of beer available for just £4 for tasting – and you can choose anything from the taps to sample. If the beer is weighing you down, why not switch to the top shelf? Taproom also offers a wide choice of bourbon and whisky – the notable standout, the Islay single malt Laphroaig 10 yr old with a slight toffee note and permeating smokiness.
The Last Word
Taproom is a fantastic addition to the London beer movement and it’s only a matter of time before it’s one of the go-to bars for top brews in the capital. The problem is, the beer and company here is so good you’ll find you never want to leave.