East London does beer and pizza.
Crate is one of London's newer microbreweries, adding another unique take on London's craft beer scene. Whereas others may concentrate on a certain vein or style of brewing as part of their identity, Crate have opted to combine hand crafted beers with hand crafted food. Based in an old industrial unit just a couple minutes walk from Hackney Wick Station, Crate currently have a range of three of their own beers, as well as a decent choice of pizzas.
Their Lager comes in at 4.8%, and is simply a great execution of a true Pilsener: a slightly sweet malty start followed by a dry hop finish. The 5.8% IPA has citrus on the nose, a mellow brown sugar feel and taste in the body, and a grapefruity finish. One thing that can always strike fear when visiting a microbrewery that also concentrates on food, is that the attention to the latter may drastically affect the former. In this instance though, the beer was superb. You really shouldn't be concerned with food when there is great beer around, but the pizzas were delicious, and were a perfect compliment to the beers. If drinking fantastic beer about 20ft from where it was made isn't your thing, Crate also provide for your mental deficiencies with six guest beers, two on cask and four on keg: Oakham, By the Horns, Magic Rock, plus other formidable British brewers, providing rotation.
The building and space itself is the final component. The industrial character hasn't been gutted and molded beyond all recognition, it has been sculpted and prodded to neatly fit the needs of the brewery and restaurant. Crate is in an industrial estate next to a canal, but strangely it really isn't out of place. The canal provides a tranquil yet suitably raw backdrop, a theme which continues inside. The furniture is hand made and unpolished, the lamp shades are made from mattress springs; it all gives a feeling that the space has been laid bare. The best feature is the bar that segregates the open kitchen from the customers, it's made out of old railway sleepers. The entire space is overlooked by the brewing equipment, which neatly peers through tall and slender windows up one wall.
Surroundings and food really aren't vital for a pub or microbrewery to be enjoyable to visit. But top quality beer in such a nice atmosphere, with cracking food to soak it up, is a very impressive combination. Visit Crate, now.