Good Beer Hunting

EP-209 Ben Freeman and Graham O’Brien of Pressure Drop Brewing

EP-209 Ben Freeman and Graham O’Brien of Pressure Drop Brewing

Pressure Drop may have been founded during the early days of London’s brewing renaissance, but its trajectory has been very different to many of its compatriots. 

While other UK breweries of the same age—the likes of Beavertown, Five Points, and Fourpure—expanded rapidly, putting together sales teams, attending trade shows and contract brewing overseas to hit demand, Pressure Drop’s founders have chosen to grow slowly and organically even when the opportunity to explode seemed in reach.

Back in 2013 their flagship beer, Pale Fire, was probably the most sought-after Pale Ale in London and way ahead of its time. Even though the recipe changed frequently, its reliably soft wheat body, haze, and juicy aroma was unlike anything else on the bar, a precursor of what would become the New England craze. It was so talked about that some people thought Pale Fire was the the name of a brewery, not a beer.

It still amazes me that some of the seminal Pale Fire I drank back then was made on a 50L homebrew kit in a shed in Hackney. Even in 2016 they were still brewing on a five-barrel brewhouse down a dingy side road in East London. At this site they were only able to dedicate around 30% of their volume to the more idiosyncratic beers that had got them excited about brewing in the first place—beers like their Wugang Chops the Tree, their foraged-herb Hefeweiss and Nanban Kampai, a yuzu wheat IPA. 

I met Ben Freeman and Graham O’Brien at the Experiment, a taproom they opened in that archway after moving the brewery out.

A much bigger expansion in 2016 has given them more tank space to play around, leading to a belated move into true New England brewing and canning, as well as putting them next door to Beavertown, where the brewery stands proud as a symbol of their different way of doing things.