London’s brewery count, which currently stands at 109, will continue rising in 2018. Former Beavertown Head Brewer Jenn Merrick is to launch a new project, Earth Station, next year. Located in East London’s Royal Docks—a stone’s throw from London City Airport and next to the brand new Elizabeth rail line—the brewery will form part of an “exciting hub for creativity and manufacturing” owned by local arts charity Create London.
WHY IT MATTERS
When it became public that Merrick had parted ways with Beavertown at the start of 2017, many wondered about her next move. Having previously brewed at London’s Meantime Brewing Company and Dark Star Brewery in Sussex, among others, Merrick’s reputation preceded her. It’s no surprise that GBH named her as one of its annual Signifiers at the end of 2016.
“We're putting in a 20-BBL kit with all the whistles and bells,” Merrick tells GBH. “We will brew everything in time, but probably focus on fresh, hoppy draft beers at first, ‘cause they're my favorite, and the way I see it, the only reason to brew in London is to send super fresh beer straight out across the Capital.”
Ground is expected to be broken on the purpose built facility in January 2018, with an estimated build time of around six months. Merrick hopes that the brewhouse, designed by Gravity Systems—which Merrick also worked with during her time at Beavertown—will be installed soon after. If all goes to schedule, UK drinkers can expect to try Earth Station beers by late summer 2018.
For Merrick, the brewery’s mission is far greater than merely providing great beer to the masses. She’s lived in this part of London for more than a decade, and it’s a space she hopes will also benefit the local community. The Pipework Project, a social enterprise which will consist of an apprenticeship scheme and community education program, will share Earth Space’s building and will be in-part funded by the brewery. This coincides with the incumbent UK government redesigning the existing apprenticeship scheme from the ground up.
“The chance to help shape the new apprenticeship standard was enthusiastically taken up by breweries large and small and after many meetings, I think we’ve really got something special to launch in the new year.” Merrick tells GBH. “Ideally, [The Pipework Project] will allow other small breweries to participate in and benefit from apprenticeships without having to bear the administrative burden themselves.”
In a London market that’s becoming increasingly crowded, finding a USP, even for brewers as reputable as Merrick, is imperative. For Earth Station, working with a social enterprise scheme should undoubtedly add impact to its offering when it eventually launches. The brewery is also cleverly named and branded—an Earth Station was a satellite array that beamed signals such as faxes and radio to nearby relays.
Earth Station proves that, even in a supposedly crowded marketplace, there’s still room to maneuver if you can find a way to stand out. But for Merrick, building this brewery is about far more than that.
“I have always wanted to see the brewing industry do more to root itself in local communities. Hence, the social mission and focus on community cohesion and local jobs,” she tells GBH. “I want this brewery to feel like home to my neighbors, my wife, our children and all of our extended family. That means it needs to open itself to and make welcome a more diverse range of faces than you typically see in London taprooms.”