Wednesday, 19 August 2020 17:53

New brewery in New Barnet

Written by Simon Watson

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When my beer supplies dried up during lockdown, I was delighted to discover – by way of The Wilds Café – Urban Alchemy Brewing, a newly formed brewery based in York Road.

Recently, it has been a tough time for everyone in Barnet – from frazzled parents juggling work and home schooling, children unable to see their friends, and local businesses either not being allowed, or having to operate in new and strange ways. So, as a keen supporter of our local business, I was interested to talk (via e-mail) to one of the founders, Si – about life in Barnet and the challenges faced launching a new business during lockdown. I was curious to understand how the brewery came about – clearly recently ‘craft beers’ have taken off and become a mainstream (and lucrative business), and wondered if a gap had been identified in the market in or around Barnet.

It turns out, Si, and his friends Dave, Matt and Neil had fallen in love with brewing so much, it is likely they would have launched even if there were many breweries in Barnet. Keen to break the ‘false dichotomy’ of craft beer and real ale that is commonly used, they perceive themselves as making ‘craft ale’ – with elements of the craft beer scene, such as science, experimentation and the hops in some of their beers – but at the same time focusing on good malts and natural conditioning from real ale. The focus is on making good beers you’d choose in a pub, rather than using bright shiny cans to drum up interest.

I for one, having sampled most of their beers, can highly recommend them. The Suburban Druid and Fourth Horse ales, and the new ‘Zombie Vaccine’ (I wonder if this was named after the pandemic we find ourselves in?) session pale ale are all very drinkable. They hand deliver to Barnet and surrounding areas themselves. My only wish would be that perhaps there was a lower abv ‘session’ beer to be had.

I finished up by asking whether having gone through this situation whether they had any tips or words of advice for other local businesses. I think they are not alone in noticing that there has been to some extended a renewed sense of locality – people getting to know each other better, and perhaps trying out the local businesses that have remained open and well stocked, while the supermarkets sold out.

Four pieces of advice were forthcoming: firstly, not to underestimate local interest, secondly – if you are able – consider a delivery service of some form. Thirdly, try to be flexible – Urban Alchemy switched their production to bottles (enabling them to sell direct to consumers). I was delighted to discover that Andy Gardiner of ‘fruit and veg’ at Barnet Market, has a fantastic online presence and delivery service on Greengrocers Choice. Lastly, try and link up with other local business to see if there are opportunities for joint working. Lots of small businesses are in the same boat (anyone interested in linking up can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Stop press: As restrictions eased, I was kindly invited to visit the brewery for a socially distanced visit. The setup exceeded far exceeded any preconceptions or expectations I may have had. Si and his team have created a professional ‘mini-brewery’ (micro does this enterprise a disservice), and all the team have committed to this full time (your writer was suitably embarrassed after asking ‘so what is your day job?’). The passion and care they have for their produce was clearly evident, as well as their enthusiasm for the local community.

I hope that this opens your eyes to a new local business you may not have been aware of. I for one during lockdown have certainly become much more aware of the quality and diversity of some of our local businesses, and fully intend to support them as much as possible in the future. 

 For more information, visit Urban Alchemy

 

 

 

 

   A Barnet Society inspector carries out quality control

3 comments

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 19 August 2020 22:14 posted by Huw Pryce

    Lovely. It's worth noting that Fat
    Labrador weighs in around 4% and is sublime. I've been "helping them out" with quality control since they started in their garage.

  • Comment Link Monday, 24 August 2020 16:56 posted by Simon Watson

    I think Fat Labrador is the one that I have not have the privilege of trying given that it doesn't seem to feature in the 'mixed' packs! Will remember for the future.

  • Comment Link Monday, 31 August 2020 12:08 posted by Mark

    Can a local pub in Barnet stock it?

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