BREWING beer used to be big business in Waltham Forest but, like the pub trade, is regarded today as a dying industry.
But as CARL BROWN found out, a brother and sister in Leyton are bucking the trend and are winning plaudits across the capital for their ales.
THE large King William IV pub, in Leyton High Road, is a well-known landmark to pedestrians and passers-by.
But many are perhaps unaware that in a building at the back of the pub is one of the few breweries operating today in London.
James and Lizzie Brodie, whose father Brian owns the King William IV as well as two other pubs in Soho and Covent Garden, took over the long-abandoned Sweet William brewery at the back of the pub last August.
After they restored the equipment, they reopened the brewery as Brodie's Beers.
James said: “I have always been interested in brewing and used to brew beer in a bath tub at home.
“I am interested in producing quality beer, a lot of brand name beer is poor quality and have chemicals and ground plastic in them to make them clear more quickly in the brewing process.
“It is no wonder people drink them and feel bad afterwards.”
James and Lizzie produced their own IPA, and it immediately became a hit with punters.
They went from strength to strength, James experimenting with different recipes and types of ales.
“James has an amazing eye for recipes,” said Lizzie.
Brodie's now produces 12 permanent beers in addition to one-off specials.
Among the array of Brodie's Beers are red beers, wheat beers, hoppy ales, a dark mild, a lager, and the black Superior London Porter, which at 7.2 per cent is not for the faint-hearted.
Lizzie admits it was tough initially phoning around London pubs trying to sell their beer.
She said: “They would be persuaded to take a barrel of IPA, but when they then came back a week later and ordered the IPA plus other beers, it was a great feeling.”
Brodie's Beers are now sold across London, outselling more established ales in West End pubs, and have been praised by both the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the London Drinker Magazine.
The London Drinker even asked Brodie's to produce its 25th anniversary ale earlier this year.
As the Brodies acknowledge, there is no money in brewing, especially as they use expensive hops and malt and insist on keeping prices down to £1.99 a pint.
But for James brewing is a hobby and he has a desire to persuade more people to drink real ale, rather than big brand name lagers and bitters.
He said: “Brodies outsells everything else in the pub comfortably and every single one of the guys who has come to work for us has been converted.
“I want to end the idea that 'ale' is something solely for old men with beards, we want to convert younger people.”
Brodie's will celebrate its first anniversary in September with a mini-festival at the King William IV.
Visit www.brodiesbeers.co.uk for more information.