As locations go, walking with my back to Tottenham Hale, crossing the fly-over towards the North Circular, then passing over a footbridge to an industrial park is an unexpected way to reach on of Tottenham’s new breweries. But this is where I got to meet the wonderfully warm and welcoming people at the heart of the Brewheadz family.
Gianni, Stefano, Vincenzo (Vince) and Giavanni are the four friends behind Brewheadz, a relatively new independent microbrewery currently making an impact upon Tottenham’s rapidly expanding brewing scene.
Hailing from Fondi, Italy, which I’m reliably informed sits somewhere between Rome and Naples, they all share a passion for developing great beer.
The head brewer, Gianni, started brewing at Edinburgh University and more locally did a homebrew course at the London Fields Brew School.
I’m told that the four friends shared a one bed flat in De Beauvoir in order to save money to launch the Brewheadz business.
I point out that, coincidentally, De Beauvoir is the original home of the now infamous Tottenham brewer, Beavertown, which they are all fully aware of. It raises the question: is there something the in the water around there – and indeed around here?
The guys decided to set themselves up on Rosebery Industrial Park, adjacent to Tottenham Marshes, which is where I meet Vince and Giavanni.
When I get there I receive a smiley welcome from the two of them, both of whom are down to earth and clearly very excited to be on the first step of their brewing journey.
We share a chilled ‘Sunny Side’, which is a subtle session IPA, full of flavour but not overpowering, nor intimidating at 4%. Perfect for the summer and beyond.
We get to talking about what attracted them to N17 and they tell me about space and value, the expanding social scene and the presence of an already well-established micro-brewing culture, themes shared by other local startups like venue Five Miles, based just down the road on Marksfield Industrial estate.
The guys explain to me that they’ve watched with interest as the Tottenham craft brewing scene has unfolded, starting with Redemption and Beavertown, then One Mile End, Affinity and Pressure Drop, the latter of which they particularly collaborate with, with Vince having done a stint there.
The Brewheadz group had been trialling home brews for many years, trying to find the best ideas to create a range which caters for differing tastes and seasons. Vince and Giavanni explain to me the inspiration behind their funky artwork, which is created by a close friend living in Tottenham Hale.
They combine the artwork with the beers to great effect. For example, the donkey from their beer ‘Fired Up Donkey’, which is a rich, red rye IPA at a not-for-the-faint-hearted 6.6%, is characterised to brilliant effect as the crazy character of the Brewheadz bunch, as it matches the description of this strong and spicy, hoppy beer, whereas the 5.2% ‘Kitchen Porter’, they tell me, was inspired by Italians moving from Italy to London, some of whom became – you’ve guessed it – kitchen porters.
It’s this attention to detail which really makes the story behind the brand so fascinating and adds a different perspective to the tasting process.
The Brewheadz gang started to brew in Tottenham on a bigger scale only in November 2016, with the first beers being sold in January 2017.
Since then they have made their beers available online through sites such as Ales by Mail, in numerous bars and restaurants across London and beyond, and also in stores such as Tottenham Wines.
We discussed the challenges facing smaller brewers such as Brewheadz when confronted with the opportunity and challenge of trying to sell into bigger London pub chains, who, with their leverage, demand unit prices which they simply cannot be met – at least not at present.
I explain that surely the silver lining to this cloud is that this means more of their tasty beer will remain within N17.
So what does the future hold for Brewheadz? Well, based on the positive feedback they received at the last home brew festival at Chickentown, as well as at Tottenham Green Market and numerous other forums, we should be seeing quite a lot more from this outfit and their playful, exciting beer brand.
If you want to follow in my footsteps and try some great beers from a new and exciting brewer, then head to one of the Brewheadz tap room events, usually held on Saturdays 2pm – 9pm, or look out for other brewing events featuring Brewheadz. You may even be lucky enough to catch one of their ‘tap room parties’…
Words and images by John Paul Davis. You can follow john at @teamjohnpauldavis