The New Truman Brewery
James Morgan & Michael-George Hemus at the threshold of the new Truman Brewery
It gives me great pleasure to be the one to announce the site of the new Truman Brewery – due to start brewing early next year – in Stour Rd, Hackney Wick, sandwiched between Forman & Sons, the East End’s oldest salmon smoker, and the Algha Works, where spectacles have been made by hand for over a century. The New Truman Brewery will be London’s third biggest brewery and this is the largest investment in brewing in the East End in twenty-five years. Most excitingly, it is the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Truman’s that began in Spitalfields in 1666.
I first met Michael-George & James two years ago, when they began their bold quest to bring Truman’s Beer back, after the three-hundred-year-old brewery closed in Brick Lane in 1989. “When we first spoke, there were only a handful of pubs selling our beer but now we have one hundred and fifty in London,” James informed me enthusiastically, “Our great success has been Truman’s Runner, and by the end of March we will be brewing in our new brewery.”
In the midst of the economic crisis, it has been an extraordinary feat of perseverance that this duo have pulled off, raising entirely private investment, negotiating the purchase of the Truman’s name, launching the beer back into pubs successfully, finding for the site for a new brewery in the East End and buying it too. Within the shell of two vast industrial units, there will be cold storage for a thousand casks, a laboratory, offices and a series of massive brewing vessels, a mash tun and a copper – essentially a giant kettle containing 1600 litres (forty barrels) of beer at a time. Once it is operating, this new brewery will be sufficient to satisfy the thirst of the East End for years to come.
“Our challenge is to find a balance between being the inheritors of a seventeenth century brewing tradition and being a contemporary brewer,” admitted Michael-George, “It is of paramount importance to us to produce a beer that is worthy of Truman’s name.” Now the search is on to raise the final investment necessary and find a head brewer. Amazingly, Truman’s yeast from 1955 is preserved in the National Yeast Bank in Norwich which makes it possible to brew a Truman’s beer today that contains an ingredient which connects directly to the three centuries of Truman’s in the East End. Operating on a larger scale than the microbreweries that have sprung up in recent years, Michael-George & James are passionate to bring manufacturing back to the East End, employing local people and training them in skills which can sustain the future of an industry here over the long-term.
James Morgan’s ancestors were Huguenot refugees who came to Spitalfields at the end of the seventeenth century after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. “Sometimes, I smile to myself when I am skint and walking around the streets of Spitalfields and I imagine them here walking these same streets three hundred years ago,” he confided to me, “and maybe they even drank some of the first Truman’s beer?”
Michael-George & James are driven by a shared passion, recognising that Truman’s is an integral part of the cultural identity of the East End, and it will be an inspiration to us all when the most famous brewer is back brewing on home ground next year. Cheers everybody!
Truman’s is back on the road again.
If you would like to invest in Truman’s Beer or apply for the post of Brewer at the New Truman Brewery contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Read my other Truman’s stories