Wikio - Top Blogs - Wine and beer The Real Ale Girl: December 2011

Saturday, 31 December 2011

How to survive the sales (clue: Tap East)

A day at a shopping centre. As potentially divisive as the keg debate or the smoking ban.  ‘Oh it won’t be that bad, we’ll get a bargain’ can be heard all over the country as, despite having spent the previous month shopping for Christmas, people are lured back in for the sales.
The ladies go shopping. The blokes moan and mope and whine about going to the pub. Or so the stereotype would have us believe.

I’m a young female. Which means I love shopping, right? Well, no. There are a lot of girly things I enjoy; early John Travolta films, glittery nail varnish, Gok Wan TV shows. But hours ambling around in a soulless, Americanised trading emporium? Not one of my hobbies.

Then Tap East was born, hiding in a sneaky little corner of the new shopping kingdom that is Westfield Stratford, in the heart of 2012 Olympic domain. From the people that brought us The Rake (in Borough Market- another retail mecca, but as dissimilar to Westfield centres as you can get), Tap East was made for girls (and boys) like me. For those who accompany shopping frenzied pals on their pilgrimages to in-store gift wrapping, loyalty cards and personal shoppers, wishing they were in the pub instead, sipping on something dark and silky (I am talking about beer, thank you). We all have to go shopping sometimes, and admittedly, it is also occasionally useful to have a few stores in one place, under one roof. I stress occasionally. But it isn’t pleasant. After a couple of hours of traipsing around with heavy bags, sore feet, a streaming nose caused by heating contrasts and an extremely irritable demeanour, you need a light at the end of the shopping tunnel.

Tap East is an extremely beery light at the end of that tunnel. Microbrewery, ale bazaar and beer geek heaven, all packaged up in Westfield friendly coffee shop-esque d├ęcor, with sofas and bookshelves and soft lighting.

Westfield Stratford should be screaming Tap East’s presence from its roof- it is certainly the only reason I choose to shop there. Normally, I stick to my local shops, or at a push head to Oxford Street, but the lure of Tap East pulls me eastwards to Stratford. My first visit was the weekend after the launch of the microbrewery’s first beer- the Extra Stout at 6.6%- sneakily strong, it manages to be incredibly refreshing, while retaining the spice and chocolate of its beer style. It certainly did the trick of washing away all those shopping aches and pains. Over my subsequent visits, they have also had several beers by Brodies, Titanic, Thornbridge, Hawkshead and more of thier own microbrewery delights.

More than enough to make me head to the shops more often. Any Londoners who have visited the Microbar in Manchester’s Arndale Centre will have been filled with envy that we didn’t have something similar here to sooth our shopping pain. But now we do. A message to all shopping centres, high streets and markets across the land- get good beer in, and we will come running.