Many real ale enthusiasts will be familiar with the imposing brick building that’s home to The Brewery Tap. Originally built as the town’s labour exchange, owner Paul Hook took on the derelict site in 1995 with a dream of opening up a brewpub...
‘The building dates to the early 1930s. It’s very well-constructed – solid and substantial,’ says Paul. ‘It’s maybe not the prettiest building but inside is where the real ‘wow’ factor comes in.’ As soon as Paul and his team started work on the building they knew it had potential. ‘But when you went inside it was essentially a single-storey office. So we poked out all the ceiling tiles to find layer upon layer of ceilings tiles – all hanging off each other.’ With the tiles removed the stunning riveted iron frames that span the building were revealed. ‘They give the building an industrial feel. I’ve been out to the States and seen how they’ve made the brewpubs there. That gave me the original idea of integrating Oakham Ales into the building, to take advantage of that industrial feel.’
Of course, The Brewery Tap has evolved since it opened in 1998. When Oakham Ales moved into its new 75 barrel brew house at Woodston, the brewing operation at The Brewery Tap took on more of a development role, brewing many of Oakham Ales’ guest and special beers. ‘We’re now about the same size as a lot of microbreweries starting out. But it’s the right size for us, giving us the flexibility to do our development runs and small-batch brewing. If a beer proves popular in The Brewery Tap we know we can then brew it on a larger scale at the main brewery – it’s the perfect setup.’ For the real ale enthusiast this means there’s always something new to try. The Brewery Tap is also at the forefront of the craft, or keg ale boom, offering drinkers an exceptionally varied range of beers to sample and enjoy.
The Brewery Tap serves up Thai food alongside the beers – a marriage made in heaven: ‘When we thought about food I wanted something fresh and zesty. I thought Thai food would be a brilliant way of marrying the spice of Thai food with the intrinsic hoppiness of the beers of Oakham Ales; they both have flavour and bite to them.’ It’s proved a winning combination. The dining atmosphere at The Brewery Tap is very relaxed.
‘It’s not too restauranty; it’s very casual,’ explains Paul. And just as drinkers can enjoy a view of the microbrewery, diners can see the kitchen through the upstairs window, offering a connection between the magic worked by the Thai chefs and the freshly cooked tastebud-tingling food that results. Live music is also a big feature of The Brewery Tap. The monthly ‘Oakham Mic Night’ is a hugely popular event inviting would-be talent to come along and give it a go.
Then every Saturday there’s the Saturday Night Groove, with visitors encouraged to get their groove on to music from the 70s to right up to today. The energetic can stay up till 2am, busting moves and generally soaking up the atmosphere of this lively venue. The Brewery Tap arguably has it all: an impressive, almost cavernous setting in which people can enjoy a drink, circulate, sample some delicious Thai food then dance the night away. ‘The whole place is very much about good fun and entertainment alongside good beer, good food and a great venue,’ adds Paul.
GOT A FUNCTION? The Brewery Tap’s function room (aka The Tap Room) can be hired for a range of events, from formal meetings to special parties and dining evenings.
THE BREWERY TAP 80Westgate, Peterborough PE1 2AA.
T: 01733 358500