By Duncan Powell
ORA Brewing Co are a group of brewskis from Modena, Italy, who have recently chosen to set up in Tottenham. Their taproom opens every Saturday from 12-8pm and serves a large selection of draft and bottled/canned beers from Unit 16A of the Rosebery Industrial Estate, an address that will be familiar to anyone who patronised the now defunct Brewheadz taproom. If, like me, you were pretty gutted to lose Brewheadz (the only brewery within 100ft of my house), you can take solace in the fact that a worthy replacement has taken over the space. There is no Brewheadz beer left though, so stop asking.
As if returning alcohol production to the end of my road weren’t enough, it turns out that ORA also seem to be rather talented brewers. They make fun and creative beers, not in a novelty ‘chuck in a grapefruit and charge £6 for a tinny’ way, but more in an ‘actually caring about the ingredients and taste’ way. Their head brewer Simone, described to me with great passion the friends’ drive to create innovative flavours while paying homage to their italian roots.
Obviously a review of a taproom would be somewhat lacking without taste-testing a good number of the beers. Me and the family wandered down a week or two after their soft launch, but before their grand opening. I’ve returned several weekends since, dragging various other friends down just to ensure the quality is consistent, y’know?
ORA’s stated ethos of innovation and tradition certainly rings true in their Limoncello IPA, which is made with lemons from the Italian town of Sorrento and is available both as a smooth, lactose-sweetened beer on tap and a sour, fizzy IPA in a can. The latter was pure refreshment on a hot Saturday, like a San Pellegrino for grown-ups. It was also genuinely the first beer my wife has ever enjoyed enough to buy a second.
Another stand-out concoction is their Balsamic Milk Stout. This fairly gross-sounding beer was inspired by Simone’s mum topping ice cream with balsamic vinegar (not the watery rubbish from Sainsbury’s, the syrupy stuff that’s had twelve years reducing in a barrel) back in Modena. Simone happily admitted that he thought this idea was disgusting at its inception, which I guess makes the fact that it turns out to be another exceptionally well executed and tasty beer even more impressive.
Finally, on the weird beers list I have to give an honorary mention to the Blueberry Granola. It wasn’t quite my favourite, but it does rock in at an almost completely undetectable 7% and tastes a bit like Ribena. This is a definite ‘danger beer’ that will have your eyes pointing in different directions if you’re not careful. Despite the name, I can’t in good conscience recommend it as an alternative to a more traditional breakfast unless you’re on holiday and you don’t need to drive.
If the words ‘balsamic’ and ‘granola’ are just too scary in a beer context, have no fear; there are plenty more traditional offerings. The Ermes – named after Ermes Rinaldi ‘the gregarious host of the best trattoria in Modena’ – is a modern take on a traditional Pilsner and the Panaro is a west-coast pale. Both are simple, classic and delicious; their moreishness counterbalanced perfectly with the reasonable price-tag of about four quid for a pint.
ORA has some family-friendly vibes going on and the enclosed location means kids and pets can roam free without needing to worry too much about traffic. If you’re a new parent there’s also Tottenham’s usual contingence of yummy mummies balancing newborns in one hand with pints in the other. For hungry bears emerging from Friday night-induced hibernation there is a different street food vendor every week and the fare always goes amazingly with a hangover/more beer. I recently had some really tasty soft-shell fish tacos and an Indian-themed chicken burger so good it made me weep into my bhaji.
Towards the evening (although not too late, the place closes at 8) there are DJs and a solid sound system so the place makes a great Saturday night warm-up if you’re still young enough to manage two nights in a row. Above all else, the ORA guys are very friendly, always mingling and very happy to talk about their beer, so go say ‘Hi’ and have a great afternoon.
If you want to keep up to date with what the guys are doing you can follow them on Instagram @orabrewing or visit their website http://www.orabeer.com/en/. You should probably just go and visit the taproom though.