Interview: LOAH Non-Alcoholic Beer Creator Hugo Tapp on New Taproom near Hackney Downs
Alcohol-free beer brand LOAH is set to launch London’s first completely non-alcoholic taproom from 7 June near Hackney Downs.
We caught up with founder Hugo Tapp to talk about what’s on in the space, the non-alcohol revolution and his London haunts.
LOAH Taproom | Arch D, Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, E8 2BT | From 7 June, Monday – Friday 4-9pm / Saturday 12-10pm / Sunday 12-7pm
Tell us about LOAH. What inspired you to make the new non-alcoholic beer and what makes it different?
I started LOAH in the midst of the first lockdown. Back then (just a couple of years ago!) there weren’t that many non-alc beers on the market, and most of them seemed to be trying to replicate mainstream lager. As a bit of an alcohol-avoider I became pretty interested in this part of the drinks industry and lockdown was like a pressure cooker. I tried them all and inadvertently forced my family to do similar. The resounding feedback was that despite some being good, they weren’t very interesting.
So I set out to make something unique and interesting. It’s always been about flavour and striving to make something that delivers, and, after a long road, we’ve finally got there with some excellent beer. All our beers have a fruit edge to them, and we try to impart flavour at every step of the process – yeast strains that create background flavour, hops that match the fruit, then fruit flavours themselves. Now we’re selling our beers across London to a variety of places, mainly in East and North London as well as Whole Foods, and with the tap room we’re launching all our beers on draft to start getting into pubs.
What can visitors expect at your taproom near Hackney Downs?
Our beers and brand are all about unlocking the possibilities of a clear head, and the creativity that comes with that. The LOAH Tap Room offers a physical space to bring that all to life. The bar will be open Tues-Fri 4-9pm, Sat 12-9pm, Sun 12-7pm. There’ll be all of our beers on draft, some limited edition beers and collaborations, plus an interesting selection of soft drinks too.
We’re giving a section of the room over to Larry from music collective B.M.C to run a little record store, with a listening station. He’ll be regularly rotating the selection to keep it interesting. We’ll be holding a monthly Saturday afternoon party, and building a more frequent lineup of music. There’s one really big wall in the arch, which we’re also keen to offer up to artists. This summer we’re aiming to do a series focusing on illustrators – so if anyone is looking for a space to exhibit we can do a show hanging works, or even designing straight onto the wall. We’re making plans for a couple of other activities in here too so watch this space!
We love the LOAH brand design. How is design important to your business?
All credit has to go to our designer Fred Trevor, and to copywriting agency Sonder & Tell for taking our rough ideas and creating the world of Blue Sky Drinking. Design and creativity are absolutely essential to LOAH. All of our activity from marketing, to activations, to charitable donations focuses on the creative arts.
Each of our labels offers a space to an illustrator to bring their own interpretation of Blue Sky Drinking to life. With every new flavour we’ll be working with a new illustrator, and we’ll be offering them (and others) the opportunity to exhibit in the LOAH Tap Room.
What are your favourite London haunts? (To drink, to eat, to go out)
Good question – I’ve been solely focused on this place over the past few months. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a social life. Brat at Climpson’s Arch is a really nice spot for dinner, there’s something about the atmosphere of a railway arch.
I recently went to the System on Newington Green for drinks and a couple of light bites which was cool, they have nice wines, and a very good sound system. Probably not that good for vegetarians though as it doubles up as a butcher’s in the daytime.
For going out out it has to be our best pals at FOLD. There’s nowhere better.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.