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Raise a glass: Cheers to London's first fully sustainable pub

Eating & Drinking
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Georgina Wilson-Powell

23 August 2017

Long Arm in Shoreditch is home to the Tank Fresh system, a sustainable way of brewing beer behind the bar then serving it a couple of weeks later. It’s all part of an ingenious closed loop system.

Shoreditch in London is known for many things - hipsters, street art, hugely expensive organic flat whites but it’s now the home of the city's first fully sustainable pub.

This summer Long Arm Brewery (run by the ETM Group) set up shop under (what we’re calling) the Willy Wonka of beer. A third generation Mexican beer brewer (and hugely impressive engineer) Guillermo Alvarez Schulenburg or G for short. He’s spent the last five years dreaming up a system that reduces the air miles and eco-impact of the beer industry to practically nothing. Tank Fresh  is the result.

At Long Arm pub on Worship Street, six types of beer are made on site.They are fermented for a couple of weeks in enormous steel vats that sit behind a rope to one side of the bar in this former parking garage. The beer is self-carbonating and there’s no filtration system.

When the beer is ready it's piped less than three metres to the taps that form the bar and sold fresh, unpasteurised and fast. In the opening week, the bar went through all of the six 500 litre vats in three days, leaving G frantically brewing more beer.

As the beer is unpasteurised the flavours are a lot more pronounced, the pints mostly have a cloudy tinge to them. It's a lot like how different natural or organic wine looks and tastes compared to the mass market supermarket stuff.

“We rotate the beers round regularly,” G says. “We go for style over fancy names, so none of beers are named. We just list the type of beer and what they’re like.”

Long Arm Bar Tank Fresh Pebble Magazine3

Pair the beers with a bar menu that has a Mexican kick. Miss the wings at your peril.

A beer flight appears with an IPA, American lager, Pilsner, stout and a couple of others, the colours range from light gold to solid brown. All are rich in flavour, hoppy in the right places and easy to drink.

They’re only a small taste of the thousands of beer recipes G has in his head. An expert in microbiological analysis, he’s able to put that to use reverse engineering any beer he feels like.

Cookie beer was on the other day and he’s already narrowing down his choices for Christmas. As he brews as he goes and in small batches (there are always six types of beer on), he gets to try new recipes really quickly and the drinkers who are already turning into regulars always get a different sip.

It’s the circular economy, put into action, to create a local, no frills bar where people want to hang out

But G doesn’t want to stop there. On the wall by the brewing area is an enormous mural that explains how the brewery will be run by aquaponics. It will take the used grain and feed it to the fish which will help to grow herbs, salad and tomatoes for the bar menu. A still is being installed that will allow the bar to enfuse syrups from the herbs grown on site for cocktails or food as well as its own gin. It’s the circular economy, put into action, to create a local, no frills bar where people want to hang out.

By the end of this year there will be a fishery, urban farm and pot still on site - in a closed loop, zero waste system that could change how micro-breweries, and even big breweries operate. And it’s already got other people talking. G has been approached by other venues and breweries who are interested in his low impact system.

But best of all? The beer’s really, really good.

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