London – Hackney (Borough of) – Brewdog Dalston

This is Brewdog Dalston and my visit here on Sunday evening means that I’ve now been to every location that this chain operates in London. Richard was down again for another one of his decadent business trips, so I dragged him along with me. This bar is Brewdog’s first vegan only outlet, which I thought made it quite an innovative and intriguing place to visit to see how that played out.

It wasn’t busy in the bar, let’s just say that. The welcome was friendly and prompt and we could sit anywhere in this nicely air conditioned interior.

This is the downstairs bar, which wasn’t needed during our visit.

The decor is, as usual, quirky which is part of Brewdog’s style. It’s hard for chains to pull that off without it feeling formulaic, but there is an on-trend feel to the arrangement which isn’t forced.

Richard wasn’t thrilled with the vegan menu, but I had eaten which meant I didn’t have any challenges in this regard.

I went through five different beers, all served as thirds as I’m not that decadent to buy things in pints or halves. The second image above is the Made For Us by Yonder Brewing and that was my favourite drink of the evening. I’m now very much into sours and this was certainly that, but it had such a rich raspberry taste, aroma and feel that it packed quite a powerful first punch. In the background, there was violet, meaning that the aftertaste was effectively Parma Violets. That combination worked very well for me, a merging of two very different flavours and this is a drink that I’d merrily have again (despite my tendency to always want to try new beers).

The service was always polite, but it lacked the engagement that we’ve seen from some other Brewdogs in the city. No real conversation about the beer or attempts to make recommendations, but, as I’ve noted before, some Brewdog outlets set the bar so high that it’s hard for others to match them. Nothing negative though, we were always made welcome and the bar environment was clean, comfortable and relaxed.

The reviews are all pretty positive, although there are a few complaints that it’s not clear that the bar is vegan only. They take bookings for Wings Wednesday which I can see adds to the confusion, as they offer a vegan version of unlimited chicken wings. Other complaints include:

“Not welcome here! Dalston is about independent businesses and this is just some more chain homogenised rubbish with no vibe.”

I’ve met very few pub owners who go with this line of logic, although I’m sure that there are some. Like the rather lovely craft beer bar in Newcastle that I went to a couple of weeks ago next to a Wetherspoons, the large chain can drive customers to their smaller neighbours. Brewdog can set the stage for other craft beer bars to open and improve the options available in the locality. An area can become known for having excellent craft beer which benefits those who like chains and those who like independents. I like both types, they offer different experiences and one isn’t always better than the other, but they can work together really rather well.

It’s handy that we visited when we did, as the bar announced yesterday that it was temporarily closing. I think a combination of Covid factors have caused that, it has also meant I can’t visit the Birmingham Brewdog this week as that’s closed as well. Challenging times for the hospitality industry….. Anyway, the vegan only situation didn’t negatively impact on the beer range and I liked that some real thought had gone into the food menu to ensure it was still a destination that people would go and get food at. Something of a shame that my tour of Brewdog bars in London has come to an end, hopefully they’ll open some more.