Crate Brewery, Hackney Wick
The romance of a canal is lost on few, particularly those with precarious funds who need to date creatively. A walk by the canal, how cute, how quaint. Throw in a Cornetto and a craft beer and it’s pure poetry. However, should you be able to stretch to a drink in a pub, perhaps even some food, the Crate Brewery is the insanely hipster go-to for people who can’t get off without a body of water in close proximity. Once you navigate your way from Hackney Wick station and actually find it, you’re confronted with a large and lofty former print factory with immensely high ceilings, hanging light bulbs in arty baskets, long wooden benches inside and outside, sofas made from recycled coffee sacks and an open space by the water where the real magic happens. A sigh of relief is heard from those who’ve travelled far and wide for this edgy spectacle when they realise it really is a microbrewery and the name isn’t just another marketing paean to industrial chic. The crowd is attractive and young, the vibe is undeniably both jovial and deeply cool. It takes a bitter soul not to enjoy this place.
Six craft beers brewed on site, plus their own cider for the summer. Drink prosecco if you want to class this up. The pizzas will take a long time to come, so long that you’ll forget you ever ordered them and it’ll all be one big surprise. They taste like absolute heaven, however. There are interesting options like the Middle Eastern Lamb but the Spicy Salami seems to be the people’s choice – thin, crispy, sweet with a kick. After the first bite, run to the bar and order another – you’ll get it much later on once the your booze demons have really taken hold.
There’s no way your date is being left to make this trip alone. Meet them at Highbury and Islington and mount the Overground together. You bought some ironic G&Ts in cans for the trip. When you get to the Wick hang around for 5 minutes, spot a good looking crowd in grubby t-shirts and follow them. All going well you’ll end up at Crate. If not, get out the iPhone. Once you arrive, instruct your date to grab a table (commanding) and order the drinks and pizza . Have a couple of rounds inside and get comfortable. Once the first bit of eating has been done, it’s your turn to scout for space outside while your date goes to the bar. Now you’re by the canal, sipping on your lagers, shoulders touching as you perch on the same bench. Chat away merrily, pick a hollow subject like ‘the politics of Snapchat’ or ‘the decline of Buzzfeed’ and enjoy the flirt. Before you leave to get another round, lean in to kiss them. Then pootle around the venue for the rest of the night and panic when you have to leave. It’s physically impossible to navigate your way home so it actually makes most sense to just split a cab back to yours.
Hard to find.
4. Intimate and feel good fun.
PS. How’s this for a whimsical canal poem: Saturday at the Canal, Gary Soto