THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
A new craft beer brewery moving into railway arches in Camden Town secured a license on Thursday but had to scale back its plans for an on-site taproom bar.
Werewolf Beer is setting up in vacant arches in Randolph Street, promising a "high end" operation. Neighbors had raised concerns that drinkers would cause disturbance in residential streets and, after a council hearing, a list of conditions was set: The serving area will only open on Saturdays and Sundays, and no live music will be performed.
Rich White, the company's American owner who was praised by councilors for being flexible over the possible conditions, said: "We're looking to have a few hours a week where on a nice day, people can use the garden. Remember, we are in London, so there's quite a lot of days that nobody's going to want to be outside and we will be definitely be confined to our little arch."
He had been told that residents were concerned customers would buy alcohol to consume by the canal, adding to a street drinking problem, but Mr. White said: "We're producing a premium product. This is not a five-four pack, special brew type thing," adding that some European breweries were selling special beers at up to £17 a can." He added: "Beer buyers are fanatical – they enjoy the product, like people who buy whisky. You might buy a bottle of whisky but you're not going to sit on the corner and skull something that's just cost you £150."
The brewery has begun promoting its arrival with a nod to the famous horror film An American Werewolf in London in its marketing. Fans can already buy brewery T-shirts.
Asked about concerns that large numbers would use the site like a bar, Mr. White told the meeting: "It seems that you all have a lot of confidence in my business acumen and my product already, that there's going to be droves of people buying it but I think it's going to be very, very small operation to start and probably a small operation for a long time."
He said running breweries had "incredibly small" markups and margins and that taprooms were a way of selling beyond retail deals.
"This is where taprooms come in. This is standard practice and standard business model in the US and across the rest of London right now there are nearly 100 breweries operating on this premise," he said. "The short amount of hours we're going to be selling on site is to give an experience, to show people the brewery, to welcome in the neighborhood, tourists, beer aficionados from around the city."
Ward councilor Danny Beales thanked Mr. White for being flexible, having warned the first proposals had seemed more like a bar with a brewery, rather than the other way around.
Licenses for other businesses in the arches are due to be decided next week.