It’s cool in the Cronx: review of the Cronx Brewery Open Day

By - Tuesday 12th August, 2014

Faye Edwardes attends a brewery open day that’s all about success in Croydon

Cronx Brewery founders and directors Mark Russell (left) and Simon Dale.
Photo author’s own.

“My husband loves a nice blonde”, I said to the barmaid with a wink, “but he loves a porter too”. And so that’s what we had. It was the Cronx Brewery’s second Open Day on Saturday 2nd August and we went along to check it out.

The Cronx Brewery is the first commercial brewery in Croydon since the 1950s. It’s run and owned by Mark and Simon (Russell and Dale) who are great personalities and pioneers of beer, and committed to Croydon. The brewery itself is on a fairly uninspiring industrial estate in New Addington but it was rocking when we arrived.

The Cronx chaps had the bright idea of building their very own bar right there in the brewery, so whenever they want to stage an event, celebration or welcome to their thirsty customers, it’s all there on tap (as it were). When I arrived, Mark was holding court at the end of the bar (pint in hand) to a line of well-wishers, supporters and beer lovers. There was live music from Junkyard Rocket and Tim Love which added a great festival vibe to the event.

Cronx Mad-Ass Chilli Porter is a legend in its own right

There were six beers on tap. The Standard is the Cronx Bitter (3.8%), a full-bodied British ale using pale and crystal malts with a touch of darker malts for depth of flavour. It’s a real joy and would please any seasoned bitter drinker. The Kotchin is the aforementioned blonde. It is an easy drinking hoppy blonde ale brewed with Cascade hops which give it a wonderful citrus aroma.

Nektar is the Cronx’s pale ale. This seemed to be a very popular choice when I did a quick scan of those waiting at the bar. It’s made using Polish Marynka hops and has hints of blackcurrant and a spicy finish. The Mad-Ass Entire Chilli Porter is a legend in its own right – a phenomenally tasty beer made using porter with a smoked chilli pepper flavour from a fellow pepper lover, the Mad-Ass Chilli Sauce Company.

This was truly impressive – a real showcase of quality

There was the remarkable Single Hop Series Galaxy which is made using the IPA base with a single hop added. (This is the one we took home in the two pint takeaway pot!) And finally there’s the Darker Shade of Pale which is a slightly addictive black pale ale, a real treat. This was a truly impressive line up of beers, a real showcase of quality. The range shows flair and imagination and pays tribute to the workmanship and dedication that has gone into the choice of beers and the brewing process.

Cronx bitter – a full-bodied British ale.
Photo author’s own.

Supporting Croydon business and entrepreneurial spirit seems to be what Mark and Simon are all about. They work seamlessly with other Croydon businesses and it is clearly important to them that they, and their beers, are about success in Croydon. They met at a beer festival shortly before the London riots in 2011, and it became clear that they both harboured an ambition to open a commercial brewery in Croydon. The first Cronx beers went on sale in Croydon pubs on 8th August 2012. Two years on, it seems the business and the beers are thriving.

Adding to the festival vibe at the open day was the presence of the simply sensational Bare Bones Cue, pulled pork specialist extraordinaire. As a pulled pork obsessive, I can vouch for the fact that these guys really know how to do their stuff. Husband and wife team, Gerard and Claudia, have fine-tuned the perfect pulled pork bap and in their adorable upcycled French farm van, are now serving their delights at venues and events across the whole of London.

The Cronx Open Day had a strong message – drink Croydon, eat Croydon and support Croydon business.

Faye Edwardes

Faye Edwardes

Oenophile, grape fanatic, wine evangelist and mum of two. I run Love Wine Limited, an independent wine education company offering tastings to private, charity and corporate clients. Also found speaking about wine on the radio (and anywhere else) as often as possible..

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  • Anne Giles

    I am glad they are doing well. Funnily enough, both my husband Steve and I hate the sight, smell or taste of beer, of any type. I had never realised that there were so many varieties either. My brother and my brother-in-law are beer drinkers, but are very fussy about what beer it is, and apparently only certain pubs have the ones they like, so whenever we meet up as a family for a pub lunch it has to be in one that serves the right flavour.

  • Treblegold

    The Cronx Brewery is not the first commercial brewery in Croydon since the 1950s, despite the brewery’s continual assertions to this effect. Since Page and Overton’s brewery in Surrey Street closed in 1954, two other
    Croydon breweries have come and gone: Burke’s Brewery at the Lion, Pawsons Road,
    was brewing from 1981 to 1986; and the Fiddler and Firkin in South End was
    brewing from 1993 to 1999.