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Opposite Hackney Central station, in a grimy, post-industrial cul-de-sac destined to become a hub for food and drink operators, St John initially seems a rather austere new taproom. But what it lacks in kerb appeal is offset by the admirable all-draught range of 12 craft ales on rotation. Many of these – such as Hackney Brewery’s punchy American-style pale ale – are produced by co-owner Ryan Robbins in a gleaming steel plant that fills a second renovated railway arch next door. Guest ales might include top-notch stuff from Chorlton Brewing Co (its sour, gose, Grey Matter, a Mancunian bruiser at 7% abv) and Tiny Rebel’s fruity Peaches & Cream. Food comes courtesy of pop-ups: initially from Cypriot outfit Éla Kebabs (small plates, salads and skewers from the barbecue, with plenty of veggie-vegan options). This enterprise is no relation to Fergus Henderson’s St John restaurants; the name refers to the adjacent parish church.
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