Say hi to the Dean Swift
We have a nosey around this Thames River local...
Sitting in the shadow of what once was the Courage brewery and just a stone's throw from the Thames lies the Dean Swift. Opening in May 2010 under its current guise – a gastro-beer pub meets trendy watering hole – the Dean Swift was once synonymous with everything 'old man boozer'; including a 52” plasma for the footie and a tumbleweed in the event you asked for anything other than a lager.
Nowadays, however, under the leadership of Max Chater and his team, the Dean Swift has been revitalised into a craft beer oasis that still manages to retain the feel of a local beer house.
As with any craft beer bar, the magic is in the selection and range of beers available and the Dean Swift isn't in short supply. From Kernel to Goose Island, Westmalle to Flying Dog, there's plenty of options to keep even the most pedantic of craft beer palettes entertained as well as drinkers of BrewDog, as Max explains:
“When it comes to choosing which craft beers we stock our policy is general 'whatever's good'. When it comes to BrewDog in particular, initially I was worried that the style might outdo the substance but the range of core beers is fantastic and rock solid. We offer BrewDog by the keg, cask and bottle and the key for us is keeping it varied. At the moment we rotate the kegged selection through beers like 5am Saint, Punk and 77. When it comes to cask we generally opt for whatever comes in so at the moment we've got Alpha Dog which will be followed by Riptide. We also sell a lot of Tactical Nuclear Penguin which we serve in a brandy balloon.”
And Tactical Nuclear Penguin isn't the only beer that the Dean Swift have taken to serving in seemingly unconventional or untraditional means; an element Max believes can have a huge influence over the way in which people approach drinking beer altogether:
“It's a fact that changing the serve can influence the way in which people drink. We regularly serve some of the stronger beers we stock with wine glasses as a means of encouraging people to share with friends. We also present some of our bigger bottled beers in ice buckets, as you would normally see when drinking champagne or wine. Working with craft beer can often feel like rowing upstream, especially when you're asked 'Don't you sell lager?' on an almost daily basis. Then again there's plenty of opportunity to educate people and if you can change one person's mind it can change many more by proxy.”
Luckily for the Dean Swift, craft beer has gone down a storm and the bar now comfortably sells bottles of rare or highly specialist beers in the region of £30 a pop and upwards, despite the debate surrounding pricing:
“There's a lot of ongoing discussion about pricing and we're not deaf to that. If you can sell stuff of quality then the price is justified. Saying that, we are also conscious to drop our profit margin on the more expensive beers because, at the end of the day, we want people to enjoy them and get the most they can out of the experience; including some spare change at the end of it!”
Fancy taking a gander down to the Dean Swift to say hi to Max and co in person as well as getting your paws on some craft beer in the process? Well there's even more incentive over the next few months as Max explains:
“We're all really excited about May as that's when we're opening our upstairs restaurant. As well as providing more scope for awesome craft beer and food pairings such as our black pudding and poached egg salad with Anchor Steam, our British Isle cheese board and Hardcore IPA or our chicken burger with paprika mayo paired with Anchor Liberty, we'll also be holding events such as the Rate Beer Grand Tasting. On the top of this we're also going to have tons more space for new beers such as 750ml sharing beers which will be well worth a look.”
So, finally, on top of a cracking range of craft beers, some top notch grub and “a customer service experience that you won't find anywhere else in London” (that may be Max's words, not our own), how would the man himself sum up the Dean Swift in three words?
“Artisanal. Sexy. Local.”
We couldn't put it better ourselves. Get yourself down to the Dean Swift today or, in the meantime, follow the antics of Max and the rest of his team (including assistant manager Alex, who recently lost a leg thanks to an escaped keg of 77) on Twitter @deanswiftSE1.