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In Hackney


It’s less than two years since what have come to be known as the ‘London riots’, but already they’ve been mythologised. In Hackney, the riots are spoken about in strangely fond terms, as a time when residents pulled together to clear up the broken glass, burnt-out cars and brick dust of the night before. The riots were a thrill, and they gave way to a Blitz-spirit nostalgia which is increasingly being used to remind us all to keep calm and carry on.
The commercialisation of such sentiment has followed close behind.

The London Fields Brewery, purveyor of self-conscious craft beers like ‘Hackney Hopster’ and ‘Black Path Porter’, has started producing a beer called ‘Love not War’:

First brewed barricaded in the brewery during the London riots, this brooding red ale is an ode to all things peace and love. A true union of malt and hops, with silky texture and soft caramel flavours cuddling up to a rich pear and summer fruit character.

If only the rioters could get along like malt and hops. If only the residents of Hackney could form a union as strong as that between caramel and summer fruits.
Meanwhile, £1.5 million earmarked for rebuilding riot-struck businesses is being used to establish a ‘fashion hub’ in the railway arches along Morning Lane. Car mechanics and machinists are being evicted. Burberry, Pringle and Aquascutum already have discount outlets in the area. During the riots the Carhartt outlet store up the road in Clapton was looted and has since closed down.
A few months ago developers announced plans for the Chatham Works, another fashion outlet which aims to be ‘East London’s answer to Carnaby Street’. ‘It appears last year’s riots in Hackney may have been a blessing to Hackney Council,’ one commentator wrote, ‘high-end fashion houses and commercial real estate investors looking for new developments in East London.’
A website was recently launched announcing the establishment of the ‘Hackney Haute Quarter’:

Taking strides in 2013, the Hackney Haute Quarter development promises a new world of luxury shopping on the mean streets of Hackney. Home to the London College of Fashion, a throbbing art scene and some of the most thrilling drama of the recent riots, this sexy ghetto is fast becoming the beating heart of London style… This is an opportunity for the most daring brands in fashion to build on the area’s anti-social capital.

It’s a joke (I think).


  1. LFB says:

    I think you have misunderstood what our beer represents. The riots happened outside of our brewery and for those working and living in Hackney it was extremely distressing.

    The beer was first brewed while the riots were actually happening, not launched to ‘cash in’ but because we had to lock ourselves in in fear that our equipment would be destroyed – in turn destroying our livelihood – and frankly what else do you do in a brewery do but make beer? The beer has been in full production since we first brewed it.

    We thought it was appropriate to make this beer a representation of people being together rather than destroying and rioting. Please remember, these were not demonstrations but riots. All of the residents that we have spoken to about the beer share our sentiments.

    We are sorry you think the development of Hackney is a bad thing. It in fact brings money into an otherwise poor area, along with jobs and an atmosphere I think you’ll find most residents are happy to see.

    Please come down to the brewery and have a beer on us to get a better idea of what we represent.

    London Fields Brewery

    • sarcastathon says:

      ‘We are sorry you think the development of Hackney is a bad thing. It in fact brings money into an otherwise poor area, along with jobs and an atmosphere I think you’ll find most residents are happy to see.’

      Out of interest:
      How many of your workers are local residents, by which I don’t mean transplants to the area, but those who were born and brought up there.
      When you say that your business ‘brings money into an otherwise poor area’, how exactly is your business going about doing that?

      As a Hackney resident myself (though admittedly not someone born and brought up here) I do not share your sentiments, neither does anyone I have spoken to today regarding the matter.

      Your beer does not represent me, or Hackney, but a middle class whitewashing of the area, and accusing people on Twitter of ‘slandering’ you when they tweet about this article is further proof of how out of touch you are.

  2. alex says:

    I think you misunderestimate the concept of ‘extremely distressing’. Having a riot happen outside the venue where you purvey a commercial product, and profiting from that circumstance in your advertising – what kind of ‘extremely distressing’ is that?

    • Rikkeh says:

      Alex, the thought of losing your business and therefore your job (and if you’ve spent years building it up, it’s likely to be a part of yourself) is likely to be extremely distressing on its own without the worry of being beaten up if you go outside or if the rioters get in.

      • alex says:

        Never mind the thought of losing your business, think of the increased sales resulting from the erzatz-edgy narrative that can be woven around it.

  3. zbs says:

    You guys are pretty mean but Jimmy’s knee-jerk recourse to “job-creation” did merit a long groan.

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