Meet a Pretty Decent bloke

Checked out Forest Gate’s new under-the-railway brewery bar yet? It’s now open three days a week

The latest micro-brewer in town. Photo: own
Forest Gate’s fledgling brewery was birthed by beer enthusiast James Nida. Offering a small, carefully curated selection of hoppy-goodness, each brewed in shop by James, the boozer sits underneath an atmospheric railway arch. Having jumped into the brewing-game after a stint in the charity sector, a portion of every beer sold is donated to Pump Aid – an NGO looking to improve the quality and availability of water across Africa.

Tell us a bit about the beers on offer?
Right now we produce four beers, but we will have six by the end of the month, available as draught or bottled in the taproom. They’re called by their style – an IPA, Pale Ale, Stout etc – and use only UK ingredients. I’m aware in a crowded market place the temptation is to go out and brew as many styles as possible but it’s a new brewery and I want to make sure I’m bringing out the best I possibly can so settled on six, and will expand on that when they’re perfected. I’m making session beers. Ones you want to have three or four of… I want to keep it a sensible level of alcohol – easy drinking beers.

How did you get into the beer world?
It’s really a hobby that got out of control. I’ve home-brewed for a number of years. I worked at a micro-brewery, then started doing aggressive recipe testing – sitting down mates and asking their opinions – which is what got me down to these three original recipes. I took a government startup loan, got a lease in April and opened the doors for the first time in May. It’s been a steep learning curve – ultimately I just want to make great beer and make a modest living out of it.

How much are you producing?
I’m making 700 bottles at the moment. I’ve got the capacity to make 280 litres a week. We’re really, really small. I want to keep it like this in the first year, to refine my craft.


Thirsty yet? Pale ale in non-fancy bottles. Photo: PD

Can we buy it in shops?
All You Read is Love, Burgess and Hall, Leytonstone Mini Market and others are stocking it at the moment. Also, if your postcode starts with an E we deliver for free.

And what about the name?
I don’t want to shout about the brewery too much. I’m not throwing in all this crazy stuff and putting funky labels on it. I just want to make some decent beer. And the money we’re giving to charity isn’t going to change the world either but it adds up to being a good thing to do.

Can you tell us more about that side?
I’ve worked at charities doing fundraising my whole career, and believe giving to charity is one of the best things you can do. That’s the reason we give 15p per bottle to Pump Aid – a forward-thinking small water charity based in Malawi. The aim at one point is to brew them a beer they can use as a fundraising tool – I’ve got a couple of ideas in the pipeline.

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Pretty Decent Beer, 338 Sheridan Rd, E7, open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. UPDATE APRIL 2020: find out more about home delivery days and products here.
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