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Cock Tavern’s Christian Campbell on his journey from food scientist to journo to running the UK’s best beard-friendly pub

PUBLISHED: 17:25 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 21:55 14 February 2018

Christian behind the bar at the Cock Tavern. Picture: Luke 'Pickleboy' Molloy

Christian behind the bar at the Cock Tavern. Picture: Luke 'Pickleboy' Molloy

Luke 'Pickleboy' Molloy

Former custard expert Christian Campbell tells The Gazette about his unusual journey from food scientist to manager of the UK’s most ‘beard friendly’ pub in Mare Street: the Cock Tavern

The Tavern has been branded Londons best brew pub by the American app ratebeer.com The Tavern has been branded Londons best brew pub by the American app ratebeer.com

Christian Campbell came to London in 2012 to make his name as a journalist – but soon realised there was no money in it, and tapped into the buzzing and emergent craft beer scene instead.

He’s now manager of the Cock Tavern in Mare Street, which has just been named the UK’s most beard-friendly pub for the second year in a row. But he’s had an interesting path to get here.

“Raised as an Essex boy” in Harlow, his first job was in a lab “putting e-numbers in food”. He would come up with formulas for the likes of custard for prisoners and ice cream for hospitals. His best recipe – for which he got a bonus – was Baileys Light, getting the cream and whiskey liqueur not to curdle.

But Christian became bored, and got engaged in politics through the anti-war movement in 2002. He went to study politics and managed a cocktail bar before landing a job at the Manchester Evening News.

Christian is manager of the Cock Tavern, which has been awarded Beard Friendly Pub of the Year award by the Beard Liberation Front Christian is manager of the Cock Tavern, which has been awarded Beard Friendly Pub of the Year award by the Beard Liberation Front

Later, he moved back to London and interned at national papers, but got “sick of working for free”.

Instead he immersed himself in the emerging craft beer scene while working at Brew Dog, meeting all the “movers and shakers” and starting to home brew himself.

“It was really buzzing in 2013,” he said. “Places like Beavertown were just opening up.

“I was terrible at brewing. People were happy to take my beer, but I never made any I was proud enough to sell – I decided to leave it to the professionals.”

After a stint running bike shop and café Look Mum No Hands in Mare Street, he took over his “favourite pub” the Cock Tavern, just up the road, in 2016. He’s now resurrecting the brewery in the cellar – where Howling Hops began.

He’s brewing plans to, er, brew using goodies foraged by John the Poacher. “At the moment all he’s getting is mushrooms and rabbits and they’re no good for beer,” said Christian. “We’ll wait for spring when we can make something with cherries or elderflower.”

The Tavern has been branded London’s best brew pub by the American app ratebeer.com. “That puts us in maybe 20 pubs in the world,” he said. “We are quite a quirky place and we aren’t always what people expect. What we do is customer service, and you can come in and have a chat with us.

“We aren’t Wetherspoon’s or some cut-throat business. We are real people who love beer.”

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