Ben Duck ploughed all of his savings into starting his new brewery, Gravity Well Brewing, just before the Coronavirus pandemic forced the whole country into lockdown.

The brewery and its neighbouring taproom, which are located in Leyton, East London, opened as restrictions were lifted and is at full production to keep the demanding beer connoisseurs of London supplied.

The former lawyer for an investment bank had always dreamt of having his own business but fell into home brewing as a hobby, with no intention of setting up a brewery. He began with home brew recipes in his flat in Holloway. “When I thought what I was producing at home was competitive enough, I started looking for commercial premises. I knew a lot of breweries start in railway arches so searched in post codes in an ever-increasing circle from where I lived.”

The taproom, which is located next to Leyton Midland Road overground station, is only a minute away from where he brews his beers on Tilbury Road. Crucially he was supported with finding a suitable property to locate it in by the property team at The Arch Company, who saw it would help improve footfall in the area. Ben said: “The taproom is a minute away from the brewery, on the same row but next door to the overground station. From the station platform you can look into it and see the outside space we have. It was a no brainer, because it’s absolutely crucial to have outdoor seating with the restrictions and limits on mixing during lockdown. It’s been incredibly important.”

“It’s hard to know whether the support we’ve had is pent up demand that will dwindle, but we knew it would be popular and we’ve been full to the point of turning people away every Friday and Saturday. People do want to go out and they seem to really enjoy being out. They’re happy with the safety measures – and the beer! We can’t make enough of it.”

When London went into Lockdown, the brewery’s thriving market in local pubs dried up overnight. Ben said: “The tap room couldn’t operate, the only source of income was bottling, by hand, from kegs. We had a rent holiday from The Arch Company that helped us get into a better position and get another tank into the brewery. I got a mobile canning company in and that transformed us; allowing us to process thousands of cans. We had been selling a lot by the keg – it was really taking off. I had new customers like the new pub, the Fillybrook, which was booming, and they liked the beer. I didn’t see the whole lockdown coming until a bit late and I underestimated the impact. I didn’t see the length of time it would last.”

The brewery had a small tap room at a previous location because Ben realised there was an opportunity to sell directly to customers, but it was a gamble to expand during the pandemic. He said: “My brewery is very small. It’s easier to expand when you’re tiny and it was either expand or die. There is an element of optimism, but feedback was good from our previous taproom and the new location screamed footfall and visibility. Given the support we have been given so far, this is an opportunity. The strategy was to just get it open and hope to meet our costs because when things return to normal it will be a sure thing.”


Arch 142 Tilbury Rd, Leyton, London