Mercato Metropolitano is helping Elephant and Castle become a south-of-the-river Shoreditch.
Here, you and your mates can get a dozen types of food and drinks and rub shoulders with crowds of noisy patrons, all shouting over the discordant choir of hubbub that resonates off the markets tin roof.
The jewel in its crown is the German Kraft brewery. Their huge double height polished stainless steel brew tanks just look so damn pretty, especially if you like beer.
At the bar underneath my guest, old school friend David, squints at the pump labels to see what lies ahead, while I ask for the manager Felix. Instead we’re approached by an impressively tall and well-built fellow who turns out to be Felix’s father, Florian.
His son is unwell, so dad has stepped in to show us around. But first we must try the beer! Amen to that.
Heidi Blonde is their flagship unfiltered lager made with Pilsner Malts. Just a half for now, as we will be trying many. David looks pleased. It’s fresh and light and very welcome.
Florian launches into the story of German Kraft: Christoph Gewalt runs Steinbach Bräu, who have brewed beer for five hundred years in the village of Erlangen. Florian loves it, so, now relocated in London, he asked his friend if he could import some to sell. Christoph said no, the beer is live and that far on a truck would kill it.
Our half pints soon empty to be swiftly replaced by tall pints of Edel Weiss, their refreshing wheat beer.
We clink them at the base as is the tradition (robust Germanic clonking smashes the delicate elongated tulip shaped glasses). It’s subtler and more balanced than other over-tasty, slightly sickly wheat beers I’ve had.
The story continues: Years passed until Florian thought of brewing to Christoph’s recipe in London. Brewmeister said no, because the water quality in here is too poor.
Florian whisks us behind the scenes for our tour, climbing stairs between brewing equipment to the upper deck, made wider than needed for brewing so that DJ’s and bands can set up for special nights.
They don't serve German pop music: ‘We are not oom pah pah’. It’s a high-tech operation, complete with touchscreens with pipes and vat diagrams, all controlled with a few taps (excuse the pun) or their brewmeister can even control it from his phone, to begin brewing while still in bed (we’ve all done it).
We finish the tour in the half finished garden which will open soon, it will be a nice spot with an outdoor bar and grill. It’s all about inclusivity here, so you can bring out any food or drink from anywhere in the market.
It took until Florian’s son Felix was old enough and keen enough to switch from graphic design to take on their new idea of purifying their own water through distillation and mineralisation to finally convince Christoph.
He agreed and loaned them his top man to oversee the brew. The results we are sipping are great. They also sell the water bottled with all profits from it going to water charities.
A platter of Wurst, sauerkraut, pretzel and the next beer; Hopfen Kiss Pale Ale arrive, this is their German take on our pale ale, another winner.
Three types of sausage all hit the spot: A classic Bratwurst, a spicy one and a cheesy one. Slightly off region, there is also a smoked mozerella, Florian explains it’s because chef is Italian.
All the staff muck in here, they painted the walls black, clad them with vertical timber planks, built the garden and the loos (much better than the others in the market). Florian’s wife puts out vases of Daffs on each table too.
Our final beer is White Bock a 7.5% brute. As well as denoting a strong beer a Bock is a Ram or ‘a very stubborn human being’. The logo has a picture of Boris Johnson.
If retail ‘offerings’ are all about authenticity, German Kraft’s must be among the most authentic you will find, and with the Heidi at £5:50 a pint, the beers aren’t even ridiculously overpriced like the tiny tins with names like: ‘Liquorice Unicorn Tears’.
Plus, we notice they serve steins, the two-pint heavyweights. Florian tells us the Germans call these ‘a beer’ (a pint being ‘a small beer’).
We have to stay and try one of course. Florian’s hospitality is excellent. He says you don’t get so much of a hangover with their live beers, unless you really overdo it.
David texts me the following morning: “Florian was mistaken.’