The Filling Station is a place which has been discussed a lot on the Craft Beer In Cambridge group. Located in St Ives, I had ear marked it as somewhere I wanted to visit based purely on the hype alone, but after realising it was a mere 3 minute walk from my work (instead of the centre of the town like I had previously assumed) I decided to head on down to pay myself a visit.
With sustainability being THE issue of our age, the team at The Filling Station aim to reduce waste by using glass growlers which can be filled up using state of the art dispensing technology and reused again and again to reduce packaging.
This is not only good for the environment by cutting out dozens of beer cans and glass bottles which may be ordinarily “recycled” (but more often than not get dumped in countries on the other side of the world) but also gives consumers fresh and easy access to draft beer in their homes.
Two 1 litre growlers which are refilled each time upon visiting.
This is a win for both the environment and the consumer, as no matter what anyone says, drinking from a can or bottle is never the same as drinking draft.
Beer from the tap offers an extra dimension to the smoothness and flavour which can never be matched. If you are going to be spending big money on craft beer then there is only one way to go.
This is just an opinion mind, but do not fear, if you do prefer bottles and cans then The Filling Station has you covered with several large fridges too.
Either way, it is an entirely unique experience not available anywhere else and something I was itching to try from the moment I heard about it.
The Filling Station is located across the road from Morrisons and next door to Costa Coffee in a converted shipping container, adding to the sustainability ethos. Everything is reused, including the shop itself, putting their money where their mouth is. This may sound crammed but is actually ample size and they do wonders with the space.
The shop has a selection of products to purchase, from glasses to t-shirts, as well as a choice of two different growlers to choose from. The 1 litre bottle and the 2 litre bottle were £9 and £13 respectively. I decided to purchase two 1 litre bottles to give myself some flexibility in what I order as they have an ever changing selection of craft beer (which makes it hard for me to commit to a favourite every time).
As you can see from the photo above, they usually have a selection of 10 craft beers available on draft. Each and every one is hand picked and made within the UK. Most are local, with some as local as Little Downham or Harston!
This really is the perfect place for someone like myself who is reasonably new to craft beer and wants to try numerous examples of what it has to offer. They do a great job of offering a wide selection with IPA’s DIPA’s, Pilsners, Cider, Stouts, and Pales. Take your pick!
Me, exploiting the free sample system.
The great thing is, the chaps working here are really passionate about the beer and are happy to talk your ear off about the in’s and outs, including their very welcome advice.
Free samples are also available which I was happy to take advantage of to make sure I knew what I was purchasing before committing to an entire litre.
After trying my samples and having a bit of a chin wag. I decided to go for a Hazy Pale style beer called Joosy by Unbarred. This is a lovely sessionable beer which is exactly what it says on the tin. This particular brewery is from Brighton which was probably one of the most travelled beers on the list.
My second choice was an unfiltered Pilsner lager from Pressure Drop Brewery in London called Great Heights. I couldn’t resist this being a big pilsner man.
Both were picked because it was a particularly sunny day (for a February) and I wanted to get into that summer mood as quickly as possible. I also grabbed myself a few extra cans for good measures including a stunning Pilsner by S43 which has since been devoured while writing this.
The staff here were excellent with Matt and Ben offering superb customer service and advice. You can tell they are not only passionate about what they do but love every second of it. I am already looking forward to my trip back to top up my growlers!
Update: It was inevitable. My two growlers were going to be emptied eventually. So, I washed them out, got in my car, and headed back to the Filling Station!
I was absolutely blown away by Joosy by Unbarred which is now one of my favourite all time beers!
Drinking draft at home really is a glorious experience and having that flexibility to do it so easily is changing the game for people like myself!
Craft beer on tap is, in my opinion, the only way to have a beer designed to be the best it can be. You are doing yourself a disservice by spending a hefty sum on high end beers then not offering it the respect it deserves by drinking it from a can.
The great thing about The Filling Station is that they are always changing the selection of 10 beers on draft. The bad thing is…they are always changing their beers on draft. I went back to top up my now favourite summer beer (Joosy) and it was gone. The team here were quick to point out that they have this on draft often but it did mean I had to buy something else. Judging by how good the previous two were, I know I’m in safe hands with whatever I buy as I whole heartedly trust the teams recommendations.
They still had a lot of beer in the fridge so I was still able to find Joosy in a can but after being spoiled by draft beer I’m now starting to turn my nose up at it.
I made sure to stamp my Filling Station card which entitles me to a free litre of beer on my tenth purchase. This is a fantastic idea as it not only keeps you coming back to encourage the sustainably of reusing your glass bottles but also means that the growlers pay for themselves down the line. This was my second visit and I am already up to 4/10. Not long now!
I was pleased to see that since my last visit that they had added a small beer garden outside which meant I could enjoy my most recent purchases in the sun ☀️ this adds a nice little addition to the experience as it is no longer a craft beer style petrol station that you turn up, fill up, then go, but instead can spend a little time there and enjoy yourself.
This blog post will be updated over the coming weeks and months as I go through this cycle of ordering beer in my new Filling Station growlers and drinking them at home. Make sure to check back and see how I get on! So far, so good!