London Bridge & Bermondsey

30/05/2015 at 12:12 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Following this month’s update to the Bermondsey Beer Mile information, including the news that a couple of the breweries were now open on Friday evenings, Paul took us back to familiar territory around London Bridge and Bermondsey for the first Friday crawl to take in a brewery.

After some pre-crawl sustenance/stomach lining in the local late night kebabery of choice, the Cafe Rossi just by the Borough High St part of London Bridge tube, we started out at the Britannia, tucked away in the slightly strange environs of the estate behind Guy’s Hospital where flats, pubs, car parks and medical and educational institutions sit cheek by jowl in a surprisingly quiet area only a couple of minutes form the bustle around London Bridge. The Britannia, which we visited a while ago, specialises in whiskies, with a list of over 130 malt whiskies and a classic water tap built into the bar – a very rare feature these days. We skipped on the spirits though, opting instead for the cask beer fare of Ringwood’s Forty Niner or Fuller’s New World.

Having assembled here, convenient for the tube, we had a longish walk to the next venue – but it was important to get there before closing, as the Southwark Brewing taproom is only open until 8pm on Fridays. As part of the Bermondsey Beer Mile this place is thriving on a Saturday, but rather quieter on the Friday evening with just a few of us there, free to spread out, chat and try the ales brewed on site, including the London Pale Ale, Harvard, Gold and Best.

AHA bit further down Druid Street brought us to the other beer mile venue experimenting with longer taproom hours, Anspach and Hobday. Quite a few people had made it down this far, it was pretty busy inside and out, and again we had a range of their beers between us. A couple of people gambled on a new beer, launched that evening, based only on its intriguing name, The Arch-House. This turned out to be “a sour ale fermented with yeast and bacteria that inhabit our archway”; full marks for experimentation, but thinking about the bacteria didn’t help this slip down quite as easily as their other ales!

To Shad Thames now and an old favourite of mine, the Dean Swift. This smallish corner pub has been serving an excellent range of beers for several years now, and we had ELB’s Orchid, Otley’s Hop Angeles and various other beers while we watched Lancashire getting a tonking in the T20 cricket on the telly.

Next up, a slightly controversially long walk to the next venue, another beer specialist, the Rake. This very small pub – thankfully with plenty of spill-out space in the market – has a huge range of exotic bottled beers, and an interesting range of beers on draught. Although the small bar limits how many beers they can have on draught at any one time, the Oakham Citra and JHB were lovely.

MPNext up, the Wheatsheaf, a classic Borough Market pub once threatened with demolition for the new Thameslink railway viaduct which would have ploughed through the building. Thankfully it was saved, with only the top of the building being sliced open, and after a lengthy closure it has reopened, nicely refurbished indoors, but better yet, with a beautiful new beer garden out the side, underneath the new railway viaduct. A range of Youngs and Sambrooks ales were available indoors; an outside bar is also available but without cask ales (though some decent kegs including Meantime).

Back next to another old classic venue a few doors away, the Market Porter. This is another pub which has specialised in offering a very wide range of quality ales for a long time now, long before it became trendy to do so. Although Borough Market is known now as a major tourist attraction, which doubtless pulls in a good chunk of business today, it also keeps its traditional market hours, opening at 6am on weekdays to serve the overnight market workers coming off shift, who can enjoy its excellent range of real ales available on two sides of the bar, including a bitter brewed in Borough.

Finally, on account of its 1am licence, we decamped to the Southwark Tavern for the final beers of the evening, including Liberation Blonde from the Channel Islands and Andwell’s Five Little Fishes.

So in the Southwark Tavern’s cracking basement area we debated the critical vote of May 2015 – no not the election, the pub and beer of the evening.

After heated debate and a very wide spread of votes, the Britannia was named Pub of the Crawl, and Southwark Brewing’s London Pale Ale was crowned the Beer of the Crawl. Congratulations!

 

 

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