Bermondsey

18/03/2017 at 12:55 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In March 2017 Paul took us back to Bermondsey, for a crawl taking advantage of the increasing opening hours of some of the brewery taprooms of the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

We started out at Southwark Brewing, who were, I think the first of the local breweries to start opening on Friday evenings, and at the time of writing they’re open several evenings a week. Unusually for the new generation of craft brewers, the focus of Southwark is on traditional cask ales, and several were on offer; we mostly went for the Session IPA as there would be quite a few more venues to follow, and it was in excellent condition as you would expect.

Southwark.jpg

Further down the railway arches lies Anspach & Hobday, another small craft brewer, this time more focussed on keg beers, generally stronger in content and consequently we downsized from pints for this venue. Some  interesting experimentation has been going on at A&H, with beers on offer including a smoked pale ale, sea salt and chilli stout (sounds interesting but didn’t try this one) and a Belgian bitter. There’s always something new to try here and keep you coming back.

BBNo.jpgHeading deeper into Bermondsey, we came to the next railway arch brewery, Brew by Numbers, which has enlarged its taproom somewhat since I was last here, and added some tasty-looking street food out front for the peckish.We stuck with the slightly smaller servings again, trying a variety of beers between us; I went for a dark beer this time, the coffee & milk stout, which was delicious and definitely left me wanting more.

But, on we go, this time to Ubrew, which is pretty much next door to the previous venue but accessed from the other side. This is a different type of brewery, in which anyone keen to brew can rent a brewing kit and brew their own beer, but with brewery-quality kit and ingredients. Brewing was under way from about three different groups when we visited the taproom, which sells a variety of beer, some brewed on site and some not. I tried a smoked pale ale for the first time (having only heard of such a thing an hour earlier) and it was very good.

I was also very pleased to find in the fridge a 0.5% chocolate stout from Big Drop Brewing;this was pretty good stuff, very tasty for something with such little alcohol. I firmly believe that very low alcohol beers should be widely available in pubs for those times when you want to socialise but can’t drink for whatever reason, or simply want to reduce your alcohol intake for the evening without going home early or switching to water or fizzy drinks. So well done to the guys at Big Drop, I look forward to seeing the Citrus Pale Ale I can spy on your website as being available soon!

We started heading back towards town now, and stopped this time at the Marquis of Wellington, opposite one of the earlier ports of call. For a long time this was a regular backstreet local, but has been renovated into the contemporary style, with a modern interior, good range of drinks, and some excellent-looking pizzas being prepared behind the bar. The beers were from London and included a cask from Southwark brewing and a seasonal beer from Anspach & Hobday, which must have been brewed about 50 metres away, but I was slightly surprised that the pub hasn’t gone even bigger on local provenance; they could probably sell 200 different beers, all brewed within walking distance. Still, pretty impressed with the place, will be back for pizza some time.

We headed next for an old favourite of mine, the Dean Swift in Shad Thames. I do love this place. The beer range is constantly changing, and they think it through; for example I’ve been there to watch Tottenham v Arsenal, and they’ve had Redemption Hopspur (brewed in Tottenham) and Hop Stuff APA (brewed on the Royal Arsenal) next to each other on the bar. Very good work!

Rose.jpgA slightly longer walk now as we began to head back towards London Bridge, and called at the Rose. This is a pleasant, upscale place, with a more limited beer range than the previous venues, and just the one handpump; however the beer on, Ringwood’s Mauler, was good. They also have an interesting floor downstairs made out of pennies; my shoes will appear in someone’s photos of the night, as I was asked to pause and pose my feet for a picture on my way to the loos!

More craft beer could be found at the final venue of the night, The Miller. While this may look like a dodgy 60s place from the outside, it’s actually a young and lively venue, and has a good range of ales and other craft beers, including a very long bottled list.

All in all an excellent evening, and time only to agree on the Pub of the Crawl. Unusually we also visited several breweries on this walk, which were all excellent but the award is ‘Pub of the Crawl’ rather than ‘brewery of the crawl’ – frankly all the breweries are excellent. Although we called at my favourite pub, they have been visited and awarded the title previously, so the Marquis of Wellington was voted Pub of the Crawl for breathing new life into this pub in Bermondsey. Congratulations!

Bermondsey beer mile update

17/05/2015 at 18:08 | Posted in Articles, Crawls | 2 Comments
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Things are moving very fast in the world of London Breweries, so it is time to update our earlier post on the Bermondsey Beer Mile with news on the breweries which have opened since the original post was penned in 2014.

swk1First up, the Southwark Brewery opened its doors not long after our last visit, and a welcome addition it is too. Occupying a spot at the westernmost end of the collection of breweries, the Southwark Brewery is the only one to focus on cask rather than bottled or keg beers, and on entering the spacious bar the sight of a line of handpumps comes as a pleasant surprise. My favourite is the London Pale Ale, a light and hoppy ale of the modern style, a very refreshing pint at 4%, but the brewery has a range extending through a golden ale, a traditional best bitter, and a Russian Imperial Stout.

swk2aThey also do other beers outside of the house range; when we visited they had Harvard American Pale Ale, named after the Southwark boy-done-good who headed to America and founded the prestigious University, and Bankside Blonde, a blond/golden ale.

The drinking area is generous, and is a great space to spend some time trying the range of beers on offer. It’s open 11am-5pm on Saturdays, and at the time of writing is also open Friday evenings until 8pm, although that is not listed on the website so I would suggest phoning / emailing / tweeting etc. ahead of visiting on a Friday to double check if they’re open.

ubrewAnother new entrant since the last write-up is Ubrew. Another quite different prospect from the first breweries, Ubrew is an “open brewery”, where individuals join as members to have access to Ubrew’s professional kit and ingredients, and brew their own beer on 50 or 100 litre kit. As per the usual drill for Bermondsey, they have a taproom open on Saturdays, with several craft beers on draught (keg) and a very large selection of bottles from around the world; having just returned from Spain I was keen to see their Spanish offerings and found about a dozen different Spanish craft beers, to give an indication of their range!

ubrew2The bar is in the heart of the brewery and a couple of teams of self-brewers were busy on their brewing kit while we watched, one of them even having a dog in tow! A number of the members are selling their beer, through the taproom or elsewhere, so in fact this brewery is the home of many microbreweries – I wonder how many full scale breweries will be born here? Pop along to try some brews and spot a future winner.

The taproom is open Saturdays 11am to 7pm.

Don’t forget to visit the main Bermondsey Beer Mile post with details of:

Anspach & Hobday (now also open Sunday 12:00 to 17:00)

Bullfinch Brewery (now also open Sunday 12:00 to 17:00)

Brew By Numbers

Kernel Brewery

Partizan Brewing

Fourpure Brewing

Bermondsey beer mile

20/04/2014 at 15:00 | Posted in Articles, Crawls | 10 Comments
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NOTE: this crawl was in 2014; since then there have been some changes, including that Kernel is now open only for off-sales, and several now open for longer hours including midweek evenings; see each brewery’s website for the latest information on opening hours

UPDATE, MAY 2015: new info added here, including 2 new breweries joining the scene

At Easter 2014, we decided to dispense with the Friday night zone 1 pub crawl formula and visit the Bermondsey Beer Mile for a Saturday afternoon brewery crawl instead.

Most people start at one end and walk towards the other, stopping off at all the breweries en route; my cunning plan to miss the busiest crowds was to start in the middle, taking a bus from one end to restart at the other.

We met at Bermondsey tube station at 11am in order to get to the Kernel brewery (open Sat 9am-3pm) before it got too busy; last time I was there in mid afternoon it took a while to get served, such is the popularity of the Bermondsey beer revolution which started here. Well, not quite here, but it started nearby; Kernel’s initial brewery was a little further up the train line, but they soon outgrew their first premises and moved into their current site in 2012.

As you enter the Kernel arch, there is a counter directly ahead piled high with the beers currently on offer. Most are relatively high strength but for a while now Kernel have also offered a lower strength “table beer”, typically around 3-3.3%, depending on the particular recipe on offer at any given time, but they still manage to pack in a lot of flavour even at such low strengths.

BBNTurn right into the next arch and you enter the brewery’s tap area, with lots of long tables packed full every Saturday with beer fans supping Kernel’s draught beers. Today we were ahead of the pack and bagged a table where we drank some delicious draughts, including two types of Pale Ale (Simcoe and Mosaic), and one glass of the London Sour, which was a very interesting beer – sour, as the name implies, but very tasty; not sure I could drink too many in one sitting though.

Leaving the Kernel, we turned right and through a gate into Spa Road and headed to the next stop, Brew by Numbers  (open Sat 11am-6pm) on Enid Street. Of all the breweries, this was the only one I hadn’t visited before, but it conforms to the general pattern; a bright railway arch with a small bar serving some interesting beers on draught or in bottles to take away, and a bunch of people sitting and standing around the entrance enjoying them in the sunshine. Some of our number went for the session IPA (or 11|02 in Brew by Numbers parlance), but a couple of us tried the Saison (or brew 01|02), brewed with Amarillo hops and orange peel; apparently, anyway, though my palette perhaps isn’t refined enough to pick out the orange. All were very good though, and we ended up with one and a half rounds here with the IPAs slipping down that little bit quicker than the stronger Saisons.
AH hop rocket

Moving on, we headed to Druid Street and the shared premises of two breweries, Anspach & Hobday and Bullfinch (open Sat 11am-5pm). These guys had an interesting contraption on the bar, the Hop Rocket, a device holding fresh hops through which the A&H IPA was pulled to add a very late hop finish. You could certainly taste the hops, which added a very floral flavour reminiscent of perfume, though we didn’t feel it was really needed.

Indeed we stayed for a second round to try some different drinks and generally we preferred the bottled IPA which hadn’t had the benefit of the hop rocket. Still, we’re all for experimentation, and I’d certainly try it again with another ale. As well as the IPA we also tried the A&H brown ale, which was very smooth and had a lovely smoky flavour, almost like bacon.

I got my only take-out from here; being a great fan of beers using Citra hops, I couldn’t walk away without a bottle of Citrageddon, a black ale with “a devastating amount of Citra hops”; this is currently sitting in my fridge though, so I can’t say how it tastes!

dirtylittlesecretBy now we were in the Maltby Street area, and wandered along the Ropewalk, a bustling path lined with different stalls selling all sorts of food and drinks (including bottled craft beers) (generally open Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm). The salvage specialists Lassco are now open at weekends too, for an interesting wander around their wares if you have a penchant for vintage stuff.

Phil thought it would be a good idea to get some monster burgers for lunch, and we all tucked into some enormous “dirty little secret” burgers topped with African Volcano, apparently a Mozambique-style peri peri sauce. They looked a little like like a heart attack on a plate, and I felt some trepidation tucking in – there was rather more grease than I would like! – but I have to say it tasted fantastic, and I’m sure was very good stomach lining for the second part of the walk.

Having reached one end of the run of breweries, we walked a few minutes walk south to be chauffeured by the big red taxi right to the other end of the beer mile – take the no. 1 bus towards Canada Water and it will drop you at Beamish House, opposite the Bermondsey Trading Estate, within which resides the Fourpure Brewery (open Sat 11am-5pm).

PingpongAlthough the estate sits under the railway lines and you pass under the railway to reach the brewery, this is the only one of the day not within a railway arch, and the premises feel a lot more spacious than the others. The first thing that greets you is the ping-pong at the entrance and the brewery opens out into a large space, with a well appointed bar on the left serving a selection of very fine ales. We had a mixture of pale ale and amber ale, both of which were very smooth and good refreshment while playing table tennis!

For the final brewery of the day we headed back towards the Blue (or Southwark Park Road to non-locals) and the inauspicious-looking Almond Road, down which is hiding the Partizan Brewery (open Sat 11am-5pm). Like the first few, this one is tucked under the railway arches, and is a rather more confined than the previous stop, but that hasn’t stopped them turning out some very fine beers to put into their beautifully designed bottles (well, the labels that is, the bottles are quite normal!).

PartizanWe mainly went with a recommendation for the bottled Saison, the 6.2% Falconer’s Flight, which was so good we bought a second round of them as last orders were called. I have to wonder whether they should be closing at 5pm when the demand was evidently there to carry on a bit longer, but nevertheless we had a small table outside and enjoyed our ales together with some lovely homemade Brazilian cheese sticks.

With a whole Saturday evening left in front of us, we headed to the local craft beer pub the Dean Swift, where some more fine ales were consumed before topping the day off with a curry.

All in all a highly recommended day out in Bermondsey.

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