As a beer blogger you can rely on me to bring you the latest and greatest things happening in the beer world, and what better way to live up to this promise than by writing about the Bermondsey Beer Mile, something that has been going for around three years and every other beer blogger has written about already. Even better, I visited the beer mile for my stag do - I really should just hand in my beer blogging badge now.
Our group started the proceedings on a Friday evening, visiting Anspach and Hobday for their Oktoberfest festivities. The brewery was decked out in bunting, the staff wearing their finest lederhosen, oom-pah music was playing over the PA and there were a number of special brews for the event. As it was my first ever visit to a brewery on the beer mile, I must admit I was a bit sceptical. The internet had led me to believe that I was in for hipster beards, murky beer and a packed out, uncomfortable bar. I did get the hipster beards and the murky beer but the place was fairly quiet and laid back, and I was surprised by the amount of children at the place. I'm not one of those who gets annoyed by kids in a pub, especially if there's stuff there to keep them entertained. But this brewery wasn't particularly child friendly with no activities for the kids and the event geared towards adults, resulting in was bored sprogs toddling around the room and being a minor annoyance while their parents slowly drank their worries away.
The beer was fairly good. The Berliner Weisse had the sour goodness that's expected from the style, it's an acquired taste that I enjoy although a pint may have been a bit much. The Bavarian IPA was pleasantly hoppy and the Alt Bier had a pleasing nuttiness about the flavour. All the beers tasted however they were also murky in appearence. I'd expect some haziness from the Weisse but I was unsure about the other beers. I enjoyed the beers overall but it did make me feel slightly uneasy wondering if the murkiness was by design or from below par brewing.
We left the bar in good spirits and headed on down the road to London Bridge to find some food. Along the way we passed the Southwark Brewing Company. I poked my head in and spotted eight handpumps on the bar, and before I knew it I was wandering in bellowing "I'm so happy to find a brewery round here with cask beer!" and blurting out it was my stag do. Rather than the staff looking at me with a mixture of disgust and pity and chucking me out, I was instead given a free pint of 5 Hop and it was absolutely delicious - and it tasted even better as it was free! I did pay for my seond drink, the Top Drop Ale, and it lived up to its name, this was a tasty ale. The tap room was full of cosy sofas and bench seating, the rugby was on the television, the toilets were nice, the beer was clear and there were no kids running about. This ended up being my favourite brewery of the mile - even though technically it's a return to the slightly unfashionable, cask driven breweries that some pockets of the craft beer movement were initially rebelling against.
The next day we started at the other end of the beer mile in the middle of South Bermondsey, a place I never even knew existed in my thirty four years of living in London. In an industrial park, behind the ScrewFix and Tool Station stores is Fourpure brewery. I was impressed by the size of the operation, it's a big setup they've got here with an impressive cannery the centrepiece. Plenty of their beers are available on tap, and I tried the Oktoberfest, which was a bit too sweet but rather tasty. I also enjoyed their brown ale Beartooth. Both beers were clear and looked excellent. We sat outside enjoying the ambience only a trading estate in South Bermondsey can provide, the client base mainly consisting of men celebrating major life events. Nice place but I'd rather enjoy a Fourpure in a cosy pub, or at home - their canned beer is always excellent quality.
Technically Partizan brewery should have been next but as we had a football match to attend (more on that next week) we headed straight to Brew By Numbers, a 20 minute walk away. Arriving at around 1pm the place was pretty busy, with a long but quick moving queue at the bar. I tried the Brown Ale which tasted good but unfortunately looked like a foamy chocolate milkshake. Murky beer was here and in abundance. I've never had a murky brown ale and I'm fairly certain this beer wasn't quite ready to be served. We enjoyed our beers outside in the sunshine, and although it was nice to get beer direct from the source I think I'll stick to Brew By Numbers in a pub or at home rather than drinking it at the brewery. I believe the ambience of where you're drinking is just as important as what you're drinking, and a small room under railways arches and a couple of portaloos just isn't as appealing as a cosy pub.
We bid farewall to the beer mile and headed on down to Dulwich Hamlet FC, as recommended by the excellent Deserter blog, to watch some hipsters chant while men kick a ball and we attempted to get some beer. I'll be telling you all about that and the pubs we ended up visting in trendy East London in my next update. Hope you can join me!