Beer Guide London Visits 23 – Bermondsey
The big one. Bermondsey. Arguably the place where it all really started. Pretty much everybody who is in to beer has heard of the Bermondsey Beer Mile. I’ve tried on several occasions to complete it, but my lack of discipline has always seen me fail. Far too many good beers to turn down. This time though I was determined to do it, and document it as a step by step guide for this site. I just need to be disciplined. Just once.
I went for my usual approach and started at the southern end and working north. I have found that the majority of people tend to kick off at London Bridge so this approach means I can avoid the crowds for just a bit longer. From South Bermondsey station it is a short walk in to the Bermondsey Trading Estate and the first stop of the Mile, Fourpure Brewing Co. This is a very impressive tap room and shows what can be done with a standard industrial unit. The island bar appears to have a very impressive number of taps, but in reality it is the same selection on both sides. A large choice of their own beer available here together with guests from other breweries in the same “family.”
I made the five minute walk north to the second stop of the day. Or at least it should have been. When I arrived at Partizan I was met with a sign saying that it was closed all day for a private function. As you can imagine I wasn’t particularly happy! My plan to do the full mile had failed at stop 2/16. I was in a bad mood for quite some time, but eventually rationalised it by thinking it would have been worse if I had been doing the Mile the other way as I would have failed at 15/16, which would have felt so much worse.
Slightly crestfallen I made the short walk, under the railway, to what had become the second stop of the day, Eebria Tap Room. This is another bricks and mortar presence of an online retailer and it is used to showcase the range of beers they stock. As a consequence there is always something of interest on the taps. The other thing to mention about this venue is their hidden beer garden accessed through the rear door, and a perfect place to sit on a sunny day.
Due to the missing stop I was now running ahead of schedule. Normally this is a bonus, but when all of the stops are so close together, and it wasn’t yet opening time, on this occasion it meant I had to sit around in the sun and wait for the next couple of places to finish getting ready. After a short wait it was time to grab a beer at stop three, Spartan Tap Room. I always enjoy my visits here where it is good to be able to catch up with the friendly staff and swap news. As usual they had a cask beer available alongside the keg offerings, something of a novelty on the Mile.
Next door is one of the newest arrivals, Three Hills – The Outpost. Based in Northamptonshire and producing some amazing dark beers they decided to open a second, smaller brewery, in Bermondsey. An impressive range of their own beers is available with some guests thrown in for good measure. I sampled their Tank Fresh Saison and it didn’t disappoint.
Leaving here you are faced with just about the longest walk of the day, but the ten minutes without a beer are worth it as the next stop is The Kernel Taproom. One of the originals on the Mile they stopped opening when it got so busy that it interfered with running the brewery, but they have returned with possibly the best tap room of the day, a lovely split level space that, of course, has the bonus of a wide selection of the excellent Kernel beers. Always a wide range of styles available and always excellent quality. It’s Kernel, enough said.
I had to remind myself that I had a goal for today, and that I had to stay focused, so I reluctantly dragged myself away and onwards to the next stop, Craft Beer Junction. This was my first visit to this bar that is run by beer importers. Subject to availability they aim to stock more unusual American breweries. I picked up a beer from Floridian brewers Hidden Springs Ale Works, with plenty of other good beers on offer.
Stops come thick and fast now with the next one being Bianca Road Tap Room. They moved here from further south in Bermondsey in order to give themselves more space, and by occupying two arches instead of one they have certainly managed that. A good number of their beers available on tap plus additional packaged beers.
Next up is another of the original breweries on the Mile, Brew By Numbers. They have now relocated their brewing kit to a much larger space in Greenwich but have retained a presence, and a small pilot kit, at their original home. I still prefer their original beer naming style but there is no disputing the fact that however they want to name them the beers are consistently good.
A couple of doors down is the London home of Manchester superstars Cloudwater. A nicely decorated arch coupled with an excellent beer selection, both their own and guests. Their reputation means that this is always one of the more crowded venues, not helped by the fact that it falls in the middle of the Mile and so is the natural meeting point of the southern crawlers and northern crawlers. You may have a short wait to get in, but it is definitely worth it.
Another few steps and you are at the premises of another non London brewery, Moor Beer Vaults & Tap Room is the London presence of the Bristol stalwarts. Their beer has a good reputation and you’ll soon see why. An excellent selection of styles and another of the venues where you can get cask beer served on gravity. It is this little run of bars is often where I get in to trouble as the number of quality beers available is a bit overwhelming. Today though, somehow, I managed to stay under control and continue onwards!
I’d now done 10 bars with 5 to go (and one missed!!!) It was another of the Mile originals next, Anspach & Hobday “The Arch House.” Another brewery that makes consistently good beers and has outgrown their original home. The brewery has moved out to Croydon but still keeps it’s original home where you can find a good selection of their current range. It’s hard to believe that they started out in this cramped space!
A quick duck under the railway brings you to Hiver Taproom whose USP is their honey beer. The beers are brewed at Hepworth’s Brewery in Sussex. Worth diving in if you have time / capacity / are a completist. The arch also used to house the original All Good Beer bottle shop but this has now gone.
Back on to the main drag and the next stop, 13 if you are counting, is Billy Franks Craft Beer and Snack Shack, which is not easy to say this far in to the day. A small venue from the jerky people with a huge range of packaged beers and a couple on tap. You can drink in or take away and there is a good jerky selection to accompany your beer.
The end of the Mile was in sight with the penultimate stop being the London Beer Factory owned Barrel Project. A large range of LBF beers available here in an arch that is dominated by the large number of barrels where beer sits doing whatever it does when it sits in barrels. Improving usually.
After another short walk I had made it to the last / first stop on the Mile, Southwark Brewing Co. Another one of the originals and another of the venues that still proudly serves cask ales. I had, finally, managed to do the entire Mile. Sort of. If you ignore the closed one… I was still upright and still relatively compos mentis.
I finished here and made my way to Waterloo for a train home. I couldn’t resist popping in to the Waterloo Tap. I then decided to get off the train at Richmond for a quick visit to the Twickenham branch of Real Drinks, which has since sadly, and suddenly closed. And then, as I was in Twickenham it would have been rude not to pay a visit to Brewery Market to round off an excellent day. I just need to do it again when they are all open!