Beer Guide London Visits 6 – Brixton
These trips don’t always go to plan. The planned destination was Brixton, an area I love visiting. Lots of great places to visit in a relatively compact area. Checking before hand showed that two places opened at 11:00 meaning that it was possible to make an early start. Except that both of the 11:00 openers now open at 12:00. That’s why we do these trips, to keep checking up on all of the details. So it was 11:15 and none of my targets would open until 12:00. I could go and kill the time in Wetherspoon’s. I could. I went to KFC.
You won’t be surprised to hear that at 12:00 I was the first customer of the day through the door at BrewDog Brixton! One of the smaller London branches it has a cosy feel to it, and I managed to get myself the Estonian beer from Collabfest which was a very good dry stout.
It’s only a short walk from here to Brixton Village, a food market that assaults you with amazing aromas as you enter. The target here was Taproom by Brixton Village, a small bar that showcases breweries from the South of London. Despite the range of beers available I managed to pick the one beer that I’d already had before. D’Oh! At least it was another London brewery ticked off in my quest to try a beer from each of them. The place is pretty much what you’d expect from a converted indoor market unit, but they do have tables outside where you can watch the activity in this bustling market.
The third stop, again only a couple of minutes walk away, was probably my most anticipated one of the day, a long overdue return to Ghost Whale. I love both of their branches and it tells you everything you need to know that 7 months after my previous visit I was greeted in a way that suggested my last visit was only 7 days ago. They had their usual amazing range of beers available and I would have been more than happy to set up camp here for the rest of the day. Instead I showed remarkable restraint and limited myself to just one, picking my first draft tasting from Cambridgeshire sour specialists Pastore Brewing.
I had hoped to right up today’s trip as a logical, coherent crawl, but still thrown by the delayed start those plans went out of the window and instead of heading to the next nearest Guide entry I doubled back to the other side of the town centre, a long slog that must have taken all of ten minutes.
The target was my first brewery tap of the day, London Beer Lab, which also picked up on last weeks theme of breweries with multiple brew plants. In this case it wasn’t necessary to ask if it was possible to tell which beers were brewed where as they were all clearly labeled – London Beer Lab for beers brewed on the new kit in Loughborough Junction and Nano for beers brewed on the original kit in Brixton. This may be a tiny, cramped, taproom in a railway arch but they still manage to offer more than 20 beers on tap, both their own and guests. I made sure I tried one from each of their sites with the Sauerbraten from the nano kit being my first encounter with the style.
The next planned visit was the Brixton branch of Craft Beer Co. but on arrival I found it closed and it wasn’t due to open until 16:00. I quickly thought through where else I planned on visiting and decided that it wouldn’t be feasible to visit here today, I’ll just have to go back another day. Instead I headed on to the next tap room, and my first of two Guide catch-up visits for the day, Dogs Grandad. This is a relatively new brewery and one that I hadn’t yet tried. The beer proved to be very good and as I was the only customer present I was able to have a good chat to the owner. I now know what the brewery name means, but I’ll let you visit for yourself to find out.
I was now faced with the trek to Brixton Brewery, two arches down. Yet another London brewery that has opened a second site, and yet again they were happy to provide me with the information as to where their beers are brewed. All core range beers are brewed at the new plant a few streets away from the taproom with all of the limited run beers produced on the original kit a couple of arches down from the taproom. Apparently, too, their lager is now being brewed in Belgium with the first batch due imminently but the bar staff didn’t have any further information beyond that. A flight here meant that, again, I was able to tick off both of the Brixton kits on my list of London breweries.
A short stroll down Coldharbour Lane to Loughborough Junction brought me to my second catch-up visit of the day, Friendship Adventure Brewery Tap. This is sited in a large, old, industrial unit that is not, I repeat not, a railway arch. It’s an impressive space that despite it’s size maintains a homely feel, and it shows off the shiny brewing kit well too. Another new brewery that I’m not familiar with but the two beers I tried were both very good, and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful.
From hereon the walking distances between my target Guide entries increased as I started to head towards Stockwell, but a brisk walk and fresh air is often a good thing on these trips! I headed northwards and after quarter of an hour I arrived at the bustling locals pub The Crown & Anchor. It was good to see it nice and busy, a sign that things are slowly improving, and good to see that the beer range is still as good as ever, including a selection of cask beers. I made my selection from the handpumps and enjoyed a BoHo Bitter from the Three Sods Brewery.
A short stroll through the back streets got me to my penultimate visit of the day, the Grosvenor Arms. This is a great back street bar that has been enhanced by becoming the new home to Affinity Brew Co. This was my first visit since brewing commenced on site and it was encouraging that it was pleasantly busy here too, the locals obviously know the good places to visit. A good range of beer on offer including, obviously, a good range of Affinity beers. Despite having plenty to choose from I yet again managed to pick one that I had before, but in this case I was more than happy with my choice of Breeze as it is a really good beer. I also couldn’t resist having a draft Duchesse de Bourgognes, the classic Flanders Red Ale.
A final walk to the other side of Stockwell tube station for my last bar of the day, the Priory Arms. Another popular back street pub full of people enjoying the excellent range of beer on offer. Why can’t the local pubs in my area be this good? I was particularly pleased to find that they had Anspach & Hobday’s London Black on tap as this is a beer that I have been looking forward to trying. What can I say, thin, watery, no flavour – it was none of these and I can see why it is getting good reviews everywhere!
After reaching double digit visits in a day for the first time since I started back it was time to call it a day. This is another great part of London to visit for a great selection of places to drink. At some point I will return and try and map out a logical way to make your way around them all with no doubling back on yourself!
Progress report as at the end of November : Five weeks after commencing my Guide revisits I have managed to visit 46, which is 13.65% of the current total. The total number is, of course, constantly changing. In my attempts to try beers from all of the London breweries I am currently at 23.74%, but again the number of breweries is in constant flux with two more dropping from the total in the last week.
Onwards, ever onwards…