Sometimes we forget how spoiled for choice we can be when it comes to weekend plans and when we’re not behind the stoves in the kitchen getting ready for a dinner service we seem to find ourselves twiddling thumbs as to what to do. 2 weeks ago I found myself back on Teatime in Wonderland, a blog run by our favourite canelé queen Chocoralie, of course I took here up on her suggestion of a few beers as part of the London Brewery tours, I mean, how treacherous can the Bermondsey Mile be?!...
First off, what are your favourite micro-breweries in London? Comment below and let us know! An early start (it was a Saturday; anything before noon is early for me!) took us to London Bridge station. As I hadn’t eaten yet, a conveniently-placed Krispy Kreme stand made up for the lost calories as well providing a stomach-lining for the incumbent “beering”. A short walk to city hall later and we met Ray, our spiritual-guide, who gave us the London Brewery Tour's story as well as a plan for the journey ahead.
The first stop was at the Southwark Brewing Company where Peter Jackson (tour-guide extraordinaire) schooled us on the beer-making process in general. Without ever having learned about the specifics involved in this process, the biggest revelation came when learning about the Burtonisation process involved in the creation of a pale-ale. The history and origin of this golden-elixir demonstrates how the town of Burton, in the West Midlands, became the water standard to which every other pale-ale maker in the world now adheres to by playing with the Chemistry of their local water supply. Next time you’re at your local, take a look on the walls to see if the words “Burton Ale” appear there; now you know why (kind of!).
Before I continue, it’s important to note that railway-arches are really playing a massive part in the micro-brewery movement. Brewing need not be done in glamorous surroundings, but they definitely add to that romantic notion of home-brewing which we think about when dreaming of tasting a pint of a lovingly crafted pint.
The next stop along the line was at the little-known Anspach & Hobday. Also under a rail-arch A was far less a fan of their IPA than I was. Honestly, it was the most delicious and hoppy beer that I had tasted their and, along with their branding, had me sold on what they are producing. I wonder if A will let us stock them in our restaurant one day!? Of course there were some food exploits along the way and while I had heard much about Monty’s Deli, I had yet to try one of their infamous reubens (a delicious salt beef sandwich on rye with pickles and cheese, for the uninitiated). Check that off of the bucket list!
A 20 minute walk took us to Fourpure Brewing Co. on an industrial estate in the heart of Bermondsey. If it wasn’t for the infamous British weather I would have nothing negative to say about the trip, although a) that is not in Ray’s control and b) it just means we will have to come back in Summer! The Fourpure team’s tag line reads as follows: “IINSPIRED BY ADVENTURE. BREWED IN LONDON”. You’ve heard of them before…they are the team behind the craft brews in cans. Their team was also, by far, the youngest and most ambitious of the breweries we visited especially as they were touting that their canning process actually keeps the beers fresher. Who knew?!
The final stop off at Partizan Brewing Co was a welcome respite from the overwhelming downpour that had just managed to unleash itself upon us, and their ale was just as welcoming. Ray’s queue-jump tactics were testament to this tour’s ability to really get into the heart of some of the more unknown beer-brewing locations in London.
At the end of it all we had a really great day with Ray who recounted a couple of the tales that his experience as a tour-guide had managed to provide. We both continue to be astounded by the sheer size and scale of the operations that these local craft-brewers have conceived. It really does show that if there is demand for something, someone near you is probably doing it!
PS> Not too long now until Valentine’s Day, so book now and you’ve nothing to worry about right?!