Saturday 23 January 2016

The Bermondsey Beer Mile

Long after it was discovered by the riff-raff I finally went on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Of course there's no Kernel now, but I'd been to that one before so I was ahead of the game with that.

As is often the case with route finding it was the start that was the most difficult part, but after some aimless wandering we finally found Four Pure at the back of an industrial estate.

William Morris would be proud

There's clearly money behind this outfit as they had a lot of impressive looking shiny things.

The facilities for punters were basic but the place was still busy.

As it was the start of a marathon I went for the weaker end and started on a Session IPA. There were a lot of hops there but some of them were oxidised so a noticeable cheesiness came through. With lots more beer to come I decided not to finish this one, which did lead to the idea of using a scientific system for scoring the breweries. As with pubs, it would be a binary system, with 1 for if the beer was finished, and 0 if it wasn't.

 The next stop on the crawl was Partizan, an interesting name.

Sadly there were no tachankas parked outside and they didn't even have Bella ciao on the stereo.

It would seem they're partizans of the petite bourgeoisie:

Very petite in fact, as the place was small with old looking kit. They definitely haven't got the funding of Four Pure. 

Of the beers they had on one was a Brettanomyces Apricot IPA. I know what you're thinking - sounds like a horrible mess doesn't it? Being a pioneer of the Brettanomyces revival I had to try it though.

The bizarre mix didn't have the effect I was expecting, as I couldn't pick out any Brett, apricot, or indeed new world hops. It just tasted horrible. The fact it was a proper opaque London Murky might well have been the reason, but anyway it was a resounding 0 for Partizan.


With two breweries down and the scoreboard still showing zero I didn't have high hopes for Brew By Numbers but I was pleasantly surprised.

Twice bitten and getting exceedingly shy I asked for a taster first but I needn't have worried with 0505 IPA. Strong, cold, fizzy, hazy, with citrus and pine. This was the sort of thing I was looking for in Craftlandia, and though I couldn't drink many of them I finished this one quite happily. One point to Brew By Numbers.

I believe it's BBNo. that got funding from Brewdog, and they were definitely way ahead of Partizan in terms of investment but they were still lagging behind Four Pure.

Our next stop was U Brew, which turned out to be a commercial home brewing operation, where for only £480 per year you can brew your own beer. Bargain, eh?

shiney, shiney

They didn't have any of their own beer on sale, but I think they are looking to install a commercial brewery. I had a couple of tasters I wasn't impressed by so I just asked for a Harbour beer. They sell their stuff in Sainsbury's so it can't be bad I thought. How wrong I was. It tasted like fucking quavers, so it's 0 for U Brew.

Next stop was Anspach and Hobday. You can't see the brewery here but there are some teeny tiny plastic fermenters at the back.

Still being in craft mode I had the IPA. I hit gold again with another one that was actually drinkable: hazy, hop and pleasant, so a 1 for Anspach and Hobday.

With only two out of five scoring on the Bermondsey Beer Mile things weren't looking good but I had high hopes for the next one. When we'd asked for directions at U Brew the bloke there rather dismissively said that Southwark Brewery did cask beer. "Thank fuck for that" I replied, and I wasn't disappointed.

Look at them there - lovely, lovely handpumps with proper pints of proper beer:

And you can actually see through the beer:

After my holiday in craftlandia I felt like I'd come home. So we stayed for two. The porter was full of flavour and very drinkable, if perhaps a little thin, and the Best Bitter was quite minerally but a delight on the tongue. As two beers were drunk that means in binary Southwark brewery score 10. And using the scientific scoring system we can see it's been proven that one cask brewery is as good as five keg breweries.

That has added to the growing realisation I have had that the proverbial CAMRA dinosaur is, in fact, me. So no more will I try to convince myself I have a wide ranging taste in beer. I shall resign myself to sitting in pubs, drinking proper beer that tastes like beer should, and writing angry letters to What's Brewing. Still, at least I can go back to ignoring keg beer.


  1. I couldn't pick out any Brett, apricot, or indeed new world hops. It just tasted horrible.

    On behalf of the beer lovers of the world, thanks for taking one for the team. Or several for the team, by the sound of it.

    Still, I'm impressed by your nose for these horrors. All I ever taste in off beers is acetic acid - I've never had a 'cheesy' beer, apart from the Stilton Porter I had a fest one year.

    1. I notice a bit of cheesiness in a lot of hop forward beers in the modern style. Usually in the background though, I'd never had a beer that tasted like quavers before.

      It comes from aged hops. Over time oxidation forms isovaleric acid which has a cheesy flavour.

  2. I bet there were loads of young beards happily slurping back the dreadful beers.

    1. Everywhere was busy, and not all the beers were dreadful. I couldn't help but wonder how long people will be happy to pay a premium to sit in unheated industrial units with only portaloos to piss in though.

  3. Your last comment Ed sums up the BBM for me. Having now reached a certain age, I do find “drain offs” becoming more frequent. Having to queue to use inadequate comfort” facilities, is not my idea of fun.

    I’m glad I did the BBM, but once was enough.

    ps. I agree with your summation regarding the brewing kit in the various breweries, although beerwise, we must have caught Anspach & Hobday on an off-day; definitely a case of “London Murky!”

    U Brew and Southwark Brewery weren’t there, three years ago, when we did the mile.

    1. Yes, it was good to satisfy my curiosity but not something I'd do again in a hurry.

  4. If I remember rightly, Partizan got The Kernel's original hacked-together brewkit when The Kernel moved and got a purpose-made brewery. By the look of it, Partizan's still using much of it.

    Yes, I believe there's a fair bit of money behind Fourpure, most of that kit has been added in the last year or two though, as their sales have ramped, so presumably it was paid for by selling beer!

    1. I dare say Fore pure have sold a lot of beer but take it from me they'll have needed some serious investment to get that much kit that quickly.

    2. Should have had the Fourpure Pils which is their truly outstanding beer. One beer of that quality is enough for any brewery.

    3. I'll give it a go if I see it, but I'm not a big fan of lager. The last one that impressed me was when I had Únětický in Prague.

    4. You're both right - Ed on the Fourpure IPAs being balls; Barm on the Pils being their truly outstanding beer. I also agree I can forgive their other brews being "meh" at best just for that one beer.