I love a good Saturday out in Bermondsey as much as the next beer geek, but it’s bloody busy these days. For a more peaceful experience, I’ve been heading down on Friday nights when several of the breweries and beer haunts open up for a much calmer crowd, including Anspach & Hobday, Brew By Numbers, and Fourpure. They often use this opportunity to celebrate a collaboration beer, release limited edition bottles, and experiment with food pairing events that just wouldn’t work en masse.
The most exciting events of late have been happening at The Bottle Shop on Druid Street, just down the road from A&H, with increasingly regularity. Tap takeovers, tastings, and meet the brewer sessions are nothing new, but The Bottle Shop have really raised the bar in recent weeks, hosting intimate events in their impressive archway with the likes of Alvin, Simon & Theodore … sorry – Alvinne (Moen, Belgium), Bagby Beer Company (Oceanside, California), and To Øl (Copenhagen, Denmark).
The format is very relaxed, with very affordable ticketed tastings (sold on the night) often relying on the brewers arriving in London in time! Anyone can attend and take advantage of the exclusive beers on offer. More often than not they survive until the following day but you’ll have to fight for them on a Saturday.
After meeting Jeff from Bagby who’d travelled 5000+ miles to show off his beer in Bermondsey, and Glenn from Alvinne who may or may not have snuck in some extra special kegs “for a wedding”, the romance of the beer industry has really lodged in my thoughts, and I’m desperate to seek out more stories. I’ll hopefully come back from my next trip to America via the likes of Dogfish Head, Allagash and Hill Farmstead with a few tales to tell, but if The Bottle Shop keeps up the good work, Londoners don’t need to travel as far! If you are in the market for some beer journalism in the meantime, check out Good Beer Hunting, Total Ales, Ferment, and Original Gravity.
Matt The Tips : Keep an eye on The Bottle Shop’s Facebook Page for news on the latest events