A lot has opened in Bermondsey since The Kernel Brewery quietly set up shop in a railway arch back in 2010. The offering from traders and archways around Spa Road, Maltby Street Market and Druid Street has gone from strength to strength, and there’s now a rather silly number of bars and breweries open at the weekend in this thriving corner of London. At the time of writing, eight independent breweries call Bermondsey home, but there’s also the likes of UBrew, The Bottle Shop and the newly opened Moor Vaults (from Bristol’s Moor Beer Co) vying for your attention.
Considering the amount of press Bermondsey now gets, and the temptation for large groups to take on all of the beer haunts in one day (not advised), it’s still a wonderful area to spend a Saturday in and you can avoid the crowds with so many alternatives just round the corner. My preferred way to make the most of Bermondsey’s riches is by starting slow with coffee, pastries and a stroll around Spa Terminus in the morning, just as I did a few weeks ago.
The first stop was and always is Monmouth Coffee followed by some browsing and sampling at England Preserves, London Honey Company, Dynamic Vines, Natoora & co. around Dockley Road. Bring an empty rucksack with you, you won’t regret it the next day. One flat white is never enough, so we popped in to Coleman Coffee and Little Bread Pedlar for kouign amanns and more caffeine. The Kernel Brewery is open next door for sales from 9am-2pm – it’s no longer open as a taproom but it’s still an essential stop. If you spot any of their Bière de Saison Apricot, buy it immediately, along with a bunch of fresh hoppy IPAs, pales, sour saisons and a warming stout or two.
Buzzing from all the caffeine and shopping, we headed east hugging the railway line to check out some breweries. First up was Affinity Brew Co run by friendly two man team Ben & Steve who have recently moved in to Partizan’s old arch to open their own taproom. They were previously brewing out of a shipping container in Tottenham (read more about that here) but have since upgraded the operation to Bermondsey.
The now familiar archway taproom layout is elevated by Tida Bradshaw’s outstanding artwork that also features on their beers. We eased ourselves in with their refreshing signature 3.8% Breeze Saison featuring lime zest and coriander seeds, followed by their superbly named 9% LOLmash Imperial Stout. So much for starting slow. It’s early days for Ben & Steve, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they produce in their new home. Also, they are putting on a cask beer event in April 2018 with 26 breweries already confirmed. Exciting!
Pushing on, we made our way to Fourpure who have grown rapidly since they opened in 2013 and have the most expansive taproom in Bermondsey with 20 taps and a food trader outside. We demolished a much needed Mexican chicken burger from Taco Dave alongside small pours of Fourpure’s Eventide (7.4% Blueberry Smoothie IPA), Morning Star (7.1% French Oak Vanilla Porter), and Deucebox (8.3% Citrus Double IPA). Not sure how we all ended up with such punchy beers, but there you go.
Fourpure is the easternmost brewery in Bermondsey at the moment, so we retraced our steps to find Partizan Brewing in their new space on on Raymouth Road – keep your eyes peeled as it’s easy to miss. I still have fond memories of beer lists scrawled on cardboard and balanced on a wheelie bin back in 2012, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see them in a spacious tasting room with 3D printed taps (expertly designed by Alec Doherty and realised by Scales & Models). We toasted the new bar with their Lemongrass and Lemon & Thyme Saisons (both 4%), a 6% Porter, and a 6.5% IPA, all from their core range. I’m keen to track down their seasonal Kriek Saison which looks and sounds rather lovely.
Back on Partizan’s old street, Almond Road, we dropped into EeBria‘s taproom. If you aren’t familiar with them, EeBria is an online drinks shop which sends everything fresh, straight from the producers’ storerooms to the customer. They opened a welcoming tasting room a couple of years ago for locals to see what they’re up to, with a range of beers on keg and in the fridge, plus a free shuffleboard table to keep you entertained.
Controversially, we skipped out Brew By Numbers this time but only because we know it so well, and because some friends were settled in at Anspach & Hobday round the corner. I’ve written about both fine establishments several times, most recently concerning BBNo’s new tasting room (read more here) and A&H’s collaboration events (read more here & here). We also passed on another regular stop for us, The Bottle Shop, in favour of checking out the recent arrivals to the area. The Bottle Shop always has a fantastic line-up, on tap and on the shelves, and they are now open seven days a week!
After a quick catch-up with the A&H boys, we carried on down Druid Street, past Hawkes Cider & Taproom, to have a look at The Barrel Project – a new venture from Gipsy Hill’s London Beer Factory. They are using a Bermondsey arch to age some of their beers in reconditioned barrels, and opening the space as a bar at the weekends. The barrel-aged beers are yet to appear, but the fairy-light adorned barrels make it a really inviting place to drink, and they have plenty of beers on tap and in the fridge. We grabbed a bottle of De Ranke Kriek and a glass or two of their aptly named 8.8% Big Milk Stout. It will be interesting to see what beers emerge from the barrels in 2018!
Stopping just short of The Doodle Bar and Southwark Brewing, we turned down Tanner Street just after Lassco Bar & Dining (where we may have had a glass of wine and some bread), and wiggled our way through the back streets to reach another new opening – Bianca Road Brew Co. Reece Wood founded the brewery in 2016 in Peckham, inspired by a beer-fuelled bike ride across America, and subsequently moved it to Page’s Walk in Bermondsey in 2017.
Being removed from the railway line, their taproom is not in an archway and as such feels much more like a fully realised bar, especially as it stays open much later than nearby breweries and doesn’t have the dreaded Bermondsey benches! We appreciated the warmth provided by four walls walls and a door, and looked back at a successful day of exploring over fresh pours of their 6% Red Rye IPA and a blood orange 4.5% LA Bloods IPA. It’s a cosy place to finish the night, but if you have the energy, you might want to carry on to The Other Room beer bar nearby, or their sister cocktail bar, Bermondsey Arts Club, who do a mean mezcal negroni.
What else needs a mention? On the drinks side of things, there’s Jensen’s Gin Distillery, Little Bird Gin, Hiver Taproom, UBrew, and Moor Vaults. And on the food front, Maltby Street Market is the obvious omission from today’s post (a return visit is in order), the Bone Daddies development kitchen next to UBrew is worth a look, and 40 Maltby Street is always marvellous. That should be enough to keep you busy. If there’s something you think I’ve overlooked – let me know!
N.B. I haven’t put any opening hours on here as you are better off checking the latest times on each venue’s website (all of which are linked to in this post). You can also rely on Jezza at Beer Guide London to keep his Bermondsey info up to date.