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Thursday 25 July 2013

Bermondsey Beer - Kernel - Partizan - Brew By Numbers - Bar Tozino

N.B. To any new visitors, this post is pretty old, so a lot of the information here isn't correct. There are many more breweries in Bermondsey now than when this was first written, and the Kernel no longer opens on a Saturday for drinking in. Jezza on Beer Guide London tends to keep things fairly up to date, so it's worth checking out his posts -

Saturday 20th July - My day started bright and early at the Gilbert Scott for brunch, but I'll talk about that another time because the rest of my day was spent wandering around railway arches in Bermondsey, one of the best areas in London to spend a sunny Saturday.  It also explains why it seems like I was drinking lots of beer and eating nothing - fear not, I stuffed myself at the Gilbert Scott first.

Breweries are popping up all over London at an extremely fast rate, which is a good thing as long as the quality of beer being produced remains as high as it has been so far.  I can't think of a new brewery that I haven't been impressed with so far.  Many of them seem to be in Hackney, but Bermondsey has five of its own in close proximity.  I decided to meet Bermondsey local, Lee, at Kernel Brewery, the most established of the five, and more importantly, the one that opens and shuts the earliest on a Saturday (9am-3/4pm). Sadly the Kernel no longer opens for drinking in on a Saturday.

Kernel constantly change their recipes.  You might drink a Pale Ale that they made using some hops that they found in a corner of the room, and then you'll never see it again.  They are always reliable though, and I favour the slightly stronger IPAs that are on offer.  The brewery opens from 9am-2pm on Saturdays, and has grown massively in popularity since the last time that I went.  That said, there's no need to go early as it doesn't take long to get served.  They offer a couple of keg options as well as bottles and always have a wide range of beers available from Table Beer to Stouts.  Lee tried the new 3.8% London Sour which was... sour.  The beer is bottled "alive" so if you take any home, make sure you drink them fairly quickly to get the most out of it.  Kernel are part of the Spa Terminus collective of food and drink producers, and there are more worth checking out - Monmouth Coffee is made here, Little Bread Pedlar make tasty pastries, and Ice Cream Union also looks great.

Our next stop was Partizan Brewing, which is slightly further East towards South Bermondsey.  They are operating out of a tiny space on Almond Road (which is barely a road), and they are open on Saturdays from 11am-5pm.  You very much feel like you are in the know when you are sitting on a crate outside a railway arch on a deserted road drinking beer with 4 other people in Bermondsey on a Saturday afternoon.   I particularly like the effort that has gone into their drinks list - a ripped piece of cardboard with beers scrawled on or crossed out, balanced on a bottle bin.  They currently only have bottles to sample, but I would expect they will expand to having keg beers available once they have grown in size.  They brew a variety of Saisons, IPAs, Stouts etc and have been very well received so far.  Their label designs (by Alex Doherty) are fantastic - slightly different to Kernel's minimalist style!

Our final brewery stop was Brew by Numbers, back the other way past Kernel near Maltby Street.  These guys have been brewing since the end of 2012, but only opened their brewery doors the weekend before last which Lee discovered by chance from a conversation with the Partizan guys.  Our route wasn't the most economical which was distressing for two mathematicians, but it was in line with which breweries were open the longest, and Brew by Numbers stays open til 5. We were joined by two more mathmos, T Rex and Henry, who often accompany me on jaunts around London Bridge / Bermondsey, plus two more beer fans Kathryn and Danielle who the boys do a pub quiz with.  They had been round the corner at Maltby Street Market, which I still need to properly report on.  We whiled away a couple of hours at Brew by Numbers running through some classic quiz questions such as "Which two star signs other than Pisces are connected to water?", "Which tube stop has no letters in common with the word mackerel?", "Which three tube stops have all 5 vowels?" and "Which tube stop has 6 consonants in a row?" - leave a comment if you know the answers, no Googling now!  

Brew by Numbers (open 10am-5pm) have much more space than Partizan, and look as if they are well funded.  The brewery bar is currently just a fridge, which is filled with whatever they have brewed that week. I got hooked on the delicious Golden Ale while others sampled the Saison, Stout and Porter on offer.  There was also a dubious looking tank of liquid at the bottom of the fridge, which turned out to be home made lemonade - not what we were originally thinking until we discovered there was a toilet at the back.  The numbers refer to style and recipe so 08/01 and 08/02 would be two different recipes for Stout for example.

UPDATE: Two new breweries have recently opened in Bermondsey bringing the total to 5.  Read about my trips to Fourpure and Anspach & Hobday here:

Anspach & Hobday (with Bullfinch Brewery)

It seems silly not to visit them all in the same day when they are so close, and with such amazing food on offer round the corner at Maltby Street Market / Borough Market / Spa Terminus / Bermondsey Street, it is a really easy day out! For more on Saturdays in Bermondsey, click here.

Saturday opening times for the "Bermondsey Beer Mile":

Partizan Brewing Co. - 11am-5pm
Brew by Numbers - 10am-5pm
Fourpure - 11am-5pm
Anspach & Hobday - 11am-6pm

When Brew by Numbers closed for the evening, we made our way to nearby Bar Tozino in Lassco Ropewalk, part of Maltby Street Market, where we joined by Lauren.  Bar Tozino claims to be London's first and only Jamón Bodega (sounds better than Ham Bar doesn't it?).  It is open til 10pm every day except Sunday (shuts at 5pm) and is a great, relaxed place to sit outside with wine / beer eating some jamón. Resident wine expert Henry picked out a very nice red, and Lee and I worked our way through a jarra of Spanish beer, whilst we ate the free olives and some very nice cold meats with bread.  The inside of the bar is also atmospheric, with hams hanging above your head, and meat ready to be sliced in clever contraptions. Top tip - toilets do exist, right down the other end of the street, giving everyone a perfect opportunity to show off their best strut / walk of shame.  T Rex won it with a perfectly executed cartwheel.

We finished off our evening in the Dean Swift, a wonderful pub for food and craft beer, but hard to recommend due to astronomical beer prices.  I paid £6.50 for an English craft ale from the Moor Brewery, which I have had much cheaper elsewhere.  The barman's response was "...but it's so tasty!" - great.  They did however chuck in some free chips after a bit of moaning - that suggests that they almost agree with our complaints so maybe it's not in their hands anyway.  I'd rather they just lowered the prices though.  If money is no object then go for it!

Thanks to Team List for a hard day's work, especially Lee for starting early and making it through the whole day.  I am going away next week, but I will try and write some stuff before I go that I can put up during the week as I am really behind already! Last thing - here is a fun new blog started by my veggie friend who is fed up with only being offered Mushroom Risotto in restaurants.  It is excellently named Rage Against the Mushroom - enjoy!

Square Meal


  1. Called in at Partizan as part of pre-rugby match warm-up. I like to pour my own beer from a bottle and this seems a harmless enough foible, but the owner/barman wasn't having any of it ! Ignored three requests to let me pour it myself, finally telling me that it was his brewery and he could do what he likes. He is quite correct of course, and I trust he was able to pour it back into the bottle as I left him to to it and spent my money at Kernel instead.

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