Saturday 25th March - Don't be fooled by the first shot of Eggs Benedict, this a post about beer. If you aren't of a beery disposition, why not try Matt The Pissed, Matt Le Tiss, or perhaps Cat The List instead?
Still with me? I'll crack on. My to-do list was starting to get a tad South London beer heavy, so I signed up 2014-15 List Leader Tim "I'm actuary an actuary" Henshaw and his unwitting cousin Dan (on loan from Birmingham) for a day of discovery.
It all started in Earlsfield at Bean & Hop (formerly The Earlsfield Deli) with a rather excellent breakfast and some caffeine. They specialise in coffee and local craft beer, with some top notch food thrown in for good measure. We enjoyed some beautifully cooked eggs and bargain bacon butties from their brunch menu with Nude espresso brews on the side. It's worth noting that they stay open late for Italian flatbread pizzas and beers on Fridays & Saturdays. Keep your eyes peeled for special popup food events too from the likes of The Pickled Fork.
We weren't quite ready for a beer (did I just write that?), but they had an impressive 50+ bottle selection on show, and two local rotating beers on tap. You don't see a lot of Southfields-based Rocky Head beers on tap so grab some while you can.
Big shout out to the apologetic woman who shared a desk with us in return for a sticker of an onion.
Highlight : 21 year old Dan loudly exclaiming in a coffee-obsessed joint that he "doesn't get coffee".
A 10 minute walk down Garratt Lane took us to a small industrial state opposite the Wimbledon Greyhound & Stock Car Racing Stadium where By The Horns Brewery lay in wait. If you want to enjoy this stunning view, a homely white picket fence and some fake turf complete with tables sits outside their lot for your enjoyment.
By The Horns open up their taproom on Thursday & Friday evenings from 5pm-10pm and Saturdays from 12pm-6pm, and the bottle shop is open throughout the week when the bar is closed. It's a brilliant little hangout with foosball, a big HD projector and several screens for those of a sporting persuasion - we caught the lacklustre first half of Saints vs Spurs before moving on.
More importantly though, they have up to 9 beers on tap (6 keg, 3 cask) including the occasional guest ale, and prices are very reasonable for London. Samba King Rye Blonde, Mick The Miller Amber, and Stiff Upper Lip Pale all went down a treat. Many more of their beers like Sour To The People and Flapper Double IPA are available in bottle form. Beer sticks and chorizo bombs are behind the bar if you get peckish.
Brewery tours are an option, and there are often events such as comedy nights and seasonal beer launches, so keep an eye on their website - www.bythehorns.co.uk
We strolled over to Tooting Broadway and caught a bus to Balham to reach our third stop, We Brought Beer. It's a wonderful, compact "beer and homebrew general store" with a few seats for drinking in, either from the bottle range or the four growler refill taps on offer, much like at Hop, Burns & Black in East Dulwich (but without the hot sauce and vinyl!). See opening times here.
We enjoyed schooners of Stone Go To IPA and The Kent Gipsy Yuzu from their taps over a friendly game of cards whilst a mix of beer geeks and Balham yuppies dropped in, presumably after brunch at M1lk over the road. Special mention must go to one mother who said to her children aged 4-8, "Just let me know if you see anything you want".
And I thought trips to Sainsbury's with Dad were fun...
Keep an eye on We Brought Beer's website for Meet The Brewer interviews, news on events, and updated beer lists. And don't be surprised if a couple more branches have popped up before the end of the year - I heard mutterings about a move to Battersea Rise...
3 down, 2 to go. We jumped on the tube to Clapham Common where we parted ways with Dan the man before continuing on the 35 to Loughborough Junction. Some form of protest in Brixton hindered our progress, so we continued on foot down a sunny Coldharbour Lane. The oddest moment of the day was most certainly when a full-sized remote controlled wheelie bin appeared in front of us spraying water on unsuspecting members of the public. I'm about 99% certain that actually happened.
Eventually we found our way to The Beer Hive, a co-operative brewery and taproom tucked away in a railway arch on Belinda Road. It was set up recently by Clarskshaws Brewery and London Beer Lab, and more breweries will hopefully join the cooperative over the next few months.
The brewery is currently open for boozing on Saturdays from 12-6pm. It's a fairly basic space at the moment, similar to how several of the Bermondsey breweries started out, but what more do you need than a few tables and chairs (including some ripped out car seats) when there's fresh beer around? Vegan Lauren joined Tim and I to appreciate the vegetarian Clarkshaws brews.
If you have time, you might want to pop in to Brixton Brewery, London Beer Lab, Craft Beer Co. or Crown & Anchor in the Brixton / Stockwell area, and of course there is superb food on offer all over Brixton.
We pressed on, walking towards Camberwell before getting the 42 to Bermondsey. Stormbird in Camberwell and Orbit Brewery off Walworth Road are two more top beer stops en route.
Bermondsey is the beer mecca of South London, with six breweries (at the time of writing!) and The Bottle Shop taproom dotted around railways arches from Tower Bridge to Millwall ("South Bermondsey" if you like).
The newest addition is UBREW, an open brewery and taproom near The Bottle Shop and Anspach & Hobday Brewery where paying members can come and brew their own beer, making use of professional equipment and a community of brewers on site. There are various membership options, starting with a 3 month pass at £75 per month, and plenty of courses to get you up to speed.
The taproom is currently open on Saturdays from 11pm-7pm though that's set to expand soon. They are currently serving a range of guest beers and bottles, but they will hopefully offer beer brewed by members in the future, including a few from the UBREW team themselves. That said, we weren't complaining with kegs from Magic Rock & Tiny Rebel, though rowdy Northerner & List Leader 2013/14 Natalie (raised in a pub) gave the staff quite a talking to on their pint pouring technique.
We sipped our drinks in the open air as closing time approached, bonding with some friendly Spaniards on our table over the use of the conditional perfect tense in a GCSE sentence that I've still got memorised. Si hubria hecho mis deberes, habria ido al cerveceria con mis amigos. A*s and high fives all round.
Expect to see several nano / micro / gypsy / contract / cuckoo (what are we calling them?) breweries coming out of UBREW soon. It looks like Beatnikz Republic might be the first to go commercial with their Farmhouse Hitchhiker NZ Farmhouse Ale amongst other beers as soon as HMRC signs off on the paperwork.
|Wonderful for Beatnikz Republic Generation IPA by Liam Brazier|
THAT'S ALL FOLKS.
5 points to Tim. 3 to Dan. 1 to Lauren. 1 to Natalie.