For my husband's birthday he wanted to try out the beer mile he'd heard lots about. The route, which is actually 1.5 miles, runs along back alleys, takes you into industrial estates and across housing estates but if you are willing to risk some slightly dark and unlit routes you will find some hidden brewery gems.
As I'm off the booze he very kindly offered to write a guest post on the blog about the drinks he had along the way!
We started the Beer mile at the Bermondsey end getting off at Surrey Quays station.
Using a map you can download here , Google have handily overlaid all the pubs/breweries along the route making it a lot easier to get around.
Starting out with just three musketeers we walked up to an industrial estate and with no obvious signs pointing to the brewery we wandered, cold and sober hoping to catch a glimpse of light or sound that would signal we'd found the first stop on our tour.
Four pure brewery
Hidden at the end of the industrial estate after passing under a railway tunnel we finally found Four Pure Brewery. The interior was very functional, you were basically standing in the brewery itself with benches and a bar set up for the evening's trade. Live music and 16 drink choices gave it an atmosphere and made up for its rough and ready appearance. There was a food stall selling pork and burgers outside which we didn't partake in, as we had only just started. The punters seemed like they had been there for a while or possibly done the Beer mile in the opposite direction.
Prices ranged but were on average £4.50 a pint, 50p a coke.
Leigh - Sunset Ridge, Tangerine session IPA. Hoppy, fruity but not too much hop. Quite refreshing. Could have a couple easily.
Beth - Pils lager. Tastes like lager.
Cara - Coca Cola. Very fizzy. Sugary.
Back in the cold and back on the main road we searched for our second stop, Partizan Brewery. It was quite hard to find as it was very inconspicuously built under a railway arch. We actually walked past it as it didn't look like a brewery, or even open for that matter. There was no outside seating area which might have helped us find it, but it is December so we'll have to see in the summer. Two more people joined our merry band at this stage as we headed inside. Once inside, there were notes of B&Q as we were treated to the smell of new wood, possibly giving away that it had undergone a recent renovation. There were fresh, unpainted wooden benches and lean to's to enjoy 8 beers on. The pumps they had installed on the bar at the back look quite friendly, like they came out of a toy box. It was quite a big space which was noticeable, as there were not as many people in tonight as there were in Four Pure. For entertainment there was a bit of background music but no live band so a lot less lively.
We were not sure if this was just because they were low on beer, or they always do this, but they were only selling beer in 2/3 pints. It was £3 per 2/3rd and the staff were able to give recommendations if you didn't know what to choose.
Leigh Porter. 4.7% so less heavy than the stout on offer. Chocolate notes but not too much. A little smoky but quite drinkable. Could have got away with a full pint if they'd done them.
Beth - X-Ale. From Yorkshire so guest ale at Partisan. Apparently it was based on a recipe from the 1800s. It tasted and smelt very Christmas spice-like and fruity.
Caras- Kombucka. As they didn't have any soft drinks in, the barman recommended Kombucka, a less than 0.5% fermented tea. It was reminiscent of a fizzy cider which Cara quite enjoyed and quite fruity even though it was a tea. Apparently contains a probiotic culture so it would be good for people on a January detox.
Mike and Lydia- IPA Citra. 6.5% Fruity IPA, it was supposedly the lightest beer on offer but far from it. But it had a fruity smell and nice orange colour.
Infinity Brewery - Closed
The Kernel - Closed
The Bottle Shop
After a bit of a walk, made longer by the fact that some of the breweries were closed at 8pm, we eventually arrived at The Bottle Shop.
It was not a brewery as far as I could tell but a massive selection of bottled beers with 12 beers on tap and another 8 upstairs, you could be there for days and probably (definitely) not try everything. They had a food stall outside so we got pork, chips and gravy, which was a great way to combat the 6.5% IPA I had. Really tasty, if a little expensive at £7.50 although the gravy was to die for! I would have drank a pint of that on it's own!
Leigh- Wave. A 6.5% IPA, very hoppy. I found such a hoppy pint at this stage a bit of a struggle.
Beth - Also had the Wave recommended as its the most popular by the barman.
Cara- Strawberry Soda, Hackney. Very strawberry-y and bitty but that meant you could tell it was made with real fruit, and a welcome change from drinking Coke all the time as a pregnant lady.
Mike and Lydia - Thistle Cross Cider. With 3 Ciders to choose from, they went with the original, to combat all the IPA's they had been drinking so far.
Hawkes Cidery and Taproom
Out we went again and luckily less than 100m down the road from The Bottle Shop we hit the Hawkes Cidery and Taproom which with its well lit signage and bar looked inviting from the outside. The decor wouldn't be misplaced in the Industrial Zone from the Crystal Maze and the pumping music gave it a good atmosphere and it was a cool place to be. With over 10 ciders and pizzas on the menu, Cara said she would like to come here for her 30th - being a lover of a good pizza and cider. They also were selling freshly made cider doughnuts which we just had to try. No filling but tasted like a very good apple doughnut with a cinnamon hit.
Leigh - Hawkes Soul Trader. A light coloured cider it was quite sweet but a refreshing change after the heavy, hoppy IPA from the place before.
Cara - Apple Juice. Very cloudy and very appley the closest thing to a cider Cara could get.
Mike and Lydia. Hawkes Urban Orchard. I've seen this cider make the rounds in a few pubs , so good to try it straight from the horse's mouth. Medium dry and made with champagne yeast apparently! Familiar cidery taste. Nice and refreshing. Not too strong, not too weak. A causal cider.
Beth: Hawkes own lager. The only lager in the Cidery but a refreshing pint none-the-less.
Another 100 metres down the road we went from the Industrial zone to the Ocean Zone as we entered Doodle bar, the interior covered with portholes and other nautical paraphernalia. But the main attraction was towards the back of the bar, where all the walls were covered with blackboards and punters were allowed to grab a chalk and get drawing. I wonder if the blackboards are erased every night, or if it is constantly changing as people make space for there own or edit others creations. The 'Art' as you might expect from people drinking and being able to draw whatever they want, tends to be towards the crude end of the spectrum. Back at the bar, there were a lots of beers to choose from, from a variety of places as well as a few of their own house beers.
Leigh - Longboard IPA - An American IPA that I have had in L.A before. Served on tap it is fizzy and hoppy - but not too much, so therefore quite a good session beer and it's become quite common around the country so you can keep going back to it.
Mike and Lydia - Hawkes Urban Orchard - The same cider as in the Hawkes Cidery, but they had to pay a pound extra for it to be shipped all the way from 100 meters down the road.
Cara - Coke, see previous
Beth - Doodle's own lager - Very drinkable.
And that was where we finished our tour. We then spent the rest of the night trying to find somewhere that was still open or would let us in. I had a great time and would recommend it to people to try if they want to sample a lot of different beers at a time. It would definitely be something to do in the summer as the Breweries will probably be open longer. There will be more people and it's lighter for longer, rather than traipsing around on a dark cold wet December night. I would also recommend starting earlier as some of the smaller ones tend to close at 8pm but this may be different in the summer.