24 January 2016

Mondo Brewing Company - Battersea

Six West Berkshire based beer enthusiasts headed to South London on Saturday 16 January. Blog posts by London Beer Guide and Matthew Curtis Total Ales inspired us to visit Mondo Brewing Company in Battersea.
Having visited Brixton Brewery and Bullfinch Brewery at Herne Hill earlier in the day we arrived at Wandsworth Road station by Overground train in the late afternoon. Leaving the station we turned right and walked along Wandsworth Road past McDonald's.
Amesbury & Durrington - Westbury Estate
We turned left into Stewarts Road and walked 300 metres to reach Mondo Brewing Company at 86-92 Stewarts Road. There was a view of the sun setting behind two tower blocks on the Westbury Estate as we neared the brewery.
Unlike the two breweries, situtated underneath railway arches, which we had visited earlier, Mondo Brewing Company has an industrial building as its home. The taproom is situated on the ground floor with security windows made from glass blocks.
The leather seated bar stools are comfortable to sit on and the large tables are ideal for groups like ours.
The oak barrel tables near to the bar, the polished floor and industrial style metal lampshades are other noticeable design features in the taproom.
A wide choice of beer styles was clearly listed on the board near the bar. The columns list ABV and price in £s for 1/2 pint, 2/3 pint and 1 pint.
Our party chose half pint glasses in order to sample as many beers as possible. My first beer was Rider APA (4.6% ABV) served in a distinctively shaped branded glass. Mondo Brewing Company branded beer mats are also provided in the taproom.
From our table we could see through a full height window into the brewery itself. The glass block taproom windows are reflected in the window separating the taproom from the brewery. This was a Saturday so there was no visible activity in the brewery itself.
(Photo: Chris Reynolds)
The state of the art bottling machinery is also visible through the window from the taproom.
(Photo: Chris Reynolds)
My second beer at Mondo Brewing Co was Queenstown APA (5% ABV), another refreshing pale ale.
There wasn't time to taste all the beers so I bought 330 ml bottles of Kemosabe IPA (6.4% ABV)  and London Alt (4.8% ABV) from the tall fridge beside the bar to take home. Columbus, Cascade and Centennial hops are used for brewing Kemosabe. London Alt is a Dusseldorf style 'old' ale with a sweet malt character balanced with a floral aroma from the Spalt hops. The bottles have a distinctive smoothly curved shape which match the branded glasses.
Look out for framed original paintings in the taproom and on the staircase to the toilets on the first floor.
The spotlit artworks are another visible example of the care taken by Mondo Brewing Company over all aspects of the business.

Mondo Brewing Company, 86 Stewarts Road, Battersea, London SW8 4UG
Website: www.mondobrewingcompany.com 
Tel: 0207 720 0782
Twitter: @mondobrewing

The Tap House - Opening Hours (copied from website 24/1/2016. Phone to confirm current hours)
Monday & Tuesday     Closed
Wednesday - Friday    17:00 - 23:00
Saturday                      12:00 - 23:00 (NB: Winter opening at 14:00)
Sunday                        12:00 - 18:00 (NB: Winter closed on Sundays)
Blog posts which include more information about the founders, brewhouse, beers and taproom:

Leighton Smith blog post for London Beer Guide - The Mondo Tap House: one of London's best brewery taprooms www.londonbeerguide.co.uk/2016/01/the-mondo-tap-house-one-of-londons-best.html

Matthew Curtis blog post about Mondo Brewing Company, Battersea and UK Craft Beer's Second Wave www.totalales.co.uk/blog/2016/1/2/mondo-brewing-company-battersea-and-uk-craft-beers-second-wave 

22 January 2016

Bullfinch Brewery taproom - Herne Hill

Six West Berkshire based beer enthusiasts headed to South London on Saturday 16 January.
Having seen A London Beer and Pub Guide tweet that listed Bullfinch Brewery as one of the top three new London taprooms in 2015, the Herne Hill based taproom was part of our itinerary.
After visiting Brixton Brewery shortly after opening time at noon, we headed to Bullfinch Brewery in Herne Hill by alternative routes. 
Brixton station
Tim used his travelcard to catch the Victoria to Sevenoaks train from Brixton station. Herne Hill was the first stop on this service which operates every 15 minutes on Saturdays. The others walked to Herne Hill.
From Herne Hill station it is a short walk down Norwood Road, beside Brockwell Park, until a left turn into Rosendale Road leads you to Bullfinch Brewery, located under railway arches. The taproom is in arch 887.
The unit may not look open from the road but if the gates are open and the blackboard is outside then the Bullfinch Brewery taproom is open with access through a door within the blue roller shutters.
A blackboard next to the arch shows the taproom opening hours (subject to change).
On a clear, cold day, we decided to sit inside the taproom and not on the benches outside.
Inside, it was not much warmer than outside yet so we kept our coats on and ordered from the range of beers which included keg and cask options.
Keg beers are competitively priced at £4.50 pint with cask beers at £4 pint. My first half was Luna (4% ABV), a light pale ale, served in a tulip shaped glass. After this refreshing beer it was time for a half of Milou (6% ABV) a zingy saison.
Milou - Saison
Apart from a busy photographer we were the first arrivals at the taproom and spread ourselves around the picnic tables set up inside.
The tables were laid with hessian cloths and the bench seats were covered by strips of blanket.
The taproom is lit by strings of bulbs suspended overhead. It was soon time to return to the bar which has an illuminated lettered sign and original artwork of the 'horned' bullfinch adjacent.
On the other side of the bar is a display of bottles and snacks. One or Two pint take away containers are available.
I took the opportunity to deliver some copies of Ullage, the West Berkshire CAMRA magazine. Rascal (4.8% ABV), a session APA, was my final beer at the Bullfinch Brewery taproom.
Rascal is currently hopped with Kazbek, Simcoe, Ahtanum and Columbus hops.
Rascal is one of the beers available in 330ml bottles along with Empire (7% ABV) a Transatlantic IPA hopped with English (Target) and American (Ahtanum) hops, Wolf (5.8% ABV) an American Pale Ale and RyPA (5.8% ABV) a full flavoured Rye IPA.
Ryan McLean with Ullage
Before leaving there was time to buy some bottles to take away and have a chat with Ryan. I was able to hand him a copy of Ullage and pass on greetings to him from Andy Parker (Elusive Brewing) who knew him from the days when Bullfinch Brewery used to operate from a railway arch on the Bermondsey 'beer mile'.
The next stop on our tour of South London taprooms would be Mondo Brewing Co in Battersea. We caught a 68 bus from Norwood Road to Denmark Hill and then an Overground train from Denmark Hill (photo) to Wandsworth Road station.

Bullfinch Brewery, Arch 886 / 887, Rosendale Rd, London SE24 9EH
Phone: 0789 9795823
Website: www.thebullfinchbrewery.co.uk 
Twitter: @Bullfinch_Ale

Taproom details from Bullfinch Brewery website (22/1/2016):

Our tap room is open every Friday, Saturday & Sunday and is in the adjacent arch to the brewery.

We have 12 taps featuring our core range of beers plus our experimental and exclusive editions, we also have guest beers from our favourite local breweries.

We are dog and kid friendly.

The tap room hours are:

Friday 16:00-22:00
Saturday 13:00-22:00
Sunday 13:00-22:00

Please note we are in a residential area and kindly ask our patrons to be respectful of our neighbours.

18 January 2016

Brixton Brewery

Six Berkshire based beer enthusiasts headed to London on Saturday 16 January with the intention of visiting Craft Beer Co in Brixton, Bullfinch Brewery taproom and Mondo Brewing Co taproom.
We arrived at Brixton tube station at noon and paid our tributes at the David Bowie mural on Tunstall Road, opposite. We did not visit 40 Stansfield Road, his childhood home, on this occasion.
After crossing Brixton Road again we walked under the railway bridge and turned right into Brixton Station Road. We found that the Brixton Craft Beer Co branch was closed.
Richard suggested we visit Brixton Brewery instead so we walked past Brixton Recreation Centre and along Brixton Station Road with its Jamaica Patty stalls and grocers with all kinds of fruit and vegetables on display.
We soon arrived at Brixton Brewery which is located in a railway arch (number 547) and pushed through the transparent plastic curtain flaps to enter.
The taproom had just reopened after a winter break and we had a choice of benches and tables to sit at. After perusing the list of beers we chose half pints from the list which included Reliance Pale Ale, Atlantic APA, Effra Ale and Megawatt Double IPA.
On our visit, beers were priced at £2 for 1/2 pint and £4 for a pint. Most beers were served from keykegs with a cask option for Megawatt.
Now we could sit down and enjoy our first taste of beers brewed only a few feet away. My first half was a refreshing Reliance Pale Ale (4.2% ABV) named after the nearby Reliance Arcade.
The taproom area at the brewery is quite basic with a concrete floor. White panels against the walls and underside of the arch make the environment quite bright.
The taproom area near to the entrance had a variety of basket style lampshades and colourful pendant flags to add some style to the utilitarian surroundings.
Different colourways of the Brixton lettering are used to distinguish the beers making the labels colourful.
My second half was Atlantic APA (5.4% ABV) an American Pale Ale brewed with Citra, Galaxy and Simcoe hops to give some tropical fruit flavours. Brixton Market started on Atlantic Road in the 1870s and lends its name for this beer.
While we were drinking we noticed that brewing activity was going on with some dry hopping by Sam from the top of a gantry.
When he had finished this job, Sam came over to talk to us and kindly offered me a sample of the Megawatt Double IPA (8% ABV). This was originally brewed to commemorate the first hundredth brew. It is now an annual release in December. The 2015 release uses Galaxy, Centennial, Equinox and Falconer's Flight hops. We learned from Sam that most of the brewery's beer is bottled but that cask and keg sales are increasing as word spreads about the quality of their beer.
Before leaving I purchased two bottles to take away - Lupolo Pale Ale (4.5% ABV) and Electric IPA (6.5% ABV) .These are keenly priced at £2.50 each (330ml). Lupolo Pale Ale is produced exclusively for DF/Mexico and Wahaca Brixton. Electric IPA, named after nearby Electric Avenue which was one of the first roads to be lit by electricity, is an American IPA brewed using Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo hops.
Brixton railway station is closer to the brewery than the tube station and is served by trains from London Victoria to Sevenoaks.

Brixton Brewery, Arch 547, Brixton Station Road, London SW9 8PF
Tel. 020 3609 8880
The brewery is usually open on Saturdays from 12-5pm. Beer is sold to drink in or take-away. Please check twitter for weekly opening times.
Website: www.brixtonbrewery.com