12 June 2016

Bermondsey Beer Mile

It might be worth avoiding Millwall FC home games when picking a Saturday to visit brewery taprooms and beer bars along the 'Bermondsey Beer Mile'. We started our trail from South Bermondsey station, one stop from London Bridge on the Southern Railway network. This station also serves The Den, Millwall FC's football ground.


Fourpure Brewing Co was the biggest of the brewery taps we visited and was not constricted by the dimensions of a railway arch. However, there are several railway arches to walk under before we reached the premises at Bermondsey Trading Estate on Saturday 11 June, 2016.
 Details of beers are displayed on a flat screen. There is a feed for Twitter, Untappd and Four Square in the top section of the screen. Most draught beers were priced at £3 for 2/3 pint goblet glass or £4 for a straight pint glass.
With several staff behind the bar, service was prompt.
Cans were also on sale from a tall fridge, priced at £2 per can or 6 for £10 (June 2016).
Mike, Tim, Richard and Sam at Fourpure Taproom
I enjoyed 2/3 pint of Shape Shifter West Coast IPA dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Centennial. Before leaving, a can of Skyliner wheat beer brewed with Fourpure's house American ale yeast was also purchased.
Fourpure beer mats include the tagline 'Inspired by Adventure' and it was nice to see that the brewery organises a related speaker series. Mark Hines was one of the adventurers to be featured at a June 2016 event together with short adventure films curated by Sidetracked.


Partizan Brewing is located under railway arches in Almond Road. Here we found a smaller range of beers but a bigger choice of saisons with both a Lemongrass and a Raspberry / Lemon saison available.
 Draught beers were served in 2/3 pint goblets with most priced at £3. My saison had a recognisable raspberry flavour and some red in its colour. It was a beer suited to sipping rather than quaffing.
There was no queue at the bar and room for drinkers inside and outside at tables edging the service road.
Soon after we arrived, a torrential downpour drove the outside drinkers inside and the heavy rain gave us something to wonder at!
Partizan labels are boldly colourful and framed artwork on the wall reflected this style.


Before the rain stopped completely we made a refreshing dash for the EEbria taproom, just a few arches further along Almond Road.
As a drinks distributor they do not brew on the premises but there is a bar with draught keg beers served in disposable plastic glasses priced at £2 per 1/3 pint, £3.50 per 2/3 pint and £5 pint (June 2016).
The premises do not need to be as big as a warehouse because the bar is a showcase for more than 100 craft brewers that have agreements with EeBria. Customers ordering online via EeBria receive beer direct from the brewers.
Jayne, Mike, Richard and Sam at EeBria Taproom
On some Saturdays, a single brewery will takeover the taps but on our visit there was a variety of breweries featured and I enjoyed Boardwalk, a Transatlantic pale ale brewed with English malt and American hops, from The Kiln Brewery based in Burgess Hill.
Two towers - Lucey Way, near Dockley Road
Walking along Lucey Way on the way to our next brewery, we passed a tall water tower beside the railway which is said to date from the 1960s. The Shard at London Bridge was also visible from this and many other points of our walk today.

Brew by Numbers

'Drink In' queue at Brew by Numbers
We met our first and only queue at Brew by Numbers. Perhaps this is because it is only a short distance from Bermondsey tube station on the Jubilee Line.
A £3 deposit is needed for the stylish 2/3 pint glasses. To redeem the deposit you were allowed to go straight to the other side of the bar which also deals with take away bottles.
While queuing we passed a framed poster showing the design of the Brew by Numbers brewhouse. Soft drink and dairy vessels were converted to create the bespoke 12 barrel brewhouse. Volunteers helped with the cladding and banding of the vessels.
The draught beer here was not any cheaper than at other brewery taps (£3 for 2/3 pint in June 2016). Perhaps we arrived at the wrong time or more staff are needed to cope with demand?
I enjoyed 'Session 4' a collaboration beer brewed with Brasserie de la Senne of Brussels and launched in the UK on Friday 10 June, 2016 at the taproom. The hoppy 4% session pale ale is brewed with wheat, Saaz and New Zealand Motueka hops.
 All kinds of businesses operate from the railway arches including car valeters and garages. We passed a scooter business on the way to the next taproom.

Anspach & Hobday

Sam had found Anspach & Hobday (A&H) overcrowded on a previous visit but there was no queue when we reached there so we made it our fifth refreshment stop.
I was pleasantly surprised by a half pint of The Cream Ale (5.2% ABV). This American style is a cross between a Pale and a lager. The smooth character comes from a small amount of corn. The A&H version is hopped with Japanese Sorachi Ace and the brewery is the only one in London to regularly brew this style.
The other A&H beers available were The Patersbier (3.7% ABV), The Hoppy Brown Ale (5.1% ABV), The Irish Dry Stout (4.1% ABV) and The Summer Fruit Saison (4.7% ABV).
Beer prices range from £2 for a third pint to £5.50 for a pint. Also available on draught were Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier - Märzen from Brauerei Schlenkerla (Bamberg), Estivale from Brasserie Artisanale de Rulles (Belgium) and Münchner Hell from Paulaner (Munich).
From our seats near the entrance we noticed a sign showing that the taproom is open on Friday evenings and during the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays.
Further inside the arched space some impressive new brewing vessels were visible.
On a table near the bar, a free copy of Open Pen, a short fiction magazine was available. A&H and Partizan are both outlets for this monthly literary magazine which is also available from independent bookshops.
I swapped my copy of Ullage, the West Berkshire CAMRA magazine for Open Pen.



Our sixth visit was to the only brewery tap with cask ales served by handpump. Southwark Brewing Co 'Modern recipes - Traditionally brewed' is located at 46 Druid Street, not far from London Bridge rail and underground stations.
There are four handpumps on either side of a keg font serving Pale Ale.
Left Side of bar
I enjoyed a half pint of Full Sail - Spring Pale Ale (4.5% ABV) - 'with floral and citrus aromas from Ahtanum and Mosaic hops'. Other cask ales included LPA (London Pale Ale), Harvard American Pale Ale and Maltby Street Mild named after Maltby Street Market, a nearby street food market that stretches along Ropewalk.
Right side of bar
We had hoped to visit some pubs or bars in and around Borough Market beyond London Bridge station, before heading back to Newbury but decided to leave that until another day in order to get back to Berkshire in time for the England v Russia game of the European Championship.

Thanks to everyone at the places we visited for serving us with good beer. Thanks also to Sam Williams for organising this trip.

Follow the links in the text for further details of the brewery taps etc.

05 June 2016


It was nice to get a room with a view of the bay at the Margate Premier Inn for our first visit to the town (Thursday 28 April - Saturday 30 April). Situated near the railway station and with a free car park, the hotel is convenient for both rail travellers and motorists. We had driven from Hastings via Rye and Canterbury.
This visit was about culture as well as beer so the Turner Contemporary was our first destination.
Turner Contemporary & Visitor Information Centre
With free admission and located on the site where Joseph Mallord William Turner used to stay when he visited the town on a steamer from London, a visit to the world-class art gallery should not be missed. The gallery cafe overlooking the bay is also recommended.
 A walk along the elevated harbour walkway took us to the end where there are steps down to the access road running past the sheltered units looking back at the town.

The Harbour Arms

The Harbour Arms is located in one of these units and is open all day so we were able to find our first beer in the appropriately nautical surroundings.
Seating outside must get well used in summer months but we stayed inside on this occasion and enjoyed the variety of furnishings and decor.
Originally, two fishermen's sheds, the micropub was opened by Carole Lane in May 2013. We chatted with Tony at the bar who moved to Margate from Northumberland three years previously. He told us that it was the 25th micropub to open in the country and there is a music jam night on Mondays.
There is a flat rate pricing system with all ciders and ales at £3.20 pint. I enjoyed half pints of G2 Brewing (Ashford, Kent) Otava IPA 4.4% ABV and Caveman Brewery (Swanscombe, Kent) Shatkora 5.5% ABV with lime and ginger notes. 
There is a good view of the town from the harbour arm with the Turner Contemporary on the left (east) and Arlington House, an 18 storey tower block, on the right (west).

Lifeboat Ale and Cider House

Previously a winebar, the Lifeboat Ale and Cider House at 1 Market Street was established in May 2010.
Lifeboat Ale & Cider House is the corner building at far right of Market Place
We visited the small pub, perhaps a micropub, on a Thursday lunchtime. Sawdust on the wooden floorboards is one of the first things to notice on entering the Lifeboat.
There is a small bar in the front room with wooden stools for customers.
Beer orders are met by a visit to the cooled casks on a wooden stillage wall which separates the front room from an area behind where ciders are also kept.
This was a good opportunity to sample The Ramsgate Brewery Gadds' No 7, a Kentish pale bitter ale.
Some historical pictures and posters on the walls included one for Cobb & Co's Margate Ales. Whitbread acquired the brewery in 1968 and closed it the same year.
We would visit the Lifeboat's sister pub, the Chapel, in Broadstairs later in the day.



Philip Evans is the man behind the Fez micropub in Margate, which opened in December 2015. If you are lucky you will find him wearing a fez!
As soon as we walked inside I knew this would be my ideal local pub. Located at 40 High Street, it is just behind Marine Drive on the sea front and next to the Bay Restaurant & Bar of the Sands Hotel.
The golden Bass sign in the front side window caught Martin Taylor's eye after it was featured in a tweet but my fellow beer blogger was disappointed to discover that the micropub does not actually serve Bass.
However it does serve a fine selection of changing ales sourced from AVS Wines & Beers Ltd of Gravesend, Kent. Beers and Ciders were only £3 pint (April 2016).
I enjoyed a half pint of Tonbridge Brewery Golden Rule. Other beers were from Grafton Brewing Ltd (Worksop) and Acorn Brewery (Barnsley).
Some of the seating is at ground level. A stereogram is inside one bay window and Phil has a collection of LPs dating from the 1960s to play on it.
Phil reading 'Ullage' from a raised seat in the Fez
Storage space underneath is created by having platforms for raised seating on both sides of the room. This also has the advantage for conversations that people standing in the middle of the room are at a similar height to those seated on the sides.
View from raised seat at a high table
Candles are lit at dusk. There are also fairy lights and various illuminated signs.
You'll find the toilet behind the door with a 'Sprinkler Stop Valve' sign underneath the large Ansell's sign. A red or green light above the door indicates whether it is currently occupied or not.
The antique cash register atop the fairground style bar cannot process payment cards so bring cash to the Fez to avoid disappointment.
Permanent wave machine
Any lover of kitsch will enjoy the surroundings. As well as brewery paraphernalia and fez related items there are a number of unusual objects on display. Phil has a background in design and was happy to answer questions about these including a machine once used by hairdressers for giving a 'perm'.
Art by Angela Malone
Phil supports local artists and during our visit there were artworks by Angela Malone on display.
Meg didn't find it easy to get me out of the Fez but the promise of a return visit the next day did the trick.
The Friday visit was at lunchtime when there were fewer people in the micropub than on the  Thursday evening and we had a chance to chat with Phil and enjoy a personal demonstration of the stereogram in it's expanded glory.
After an afternon visit to Broadstairs we eventually returned to the Fez for a third and final visit on the Friday night when the subdued lighting transformed the look of the interior. It was a relief to find the micropub undamaged after worries about smoke, possibly from building work below, earlier in the day.
The beer range had changed and Rooster's Brewing Co (Knaresborough) Buckeye and Pig & Porter (Tunbridge Wells) Dance First Stout were now listed. Both beers were sampled and found to be in superb condition.
After the closing bell was rung at 10.30pm it was sadly time to leave Fez for the third and last time.
I look forward to a return visit to the Fez, in my opinion a good enough reason on its own to visit Margate.
The Tudor House, Margate
There are further reasons to visit Margate though, including Vortigern Gallery, the Shell Grotto and the Tudor House. There are also other good pubs and micropubs to visit in Margate and neighbouring Westgate-on-Sea so a return visit will be made sooner rather than later.