The Bermondsey Beer Mile is a series of breweries (and taprooms) stretching along the archways of an area most celebrated for Maltby Street Market. Beers are local, artisanal and most are entirely vegan. If you’re into beer, you’re probably already planning your visit, but if you’re not we’re hoping to convince you that it is worth a visit.
Our friend, journalist and beer aficionado, Tan Morgul has been trying to entice us down to sample some of his favourites along the mile for some time and we finally found an excuse (thanks to good friends visiting from Dubai) to devote a Saturday afternoon to sampling our way around the arches.
We are told that as early as 2009, small brewers started taking up residence in the industrial spaces under the railway tracks, and it has been growing organically ever since. Today, the breweries stretch for almost two miles, making this hardly a secret destination, but still one that many craft beer fans have yet to discover. What we like about these breweries is their approach to organic (and vegan) brewing techniques and that they are helping change the way we think about local production by using great and interesting, local ingredients. And good news if you don’t drink beer, there are a few non-beer options along the way, but when it’s all over you might just be converted beer drinker.
Below we share some of the tour highlights (in route order), where we sampled, all of which are vegan. It is advised to restrict yourself to half a pint in each location (and even share that between 2-3 people) as there is lots to taste as you walk.
Start by grabbing a bite to eat at Maltby Street Market to fuel your journey and line your stomach. We opted for the Cheese Truck, but there are also loads of vegan goodies available on the street.
A spacious area with tables and benches inviting you to sample their beers where they are brewed. On the day we visited it was quite crowded so our visit was very brief and we tasted their Session IPA.
Never a fan of cider until we tried Doom & Bloom, a rose cider that tastes and feels more like a wine. It’s made out of dessert apples and mixed with rhubarb and strawberries. Despite this, it manages to taste crisp and not overly sweet. These guys are taking cider to new and exciting places. We will definitely be on the lookout for Hawkes products in our local shops. They also run cider making workshops in their taproom that are worth checking out.
A gin distillery our guide and friend, Tan insisted we squeeze into our walk. And, he was right. Jensen’s was the cleanest gin that we ever tasted and mixed with locally produced tonic made the perfect G&T. The only bottle we purchased during our tour was a bottle of Jensen’s Old Tom, which is a gin sweetened by botanicals (like liquorice) rather than added sugar.
Next stop was Anspach & Hobday to try their Bretted Rye Pale. Expect the unexpected flavours from these guys. And some really good looking bottles.
At this point we are starting to get teeny bit tipsy, when Tan tells us the story of an American couple, living in Germany who then move to London to start Moor Beer Company. They also are behind the unfined beer movement in the UK, believing that adding fish filings to beer has negative impact on its quality. Try Claudia, a hoppy wheat beer with tasting notes of banana and lemon with hints of herbal and citrus.
Another popular location on the tour with the most stylish taproom, which didn’t go unnoticed considering the industrial surrounds lacking in heating and toilets, and great branding. Of course, here, the highlight is always the beer. Don’t hesitate to ask loads of questions, the staff are very happy to help.
No filings or other additives are used here and all beer is canned by hand! It doesn’t get more artisanal than this.
Not sure whether it was because this was the last stop on our tour or because we fell in love with the taps, but their Lemon & Thyme Saison was the beer of the day. Very light and zesty we couldn’t help but down a full pint while enjoying some good music.
Bermondsey definitely is becoming a haven for people who like food and drink. And not only are these breweries and distilleries producing great things to drink, but also doing more for the environment, helping to revitalise the local community, and making drinking beer a bit more interesting.
For more details of the tour and when to visit, contact Tan Morgul.