Crawling #1: The Bermondsey Beer Mile
Hello, gentle reader, and welcome to a new concept column I’ve come up with. Basically, I’m going to be writing about pub crawls. Before we get stuck into this, I don’t encourage this level of alcohol consumption on a regular basis. Please drink responsibly and if you have a problem then seek help. The idea was that we’d cover a lot of pubs and have lots of little drinkies. It didn’t quite work out like that. This was done over two days; May 7 and 8. A Saturday and Sunday. We did it over two days because 1. trying to do all of it in one whack is stupid and 2. some of the places have limited opening hours and some don’t open on Sundays at all.
So, what is the Bermondsey Beer Mile? Well, it’s a stretch of tap rooms, breweries and pubs that run alongside the train tracks in Bermondsey. Most of them are in the arches under the train tracks themselves. In spite of hitting the mile for two days we still didn’t do all of it. We also had a few deviations where we’ve just wandered off and did something else. Alcohol eh? Bloody typical.
PUB #1: The Blackfriar
Right, immediately you may notice something amiss. The Blackfriar is nowhere near the beer mile*. This was our meeting spot ahead of going to the football on Saturday. The Blackfriar is a wonderful old boozer, with an incredible ceiling out the back. The detailing is magnificent. I could have sat in there all day just looking at the ceiling. The beer was a Skylab by Dark Star Brewing. It was on cask and was very dry and hoppy. I kinda liked it and went ***¼
*1.4 miles to be exact, from here to the Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen
Seeing as we had a little time before the train we also got in a half of Fruju by Big Smoke Brew Co. It’s a New England IPA and basically just tasted like fruit juice. *¾. This is the lowest rating I gave out all weekend. Let’s meet our crawlers! Mike Kilby is the co-host of the Groundhoppers Guide, the groundhopping show we do on YouTube. I’m far left, Kilby is next to me. Then it’s Carsmile Steve. He’s got like 4000+ beers tapped and is a veteran of the pub/craft beer scene. On the right of him is Lewis aka Welshie, who is also joining us for a few beverages and didn’t get the ‘bring a beard’ memo. Not pictured but also here was Tobi who joined us for the half. We all pile out of the Blackfriar and into Blackfriars station to go to Dulwich because we’re watching a football game as well today. I’ve already done that column so go and read it to fill in the blanks.
Adventures in Football #52: Champion Hill (Dulwich Hamlet FC) – Arn’s Wrestling Reviews (arnoldfurious.com)
PUB #2: Champion Hill
Champion Hill is Dulwich Hamlet’s ground. So we’re three beers in and not gotten anywhere near the actual beer mile. It’s impressive. At Champion Hill I sup on a Peckham Pale Ale. It’s a pleasant enough experience. ***½. The game was a bit dead. After the match we hop on a rail replacement bus, which takes us to Bermondsey. Steve goes for some smokes and we walk from where the bus drops us to Partizan Brewing, which is the first pub on the actual mile. I’d been to this area a few weeks ago, when I went to Millwall, and decided we had to do a pub crawl. Well, it happened in surprisingly fast time. I’m not normally that organised. Someone mentioned beer and it just all came together.
PUB #3: Partizan Brewing
Mike asks if it’s “Partizan Brewing like Partizan Belgrade”. Yes, yes it is.
Partizan Brewing is the first of many gaffs that look basically the same. Plugged into the archways under the train tracks. Corrugated roof and lots of raw wooden surfaces. The brewery itself is in the back. So, what you’re getting is fresh. Keir turns up at this point. I’ve not seen him for years and he’s lost a tonne of weight. He dropped weight to get married. That’s happened too. What a change two years makes. Keir is a Chelsea fan and was at the game. They drew 2-2 and Wolves scored in the 90+7’ so he’s pissed off. He’s also managed to smash five pints at the game and is already wrecked. He’s doing a ‘I don’t like you’ pose here to try and hide how overjoyed he is to see me. On the beer front I have a porter and foolishly order a pint. It’s habit. Steve, experienced Untappd man, orders 2/3rds. The world I’m from these measurements don’t exist. Anyway, it’s good. ***½ .
PUB #4: EeBria Taproom
Under the tracks for our next stop; EeBria. They have some interesting stuff in the fridges and I convince Keir to buy a £12 bottle from Vault City. It’s rhubarb, maple and something. He gives it five stars on Untappd. I had a Vault City recently and it was fucking great. Watch for the name. EeBria is a bit weird. The seats are all old kegs and that’s about as comfortable as you’d expect. EeBria is one of the places that doesn’t open on Sunday so that’s why we’ve gone to the ‘wrong end’ of the Mile. We meet a lot of drunk people who started at the other end and are now twatted. EeBria goes from empty to full in about ten minutes. It’s around 6.30pm. I sensibly switch to a half in here and get the Full Circle Brewing “Rotator”. It’s a NEIPA. I didn’t even realise. **½.
PUB #5: Spartan Brewery
Spartan was visible from EeBria so we could see it had just stopped being busy. There was a stag do coming down from there. Spartan might be the smallest venue of the day. Inside there’s a toilet (just the one) and a geezer behind a tiny bar. We order ourselves some Son of Zeus from Spartan Brewery. It’s a light mild. I prefer my milds dark to be honest but it was nice. ***½.
Keir’s level of drunkenness has gotten to the point where Mike decides to walk him back to the train station. Throughout our time at Spartan Keir has been telling me that he loves me and wouldn’t mind if I wanted to shag him up the arse. He also accidentally hits me in the nuts and stands there with his legs apart wanting me to give him a receipt. We learn that Frankie Phraser, who was going to join us, gave up because he couldn’t get on the Tube because it was full of Chelsea fans. I’m sad to miss him, having missed him the last time I tried to grab a pint with him. Next time Franco!
PUB #6: The Outpost – Three Hills Brewing
My Untappd journey began in 2019 and somehow I’ve tapped 999 beers since then. At the Outpost I prepared for #1000. Steve goes ahead (it’s literally next door, we haven’t actually changed seats) and gets me a Sticky Stout, which is 11%, marvellous and an ideal beer to take me to the 1k. ****½. It’s legitimately awesome but even a half is probably too big a measure at that percentage. It doesn’t taste strong either, which is worrying.
Thanks to Tobi for the photo here!
We also go a bit wrong and have another beer in here. Basically, because there’s a lot happening. We’re all out of beer drinking sync. James turns up! He’s out with us tomorrow but fancied getting involved at the tail end of day one. While we’re getting ourselves organised the numbers thin out. Mike has taken Keir to the train station, Lewis and Tobi have gone for Taco Bell. So it’s me, Steve and James. Steve, who is a complete gentlemen and I’m pretty sure I owe him a few drinks, gets me a Imperial BA Lichtenhainer. It’s a smoked beer aged in pinot noir barrels. It’s also 8% and I feel the end of day one is nigh. ***½
PUB #7: Craft Beer Junction
The three of us, on our way to not being sober, call in at the Craft Beer Junction. This is much further down after having had three right next to each other. This is a rarity too as there’s more seating inside than outside. There’s loads of tables and a substantial menu on the bar, which is right at the back of the room. In an attempt to switch styles like a madman I have a Banana in the Tailpipe (Axel Foley, FTW), which is a very banana heavy sour. ***¾. Craft Beer Junction isn’t one of my favourite places on the mile. It’s very bright and busy. The slapdash charming nature of the other places is lost a bit here. The ‘standard’ BrewDog style of bright menus combined with the light coloured wood everywhere is not my bag.
PUB #8: Bianca Road
This is right next door to Craft Beer Junction so it’s an hop, skip and a jump. We get an incredible BIPA in here called Black Hay-z Pale. ****¼. I could drink these for days. I end up getting a second one and we’re in Bianca Road so long the last two pubs on this side are closed.
These are two gentlemen who have had some beers. Oh wait, James was there too!
So, we left Bianca Road. I had to be dragged away from the BIPA. We tried to get into Brew By Numbers but they were closing up. This tells me we’d hit 10pm and it was game over. However, on our way along the mile we spotted that the Doodle Bar was open until midnight. Be rude not to.
PUB #9: The Doodle Bar
This is the problem with starting the mile late. You’ve got no real chance at doing it in one day. The Doodle Bar had food on and I got myself a greasy burger. It was a fantastic. There wasn’t much choice on the beers so we ended up getting cans of Broken Dream out of the fridge. I’ve had it before so I can reliably say it’s good ***¾. The bar is noisy and not aiming for the same craft beer experience we’ve been living all day so we move on. I say “we”, Steve calls it a day at this point, leaving myself and James to go wandering and looking for one more beer.
PUB #10: The Shipwrights Arms
We get in with about half an hour to go before closing and enjoy a Brixton Low Voltage. ***¼. There were three American students in the bar and we sit and chat with them until the pub shuts and I still haven’t checked into my hotel. It’s midnight.
PUB #11: The Two Bridges Ale House & Kitchen
The aim was to get to the hotel and get checked in and shit because it was now technically Sunday. Well, we walked past this gaff, and it was still open so in we went. I legitimately can’t remember what I drank in there, but I think it was either Reliance, Gamma Ray or Neck Oil. The bartender had a top hat on. That’s how we remembered it. I asked him about it, and he said it appealed to “young girls”. Nonce.
After we’d finished up in there I had to get into my hotel, which looked closed. Luckily it was a Premier Inn, so someone was knocking about, and they got me sorted. We got some pizza from Papa John’s, which is right across the road. My diet took a beating this weekend.
May 8, 2022
I don’t suggest drinking 14 beers in a day. Even if some of them are not pints. It’s generally frowned upon in polite society. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling somewhat mouldy. I had a can of apple Monster and that just about made me feel human. Chucked a few ibuprofens down my neck and we were ready for day two. I messaged James, who I was meeting to kick the day off and we agreed to meet at 12.45pm at the Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen. The idea being that we could eat before starting out. So, obviously I ate the remains of the previous night’s pizza and remembered, halfway through, that I spilled garlic dip all over the side and hadn’t cleaned it up properly. If anyone noticed that I smelled like garlic, that’s why. I lent in it just before leaving the hotel.
PUB #12: Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen
I went with a Chieftain IPA in here. ***¼. I am not a well man. My hands are shaking, and the beer isn’t going down. Probably should have started with a half but once again, I default to pints without thinking. James turns up just after I’ve paid, and we sit in the sun for a few minutes before Mike Kilby turns up. It takes me 45 minutes to drink my beer. That’s tragic.
PUB #13: Hop Kingdom
Hop Kingdom is a skater bar. They brew their own beers, but they also have a half pipe at the end of the bar.
It’s one of the most unique places I’ve had a pint in. Untappd doesn’t call it a skate park on the check in though and I feel I’m missing out on a badge. Sitting around in there was genuinely cool. We chatted skateboarding and beers with the bartender and Mike wants to become a skater but he thinks he’s too old. The beer is Hop King’s CBD. I’m pretty sure that’s a drug reference. Another drug reference is OPM. I never got that. We gain a fourth man here is Graps Ed is in the house. He was going to come out last night but apparently I kept missing his calls and then called him a liar when he said he’d been trying to call. Alcohol, ladies and gentlemen.
PUB #14: Southwark Brewing Company
This is literally two minutes’ walk, which is ace, and it was the first pub I intended to go into today. Glad we hit up Hop Kingdom though, it was an experience. I really like Southwark Brewing. The benches are outside on the street and they’re a bit shaky but otherwise I liked the place. We could have sat inside but it was a sunny day so we sat outside…in the shade. This is the point where the others wanted to go somewhere warmer and disrupt my plan. Cracking little pub and they had a BIPA on tap and a mild. I went with the mild because it’s 2% less. It was dead good. ***¾. Mild is one of those beer types where it doesn’t need to be strong to be great. The bench wobbling is making me seasick so I stand up next to the door and a geezer mistakes me for the owner. I find the real owner for him and point out I could have had a bash at pouring him a few drinks but they wouldn’t have been great.
The next pub was supposed to be the London Beer Factory – Barrel Project but the complaints about wanting sunshine moved us to the other side of the tracks and I’m pretty sure we completely missed it when we went back later. So, that was at least one pub we fucked up on.
PUB #15: Hiverquarters Taproom & Shop
Under the arches we went and we walked down this street food market and every breath you take down there is something different. It’s amazing. Just about anything you could ever want. Hiver is probably the worst pub I went into all day but it’s one of these ‘location, location, location’ deals. It’s sunny, they’ve got two different food outlets right outside so you can get wood-fired pizza or burgers. It’s very warm in the sunshine and it is packed out. I get a Session IPA from Hiver and everything they do seems to have honey in it. I suppose that’s the gimmick. I thought it was ok. **¾. Sadly Mike has to leave us here, as he’s got another thing lined up elsewhere in London. As always it’s been a pleasure and two days was not enough Kilby time.
PUB #16: Moor Beer Vaults
This place was right up my alley. It was dingy, the bar was hidden away at the back and they had a 9.5% stout on called History Repeats, which was very good. ****. I accidentally order a half instead of a third. Goddamn it. We sit in the doorway around a barrel and talk about AEW and stuff. It’s really nice and legitimately the high point of the entire day for me. Sometimes you just feel right. It’s around 4pm at this point and Steve is stalking me on Untappd. He was like “I can’t believe you’ve done five pubs already”. By the time I saw it we were in our sixth.
PUB #17: Brew By Numbers
This place is busy. There were people out on the street. Someone smashes a pineapple while we’re there. That should give you an idea of the atmosphere. I score myself a lovely little Gose Raspberry, ***¾. and hang out inside, watching the carnage through the open doorway. James loves the sours so he’s very happy with this gaff. It’s the third one in a row where we’ve revelled in the May sunshine. I’m in a good mood.
PUB #18: 73 Enid Street, Cloudwater London
Cloudwater is a bit posh. Everything is really clean and sanitised. I had their Step Up, which is a stout and I’ve had it before. ***¾. Not great beer selection from me there. It’s nice to keep it varied and my crutch is always stout. Ed tells me the bartender looks like Jack Harlow. I don’t know who that is. I google him and, in fairness, the likeness is remarkable.
He was a really nice geezer, as was the other bar man who was the only fella who talked to me about Cobra Kai all day, as I was rocking the Cobra Kai t-shirt. NO MERCY!
PUB #19: Anspach & Hobday: The Arch House
I’ve been here before and had a cracking pint of Black. As I mentioned in Cloudwater though, I’m aiming to mix it up a bit and get a pint of Ordinary Bitter, which is fine. I go *** on it. The whole time wishing I’d gotten a pint of Black. Or the Kriek Boon that James gets, which he gives five stars to. It’s a lovely beer that. I do like the pub though, it’s one of my favourites. If I’d not been in the Moor Beer Vaults I’d be putting this up the top of the list.
PUB #20: Billy Frank’s Craft Beer and Snack Shack
This is where we should have done the London Beer Factory but fucked up and just walked in here instead because it was called “Billy Frank’s”. They have completely sold out of draft, having been stupid busy on Saturday. So, it’s cans or nothing. We get cans. I get a stout, again. Neptune Brewery’s Abyss. It’s banging to be fair, ****. We have a bit of banter with the owner, who supports Liverpool and I absolutely lay into the Reds for a solid 20 minutes. It helps that City are battering Newcastle on the telly. Great little place this bar. Very small but it does what it does well. Like being in someone’s front room. This isn’t even on Google Maps.
PUB #21: OPS Wines
The plot has been well and truly lost here. Still not made it to the missing London Beer Factory, although maybe we did because I have a spreadsheet and it’s ticked off on there. I remember asking Billy Frank if we were near it and he said you couldn’t miss it. Did we go in? I legitimately can’t remember. Which is weird because I remember OPS Wines clearly. The guy behind the bar was confused by our search for beers but he sold Sagres in bottles so we had that. He was impressed with my pronunciation of Sagres and we talked about the Benfica vs. Porto thing and how you have to drink Sagres in certain parts of the country. Superbock is better.
PUB #22: The Marquis of Wellington
We’re pretty well sauced now. It’s around 7pm and six hours of drinking has taken its toll. Ed stole my phone in OPS Wines and randomly started tweeting out shit. I’ve been told my Twitter was quite entertaining. I also lost four followers. Swings and roundabouts. The Marquis is the place that stayed open the latest but it’s also our last stop before wandering off elsewhere. I have abandoned logging beers at this point so I have no idea what we drank but it’s a proper pub with casks. We sat in their beer garden and formulated plans. The only place on my spreadsheet that remains undone is FourPure but that’s way out of the way. 1.2 miles to be exact. I also missed the Kernel Brewery in Arch 7 off my initial planning list for some reason. I legitimately don’t know how that happened and obviously I’m not going to catch it now. We have tied yesterday’s debauchery and now it’s off into pastures new.
PUB #23: Tower Bridge Arms
This is a BrewDog establishment. I don’t remember going in there at all. My Google timeline tells me we did though. So, here it is. What I remember is walking past NW1London gifts and souvenirs. So, we went in there to buy Ed an MJF scarf and I got myself a London snapback, which is proper cringe.
PUB #24: The Minories
Bizarrely, even though this place is great for beer, we decided to switch to rum and coke. A typically ballsy decision that only drunkards can achieve. No one could possibly think that was a good idea but we’re at the end of the night. It might have been multiple drinks because we were in the pub for TWO HOURS.
They ring last orders and it’s off to London Bridge station. I have a nice chat with Ed about life and stuff and we take artistic pictures under a tree.
Ed leaves me and I sit outside the Shipwrights Arms for a while reflecting on how the weekend went, how I’d missed this with lockdown and two years of not getting to do things like this. I feel like I missed more than I thought I had. People have dramatically changed their lives over the past two years. My life had just been on pause until we started doing the football.
I had a blast doing the Bermondsey Beer Mile (sort of) and I’d love to do something similar in the future. I need to make some rules though. For starters; have a limit on the number of pubs and stick to it. Drunk decisions are usually bad ones. The route planning wasn’t horrendous but could have been better. Ideally you get a bunch of pubs in a line and go along the line. I was talking about doing one in my home town and I want to limit it to 6-8 pubs. 24 over two days is nuts. No wonder I felt like shit the next day.
Big shout out to all the boys who came out and drank some beers; Lewis, Mike, Steve, Tobi, Keir, James and Ed. It was a pleasure gentlemen. Let’s finish with a few shout-outs to good boozers and good beers.
- Moor Beer Vaults. There’s something about a dingy little corner bar, squeezed in just away from all the popular places that does it for me.
- Anspach & Hobday. Second time in there, very satisfying gaff.
- Hop Kingdom. A skate park? Inside your pub? Oh, alright then.
- Southwark Brewing. I would have loved to have stayed in here for a while.
- The Outpost. Stellar selection of stout in here.
Beers, Beers, Best Prime Beers:
- Sticky Stout (Three Hills Brewing). Purchased at the Outpost
- Black Hay-z Pale (Bianca Road). Purchased at Bianca Road
- History Repeats (Moor Beer Company). Purchased at Moor Beer Vaults
- Maltby Street Mild (Southwark Brewing). Purchased at Southwark Brewing Co
- Gose Raspberry (Brew by Numbers). Purchased at Brew by Numbers