You might be wondering what separates this from the six hundred other blogs by a bunch of white men who did the Bermondsey Beer Mile, a well-known pub crawl of microbreweries along the train tracks in Bermondsey. Well, we did it the Boozehound way: disorganised, back-to-front, half arsed, and increasingly incapacitated. That’s right: we literally failed to organise a piss up in a brewery. If you’re after some thoughtful musings on the comparative merits of different micro brewing techniques, then we’re about to disappoint you just as we’ve disappointed so many friends, lovers and creditors in the past. If you want to feel slightly better about yourself by comparison to us, read on.
Like any athletes we know the importance of warming up before a big race. So we nipped into The Gregorian Arms near Bermondsey Station. There are two things you need to know about this pub: it has a stuffed seagull looming above the fireplace, and people (not us) were drinking shots of sambuca mixed with baileys at 2pm. We loved it.
According to the internet, most people start at Southwark Brewing Company, near London Bridge, then work their way down to Fourpure Brewing Co. near South Bermondsey. But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that Most People are wrong. And surely it’s better to end near London Bridge so you can stumble onto the tube with ease? So we did the mile backwards. We also started at a brewery in the middle of the mile, because incompetence.
Partizan was very cosy, even by microbrewery standards. We bought a half pint of CCP (£3, fruity and delicious) which disappeared in about five minutes – no bad thing because all the benches are outside and it’s not hyperbolic at all to say the weather was so cold it would’ve made Captain Oates think “actually I think I might stay inside if it’s all the same.”
Off we set, back to Fourpure at the start (or end) of the mile. We’d not walked ten yards, though, when we came upon another establishment: Eebria. It’s strictly a taproom and not a brewery and we’re not sure if beer nerds count this as part of the Mile but in our culture walking past any licensed premises is strictly forbidden. They were hosting Moor Beer Company, and the very helpful guy behind the bar talked us into trying a third of a pint of JJJ – a double imperial IPA – because it’s 9% and it made us feel like big men.
We finally made it to Fourpure: larger than the other breweries, with more shiny new equipment and even table tennis tables. They also had probably the biggest selection of beers – most £4.50 a pint or £3 for two-thirds.
Onwards to Brew By Numbers. Given the sub-zero temperatures and the inconvenient distance between breweries when you tackle them in completely the wrong order, and factoring in our colossal laziness and total unwillingness to deal with the slightest discomfort, we decided to take an Uber. Unfortunately, the driver announced that he had no internet and therefore had no idea which way to go. He said something about there being “too many houses around here” but it was an industrial estate and we’re not sure that many people are streaming HD movies in Screwfix, so maybe he’d just run out of data.
It was around 5pm by this point and BBNo was filled with revellers who were tackling the Beer Mile in the correct direction. Unlike the other breweries, BBNo has a £5 glass deposit but to be fair, they are nice glasses. We decided to try the coffee porter as we figured it was only 6% and all that coffee would sober us up a bit in case we had to do any more navigation later. It was delicious. It did not sober us up.
It was at this point we decided to take a pit stop: even in December you need to know your limits. So we took a break from the breweries and ducked into the Marquis of Wellington on Druid Street. Maybe it was the collection of strong-to-very-strong craft beers coarsing through our veins, but we loved this pub. Spacious, fun and friendly, speedy service despite being busy, and best of all playing Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac on the jukebox.
Suitably refreshed we made our way to the final brewery: Southwark Brewing Company. Do you ever get the feeling you’ve accidentally crashed someone’s party? Well that’s what happened to us. Because we had definitely crashed someone’s party. The door was closed, which is the universal sign for ‘please don’t come in’, and which we ignored. Inside was a group of people who all knew each other and were blowing up balloons and choosing to ignore the two drunk strangers in their midsts, because this is Britain and it’s best not to make a scene.
And that was it (except for one last pub near London Bridge, The Bunch of Grapes, because we don’t know how to quit while we’re ahead). We can thoroughly recommend doing the Mile. It’s really quite difficult to not have a good time when you spend the afternoon walking from one brewery to another, via several pubs. Our advice: take cash, wrap up warm, and always ignore closed doors.