Why Visit The Bermondsey Beer Mile When in London?

When I first asked around about what I should do in London so many people suggested The Bermondsey Beer Mile. A “mile” built around beer? Seemed like a natural fit.

Even though I was only in London for three short days, I knew I wanted to make time on Saturday to hit up the beer mile especially Brew By Numbers and Cloudwater breweries which I’ve heard so much about.

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After visiting the touristy Bourough Market (where they not only offer you pink prosecco while you shop, but encourage it.) we made the scenic walk down Bermondsey road, past many colorful shops and cafes. (It’s about a 20 minute walk, perfect for a pretty day if you’re planning a trip to London!)

We ended up at the Maltby Street Market, which though it was prosecco-less I much preferred to the overcrowded Bourough Market. There is an eclectic mix of street fare from cities all over the world. I was devastated that the “African Volcano” was closed but was satisfied with my falafel plate and a Taiwanese dessert called dhan. There were also two very small bars pouring craft beer, I had a Belgian blond that wasn’t too bad, but maybe a bit reminiscent of starting out as a homebrewer.

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All this pre-beer-mile-arrival explanation because the beer mile was…..fine. I may be jaded by living too close to the packed taprooms of Brooklyn or so fascinated by the traditional beer culture of London that the craft simply pales in comparison, but I was left questioning my decision to make my way out to Bermondsey while in London.

The feel of the beer mile is very industrial, freight containers line the walk and the breweries are situated under large archways in a rail line.

Sure, there are a dozen breweries lined up so in some sort of Goldilocks principle situation, there must be at least one that I liked. But fusel alcohol laden saison gave way to metallic pale ales and left me uninterested in the journey required to unearth a gem.

Brew By Numbers was my favorite of the breweries, a spot where I found a decent pale ale and a corner to stand in with a ledge to rest my beer (aka the bare minimum for me to survive in a bar.) I gave up and caught a train over to Mayfair for a break from beer with a martini at the Connaught Hotel.

I mean tell me this doesn’t look like Brooklyn?!

I mean tell me this doesn’t look like Brooklyn?!

An industrial feeling tap room at Brew By Numbers

An industrial feeling tap room at Brew By Numbers

I hate being negative so I will caveat to say I had about 50 hours in London so every moment felt precious, if I had more time I may have just generally shrugged off the detour to brewery road. Plus, if I hadn’t ventured out I wouldn’t have discovered the Maltby Market, one of my best memories from this visit.

All in all, if you’re looking for London style “craft” beer and the direction English beer culture may be headed in make a visit to this strip mall of breweries but if you’re looking for something that feels London-y spend your time elsewhere.

A Beer-y Bamberg Travel Guide

We were only in Bamberg for two days (one night) and I can’t imagine needing to spend much longer in this small, brewery packed, town. It’s a beautiful city and one of the few left untouched by wars in Germany (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site). Beyond the typical sights of the ornate church, quirky town hall, and old town square there are plenty of beer-y things to do. These were my favorite stops we made in Bamberg.

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Klosterbräu

This was a fitting first stop in Bamberg because it is also the oldest brewery in the city. It gave an immediate sense of how much Bamberg values tradition and drinking culture. On a sunny Saturday on the back patio under massive branded umbrellas there were several tables of locals enjoying a snack and a pint, a long table filled with older men clanking ceramic beer steins all wearing the same shirt (adorable), and one other table of tourists. 

Opt for the braunbier and the kellerbier if they’re available (at €3 a pop you can afford to try the whole menu!) and enjoy the views over the water. I didn’t try the food here but it appears to be very typical German fare. There are also tours that need to be booked in advanced.

Steins of kellerbier

Steins of kellerbier

The back patio of Klosterbräu from across the water

The back patio of Klosterbräu from across the water

Schlenkerla

Of course, you can’t talk about Bamberg without talking about Schlenkerla...so I won’t! First thing to note, there is a restaurant around the corner, Kachelofen from Schlenkerla that does a very good job masquerading as the real deal. While it’s not a bad spot (we enjoyed a rauchbier and a few kellerbiers on the patio) it’s something to note. 

Schlenkerla is gigantic and almost cavernous (at least to this NYC resident). Each room has its own charm (a full description of the rooms is available on the brewery website) and the beer garden looked like the quintessential place to enjoy a rauchbier. It was closed when we visited. The good news is with all that space in a small city it’s unlikely that you’ll feel crowded at Schlenkerla so it’s a great place to post up for a smokey beer and some German food (a match made in pork heaven!). 

We were lucky enough to visit when the “Krausenbier” was in season and I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, I did recommend it to an entire tour group that was a little unsure about the whole smoked beer thing. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the style without being overwhelmed, or to ease into the real deal.

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Ambräusianum

Next door to Schlenkerla is a tiny brewery making their own weissbier and fresh white weisswurst. The atmosphere is a little more sunny and airy than Schlenkerla which made for a nice lunchtime setting. You can sit right next to their brew house and snack on pretzels sausage and some housemate beer! Worth a stop to take a break from rauchbier. 

Dunklesweiss beer at lunch

Dunklesweiss beer at lunch

My first pretzel in Germany!

My first pretzel in Germany!

Weyermann

One thing I didn’t get to do while in Bamberg that I really wanted to was tour the malting facilities at Weyermann. They have a public tour every Wednesday at 2pm but I just couldn’t get the days of our trip to line up. If you have a group of 8+ you can book a private tour any weekday. In the few emails I had back and forth with staff they were extremely helpful! I think with enough advanced planning you could book a smaller tour or tag along on an existing tour. Definitely something to look into if you want to geek out on how German beer is really made!

The Views of Bamberg

Castle Altenberg/Restaurant Altenberg 

We were in Bamberg during an uncharacteristic heatwave for Germany (my friend in Berlin said stores completely sold out of fans) so we skipped the 30 minute walk from old town through the city and up the hill that Castle Altenberg sits on. If it were even a bit cooler I would have taken the hike because it takes you past all the major Bamberg landmarks and up a very scenic hill. You can drive almost to the castle and just the five-ish minute trek from our car was more than enough 92 degree sunshine for us. When we looked over the ledge of the castle we realized the sweat was worth it.

You can see the whole city of Bamberg tucked in the valley and there’s a clear shot all the way to the horizon. The restaurant has a to-go window outside for both beer and food. It would be a great spot to eat inside and enjoy the view but the air conditioning left something to be desired so we enjoyed steins of the local helles in the shade instead.

One view from the top of the hill

One view from the top of the hill

A helles with a side of castle.

A helles with a side of castle.

The Rose Garden 

If you’re crunched for time (or just don’t feel like adding a hike to your vaycay) the rose garden next to the Dom (look up Rosengarten) also offers stunning views of the city, a little more up close and personal. Adding hundreds of beautifully maintained roses to the view and its totally worth the stop. If you go when the cafe is open you can also enjoy a beer or lunch in the garden.

The Bamberg rose garden is tucked just out of sight, look for it on your map!

The Bamberg rose garden is tucked just out of sight, look for it on your map!

The view from the “rosengarten”

The view from the “rosengarten”

Where to Stay 

Try to stay as close to old town as you can. It’s the most picturesque and the hotel prices are similar to the rest of the city. We stayed at the Hotel Villa Geyerswörth and loved it. I will say in the middle of a heatwave Europe’s lack of strong air conditioning and ice were apparent. The breakfast spread at our hotel was insane, meats, cheeses, bread with all the spreads for days! 

We also had breakfast at Eckerts part of the Hotel Nepomuk and I would suggest looking into that hotel as well it’s situated right on the canal and the restaurant was large and had great food, plus next door to Klausterbrau is hard to beat! 

There is a brewery, Fässla, that offers lodging and I would have stayed there in a heartbeat if they weren’t booked. It reminded me of the set up at St. Bernardus which was one of my favorite beer-trip hotels ever! We did get to try some of their beer while out and about in Bamberg, would be so fun to stay there!

Boston Brewery: Trillium Brewing Company at Canton

By the end of this post you'll be ready for the perfect visit to Trillium Brewing Company's Canton location because you'll know what to expect and how to set yourself up for the most fun!

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Trillium Brewing Company has two year-round locations in the Boston area: One at Fort Point, and their main location outside the city in Canton. My visit to the Fort Point shop left me wanting more from my Trillium experience. So I booked a very long uber out to Canton. 

Canton is a pretty quintessential north-eastern suburb. Big houses, snow covered yards, novelty mailboxes, everything you would expect. I was pretty surprised to find that the Trillium Taproom was tucked in this neighborhood. 

Pulling into the parking lot I was met with lots of dudes carrying boxes of cans out to their cars.

“Uh oh, the beers all gone!” one joked with me. Judging by the packed parking lot, I almost believed him.

I continued on past the retail door to the taproom door and wowza - look at that line. Upon walking through the door you all but collide with the center of the line to order beer by the glass. I took my place wayyyy at the back and suddenly wished I had brought a book - or at the very least that I had more phone battery. 

As the line inched forward I passed many groups huddled around barrels or leaning on the small bar that ran along the wall. There is not much in the way of seating in this taproom. I then past the “food truck of the day,” severing oysters, but at 3pm there were not many takers for their fresh-ish shellfish sitting out on ice. 

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Finally, I came into view of the tap list which was extensive and offered more options than the Fort Point location. The GABF medals dangling from the board were an obvious reminder of the quality that made the line so. so. long. 

Ordering was efficient and by the time I swiped my card I had a beer in my hand. The perfect beer in hand for getting back in line - ha! Is it just me or does a line move faster when you have a drink involved. I got the Double Dry Hopped (DDH) Summer Street for the line and it was a perfect waiting beer. Light, floral, and fruity, not too heavy of a mouth feel and a clean finish. No wonder this place is so crowded! 

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By the time I made it to the registers again, I had a plan. I wanted to order three very different beers. Again, a quick ring up and this time I found myself a spot leaning against the divider between the “taproom” and the active brewery. 

I tried, Trillbomb!, DDH Scaled, and the Free Rise Nelson. They were all great and definitely in the style of Trillium. The IPA was sweet and ended with the gypsum bite I have found characteristic of East Coast IPAs. The stout was big and strong with a potent nose of Bourbon. The free-rise, while slightly funky was more of a pale ale than a saison. 

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After considering another trip to the back of the line, I decided against it and summoned yet another car back to Boston. I had fun and I learned a lot. 

Is the trip to Trillium's Canton Brewery Worth It?

I pondered this on my long ride home from Canton - still thinking about that zip up sweatshirt I decided not to buy again. I think the answer is it depends! Boring...but true. 

If you're a big beer fan that doesn't mind standing for a while Canton is the only place that you're guaranteed to try several Trillium beers in one spot. You can even skip Fort Point and just head to Canton for both your beers on tap and to-go. 

If you have someone in your group that needs to sit down, this might not be great. You can hope for a friendly stranger to give up their seat, but I don't gamble on friendly strangers often. If you are on a trip to see Boston - it's a tough call! Canton is quite a way out of the city and there are many great locations in Boston that carry all kinds of beer and have a little more scenery, plus you can go to Fort Point for your to-go beer needs! 

Tips for visiting Trillium Brewing Company at Canton:

  • Check the food truck for the day. I wasn’t about to eat oysters. I wished I had a meal in me or a snack so I could go on sampling.

  • Expect a line. It’s not a let down if you’re expecting a wait. Bring a friend, or three and wait together time flies when you’re waiting in line with a beer in hand.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. As someone who doesn’t follow this rule in my day-to-day life it’s worth putting in here. You’re standing on concrete and, yes, you’ll be standing.

  • Bring your pup if you want! There were several dogs in the taproom when I was there and they definitely provided some entertainment while waiting in line.

  • Don’t drive or dedicate a driver. Their stouts are great, you’re going to want to try them, and trust me, one is enough to knock you on your butt.

  • You can get cans, bottles and merch to-go! While the major attraction of the Canton location is getting to sample multiple of the famed breweries beers, there is also a line for to-go items.

Are you headed to Trillium or the Boston area? Find @beerswithmandy on twitter. I love nothing more than talking about beer trips!