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.
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.
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 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.