A fine trip. We met old friends and made new ones. While in Belgium we attended some very cool festivals, visited a number of breweries, and sampled the world’s most unique and special beers. Can’t say enough about England – beautiful countryside & cities, great culture, and wonderful public houses.
Below is a listing of the pubs, breweries, and festivals we visited. There’s a lot! Although it may seem all we did was sample the fine libations that Belgium and England have to offer, we spent much of each day hitting the museums and tourist sites, and walking – a lot of walking. Honest.
Earl of Derby
Live and Let Live
Hop Beer Shop
Might Oak Tap Room
Barrowboy & Banker
Craft Beer Company
Crown & Anchor
Friend of the Hand
Hope & Sirloin
Hung, Drawn & Quartered
Lord John Russell
Prince William Henry
London Breweries (micros)
Anspach & Hobday
Brew by Numbers
Gueuze & Kriek Festival – ‘Night of the Great Thirst’
Rondje Roodbruin – Flanders Red/Brown Fest
Zythos Bier Festival
Belgium Breweries & Blenders
Omer Vander Ghinste
pic: Our final pub stop in London – Mabel’s Tavern
Saturday, April 30th.
Big day today – the London Amateur competition is being held at the Ubrew location in Bermondsey, South London. It’s a pretty good-sized event with 350+ entries from across the UK and the republic of Ireland that’s a BJCP certified competition. I’m judging and Ryan is assisting as a steward.
My tasting categories couldn’t have worked out better. The first grouping was Specialty American IPAs, one with which I am intimately familiar. I’m paired with Sarah, president of the Welsh amateur group. The entries are uniformly well crafted with a few quite outstanding. Clearly less focus on hop presence that would be expected back home – not surprising, I guess. My second grouping was English Porters, not a style seen much in the US. Again, uniformly good-quality entries.
The ‘Bermondsey Mile’ refers to a mile-long stretch of Bermondsey Road that is the center of the London micro scene. The road parallels an elevated railway, under which arched columns have been converted to brewery and tap-house space. On Saturdays, the breweries all open for visits and tastings. It’s quite a scene and is considered a must-do for beer tourists.
Alex, one of our fellow travelers on the Belgian tour, lives in Bersmondey and volunteered to hook up with us after the competition and point out the Mile’s highlights. He knows all the brewers so we get special attention and discounts. A good man! Some really nice offerings: Southwark, Anspach & Hobday, and Brew-By-Numbers were standouts.
We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening working our way back to the hotel. It’s a great city to walk with history, architecture and pubs almost every corner. It’s been a blast.
Pics: London Amateur Competition, Bermondsey brewery, Alex – our ‘guide’, Jesmond Hotel
The first half of our last full day in London was spent at the London and South East Brewing Competition and Festival at the U Brew in Bermondsey, where Dad judged and I was a steward. It was very interesting seeing everything involved; the judges I helped were very attentive and deliberate, and I was able to learn a lot from them.
Afterwards, we caught up with Alex, whom we had met during the Belgian portion of our trip. He took us to several breweries in Bermondsey, which were mostly housed in the arches under the rail bridges. Small but intimate places, and understandably very busy on a Saturday. We visited Southwark, Andspach & Hobday and Brew by Numbers, before returning to U Brew, where Weird Beard Brew Company had done a tap takeover.
We finished up the evening with pints at Shipwrights Arms, The Barrow Boy and Banker (where we also had dinner), The Doric Arch, Crown & Anchor and Mabel’s Tavern. It was back to the hotel after that, to rest and get ready for the flight home.
Friday, April 29th
We head out to the West End today. Ryan has located one of the few remaining police boxes in london so we depark at Earl’s Court for a photo opp.
Just down the road is my favorite traditional pub, the Churchill Arms. Very cool interior with multiple tributes to the Queen’s 90th, burning fires in a couple of the rooms, a nice set of cask options, and great food. Oddly enough, the menu is all Thai. I’ve been looking for something hot and got it big-time.
While at the Churchill, I spotted an advert for a book ‘Pub Dogs of London’. A regular in the pub suggests I try the local bookstore and grab the last copy. Hilarious with a number of the hounds featured from the Chuchill itself. While there, ‘Busters’ owner stops in and graciously autographs his page. Love it!
We’re walking as much as we can and wander through Kensington down to the museum cluster where we check out the Victoria and Albert, Science, and Natural History museums. The Victoria and Albert Museum is especially wonderful. I’s really hard to believe there’s no admission fees for such beautiful facilities. While passing through Trafalgar Square we run into Jean-Paul, from Toronto, and one of our fellow travelers in Belgium. He’s just come from the pub we’re heading to, the ‘Harp’, one of the finest London has to offer. How we connected there given there were a few thousand in the square is a pleasant mystery.
pics: Churchill Arms, ditto, Flaming Tuba, Police Box