Craft Beer in London: Hidden Gems at Druid St Market

Druid St Market, Bermondsey

Bermondsey has undergone many changes over the years but today is an industrious district south of London, in the borough of Southwark.

The search for great craft beer took my boyfriend and I on a journey through the streets of London, during our week long stay in 2015. After one short Tube ride to the Bermondsey station, we came upon the an impressive line up of craft businesses that coexist in London.

Together they create what’s known as the Druid Street Market, open for business every Saturday from 10am-4pm.

Since then the craft market scene has become much more popular, and a worthy stop if you’re in the neighbourhood. This exciting new food market is the highlight of most weekends for locals and tourists alike.

Specializing in selling fresh produce, street food, craft beer and new innovative products like cultured butter, all along the arches on Druid Street.

There are so many amazing businesses along this strip and more opening every year. Even since our trip in 2015, changes to the landscape have been swift. It would be impossible to describe each of the amazing stories that started such ambitious businesses.

For this blog I will focus on two of the leading craft breweries found on Druid St, The Kernel Brewery and Brew By Numbers. I encourage you check out other well known breweries and craft beer retailers such as Partizan Brewing, Anspach & Hobday and Southwark Brewing Company.

 


The Kernel Brewery

The Brewery: 01 Spa Business Park, Spa Road, London SE16 4QT

Visitor: Arch 11 Dockley Road Industrial Estate, London SE16 3SF

Brewer / Founder: Evin O’Riordan

Twitter: @kernelbrewery

The Kernel’s humble beginnings in 2009 were launched by Founder and Head Brewer Evin O’Riordan, after becoming inspired by the craft beer landscape in New York City. He experienced new flavours during his visit that were not as readily available in London; and he decided to do something about it.

Since then, the company has grown to a Brew team of ten members. Each of them an integral and responsible member who are free of traditional hierarchies found in other work environments.

This, O’Riordan believes, creates a more harmonious  and productive environment by allowing workers to engage more with what they are doing.

The brewery has developed organically due to this new way of operating. Each member brews, bottles, kegs, cleans, answers phones and emails, distributes and sells on Saturdays to the public.

The beauty of this system is the creative licence it gives to each person to mold and modify recipes, temperatures and other factors. These factors shape the way the beer tastes and in turn, the brand as a whole.

The visitor warehouse is located in an industrious arch that serves as a perfect backdrop for good times shared with friends, or to make new ones. Everyone squeezes in to grab a seat and a bottle of the freshest Kernel brews.

They describe their product as “Beer deserving of a certain attention”, and rightfully so, you can taste the difference and care that goes into each brew. Their motto is a simple one:

“Beer that forces you to confront and consider what you are drinking. Upfront hops, lingering bitternesses, warming alcohols, bodies of malt. Lengths and depths of flavour.”

They produce Pale Ales, India Pale Ales and they kick it old school with London Porters & Stouts. The Kernel bottles alive, due to this, the brews need about two weeks to condition and carbonate before drinking.

The philosophy of fresh beer is what Kernel is known for. Most of their Pale Ales, IPA’s, IIPA’s and Table Beers have a four month shelf life,  however,  ideally should be consumed within one month to six weeks.

The younger the beer, the more edgy, intense and explosive the flavour profiles. As their beer ages, the hops mellow, the beer becomes smoother. Bitterness sharpens and is contrasted with a malty sweetness.

Beer tastes are subjective, and they know this, so you have the liberty to decide and experiment with how fresh you like your Kernel beer to be. It’s been my experience that they never tend to last very long.

Their labels are minimal and function to describe what’s in the bottle, that’s it. The Kernel is aware of how outside influences can change perception. Their goal is to minimize these influences to allow you the opportunity to taste and decide for yourself. This is a refreshing new way of approaching business and seems to work.
The main focus is always above all, about the beer.

The Kernel puts all their focus into the actual product, making sure it is to standard every time. They have minimal marketing, a basic website, no advertising and aren’t even on Instagram. Despite all this, their reputation proceeds them.

Saturdays at the Kernel
Open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm to sell their beer directly from the brewery.

Availability as of 1st of Apr. 2017:

In 500ml bottles:
Table Beer,3.2%
Pale Ale,LORAL,5.3%
Pale Ale,VIC SECRET MOSAIC,5.2%
Pale Ale,CITRA (WITH OATS),5.1%
Pale Ale,AMARILLO,5.2%
Pale Ale,ENIGMA GALAXY,5.3%
Export India Porter,5.8%

In 330ml bottles:
India Pale Ale,MOSAIC GALAXY,7.2%
India Pale Ale,EKUANOT VIC SECRET,6.7%
India Pale Ale,MOSAIC,7.1%
Export Stout,7.3%
Imperial Brown Stout,LONDON 1856,9.9%
India Double Porter,7.4%

In 750ml bottles:
Bière de Saison,A BLEND OF SAISON AGED IN BURGUNDY BARRELS,4.9%
Bière de Saison,PERLE SIMCOE,4.4%
Bière de Saison,SOUR CHERRY,5.2%

To read more about this amazing brewery and where to find their beer click here.

Interview with brewer, Evin O’Riordan in Mash Tun Journal, read it here.


Brew by Numbers

The Brewery: 79 Enid Street, London SE16 3RA

Brewers: Dave Seymour & Tom Hutchings

Twitter: @BrewByNumbers

Blog: http://www.brewbynumbers.com/blog/

August 2011 marked the year that Dave Seymour and Tom Hutchings formed the start of their endeavour. Like most budding beer connoisseurs, this began by building a home-brew kit in a friends’ basement, on Southwark Bridge Road.

Eventually they began micro brewing and experimenting. They had lots of experience drinking craft beer. In doing so, they honed in on things they liked about the beer they tasted, but also things they would do differently.

“Through reading books on brewing, researching online, and asking for tips and advice from friends in the industry, Dave and Tom began to teach themselves to brew.”

After brew 4 they developed an all malt mash to create a more authentic taste rather than using extracts. Their set-up was a rudimentary system but it yielded good results. By brews 6 and 7 there was potential for something great. Dave and Tom progressed quickly after this initial stage.  This was due to splitting batches at different stages to create variations of each brew. With this, original recipes and methods were born.

In 2012 and Dave and Tom visited Belgium with Toby from the Kernel and Andy from Partizan Brewing.  BBNo. brewed their first Brett-aged Saison and later, Witbiers and other Belgian styles after this trip, inspired by the tastes of their travels. Brew By Numbers opened in 2012 and is the culmination of research, testing, and adjusting their experiments.

The most appealing aspect of Brew By Numbers (BBNo) for me has got to be their labeling system. Each brew is named after the beer style and batch number.

In an interview with Tom Hutchings of Brew By Numbers, he described some pro’s to their unique numbering system. 

“So that was style number 14. How high do the numbers go, meaning how many different styles have you brewed so far?
I think we’re up to 17 now! But there are some things like a White IPA that’s number 25. Some numbers we jumped, just to make it even more confusing. But hopefully we’ll fill in the gaps eventually. But when we started we thought about certain themes, like IPA is 5, Black IPA is 15 so White IPA is 25.

You chose the number system because you couldn’t be bothered to come up with beer names?
Yes, we save a lot of time not having to come up with beer puns! We have brewed around 90 different beers so far. The numbers just mean that you can be a bit more creative. You don’t have to redesign the labels, come up with a new name or branding for it. It means that we are freer to play around and customers can easily identify style numbers that they tried before and really liked or a number they haven’t had yet.”

 

BBNo’s beer is clean, refined and precise, the tastes are simplistic yet balanced. Their mission is inspiring:

“Whether developing new styles, adapting established ones, or bringing the less well-known styles back into the limelight, we create each beer with the same level of care, attention and respect…We strive to create new, exciting and forward-thinking beers focusing on quality and drinkability. “

Their glassware is also a reflection of their scientific approach. Some glasses reminding us of beakers. For all you “cool glassware-procurerers” be warned that they do charge a deposit to ensure their safe return. This is fairly common in the arches, so budget accordingly. The outdoor drinking space is filled with beer fans from all over, it’s very easy to strike up an interesting conversation over a brew. They also offer delicious snacks like Chroizo Scotch eggs to help you make it to the next stop.

The Alchemy of Beer – Brew By Numbers from Wandering Eye.

Read the full interview with Tom Hutchings of Brew By Numbers here.

For more information visit their site.


These along with many other craft companies are responsible for the revival of craft beer in England. Londoners are rediscovering historical brews that had been lost over the years.

Check out these amazing breweries and so many others from around the globe at the London Craft Beer Festival: BEER August 4-6th, 2017. Discover more and buy tickets here.

Follow the Druid Street Market on Instagram to keep updated.

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