Southwark and Lambeth are leading the way when it comes to small-batch beers, and they’re using everything from Bermondsey bees to seaweed to crushed guarana.
Vegetarians may be alarmed to discover that they have been downing fragments of powdered fish bladder inside their tipple for years. But, fear not vegetable lovers, for the capital’s first ever microbrewery producing vegetarian beer has landed on your door step.
High flying couple Lucy Grimshaw, and Ian Clark from Nunhead, packed in their lucrative nine to five’s a year ago in search of a boozy adventure which has led to them creating veggie ales now stocked in local boozers the Cherry Tree, and The Herne Tavern.
Usually isinglass, which is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, is placed in alcohol to bind yeast particles together which then drop to the bottom creating that bright shiny finish. But at Clarkshaws brewery in East Dulwich, which is run by the entrepreneurial pair, seaweed extract is used for the process instead, adding an extra week to the production cycle.
Gorgon’s Alive, with hints of honey and spice, and Phoenix Rising, which is an autumnal British ale, with spice and chocolate elements, is the yeast of their labour.
The seaweed extract which is used in the clarification process means that the final product is a little hazy, and not as shiny as other beers. The products which are created in a five barrel plant in an industrial estate in Tyrrell Trading Estate, Tyrrell Road, have been approved by the Vegetarian Society.
Lucy and Ian are opening up the brewery on Sunday for tours and samples of their brews from 12pm to 4pm at Unit 8, Tyrrell Trading Estate, Tyrrell Road, East Dulwich.
They will also be at the Herne Tavern beerfest tomorrow night from 7pm.
For more information go to www.clarkshaws.co.uk
The queen bee of beers
An inventive Bermondsey woman has brewed a beer made with honey harvested entirely from city bees.
Hannah Rhodes, 30, picked the urban nectar over the countryside variety to showcase the work of independent bee keepers.
A former sales and marketing manager at Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, Hannah’s beer – called Hiver – is now being sold in a few pubs in Bermondsey, including The Hide Bar, The Draft House and Shortwave Cinema.
Its tasting notes said the beer has a golden straw colour and an inviting honey and biscuit aroma.
Buzzing in Brixton
The Weekender’s gig gurus Brixton Buzz don’t just have their finger on the pulse when it comes to music; they’ve also branched out to beer-making with a new Brixton Buzz beer. In traditional Brixton style, it comes with an extra kick, with some of the varieties made from crushed Guarana seeds.
Sold in individual bottles, the first batch -which is a collaboration between Buzz duo Rich Martin and Mike Slocombe with London Beer Lab- sold out in less than an hour when it launched at the end of September.
There’s three types of the Brixton brew, Coldharbour Courage, which is made of honey and guarana, Effra Gold, which is just made with honey, and the original Brixton Buzz, which is made with crushed guarana seeds.
“When we asked people what they thought a Brixton beer should taste like, they said it should be light and smooth but that there should be a kick to it as well,” Rich tells. The honey connection dates back to a murky legend of an old bootlegger in Beehive Place who allegedly sold beer illegally.
The duo are trying to get as many Brixton bars and clubs as possible to the stock the beer. All of the profits from the beer sales go towards the Brixton Soup Kitchen as a way of investing money back into Brixton, Rich says. “There’s so many people drinking beer in Brixton that they might as well be drinking something that helps the local community,” Rich says.
Below the bridge in Bermondsey
Century-old recipes have helped a brewery hidden away underneath a Bermondsey railway arch to become one of the most celebrated in Britain.
The Kernel Brewery won the International Beer Challenge in 2011 with one of its stouts, using a recipe from 1890.
Founder Evin O’Riordain said that in their mission to make “really excellent beer” the Kernel boys had turned to ale experts to decipher the handwritten notes of master brewers from the nineteenth century.
Some had been so protective over their secrets that they used codes and their own shorthand to safeguard the recipes for the stouts and porters that were once commonplace in London.
Now based in Spa Road, Kernel sells to pubs and bars in London and is also open on Saturdays to sell bottles to the public.
Heady Herne Hill hops
The Florence Brewery, run out of Herne Hill’s Florence pub, produces its own beer as well as brewing for The Head in the Hat brewery. The ales are only sold on tap, created under the watchful eye of Peter Haydon, a beer historian and author of An Inebriated History of Britain who formerly spent ten years at Greenwich’s Meantime Brewing Company.
Not just another brick in the wall
A new microbrewery in Peckham Rye, Brick Brewery under Arch 209 on trendy Blenheim Grove will be open on Saturdays, serving up their trademark Pale Ale, Black IPA, Chestnut Ale, Porter, California Common, and American Pale Ale.