Brew Wharf in London’s Borough Market is now a must-visit location on the London beer map. The recent brewery changes have seen it develop into a quality brewpub, selling excellent beer and food, while the beer brewed on site is rapidly becoming some of the best-tasting and forward-thinking cask beer you can find in the UK.
There’s a good feel to the place, as if the brewing of good beer and cooking of good food have elevated it: smart tables and chairs, bare brick walls, glass looking out and in, an open kitchen wafting its aromas all around, a large, high-ceilinged dining space opposite the ‘goldfish bowl’ of a brewery, great beer and food menus, it’s a smart little set-up (and, of course, anywhere that serves big US IPAs and has good burgers is somewhere I want to hang out).
Inside the fridges there’s wine, but there’s more beer. The beer menu gives good descriptions and tasting notes for the unfamiliar while a chalk board announces the latest additions to the fridge. The beer selection is vast and varied from lagers to imperial stouts, via the world of beer, featuring some rare British and American bottles. Then there’s the beers brewed onsite which Saints and Sinners are responsible for. With names like Hopster, Hoptimum and Hopfather, you kind of get an idea of what they’re playing around with. I’ve had a handful of the brews and enjoyed them all – Hoptimum started it all and showed their intent with a great hoppy pale ale; 3 lions was a cheeky, fruity pale ale; Punjabi was a big-hitting citrus-bomb on an India wheat ale; Tasty was a perfectly done balancing act of a brown ale with American hops; and Hopfather is one of the best cask pints I’ve had this year, one sniff and it fires you on a hop rocket straight over to West Coast USA (but then it’s based on Blind Pig, so it should), loaded with big hops, dangerously downable at 6.1%. I also tried some ABC straight from the tank and for its modest 3% ABV it’s excellent (but then it needs to be good as it’s for the British Guild of Beer Writers).
Also – and this is significant – it’s the sort of place which can entice people into trying new or different beers while having them along with food. Its location is in the middle of Foodie HQ and right on the edge of the financial area of the capital meaning that it attracts a diverse crowd - on a Friday night the beer geeks stand next to the suits who both stare at the party girls. The cask selection is constantly changing with new Brew Wharf beers regularly popping up (plus last weekend they had some Moor beer) giving people the chance to try new things (and these beers are all a bit different to the usual ubiquitous selection of me-too cask beers). It’s unique in that it has a strong base of customers and its serving more and more good beer, so here’s hoping that it can be a pivotal London location for great beers and food.
Along with the Old Brewery in Greenwich and The Florence in Herne Hill, it’s possible to get beer brewed on site (or very nearby) with a good food menu in a smart location in London. Add to this the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Hyde Park, which has nine kegs of craft beer (did you know that?), the White Horse, the Draft House pubs and all those many other pubs serving great food, including the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms, and London is looking pretty good on the food and beer front.