Peckham, London

Date visited: May 2017

For the first time in a while, I found myself with zero plans heading into a bank holiday weekend. That was soon put right when a plan was concocted to head to South London to watch the FA Cup final. Being a beer wanker, making a few pit-stops at several beer-related establishments snuck their way into proceedings.

I’d never been to Peckham before and had no real pre-conceptions as I headed across London to start the day. I’d heard it was a bit rough around the edges but the inevitable gentrification of the area (and seemingly Everywhere In London) meant that there are people that both want to avoid the area for fear of being knife-crimed and, in the same breath, move there and benefit from its roof-top bars or trendy cocktail places or whatever hip new thing trendy people like. All I knew was that Only Fools & Horses was set there (more on that later).

Peckham is definitely a melting pot of people and places. Walking down the high street, the aforementioned gentrification was apparent (retro arcade bar, anyone?) but it didn’t feel like it had completely lost its soul or character – alongside the new bars were an old school market and plenty of independent food shops. From my half day wandering around, I didn’t feel unsafe at all and would happily go back again on another Beer Voyage (I’m very sorry). At one point, we inadvertently ended up wandering through what can only be described as the UK equivalent of a block party! (And then wandered back through said gathering when we realised it was a cul-de-sac.)

Anyway, enough about Peckham and more about beer. Here are a few of the places we visited that are worth checking out. (And one that really, really isn’t.)

Hop, Burns & Black

They sell beer (hops), hot sauce (burns) and vinyl (black), geddit? I’d heard of this place long before this visit but never had reason to call in until this weekend. As I knew I was going to be in the area, I placed an order online to collect in-store which worked as smoothly as the skin on my pre-pubescent man-child face. (The beers I picked up will likely feature in future Drunk In… posts so I won’t detail them here.)

The shop itself was wonderful – I don’t know why I get this notion in my head that bottle shops are these huge hangar sized shops before I visit them as that’s clearly never the reality but whilst small, Hop Burns & Black is perfectly formed. The shelves are stocked to the rafters with an impressive range of beers – as well as local offerings, we spied a lot from some of the best European breweries such as Evil Twin, Mikkeller and To Øl to name a few. I’m not particularly a hot sauce or vinyl aficionado so won’t embarrass myself by discussing what was on offer from these categories but they were again well stocked in both departments and I did see some excellent looking bottles of hot sauce.

After perusing the shelves and admiring the extensive hop, burns and black on display it dawned on me that I was nearing my 2000th check-in on Untappd. As such I had to select a special beer for the occasion and we quickly retreated to one of the large wooden benches that dominated the front of the store to savour our beers in the sunshine.

Lervig/Evil Twin collab – Big Ass Money Stout 2

A collaboration between Lervig and Evil Twin: Big Ass Money Stout 2 (the second iteration of this mother!). One of the most ridiculous beers I’ve ever had. Apparently frozen pizza was added during brewing and it was dry-hopped with actual paper money to poke fun at modern Norwegian culture. Whilst I didn’t detect any hint of pizza nor money, I did get a huge hit of bold, rich flavours that definitely lived up to its name. At 16%, it’s probably not the most sensible beer to start a day of drinking, especially in the heat, but I am not a sensible man.

Brick Brewery

Brick Brewery is a mere 2 minute walk from Peckham Rye station and was in full swing when we dropped by – there was a DJ blaring out some beats and some patrons were bopping around the brewery. Being in such a handy location meant we made two stops here for liquid refreshment. The front area had covered seating with the brewery’s sole bar found here with an extra seating area located around the back meaning you have to walk through the brewery itself if you want to sit here. Which we did as it was a rare sunny day. It was also quite cool to pass through the brewery as it was in operation. I tried not to get in the way too much as I took a few snaps.

I’d heard of the brewery before but never tried any of their range so went for their Peckham Pale Ale which was a solid take on a pale ale and much needed for the blazing heat (did I mention it was hot?). The only downside to the heat was a weird faecal smell emanating from what we surmised was a warmed body of water from a leaky drain – so we returned later for another jar when the sun had set and the smell had subsided. This time I had the Kiwi Steam, a California Common/Steam beer (a style which I’m wholly indifferent to) which was pretty enjoyable in the dying embers of the sunshine. Well worth a visit!

Sidenote: If you’re planning a visit here, bring cash as they don’t accept cards. Something we weren’t aware of until after we ordered our drinks and so had to make a quick detour to a cash machine.

Bianca Road Brewing Co.

I have to admit, I had never heard of this brewery before we started the day but my companion (Hi Chris!) had been looking up beery locales to check out and spied Bianca Road Brewing Co. was not only open but celebrating its first birthday. Not wanting to be party poopers, we hopped on a bus and headed for the celebrations.

The party was in full swing when we arrived with the brilliantly named Dat Brass (who also have a brilliantly named song called, Straight Outta Brompton) providing brass based covers of hip-hop and pop classics to the crowd adorning the benches lining Bianca Road. After ordering our beers, we grabbed some much needed food from TOST, a turkish toastie street food stall, and settled on the chorizo, gherkin and cheese toastie which was as every bit as good as it sounds.

Beer-wise, I went for the Paradise IPA which took me by complete surprise. What a cracking beer! Full of pineapple and fruitiness, this was just what was needed upon arrival and was perfectly balanced. We loved this beer so much that we stuck around for two more; the American Pale and Red Rye in cans. For a brewery I hadn’t heard of, I was very impressed at how good all three of these beers were. Whilst they aren’t re-inventing the wheel, they are making well crafted, flavoursome, delicious beer. Here’s to hoping their second year brings WORLD DOMINATION. Or just an increased range of beer.

Nag’s Head

Despite having the same name as the pub from Only Fool’s & Horses, it certainly didn’t live up to its namesake. Devoid of any atmosphere, life, character or characters, this was one of the worst pubs I’d been to in a while.

I thought maybe we’d just caught them at a quiet period but we popped in at what should’ve been prime-time for a pub, around 8-9pm on a Saturday night. I could count the other customers on one hand. We were weighing up leaving but by that point the bar staff had spotted us so we did the British thing and politely ordered. I wish we hadn’t.

What even is this glass

I’m not sure what I expected from the beer but it was fuck awful. In fairness, you probably couldn’t make a Green Label Best by Webster’s anything other than average but it was served in possibly the worst drinking vessel I’ve ever seen and tasted as flat and insipid as my surroundings. I’d hazard a guess this pub doesn’t know how to keep or serve cask beer properly judging from this pint.

It’s a shame how disappointing this place was considering its location at the bottom of Rye Lane as a decent establishment would absolutely thrive here. I’m not knocking ye olde pubs – I’m a huge fan of traditional pubs and they definitely still have a place alongside their younger, craftier brethren but why even bother being a traditional pub when you’re not even good at that?

Despite this mild downer, I had an absolute ball in Peckham and will definitely be back.

(We also stopped off in a Wetherspoons for the FA Cup Final but you’re not getting a review – Spoons is Spoons innit!)

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