Anspach & Hobday
Everyone knows that the Bermondsey Beer Mile is four (rather excellent) taprooms long, but over the past few months a young upstart has been making enough noise to become a serious contender as stop number five. Anspach & Hobday, with their suave design and slightly unusual beers certainly appear to have a lot to offer the discerning drinker, but this is craft royalty they have set up beside and it is going to take a little more than a few bits of jargon thrown around to impress those making the pilgrimage.
The show-stealer is most definitely The Smoked Brown; a style rarely brewed, it is not so outrageous as to seem gimmicky or off-putting yet different enough to raise curiosity. As with any good brown ale this is reasonably thick and chewy built upon a solid malt base, but with a refreshing hint of the hops adding a modicum of relief from the darkness. The beauty here is the warming wood smoke that permeates the nose and palette. The flavour is fulsome without being domineering, the comforting sweetness conjuring images of curling up in front of the fire on a chilly winter's night, the hint of cinnamon and clove in the air...
The desire to toy with the beer runs strongly through Anspach & Hobday as a constant stream of experimental brews hit the brewery's taps. On my visit I came across a deliciously balanced five-hop pale ale that included the divisive Sorachi Ace, and a very unusual double IPA with virtually no bitterness coupled with huge orange and melon notes. I feel a mention should also be made of The Table Porter. It is hard to find a really sessionable dark beer below four percent, and at 2.8% this is a good start. The body is a little thin, but given the low alcohol this is not entirely unsurprising. The taste is biscuity with a hint of coffee lurking at the back of the mouth, and is indeed enjoyably drinkable.
Anspach & Hobday may not have the pedigree or range of their illustrious neighbours (yet), but there is enough on show already to tempt people round the corner and make this a regular stop on the Saturday stroll through the railway arches of south-east London. Next time, make sure you pay these gentlemen a visit.
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