Beer, Food and ahem…interior design!

December 6, 2018 by Foodie Rich

Where the hell have I been? I haven’t posted any foodie updates or news on for weeks. I know, how awful of me, but why?  Quite simply, I just haven’t had time. I thought it a great idea to decorate the lounge in time for Christmas.   Not just a lick of paint, nah, let’s do this properly, all the way down to re-sanding our floor boards; how difficult can that be? They were only sanded 10 years ago, so a quick going over would be all it takes. I’ll get it done in an hour or so, right? Wrong! It took the whole bloody day.  Not to mention the dust; oh, the dust! The entire house was filled with inches of the stuff. Blooming nightmare.  The varnishing proved equally challenging.  How the hell am I gonna keep our elderly demented cat of a freshly varnished floor? I’ve told Lou, if I ever say again ‘let’s re-sand the floors’ take me outside and give me a good slap round the head.  Saying that though, now 95% finished, it’s looking bloody lovely. New sofa’s and chairs, freshly painted walls, solid oak shelves, Edison lighting, oh and my new favourite toy, a log burner!! Oh yeah, COSY AF! 

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about soft furnishings, let’s talk food. As you can imagine most of my spare time has been taken up with my decorating antics.  Eating out hasn’t really been high on the agenda. I have been out. We Popped in to the Pipe of Port the other week for a drop of Beaujolais Nouveau, that’s was rather nice.  We are now entering what I describe as Pipe season. The Pipe is magical on cold days, just perfect to cosy up with a bottle of red and a pie.  The last food pop up at the West Road Tap is a distant memory now. Hosted by my cult foodie hero’s ‘the Brisket Tin’ all manner of low n slow BBQ delights were had. SoPa Thai in Westcliff are going from strength to strength. Gotta say, they serve up some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten outside of Bangkok.  So yeah, I’ve been getting out, but nowhere new to write home about.  This past few weeks, when not up to my armpits in dust and emulsion, I’ve been researching my other love...drinking!  Lou and I accompanied by our fellow craft beer enthusiasts have been exploring a little more of what the capital and our local area has to offer.

Let’s start with the beer mile. In Bermondsey, underneath the train arches you’ll find countless craft breweries, bottle shops and tap rooms.  Every Saturday these breweries throw open their doors and invite discerning drinkers to sample their hallowed nectar.  Well I say discerning drinkers, it’s a bloody piss up to put it bluntly.  I was like a pig in shit. The Southwark Brewing Company, Anspach and Hobday, the Kernel, Brew by Numbers, Fourpure.....I could go on! All these craft breweries have a tap room of sorts along this golden mile of beer. There’s food too! Maltby street market is full of little foodie popups. Outside Brew By Numbers we even found a mobile pizza oven.  Fresh Neapolitan simple pizza was the order of the day, and bloody nice it was too. It’s not just beer though; We stumbled across a little gin distillery along the way.  We just had to pop in and sample some good old London gin direct from the source. Yep, the Bermondsey beer mile, if you haven’t been is certainly worth your C2C train fare.

Continuing our research, a couple of weeks ago we ventured to Hackney Wick. Pretty similar to the beer mile, there’s loadsa places to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of craft beer. Starting at Beer Merchants yard, I was overwhelmed with the amount of craft beer on offer.  Fridge after fridge filled with cans and bottles were tempting me. Outside though, I was getting a whiff of smoked BBQ.  In the ‘Yard’ was a huge smoker.  Embossed on the front of this epic piece of smoker engineering was ‘Harley Dogs’.  I was intrigued?  Then, seconds later, the ‘Pitmaster’, arrived on his ‘Hog’.  In his own words, they serve up ‘Gnarly BBQ’.  Sounds bloody good to me!  

Next up, Pizza at the Crate Brewery.  Yep, good old Pizza was on offer alongside some of Crates wonderful craft beer.  This was proper pizza I hasten to add, no a ham and pineapple in sight!  

A short walk around the corner we found Howling Hops.  With 10 huge steel tanks behind the bar, each is filled to the brim with glorious craft beer.  You just order by the tank’s number, it couldn’t be easier, and apparently this is the UK’s first dedicated tank bar.  

From there it was all aboard the Uber scooter and to one of my old-time favourites, the Well and Bucket on Bethnal Green Road.  Jeez, these guys have some killer beers.  But there’s another reason I’m drawn back to this bar; Crab Fries!  A bowl of fries to share, topped with loadsa white crabmeat, cheese, mayo and chilli.  They always hit the spot, but sadly not this time.  They seemed to have skimped on the crabmeat?  Why?  I mean, they are meant to be crab fries, right?  The clue is in the name?  Yeah, they were ok, but not blow ma socks off ok, which they’ve been on previous visits.  

Next on the agenda, the new Mikkeller bar.  Opened just a few days earlier and co-owned by non-other than 80’s legend Rick Astley, we just had to visit the first UK bar by this superb Danish brewer.  It was packed, mainly with hipster’esque, individuals, donning beanie caps and wild fascial hair.  The beer, as suspected, didn’t disappoint! If you’ve never had a beer brewed by Mikkeller, get involved.  Their branding alone is worth a look! THEN, finally, my favourite chow down joint after an epic boozing session, good old Beigel Bake.  Salt Beef Beigels all round, accompanied by the no nonsense somewhat abrupt service technique, life was good, very good!

Yep, some fine ale was had during those trips to London Town. But not just in London. The other week we made the annual pilgrimage to Rochford. It was beer festival week! From Wednesday to Saturday young and old flock to the freight house to sample all manner of ales and cider! Lou volunteers behind the bar, and with a smile on her face tends to the thirsty punters! You may recall last year, I wrote a whole blog on the wonders of the legendary Rochford beer fest?  What I love about it is everything remains a constant, year after year.  The same old faces appear, there’s loadsa beer, it’s busy; well actually very busy…..and the food is pretty naff.  Yeah, that’s right naff!  I love beer, but you can only drink so much until some sustenance is required. But here they’ve got it wrong? So, what can you get?  A mystery meat burger, some kinda sausage thingy between two slices of baguette, and a supposed ‘Gourmet’ sausage roll; I’ve had better gourmet sausage rolls from the local 24-hour service station. 

I tried the mystery meat burger; what can I say? There’s probably more meat content in a Linda McCartneys quarter pounder, and if the best thing about a burger is the fried onions somethings wrong. I love the beer fest, and trust me, I know what goes in to the organisation of this event, and it is extremely well done by some very dedicated and lovely people. I’m damn certain the freight house have them over a barrel on the catering front.  But come on, the freight house needs to wake up.  Just two or three pop up street food stalls outside is all it needs.  That’d would be superb. A couple immediately spring to mind; The Brisket Tin and legend Deli, they’d do a tremendous job, and keep the festival revellers satisfied, and ultimately drinking more beer! (You can have that idea on me!). 

Well there you go, the past couple of months have comprised of decorating and beer! Not bad really, being productive alongside hunting down some bloody dam fine brews.  And it’s only getting better. Soon, we will see the opening of ‘A Mile & A Third’. A new little craft beer bar opening on Hamlet Court Road. Just next door to the wonderful Frank & Luna’s.  I can’t wait to get down there. We’ve also got Craftwerks opening in Southend, again a brand-new craft beer venue.  Put these alongside the West Road Tap, the Crafty Half, Henry Burgers and Vino Vero, we’ve nearly got our very own Beer Mile!  Our local craft beer scene is ever increasing and rightly so.  Local pubs take note, if you’re just serving up cold boring lager, its time to up your game!

To read all of Foodie Rich's previous reviews please click here 

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