So after such a long time away in a virtual world it was fantastic to return to hosting in-person brewery tours over the past couple of weekends. Apart from the freedom to travel, being able to meet and greet customers personally is what I have missed most during lockdowns. Add to that the wonderful teams in all the many taprooms and breweries that welcome and look after us. So it was a real treat to return to Bethnal Green, Hackney and Bermondsey.
Up until Step 3 of the roadmap on the 17th May we are limiting our tours to smaller groups as per Government restrictions. It is fair to say that every brewery and taproom that I have visited has done everything they can to maintain the safety of their customers in these current circumstances. Limited numbers, distanced tables, strict hygiene protocols, wearing of masks, checking in via QR codes and using outside spaces only to allow the flow of fresh, clean air. You have to applaud everyone for the due diligence they have carried out to ensure our safety. And the most impressive aspect is that the customer experience is as good as it ever was.
My first pint of cask since last summer was enjoyed at Southwark Brewing. A perfectly poured pint of their flagship LPA, beautifully clear and golden with a light, refreshing malt/hop taste with that sublime gentle carbonation, so beloved of our cask ales. It didn’t touch the sides! I was mightily impressed that the teams had managed to offer such a wide ranging and varied choice of beers, enough to satisfy anyone’s palate and all served in premium condition. The iconic Porter at Anspach and Hobday never fails to disappoint and I was stoked to taste their nitro version, London Black – a beer that is sure to delight the members of another tour booked towards the end of the month, a bunch of Guinness drinkers from the south coast.
I was both overjoyed and relieved to also see that a number of the teams managed to make it through lockdown. I had been worried that many of my beer friends had been forced to move on to other pursuits during the pandemic but it was such a boost to catch up with Joe, Oscar, Simon, Luis and Mauritz among many others. Note, the Raspberry Sour by Kernel is going to be massive this summer. If it ever turns up that is.
A couple of things to consider now the taprooms and brewers are open. Dress for the weather. Outside seating only until the 17th May (hopefully indoors will be allowed from then). Book a table, don’t leave it to chance. Remember that it is a maximum if 6 outside, at least up to the 17th May. Check in using the NHS QR code – everyone within your group, not just who has booked the table. Follow the safety protocols recommended by each site. Be kind to the teams, they’ve been through a lot. They deserve our support.
And enjoy yourselves!