Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Partizan Brewery

This new brewery has been mentioned a lot in the craft beer world recently.  Lizzie and I had no plans on Saturday so decided we'd go and check it out.

Partizan Brewery consists basically of one man! Andy Smith runs the brewery in a railway arch in Bermondsey about 15 mins walk east of The Kernel and he opens it up every Saturday for the public to come and buy his beer.  He told us how he pretty much does everything himself (he gets the odd helper from time to time) and that it takes a day to brew, but also a full day to bottle a brew and a full day to label them!

There were 5 beers on offer - two pale ales (both made with different varieties of hops - primarily from the US and NZ), an IPA, a porter and a stout. Between myself, Lizzie and friend Marc we tried all but the porter and they were all delicious. The two pale ales were both equally as nice and really showcased how using a simple malt base brings out the hop flavour and allows subtle changes in hop choice to come through really clearly in the taste.  One used mostly US hops and had a clean dry quite bitter taste, the other used a NZ hop (pacific jade I think) which I think gave it a more punchy fruit cocktail taste.  The IPA had the hoppiness of the pale ales but with a slight caramelly taste and some extra strength (my personal favourite).  The stout was strong at 8.6% but really didn't taste it - I find a lot of strong stouts have a bitter harshness and I can't drink much, this however was really smooth and drinkable. I'd like to have drank some more but we thought we'd save ourselves for a couple of Kernels... it seemed wrong not to go there as well with it only being down the road.  I think a few other people were doing the same.

It made me a little jealous seeing what Andy had done, he had a really good set-up, most of the brewing kit had been given to him by Evin from The Kernel. I spoke briefly with brewer Toby from Kernel (who was also sampling the beers), he said they had a few offers for the kit but it seemed the right thing to give it to someone who needs it to fulfill an aspiration, it was obviously going to a loving home and I really commend Evin for doing that. I've got to give the labels a quick mention too... I didn't speak with Andy about how he gets them made but the designs are excellent.

One thing which made me happy about visiting Partizan is being reminded just how closely related brewing on a bigger scale is to what I do at home.  Andy's bottle capper is a bit bigger than mine and obviously he brews on a bigger scale but other than that, the process remains the same and the fact that it's still on a smallish scale compared with big mass producing breweries enabled me to see the similarities a lot clearer.  He mentioned to me that I should have brought one of my beers along for him to try - I might just do that next time... any criticism (or praise) would be gratefully received and well respected. To be honest, I think it's a privilege to drink beer being produced on this scale... It's clear from being there that Andy is able to give the beer his full attention, handpicking each ingredient and monitoring things closely to ensure the beer meets his standards. It certainly meets mine.

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