London – Southwark (Borough of) – The Barrel Project

This is the Barrel Project, which interested me as it is the taproom of the London Beer Factory and they say that it’s a fluid space which is used for numerous different purposes. The brewery themselves are located in Norwood and they were founded by brothers in 2013. This space along the Bermondsey Beer Mile is in their words, “a joint blendery, conditioning area, and taproom for the London Beer Factory”.

My phone didn’t like the lighting in the venue as the quality of the photos isn’t great, but they give an indication of what the interior looks like. It took a minute or so for a staff member to notice me at the entrance, and although that isn’t very much time at all, I know I stand awkwardly whilst waiting to be noticed. I don’t want to draw attention to myself as I’m British, but equally I did want to be noticed so that I could be seated. To deal with this dilemma, I looked at my phone so I appeared to be casually waiting without looking like I was annoyed at waiting. It’s a hard balance and challenging not to stand looking awkward…. Anyway, I digress.

The main bar, a traditional style frontage which looks quite grand. The venue is generally well reviewed, although I noted the:

“Sterile, gimmicky, the ‘craft’ beer scene at its worst. Can’t see it lasting”

That was three years ago, and it seems to be lasting quite well…. I didn’t find it formulaic, it ended up feeling vibrant and on-trend for me without really needing to try. The nod towards a traditional style also works well with the modern elements.

And another 1/5 review of:

“Stag groups not allowed in”.

Good.

Everything else is much more positive in terms of reviews, with the atmosphere here feeling very relaxed and informal. Although being located in railway arches does make for a poor phone signal.

To the left are some of the hundreds of barrels which are located here, along with the seating which goes all the way to the back of the unit. It was busy on the Sunday afternoon that I visited, with most of the tables occupied during the entire time that I was there.

There was a printed menu for customers, but I did like that they’d still made the effort to chalk the beer list onto the wall as well. There were numerous different beers that I wanted to try, but I limited myself to 1/3 of three of the stouts.

And the three beers, with the staff member very carefully remembering which was which, pretty useful since they’re all stouts that look the same. Not that it matters to anyone, but I can still remember the order, so I shall note that here as a nod towards my professionalism….. All brewed by the London Beer Factory themselves, the top one is the Big Milk Stout, then the one with the head in the middle is the Zia and then the one at the bottom is the Wonky Tonk. The first two beers were very acceptable, but it was the third one that interested me the most.

I left the Wonky Tonk until last as I thought it would be the best, and it did work out like that. The description for the beer reads:

“A three bean stout, dripping with deep chocolate, heady vanilla and roasted almondy tonka beans. Layered and luxuriant, this beer morphs as it warms, cascading through the strata of flavours. Relaxing you into that post-dinner armchair”.

That sounds decadent. And it didn’t disappoint, a rich and full mouthfeel with a delicious initial chocolate hit. A smooth aftertaste, almost like a liquid hot chocolate, but with slightly nutty and vanilla flavours. Really quite lovely, and I didn’t get bored of it either, sometimes these strong ABVs, and this was 11.5%, can get a little harsh by the end. I like beers with a real depth of flavour.

This is the third attempt that I’ve made to get in here, they’ve been too busy before. However, I’m glad that I persisted, as the welcome was authentic, the interior is quirky and interesting, with no shortage of excellent beers to try. The service is friendly and knowledgeable, so definitely a recommended visit for anyone visiting the Bermondsey Beer Mile.