An important part of this trip, is visiting newly opened craft beer destinations, which leads us to the southern part of London.
But first: coffee, at Federation Coffee this time. Then it’s time to collect a stamp and have some beers at BrewDog Brixton, until yesterday, BrewDog’s newest bar in London.
Anspach & Hobday only had their brewery taproom, until recently, but now they have The Pigeon, a pop-up bar serving a lot of their own beers, and a nice range of beers from other interesting breweries. And while we were down there, we visited the new Brew By Numbers taproom and Brick Brewing as well!
After the festivities in Paddington, we headed back to East London to grab a bite, and to finally check into our hotel—hub by Premier Inn—but only to drop off our bags… The night was still young, so we visited one more bar to have a few more beers.
We’ve been to quite a few BrewDog bars, and even have one in our home city, but somehow we’ve never been to an official opening night or EFP preview. Until now, that is: by sheer luck, BrewDog Paddington is opening during our visit to London, and we’re on the guest list for the special EFP preview tonight!
It’s going to be a long day, so we started with a hearty lunch at MEAT Liquor. Their restaurants had been on our list for quite some time, but the proximity to St. Pancras station and the weekday lunch deal, made this the perfect opportunity to finally try them! It turned out to be great value for money, and the fast service meant we were back on the street in no time, ready to continue our day in London.
We visited quite a few museums in London already, but until today, the Museum of London escaped our attention. Unrightfully so, because it is the perfect place to learn about the history of London, providing context for a lot of other museums and monuments we did visit before.
When we left London last time we visited it, we already knew we had to return soon, to get a stamp from then-about-to-open BrewDog Canary Wharf. However, a lot can change in half a year, and now we have not one, but three new BrewDog bars to visit—one of which will have its official opening during our visit! Apart from that, we also hope to have some drinks in the new Mikkeller bar, and the Anspach & Hobday pop-up The Pigeon.
Last year’s arduous bus journey was an effective reminder to book our train tickets earlier this time, and after taking advantage of a New Year’s offer, this must be one of our cheapest Eurostar trips so far!
Victoria Coach Station was the usual chaos and crowdedness I remember from my Megabus trips. Our Flixbus back to Brussels was late to start with, and boarding took ages. On the plus side: we would be crossing the Channel by ferry this time, so plenty of opportunity for decent meal!
The last day in London, time for one more BrewDog bar to complete the challenge!
So we had brunch in BrewDog Shoreditch, to recover a bit from the previous day, and we received the coveted ninth stamp. We decided not to claim the pint of Punk IPA we had earned straight away—it was still a bit early for pints—but to save it for whenever we can visit the soon-to-be-opened BrewDog Canary Wharf. That way, we can sort of earn the Big Smoke Badge twice, making it 10 bars out of 10!
Assuming the BrewDog bars would be too crowded on a Friday night, we decided to spend the evening on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, hoping for slightly fewer people, and to check out a couple of new places.
Since BrewDog got involved in the Hawkes Cidery, we decided to give their craft ciders a try at their taproom. The guys from Anspach & Hobday regularly visit Brussels, now it was our turn to visit them.
London Calling Sweden is a bit special, since their beer isn’t made on the Mile, or even in the UK! It’s brewed by Poppels in Sweden and imported. No brewing in the Moor Beer Company Vaults either, since that’s all done in Bristol, but at least the beer made it to London!
Art makes us hungry, so we headed to Flat Iron for the thing they do best: flat iron steak, or butlers’ steak, as it should probably be called in the UK.
Very tasty—no sauce needed—and the free salted caramel ice cream was quite welcome on a hot day like this!
For our coffee, we prefer to visit specialists, so after lunch we went to TAP Coffee No. 193—or should I already say Department of Coffee and Social Affairs?—for our daily shot of foaming caffeine. Too bad they used disposable plastic cups for our iced coffee…
We started our day in BrewDog Tower Hill, the biggest bar in the chain, since it opens earlier than any other, and it serves breakfast. Bacon rolls for the win!
Another attraction of the bar is the full-size brewing installation, technically making this the only—at least for now—BrewDog brewpub. Since the beers brewed there are only available in that bar, we had to try some, even if it wasn’t even noon yet…
Since we didn’t want all of our trip to be about beer, we also visited the National Gallery. There were so many paintings there I had to learn about for an exam just a couple of weeks ago! For instance: these Bathers, the first by Paul Cézanne, the second by Georges Seurat.
To start, we wanted to get some of the more remote bars done, so first up was the most southern BrewDog bar in London: BrewDog Clapham Junction.
We arrived mere minutes after they opened, but the welcome couldn’t have been warmer! We had some pizza to prepare us for an evening of beer, later topped up with some crack fries in the most western bar, BrewDog Shepherds Bush.
BrewDog Camden just underwent a ten day refurbishment, but luckily for us, it reopened tonight, reason for a big party. Unfortunately, they had some trouble with a few beers on tap, and the stamp was nowhere to be found…
The last bar of the day is the first one we hadn’t actually visited before: BrewDog Angel. In this bar there are some home brew kits one can use to brew their own beer, but for the occasion of a Two Tribes Tap Takeover, a professional brewer had taken over the mash paddle. Even before we had our drinks, we were given the grand tour, and invited to participate in the brewing process.
After over seven hours in a bus—luckily well air-conditioned—and the obligatory double customs checks, we caffeinated ourselves at Iris & June: excellent espresso from the local roasters Ozone Coffee.
After that, it was just late enough to check into our home for the next couple of nights: easyHotel London Victoria. Excess luggage dropped off, and we’re now ready to take on the challenge, and go to our first BrewDog bar!
We’ve been to London quite a few times before, visited a lot of sights and bars, but the introduction of BrewDog’s Beer Visa enticed us to revisit the Big Smoke, to earn the eponymous badge.
Al we need to do, is visit all nine BrewDog bars in the city, stamp out little booklets, and have our EFP cards swiped. Of course, we do need to have a drink in each bar as well…
It’s been a while since we’ve taken a bus to the UK, preferring a high speed train over a rather slow bus. However, because of our rather late decision to go on this trip, Eurostar prices had already risen to a ridiculously high level! So a trip by Flixbus it will be this time—Megabus doesn’t operate on the European mainland anymore—and from the money saved, we booked two nights in an easyHotel, conveniently close to Victoria Coach Station, so we can spread out our bar visits a little. The downside of this mode of transportation: we did have to get up quite early for a bus that will get us there before nightfall.
We got bumped from those nice places, by the way, since apparently now it’s possible to reserve specific seats, and we weren’t aware of that…
As we often do, we enjoyed our last British drinks — and a burger — at BrewDog Camden.
The Eurostar terminal was even more crowded than usual this time, and like on our way here, they’ve changed our seats last minute. 😢 Oh well, it’s only a short ride, and we’ll be home soon.