#hoppyplaceontour. A Hoppy Day out in London
Yesterday, Naomi and I got our first day truly both off at the same time, and not working in any capacity, of year.
ps, this is long, so get a coffee or a beer or something. Sometimes it’s just nice to get away… I just wish the landscape for Hospitality meant we could get completely away..
Naturally, the only sensible thing to do was plan a bit of a pub crawl. I mean, we do after all love what we do (even if it’s occasionally exhausting! )
The crawl had less than the planned number of stops, mostly because, and the reason I have to write this up now, I just have to share – the new Kernel Taproom in Bermondsey is f*cking brilliant. But more on that quite a bit later. First…
We started our day with a Meander through Borough Market, which was somewhat emotional as this was a common walk with Naomi’s Dad before he passed away. The first stop of the day was for a half of Brew York’s Debaser Sour in The Southwark Tavern, a spot that still has a lot of charm, has implemented guidelines very well, and looked after us nicely as we sat outside. Listening to, and watching, people heading to and fro and about the market was a cathartic, and powerful time of reflection for us. Also, There was a (personally) stunning smell of baked cheese coming from the Tapas bar opposite. Although Naomi hated the cheese smell, life was good.
From there, we headed to The Rake, where I had a wonderful Dry & Bitter IPA, and Naomi a Kiwi Sour from Fierce x NZBC. We were told it was a Kiwi Sour. New Zealand Beer collective are Kiwi Breweries. But for whatever reason it didn’t dawn on me it’d have Kiwi in it. As I’m allergic, Naomi didn’t have to share that one with me. She didn’t care. She still wanted some of mine though… Pah.
10 minutes into our drink it finally dawned on us we were sat behind Melissa Cole, who we’d not seen since Love Beer London back in Feb. Hello’s were shared along with a few mins of “how the hell will we do Tier 3 if it comes to it”. More on this also anon. It was lovely to briefly catch up before we ran off in pursuit of Pizza and more beer.
Now, I’ll skip a few steps, you’ve not got all day. The pizza from Pizza Pilgrims alongside two beers from Birra Del Borgo (of which both were new to me!) was divine, but amongst this lunch stop at 3pm, we really started to think – boy, is it quiet in town…
But not to worry – onto Bermondsey we go! The mile is always a lively spot.
The previous time we’d visited Anspach and Hobday, it WAS a Saturday, but a February Saturday. Nonetheless the atmosphere was pumping. Which is I must confess, more than can be said for their toilets at the time – which, mid renovation, were “porta”, and certainly leaving a certain bouquet in the air. THIS TIME, and with the taproom in dramatically better nick, and their new tapwall looking resplendent, we sat down for a couple of flights. I absolutely love Anspach and Hobday, we list as much of their beer as we can.
However, at granted what was only about 17:00, but clearly now into “after work” and about as busy as a Thursday is likely to get, we were for too much of our visit the only two customers in the building. This is what Tier 2 does to hospitality. People don’t meet their mates, offices can’t go out as a group. Only couples and students are really viable customers, and the latter mostly filling out the Wetherspoons and not much else leaves not many of the former to fill too many seats and pay too small an amount of the bills.
The support announced for Tier 2 venues doesn’t touch the sides on what is by my reckoning a 90% drop in trade.
Whilst feeling a little depressed about it all, we still loved our beers, my flight’s key memory being The Rauchbier, which was a Herta Frankferta in a glass – smokey but not oppressively so, and very easy to drink. A fine UK alternative to the mightly Schlenkerla Smokebeer.
But wow. London has lost a lot. I can’t help but think about just how much damage this legislation is causing. Whilst PHE data will tell you 4% of covid cases are sourced in hospitality, and whilst schools continue to remain fully open even in tier 3 (with repeated budget cuts over decades giving them no choice but to simply give up on all but the most rudimentary distancing measures), legislation, rhetoric and propaganda are targeting hospitality in a vastly disproportionate fashion.
Pete brown a month ago cited education and care homes, on PHE data, as being 66% of infection sourcing, versus 5% hospitality: https://www.petebrown.net/2020/09/22/covid-resurgence-why-pubs-are-not-the-problem/
The following month had rates actually fall to 4%, meanwhile, current percentages show schools and universities combine lead to 36%, and carehomes another 25%, still 61% of UK infections.
Whilst restricting the risk of integration of unrelated support bubbles/households is clearly key to fighting the virus – 2 months of hospitality remaining open through Eat Out To Help Out just goes to prove that given the very low rates attributed to hospitality are down to the fact that the measures we have in place are working.
But here we are, with tier 2, and tier 3, crippling our industry, and these tiers not changing on the rules on schools at all. Why target an industry that implemented the rules perfectly, and keeps heads in the sand as to where measures, and funding of those measures, are really required. This simply does not make sense.
Digression over, and I apologise for the length of it, we went on with our day. We managed only one more stop. Because it was glorious. Our previous February foray to the mile sadly had us miss The Kernel taproom, simply reason being that it didn’t at the time exist. Bottle sales only from the Brewery and a restrictive timeslot made us miss out on the brewery that started it all. But now, their new Tap under the arches on the mile is open. And it’s alright.
We’d intended to visit a few more spots last night, but that wily Kernel had our asses firmly planted. The Beer Menu? Completing it was merely a formality. We were also treated to a round of freshly baked Focaccia from the bakery next door, which for the total of our 3 or so hour stay, tortured us with absolutely fantastic aromas. I wonder if, working next to such a sensory explosion, I’d eventually tire of it. I doubt it.
It was an absolute pleasure to be in such a wonderful space, the two of us being two of about 8 total customers present on prime time on a Thursday. We imagine it’ll still be rocking on a Fri and Sat, but nonetheless all I’d say is, if you can get there within the rules – GET THERE – Get to the mile generally, support your local brewery or bottle shop, order from them online. Do what you can to help the industry through this. We are creating amazing, safe spaces with brilliant beer and food, and we can’t do it without you.
So yes, it was a day off, and I got home feeling recharged after another tough week, ready to keep going, but with plenty to think over. The impact of mental health within society through this pandemic is a story that will take years to unravel. Be with people in a safe way. Look after eachother.
Cheers, with thanks to the team at The Kernel who helped us have a wonderful evening, and to everyone else we bumped into yesterday too.