We're catching up with Partizan who'll be soon celebrating their tenth birthday
Saturday 20 November 2021
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Like looking at contemporary pictures of Macaulay Culkin, the fact that Partizan will celebrate its tenth birthday next year is guaranteed to make any craft beer veteran feel old. Fortunately though, Partizan is looking considerably better than Mr Culkin, and we’re pleased to say the brewery is growing old gracefully in its quintessential London railway arch, at the cockney end of the Bermondsey beer mile.
While it’s still avidly exploring interesting new flavour combinations, Partizan doesn’t run to quite the same punishing schedule of never-to-be-repeated brews that it used to, having pinned down an amazing portfolio of core and regular beers, alongside the experimentation.
“We’ve found a real niche in casual dining over the past couple of years,” says founder Andy Smith. “We did a little bit of work with a branding consultant, which showed us that loads of our accounts are in casual dining; those businesses liked the contemporary aesthetic of our brand, and the fact that a lot of our beers pair very easily with food. Lemon and thyme, which is going into the Beer52 London box, is a great example of that; there’s a bit of acidity there and I think sweet and sour is easy to pair with most food.
“Those restaurants need a steady supply of the same beers, always available and always consistent. And so yeah, we have started having a few more consistent brews because we’ve realised that’s a big thing for our accounts in London, and we want to be able to make sure we’ve got those things for those guys. We’re still doing one or two one-off brews a month, which is much less than the days where it was like three different brews a week.”
Being so focused on London, and based in Bermondsey, it’s unsurprising that Andy has a lot of thoughts on how the capital’s beer scene has evolved over the past strange couple of years, and how drinkers’ priorities and expectations have changed.
“I think the neighbourhoods in London have done pretty well during the pandemic,” he says. “One of the things that people have done is just stick to their neighbourhoods and not travel quite as much as before, which has been good. People would spend ages figuring out where they wanted live in London, and then travel to a different area to go out; that was a very standard thing to do. But it feels like there’s been this collective consciousness to, you know, invest in your neighbourhood, go out and spend money around where you live a little bit more. The flip side is the areas that rely on tourism, and areas like the City where people work but don’t live, have been struggling a bit more.”
As a bona fide beer destination, as well as a neighbourhood hangout, it’s hard to say how the beer mile has been affected by this trend. Partizan’s taproom sales are obviously down, but moving to table service when Saturday nights had previously seen queues at the bar was always going to be a blow. The bar is still at capacity during the weekend though, and Andy is confident that, as restrictions continue to lift and punters find their confidence again, the crowds will return to Bermondsey.
“I think London eventually will return to normal completely. It’s such a dynamic city; the reason so many people choose to live here is because of all of this stuff going on. And eventually, once those barriers are removed, people are going to start making that five-minute journey again, going to the theatre, or football matches or an interesting pub they’ve heard about.
“I don’t think the neighbourhood thing is going to last forever, but I think there’s going to be a bit of weight behind it for the next couple of years at least. I do think it is a good thing though, you know, and I’m seeing some real good stories of communities getting behind breweries and pubs during all this. And I really hope that people do think about that a little bit more because if, God forbid, something like this ever happens again, at least they’ve got a bunch of good stuff on their doorstep.”
In the box: Lemon and Thyme saison
“It’s a classic pairing, lemon and thyme. As is lemon and beer of course; we’ve basically mad a grown-up shandy, and the addition of thyme just kind of lends itself to that sort of aperitivo idea, where there’s a little bit of aromatics to complement food. There’s lemon juice in there and lemon zest, and the lemons that we’re buying really fragrant, so it’s generally a very dry, aromatic beer.
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