Home is where the heart is

Back to basics


Forged in the flames of founder Andy Smith’s background in fine dining, Partizan Brewing has been producing elegant beers, best enjoyed over dinner, since 2012, when it first moved into a railway arch on Southwark’s now iconic Bermondsey Beer Mile. It immediately found the community and camaraderie that the mile is now known for, even inheriting The Kernel’s old brew kit, sparking a friendship which has spanned over a decade now. It cannot be overstated how fundamental a part of the Bermondsey beer scene Partizan has been since then, a fact that’s now pertinent, given the extraordinary transition that has taken place for the brewery over the last year. 

Sadly, Partizan’s relationship with the movers, shakers and regular drinkers on the mile has outlived the economic conditions that allowed the brewery to set up shop, and stay in London for so long. Where inflation, energy costs and rent hikes have forced countless venues and breweries to shut over the last four years, Partizan curbed closure in March of last year, by relocating operations from Southwark, to Market Harborough in rural Leicestershire. 

“It wasn’t a planned move, but I don’t think that makes it any less important to talk about,” says Andy. “Moving was the responsible thing to do while we could still pay all our creditors, keep our accounts, and maintain great relationships with the people we worked with. Saying that, I think we’ve found ourselves in a good place where we are, and it feels kind of nice, in a way, that Partizan has landed on a farm.”

Partizan’s relationship with Langton Brewery, with whom Partizan now shares a facility, reaches back to 2018 when Andy was looking for a bigger site to move brewery operations into. Partizan was then looking for investors to support the move and found some in a small group of people then working in the farming industry but who wanted to learn more about brewing. A member of this group, Sion Roberts, soon broke away to start his own brewery in Salisbury Leicestershire, beginning the relationship between Partizan and Langton Brewery.

“I think the big win for me personally, in all this, is that I have the space to keep doing what I’m passionate about,” says Andy. “Of course I’m still very involved with the brewery at a business level, but I’m more of a brewer than an entrepreneur. So, this move has taken a lot of pressure off me in lots of ways, and I get to focus a bit more on production again.”

Of course, there is so much that Andy still misses about London. He has also recently relocated, following Partizan out into the countryside, and while he’s finding joy in a slower pace of life, the vigour with which he recalls the brewery’s time on the mile, speaks to connection with London, that I dare say might never have been broken, or at the very least will take a long time to weaken. 

“I think that even people just wandering past and sticking their head in, was quite a nice thing,” says Andy. “There were a bunch of really interesting people, just on our street, and on the road where we started. We had a guy who would pop in on occasion, and who’d been nominated for the Turner Prize twice, and would spend 18 hours a day trying to visually recreate his childhood trips to the Scottish coast. And he was just one of a whole bunch of interesting characters who were kind of indicative of the mixture of experiences you can have in a city. 

“Partizan was definitely inspired by London being such a vibrant, cultural place with lots of influences. We never really tried to do the thing where we would make hoppy beers and go to another brewery that makes hoppy beers and make a hoppy beer together. I think there can be a lot of fun in that, and it’s great to be able to get into the nuances with people who really know what you’re talking about, but we leaned more towards making beers with bartenders, or in one instance, a concert pianist.”

As sad as it is to think about Partizan leaving a city so formative to its identity, London looks after its own, and the brewery isn’t short of friends in Bermondsey. “We always had a really good customer on Southwark Park Road, Benno [Ghuman] is his name, and he owns a shop called Pitcher and Craft,” says Andy. “He’s a really nice guy, and comes from a family of off licence owners and managers, and basically he’s got some substantial space at the back of the shop and has offered to let us put a Partizan taproom in there, just because Benno was sad to see us leave the area.”

Andy says that, all going well, Partizan will have a presence in Bermondsey again before the summer is out. So watch this space, support your local breweries, and hold on tight to spaces you want to see flourish, into the future. 

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