By the numbers
The Bermondsey legends, still showing the way
Saturday 13 February 2021
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Brew By Numbers has had plenty of time to hone its craft. Eight years, to be exact. Not a long stretch in any other industry perhaps, but in beer, where careers are born and made within months, to stick it out and become one of the country’s most innovative yet exciting breweries in a time of great disruption is quite an achievement.
The brewery’s Mike Burt, like most people within the beer world, has had a tough time making it through 2020. But now that the world’s worst year is starting to become a memory rather than a daily reality, with some space to think, he’s found that his team have a lot to be positive about.
“Despite everything,” he says, “we had the chance to develop our online presence. Being without our pub customers and our own tap room in Bermondsey meant we spent time looking at how we could work directly with people who want to drink our beer.”
“There was definite positive growth in that respect.”
Looking for silver linings elsewhere, Mike adds that adapting the brewery’s community to online spaces has been a boost too.
“Online festivals have shown us a different way to interact,” he says.
Even though Zoom fatigue is a real thing, you do have to admit that online get-togethers make getting beer tastings more accessible to a wider group of people. There’s a balance to strike, and Mike believes they’ve found some great ways to reach out during a time when physical meet-ups just aren’t possible.
“Tap-takeovers and beer festivals have been replaced by podcasts and online beer parties,” he says. “We might not have thought this was something we’d end up doing, but you have to look at the situation. We’ve learned how to be more adaptable and flexible — that’s the spirit we’ve been working in.
“In 2021, I do see the trend for lower ABV beers really taking off,” Mike says. “People are starting to seek out table beers and light lagers, they’re going to become much less of a special item and more available.”
As far as specialist beer styles go, Mike thinks this year’s trend will be for old favourites made with care.
“The lager renaissance has been talked about for the best part of a decade, and we already have some excellent breweries here specialising in the style, but I think 2021 is going to be the year lager in the UK is refined and perfected.”
He also predicts a rise in the brewing of classic oldies.
“Golden ales and best bitters, I can see them making a comeback in newer breweries in a big way,” he says.
“I think beers will become less adjunct-y and there will be less looking to the US for ideas. Brewers in the USA are already taking inspiration from these styles and brewing well-made English-style beers and even cask.
“I think after years of hazy IPAs, where there’s only so many of these beers you can realistically brew, brewers are taking a lot of pleasure in really nailing those styles where there’s nothing to hide.
“Also,” he adds, “hop prices are continuing to rise all over the world. Hop contracts are getting harder to find, given the added difficulties of harvesting through the pandemic. English beers can be made beautiful with fewer ingredients.”
He’s got a point. It makes sense for so many reasons that these styles would make a bigger impact in craft beer this year. But what else is going on in 2021?
“We’re moving to our new brewery and opening another tap room!” Mike says, excitedly.
“It’s going to be part of a community hub with a communal area, and will be part of a bigger group of people, residents and businesses on Greenwich Peninsula. We’ve been looking for the right location for a while and this is the exact place for us. It’s right on the Thames, there’s a great view of London and we can’t wait to be able to have people down there drinking our beer and having a good time.”
In the box: 05 | East Coast 2021 Loral & Ekuanot
“The beer in your Beer52 box is a hazy, juicy, soft East Coast IPA; a style we’ve been honing for 3-4 years,” Mike explains, sharing that BBNo was actually one of the first breweries to explore these hazy styles in the UK.
Using Loral and Ekuanot, it’s a blend of lemon, lime and papaya aromas with a little touch of white pepper spice.
“Getting that balance right between tropical and citrus, softness and bite, is really what we’re all about. Balance is the bottom line. I wanted to share this beer because it gives a proper indication of where we’re at as a brewery right now.”
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