Last Wednesday I visited The Other Room, a small, unassuming craft beer bar in Bermondsey. I had been invited to its monthly “eat the brewer” event, at which five dishes are paired with five beers from one of London’s premier craft beer breweries. Last week’s chosen brewery was Brew By Numbers, with the beers paired with five cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy – that’s right, beer and cheese. BEER AND CHEESE.
I arrived early and was warmly greeted by manager, beer blogger and certified cicerone Thomas Barbera, a man whose enthusiasm for beer is irresistible. It may be small, but The Other Room has an abundance of charm thanks to the various paintings that adorn the walls, all purchased on eBay (as I admired them, I couldn’t help but wonder whether there was a forgotten masterpiece amongst them). Beer-wise, there are six keg lines dedicated to London breweries and numerous bottles and cans from London and beyond, so you won’t be hard pressed to find a beer to suit your inclination.
Thomas presented each cheese course, while the beers were introduced by respected beer writer Chris Hall, who also heads up sales and media for Brew By Numbers and writes the excellent blog on the brewery’s website. The beers and cheeses were matched according to intensity, and most were complimentary. However, while harmony is desirable, sometimes conflict is necessary, and Thomas created it by pairing the 05|15 IPA Citra and Azacca with a Hafod cheddar, creating an explosion of competing flavours that left my mouth numb. As for Chris? He has an aura of serenity that Buddhist Monk’s aspire to, but he comes alive when talking about beer, and he introduced each with passion and insight (including rattling off the history of Gose when introducing 19|01).
There has been much debate on Twitter recently about beer events, but while it has focussed on their content and structure, we can’t underestimate the contribution of passionate beer people. Both Thomas and Chris made this event, and The Other Room is a great addition to the Bermondsey beer scene – it’s welcoming and has a manager and a team who are passionate about good beer and food (they also make their own beer bread, served at brunch each weekend). What’s also interesting is that while it’s very different from a traditional pub, it’s very much a locals’ pub, with regulars dropping in for a post-work beer. It’s a fine example of how drinking beer in London has evolved, and with Thomas’s positive vibes, it’s no surprise that people keep coming back.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by Thomas, free of charge, and Chris Hall is a friend. However, I was under no obligation to write a blog post or make with the kudos, but as the night was so enjoyable I was keen to share my experience. Go.