Certainly one of my favourite "Best of London" discoveries from ales by mail is Brew By Numbers. I first tried their Berliner weisse about a year ago and knew they were on to something. They now rank alongside their Bermondsey brethren of Kernel and Partizan among the elite of London brewers and I'm on a mission to try more. In early February I spent an enjoyable afternoon following the now obligatory beer pilgrimage around the rail tracks and spent a few hours in the good company of Andy @tabamatu in the packed BBNo brewery. I later got hold of some bottles to try; so here are my thoughts.
A couple of porters up first, one with liberty and one dubbed traditional. Liberty first then at 5.7% is hazy dark brown, fluffy beige head, piney hop notes and cocoa. Full bodied, low carbonation, v easy drinking, rich dark malt with cocoa, toasty malt and well balanced by leafy herbal hops
The traditional porter is even better at 6.5% dark loamy brown with frothy tan head. Cocoa and toast. Robust and rich, earthy roast barley, coffee and toast. Superb, reaffirms my love of porters. This is sparring against Anspach and Hobday as my favourite porter of the year.
Coming in a smidge higher is the export stout at 7.4%. Pours opaque ebony brown with pillowy tan head and earthy rich roast barley nose. Full body with spritzy carbonation, coffee and chocolate. Rich, hides its strength well. Umami dry toast., touch of lemon peel. V drinkable. Rich cherry notes.
Saison seems to be an area of expertise for the brewery and in addition to a fantastic motueka & lime and wai-iti and lemon sampled at the brewery I picked up a Nelson Sauvin saison. Now antipodean hops pair brilliantly with the fruity Belgian yeasts and again there's no exception here.Pouring hazy pale blonde with pillowy cream head. Rich gooseberry and passion fruit on the nose, redolent of a sauvingnon blanc. Fairly soft medium mouthfeel with a gentle carbonic tingle, fruit peel bitterness at first, then creamy wheat and plenty of fruity gooseberry with a pause for Flinty yeast before progressing to a fruity dry finish. Excellent stuff.
Another style that's (perhaps controversially) all the rage is session IPA. I'll save my thoughts on the genesis of this style for another post and just talk about the beer here. This one combines citric Amarillo and more Nelson Sauvin. opaque golden beer with fluffy off white head. Mango rind aroma. Full bodied pithy bitterness with juicy satsuma and slight sweaty feet. Amarillo running the party here and doesn't quite hit the spot for me. A prime example of "London Murky".
Finally we have a full blown IPA, this time with simcoe and chinook. BBNo redeem themselves here, yes still hazy but with a much more inviting lime peel and passion fruit nose. Medium body, gentle carbonation, "ruinously drinkable". So sessionable for its strength. Juicy fruit, gentle bitterness, peach, tangerine, verbena. Delicious, best ipa I’ve had in a while. Perfectly balanced.
So with an average score of 4/5 (and only the session IPA letting the side down slightly) Brew by Numbers have comfortably entered my Top 5 UK breweries alongside the likes of Redchurch, Siren, Buxton and Wiper & True. I urge you to seek them out and try for yourselves. I certainly feel vindicated including them in my ones to watch, with more fun on the way in the shape of barrel ageing.