There really are only a handful of great brewery taprooms in London. Mondo Brewing Company has one of them.
Ever since The Kernel popularised the concept of 'drinking at the brewery', many other London breweries have emulated the setup.* It is a great concept: it allows the consumer to drink the beer as fresh as possible, and to connect with the brewery on a more personal level. Saturdays at The Kernel quickly turned into Saturdays at [insert Bermondsey brewery], and many other breweries around the capital have followed along in due course.
"There is something to be said for a brewery that creates a space to serve customers in a more permanent, comfortable setting."
But few breweries have expanded beyond the Saturday-only or weekend-only model, or put in much effort to actually foster a truly nice drinking experience. To be sure, I do enjoy drinking at the makeshift brewery bars that have sprung up in railway arches and industrial parks. Yes, there is a certain romance to drinking beside a brew kit; however, there is also something to be said for a brewery that creates a space to serve customers in a more permanent, comfortable setting.
As I worked my way through a selection of the beers, I chatted to the barman, Tom Palmer, who is one of the co-founders and brewers at Mondo. Palmer, who hails from the US, told me they were trying to create an 'American style' taproom where the primary aim would be to showcase a broad range of beers. The team at Mondo has certainly hit that target. With few - if any - exceptions, there is no other brewery taproom in London with such a comprehensive range. Fourpure and Beavertown come close, but they cannot match the ambiance that Mondo confers on its patrons.
"The beers covered an impressive amount of terrain, stylistically speaking, signalling inspiration from Germany, Belgium and the US."
For a relatively young brewery - Mondo began selling beer in March before a wider launch in May - the beers are all well constructed and nicely balanced. The Germanic styles, in particular, are good, and would provide an excellent introduction for a drinker not familiar with, say, rauchbier or maibock, both of which are relatively esoteric styles here in the UK. Of course, the quality should come as no surprise: the folks behind Mondo have a wealth of brewing experience, with a stint at the beleaguered London Fields Brewery preceding their current endeavour.**
Having named the Mondo Tap House as the Best New Pub/Bar Opening of 2015 in my Golden Pints (and Mondo Brewing Company as runner-up for Best New Brewery Opening of 2015), it is obviously no secret that I am a fan of the work that they are doing. As we begin the new year, I hope more of you become aware of this great work, and perhaps even venture down to Battersea to try the beers from the source.
The Mondo Tap House is located at:
86 Stewart's Road
London SW8 4UG
And has the following winter opening hours:
*We could squabble over other breweries that might have had a 'drinking at the brewery' angle before The Kernel in 2010, such as perhaps Meantime or Fuller's, but when tracking the breweries most relevant to the more modern beer movement ('craft', if you will), I choose The Kernel as the forerunner.
**Regardless of what you think - or thought - about London Fields and its ownership, the brewing team there did put out some very good beers.