Welcome to the fourth edition of Raising the Bar – a fortnightly review of an establishment that a beer fan (such as yourself) should really pay a visit to. Each entry in the series will lay out why said place should be on your beery agenda, giving the key factors as to why these venues are so special.
Stormbird – Camberwell, London
Camberwell is one of London’s anomalies, slap bang in the middle of Zone 2 but somewhere folks don’t tend to have high on their list of must-visit neighbourhoods. It’s just slightly too far away from Oval tube or Denmark Hill station to be easily accessible without a bus, and as a result might serve to put some off when comfy Clapham or beautiful Balham are so nearby.
But those who have ventured to (or reside in) this part of the capital’s south-east are probably quite pleased about this. They can smile knowingly that Camberwell is home to some of the finest foodie venues in London, such as Theo’s Pizza, which specialises in all things wood-fired, or the incredible Zeret Kitchen, which serves up the best Ethiopian food you can get your injera-filled hands on, anywhere in the city. And the jewel in the Camberwell crown is the area’s premiere craft beer bar – Stormbird.
What appears as another unassuming pub on the busy main road becomes an Aladdin’s cave of wonders on entry. Inside a cosy fairylit room lies a handful of well-used tables, a magnificent collection of weird and wonderful tap handles, walls adorned with brewery memorabilla akin to how shields would adorn a great hall and, for my money, one of the (if not the) best beer selection any bar in London has to offer.
An old school (probably in both senses of the term) blackboard split into quadrants showcases cider in the bottom-right with pints of cask beside it – Siren and Thornbridge the hand-pulled order of the day. Top-left sits the sub-6% keg pints and the wares of Beavertown, Schneider Weisse, Lost and Grounded and Deya, and completing the square – the higher-ABV offerings priced in halves and thirds. You can tell a bar is special when heavy hitters and rarities from Cloudwater, Tilquin, Brew by Numbers, Northern Monk and experimental Beavertown brews are headliners in an already jaw-dropping selection, and whilst the taplist will be certainly be different on my next visit, I’m filled with excitement for seeing what treasures it has to offer from this wonderful hidden gem of a bar.
Why you should visit in a sentence: Somewhere off the beaten track (well, for London) that offers something truly special.
Where – 25 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8TR. 12 minute walk from Denmark Hill Overground station.
Selection on day of visiting (January) – 4 Cask, 2 Ciders and 16 Keg. As well as a solid bottle selection including the likes of Buxton/Omnipollo – Yellow Belly.
Highlight Beer – BBnO and Cloudwater – 70|01 Double Red. Dank, resinous, berries and goldilocks levels of boozyness in this collab.
Food Menu – None except crisps, but you’re minutes away from some of the city’s best when it comes to restaurants and Stormbird allows you to bring your own food in for free. So basically, widest foodest selection in the world.
Price of an average beer – Cask – £3 a pint. Keg – £4.95 a pint and for higher ABV beers – £3.70 a half.