Mike enjoys beer by numbers on a Peckham rooftop.
I arrive with friends Julian and Blue (nick name acquired at school, possibly related to pornography) and we ascend the fire escape to a half way up half roof with a row of festival portaloos waiting patiently for the onslaught.
An internal concrete staircase then takes us several more flights to the top. This is good exercise ahead of beer and the promise of kebabs prepared by the Babek Brothers. At the top we walk out onto a large sunny, walled rooftop buzzing with people stood chatting or sat eating as a DJ delivers gentle beats from his decks.
Jules has forgotten to buy fags but the thought of all those stairs postpones his inevitable trip to the corner shop. We walk under festoon lighting rigged for later and head for the bar where many smiling bar staff await our every need.
Turns out apart from Jules and his fags we only have one need right now: beer. The London Beer Factory have come up with a beautifully simple bar design with twenty numbered beer pumps in a line on the back wall and a correspondingly numbered menu on the bar.
I start with No1 – not quite with the intention of completing the full task but maybe slightly. No1 is London Bohemia, a lovely crisp cold lager. Jules has a No6; Summer Session IPA and Blue the No3; Chelsea Blonde Ale – not often you find a Chelsea Blond in Peckham.
Plywood stepped levels line the wall, presumably so as not to discriminate against shorter people who deserve, just as much as we do, to gaze upon the views of South London with the late sun twinkling off our beloved hometown Crystal Palace transmitter.
We congregate around a barrel table and drink in the beer and the view whilst being gently cooled by a light breeze infused with the scent of grilling Kebabs. This may be as close to heaven as we will ever get. For Jules, however, the celestial picture is not quite complete and he is forced to trudge off in search of ciggys.
We order the meaty ones as the prospect of eating anything associated with UKIP is off the menu (actually because we all like meat). Sides of hand cut paprika fries and grilled Padron Peppers complete the order.
Time for another pint while we wait. I try No11, the formidably named X Nanban- Beer for Faye Wong, a dark lager with Porcini and Shitake mushrooms Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it’s nice but whatever next? Broccolager?
Blue tries a half of No12 – Screaming Alice. A half? I enquire, but it’s a powerful 7.2% American Red Ale Ã¢â‚¬â€œ tasty but dangerous, as I imagine Alice was. He has another half of Sayers milk stout infused with vanilla.
Jules is back and as he puffs we discuss the music. What genre it? It’s not belaric. Not rare grooves – Unrare grooves maybe? It turns slightly soulful so Jules labels it Ã¢â‚¬Å“James BeigeÃ¢â‚¬Â.
As the sun begins to set we notice that looking North you can actually see the rival Franks rooftop with tiny silhouetted animated figures. Are they dancing? Are they having a better time? It looks like they still have the sun. I doubt they have such a choice of beer though.
Time to get the kebabs. They are moist tasty and filling with especially squishy wraps and nice fresh salad which feels almost healthy. The music is getting louder now and it changes mood with each track.
Some classic Europop with Yellow’s The Race is followed quite closely by Dolly Parton’s Jolene set to a beat, before it then goes full disco classics. The festoon lighting is on and people are dancing, I wonder if Franks are watching us now, it’s a pretty scene. We could win this’rooftop off’.
I talk to Simon Cotton of The London Beer Factory, he agrees Franks has a better view into town but he’s not competing with that Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they are a brewery and it’s all about the beer (they also do three gins).
He started home brewing after his dad taught him an appreciation of ales and he got’geeky on it’ during college. The brewery has now been going three years and he says commercial brewing is way easier than home as the temperature control is so much easier. This rooftop space was only used for the odd photoshoot so he begged to get it and can now open for sixteen Fridays and Saturdays over the summer.
The place continues to buzz until half ten when the security guy politely informs us it’s coming to an end. A shame the powers that be close it so early but it’s been well worth coming.
We descend to half way and visit those portaloos, which are in a surprisingly clean state compared to those you encounter at festivals.
Back a ground level we judge the evening to have been a great success and then it occurs to us it’s a bit early to call it a dayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ where can we get one for the road?