Craft beer – interesting, progressive beers made by small-scale breweries, and distinct from real ale – is often explosively hoppy and quite unlike traditional British beer. An increasing number of London bars and pubs are specialising in them. Here's our pick. Do you have a favourite bar that serves brilliant craft beer? Let us know about it – leave a comment below.
Reviews by Euan Ferguson, David Clack, Eddy Frankel, Ashleigh Arnott, Alex Plim, Andy Hill and Ananda Pellerin.
RECOMMENDED: Find the best craft beer from around the UK
Craft beer in central London
A quick taster Smart, stylish and moody, with loads of London pride (not on tap, thankfully).
Make mine… There’s usually something from west London experimentalists Weird Beard on tap – fans of bold flavours and high ABVs should start here.
When to visit Depends how fond you are of bankers. It’s closed at the weekend, so aim for pre-5pm if you’ve ever been on an anti-austerity march.Read more
A quick taster Flagship London bar from the world-conquering Scottish brewery.
Make mine... You'd be mad to miss out on the full range of Brewdog's amazing beers; a post-work Punk IPA will never have tasted fresher.
When to visit You know those nights out in Soho when you can never find a bar big enough or cool enough or cheap enough to fit the bill? Then.Read more
A quick taster Craft Beer Co bars are the city’s superlative craft beer destinations, and this is the original branch.
Make mine… Shut your eyes and point somewhere, drink what you’re given. It’s all amazing.
When to visit At the finishing line of a craft beer nerdathon. No one in London knows craft beer better.Read more
A quick taster Popular Exmouth Market boozer that’s always buzzing but never rammed.
Make mine… Bermondsey brewery Anspach & Hobday’s often on the taps. Look out for the incredible Smoked Brown.
When to visit It’s one of those time-honoured pubs that seems to fit every occasion: contemplative solo pint, birthday party, quiet-meal-for-two treat.Read more
A quick taster Right in the centre of central London, a bar that puts beer before all.
Make mine… The focus is on real ales from British breweries, all kept exceptionally well.
When to visit One of those occasions you inexplicably find yourself in Trafalgar Square on a Saturday…Read more
Craft beer in north London
A quick taster The perfect little pub in many ways, with a dedication to British craft beer.
Make mine... The landlord’s a Yorkshireman, so God’s Own County is often well-represented on the taps.
When to visit The Tuesday night pub quiz is easygoing enough to still enjoy a few pints between rounds.Read more
A quick taster A neighbourhood pub that makes buying a house in the area worthwhile (dream on!).
Make mine… A big blackboard lists what’s on the 20 taps: it’s often hard to look past the Five Points Pale Ale, though, which is always on.
When to visit If you’re not lucky enough to live nearby, seek it out if you’re in Stokey.Read more
Craft beer in east London
A quick taster Maybe the best craft beer bar in London: there’s always an incredible selection.
Make mine... Look out for exclusive brews on tap from Mikkeller, the sought-after Danish brewer.
When to visit Bethnal Green is fast becoming the craft beer nexus of London: stop off here on a tour taking in the Redchurch Brewery taproom and the King's Arms.Read more
A quick taster A cutting-edge live music venue with a dedication to London-brewed beer.
Make mine... The beer’s as local as you like: take your pick from Hammerton, Hackney Brewery, Five Points, Pressure Drop… All made nearby.
When to visit Before a gig downstairs: so much better than the usual music-venue lager in a plastic cup.Read more
A quick taster One of the best pubs in London, full stop. And the beer is always brilliant.
Make mine... There’s often a mild pouring: take advantage and try this traditional but still relevant style.
When to visit It’s not really near much else, but it’s worth making a special trip here.Read more
Craft beer in south London
A quick taster Casual, convivial and warmer than a hug from Chewbacca.
Make mine… If it’s value for money you seek, whatever’s strongest – the three cask offerings are always £3.50, regardless of ABV.
When to visit Ideally during one of the monthly ‘meet the brewer’ events, (free, but you need to book) which involve borderline suspicious quantities of free beer.Read more
A quick taster A delightful local that just so happens to have an amazing range of craft beer.
Make mine… The massive Meantime is nearby, but how about something more independent, from the also nearby Partizan or Kernel?
When to visit When the sun shines, you can take your ale out on to the heath. Bliss.Read more
A quick taster A pint-sized south London local that’s far too easy to settle into.
Make mine… It’d be rude not to try one of the Late Knights brews.
When to visit It’s a welcoming spot no matter the time of day – settle in on a sunny afternoon and stay there until dark.Read more
A quick taster Colonial-themed Battersea bar with a surprisingly thoughtful craft beer selection.
Make mine... Nice to see Founder’s All Day IPA on tap: a session sipper that lives up to its name.
When to visit PKD is great for parties, as the cocktails, wine and food are all equally well considered.Read more
A quick taster No chalkboard witticisms, no pulled pork and no card payments – the absence of hipster affectations here is oddly refreshing.
Make mine... If it’s on, make a beeline for anything from pioneering Stockholm brewery Omnipollo. The Zodiak IPA in particular is uncommonly crisp and flavoursome.
When to visit The selection of nearby food options is close to overwhelming, making this the ideal spot for pre- and/or post-dinner drinking.Read more
Craft beer in west London
A quick taster In an area not well served by good pubs, this is a beacon of craft happiness.
Make mine… Anything own-made by Brewdog is brill: we love the Libertine black IPA.
When to visit NOT before a gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire: you’ll probably get so carried away with the beers you’ll miss the show.Read more
A quick taster All branches of this London mini chain are beacons of good beer and solid pub food; this one is welcome because there’s not much else to recommend round here.
Make mine... There’s a daily cask for £2.75 a pint – can’t argue with that.
When to visit It’s always lively during sporting events, especially rugby.Read more
A quick taster An unfussy west London haunt with a large sports screen and a stage upstairs.
Make mine… Consult the enthusiastic bartender about seasonal ales, and don’t overlook the gleaming bottle fridges.
When to visit To enjoy the match in low-key style, or for a pre-comedy show stint.Read more
A quick taster The only all-Italian craft beer bar in London.
Make mine... Italy has a really strong craft beer scene, little-known-about here – try something from the pioneering Baladin or Del Ducato.
When to visit To remind yourself that craft beer is truly borderless.Read more
Venue says: New happy hour offers! Two-for-£10 cocktails, buckets 'o' beers for £12 and a pint of Meantime Brewery Fresh lager for £3! Mon-Fri, 5pm-8pm.
A quick taster Where else around here could you find Beavertown Gamma Ray or Fourpure Oatmeal Stout on draught? A NW craft beer oasis.
Make mine... Something from Weird Beard brewery, made not far away in Hanwell.
When to visit You probably won’t find yourself in Kilburn by chance, so find any excuse to drop by.Read more
Good Godfrey's Bar & Lounge
As polite and politically correct exclamations of surprise go, Good Godfrey's is a good one. However, this venue - a cocktail joint and informal dining lounge at the Waldorf Hotel - actually takes its name from the former leader of the Waldorf House band, Howard Godfrey, of Howard Godfrey and the Waldorfians fame. Breakfasts and lunches are served during the day (think pastries, salads, French onion soups, burgers, club sandwiches, patisseries and platters) before cocktails take the lead. Signature cocktails include the Godfrey's Cobbler and the Refined Madam - a combination of Tanqueray 10, rose liqueur, fresh lime juice, lavender bitters and cardamom syrup. There's a short wine list too, with each bottle available by the glass. A good array of whiskies also features, with regional Scottish drops alongside American, Canadian, Welsh, Irish, Japanese and blends.
Find London's best craft beers
There was a time when if you wanted a drink in London, you had just two options: foetid water straight from the Thames, or regular lager. Then the craft beer revolution took hold, and suddenly we were spoilt for delicious choice. London’s dozens of brewers make hundreds of awesome ales, from cab-black stouts to Boris-barnet blondes. So here’s our pick of 30 of the best beers made within the M25 and available in London's best bars and pubs and bottle shops. Happy drinking.Read more