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.
Craft beer in central London
The Cask claims to stock Britain's biggest selection of bottled beer – a staggering 400, in fact – and it's no slouch on the draught front either, with ten cask and 15 keg options. As well as some of the best brews from Germany, Holland and Belgium, you'll find many rare beers from the USA. To eat, there are Forty Burgers, and roasts on Sundays.Read more
A whopping 37 beers are served on draught here, and the owners work directly with microbreweries to snag some rare and unusual tipples. The USA and Belgium are well represented in the selection of bottles. Look out for exclusive imported beers you won't see anywhere else in London. There are branches in Brixton, Clapham and Islington.
Eclectic beers and pub-style food are clearly proving a good formula for the Draft House mini-chain – currently, it has five branches. Smaller than its older siblings, this pub is more about supping pints (or thirds of pints if you want to vary your drinking) than sitting down to a relaxed meal. Among ten or so fine draught brews you'll find the likes of Camden Pale Ale and Sambrook's Wandle, as well as around 20 bottled beers, including Schneider Weisse, Thornbridge Wild Swan and powerful Duvel Tripel Hop. The other branches are in the City, behind London Bridge, on Northcote Road and near Battersea Park.Read more
This place has a cracking beer selection and an unusual one, in that it's draught only, no bottles. You'll find a constantly rotating selection of around 16 beers and ciders, from such breweries as Kernel, Siren and Redwell from the UK, and Konig, Rothaus and Bitburger from Germany.Read more
This historic Smithfield pub offers a regularly changing selection of craft beers and real ales; London faves Kernel and Redchurch are well represented, and there are also brews from Belgium, Germany and Scotland (the fabulous devil-black porter, Ola Dubh). There's a carefully curated, if small, selection of bottled beer too, and great Sunday roasts.Read more
Craft beer in north London
Check the daily updated beer board to see the list of 18 cask and keg beers offered at this nicely refurbished Islington local. It could be something from the likes of By the Horns (Wimbledon), Tiny Rebel (Wales), Brewster's (Lincolnshire) or the pub's very own Earls brewery.Read more
This is a handsome Victorian boozer, all maroon tiles and buffed-leather sofas. Currently, there are 20 keg and cask beers available from the likes of Weird Beard and Brooklyn breweries, plus 80 or so in bottles. London brews (Beavertown, Camden, Redemption) get a good look-in, and the pub's own brewery should be up and running by spring 2014.Read more
This no-nonsense Stokey boozer is known primarily for its real ales and ciders, but there is also solid representation on tap and in the fridges from local microbreweries like Kernel, Camden and Pressure Drop, and other progressive British producers such as Thornbridge and Brewdog. The 80-plus bottled options cover Europe and the US, including 25 alone from the UK.Read more
Real ale, craft beer and US-inspired food make a strong trio at North Pole. There's a constantly changing choice of seven real ales and three ciders on tap, from such breweries as Arbor, Thornbridge and Pressure Drop. Choosing is made harder by the 12 beers on keg (Wild Beer, Burning Sky, Titanic, perhaps) and a globe-trotting array of bottled beers.Read more
Lovers of traditional pubs who expect a thoughtful beer list to pick through cite the Southampton Arms as a perfect model. Everything on draught comes from small, dedicated and independent UK brewers such as Marble from Manchester, Fyne in Scotland and Slater's in Stafford.Read more
Craft beer in south London
Despite the name, this lovely bar and shop – one of several independent gems in Nunhead – doesn’t look anything like an off-licence. Its website labels it a ‘micro-pub’, but its colourful, light-filled, open-plan front room is probably best described as a drop-in centre for beer-lovers. The tiny back counter dispenses three draught beers – on our visit, these included two pale ales, namely Buxton Brewery’s sharp, citruous Moor Top, and Northern Monk’s smooth, fruity Monacus.Read more
The fabulous Craft Beer Company mini-chain specialises in the more offbeat offerings from small, unusual, mostly British breweries. At this Clapham branch – there are also outlets in Brixton, Islington and Farringdon – you'll find around 30 beers on tap (ten cask, 20 keg), all carefully tended by enthusiastic staff. There's a sterling array of 120 exotic bottles too, and the burgers are pretty decent.Read more
At this Stockwell pub, run by the people behind the Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington, there are seven real ales from cask, and 14 keg beers and ciders. The breweries you'll see represented regularly are Redemption, Dark Star, Camden Town, BrewDog, Kernel and Five Points; bottles take a worldlier approach and include a fair few Belgians.Read more
True to its name, the Draft House puts beer centre stage, taking provenance, cellaring and pouring seriously. The brews (from the likes of Camden, Meantime, Kernel and Duvel) are indeed impressive, and the option of one-third pint measures reinforces the spirit of discovery. There are other branches in the City, Fitzrovia, Battersea and near Tower Bridge.
Brewer Alistair Hook and his team's own artisan beers feature strongly on the menu at this Greenwich bar and restaurant, as you'd expect, but there's plenty of outside choice too. The full Meantime range – including London lager and the more outlandish Strawberry and Chocolate varieties – are worth a visit on their own. The best of British, Belgian and beyond appear among the 50 or so craft beers served by the bottle.Read more
An almost-over-the-top colonial theme might put off some serious drinkers, but a glance at the beer menu should dispel any doubts. The US, Australia and New Zealand are well represented alongside some little-seen British beers from the likes of the Bristol Beer Company. Alternatively, keep it very local and take your pick from London's Beavertown, Kernel or Redchurch breweries.Read more
Seven kegs, three casks and 130 bottles: you wouldn't expect the owners of Borough Market's comprehensively stocked Utobeer stall to hold back when it came to their own diminutive bar. The bottles come from all over the world, with about 20 of the selection changing each week; the taps rotate on a daily basis.Read more
Craft beer in east London
This Aberdeenshire brewery's first London branch is in Camden. Everything on offer at this second branch is a celebration of the endless drinking possibilities that arise when malt, water, yeast and hops come into contact, from the dark and spicy Alice Porter to the sharp and fruity Raspberry Revolver. The most popular brew, Punk IPA, has enough hops packed into it to dispel all memories of any brackish brown beer you might have tried and hated.Read more
Not quite a stone's throw from the Olympic Park, perhaps more of a decent javelin pitch away, is this popular pizzeria-cum-microbrewery. There are Crate's own brews (Lager, Golden Ale, IPA, Best Bitter, Pale Ale and Stout) plus a changing selection of 15 or so craft beers, including plenty from the States. The cask and keg choice varies regularly too. We can vouch for the Middle Eastern lamb pizza.Read more
This Dalston hangout has really upped its beer selection of late, and now boasts 22 draught pumps (the range changes daily but stalwarts include Camden, Kernel and Brooklyn breweries) alongside 170 bottled beers. Here, the emphasis is on the UK, US and Belgium, but let's face it, you'll never run out of something new and interesting to drink.
With a regularly changing selection of around 15 draught and 30 bottled beers, the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green showcases all that's good about London microbreweries such as Redemption, London Fields, Redchurch, Sambrook's and Camden. They also serve cask ciders and perry, and have a great music programme. A fine example of a reborn East End pub.Read more
A lot of care has gone into renovating this long-closed pub near Brick Lane. The huge array of craft beers on offer includes about 18 on tap. The fine selection ranges from Kent’s Caveman Brewery Citra to Little Creatures from Western Australia. The dozen or so porters are chosen to match the oyster menu.Read more