Sick of hitting the ‘Spoons on a Friday night? Impress mates and dates by taking them to any one of these independent brewery taprooms, where London craft beers and house ales can be sampled in the comfort of the brewery or affiliated bar. After all, the best London breweries are surely the ones where you can sample straight from the source. Read on for our selection, but bear in mind that opening hours can be changeable, so check Twitter first to avoid going thirsty.
Breweries in north London
Few London breweries have expanded at the phenomenal rate of Beavertown, which now occupies a huge warehouse space in Tottenham. Whether such progress owes anything to the fact that its founder happens to be the son of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, we couldn’t possibly comment. But when the beer – as bold and brash as its can art – is so consistently good, who cares?
Breweries in east London
When Howling Hops expanded into a bigger site in Hackney Wick, its birthplace in the basement below the Cock Tavern on Mare Street was taken over by this fledgling outfit. The Cock’s taps are constantly home to at least a handful of Maregade’s brews, which tend toward traditional English styles.
Breweries in south London
One of south London’s newer breweries occupies a massive warehouse space just off of Old Kent Road. As well as hosting regular Sofar Sounds gigs, the taproom opens for on-site drinking and takeaways every Friday. The beer line-up is heavily influenced by sessionable styles from the American west coast, with all except the Red Rye clocking in under 5% ABV.
Brockley Brewery was founded by a group of local residents who felt that the area’s thriving local community was lacking good-quality ales. Housed in a disused builder’s workshop, it opened its doors to the public in 2013 so that everyone could take advantage of a brewery on their doorstep.
Fri 5.30pm-7.30pm, Sat 10am-5pm.
Occupying a pair of small railway arches next to Brockwell Park, Bullfinch specialises in punchy American-style pales. Its beers are becoming a feature of some of the city’s finest craft beer pubs, but the best way to sample the full range is by settling down with a tasting flight in the on-site taproom.
Thu-Fri, 4pm-10pm; Sat-Sun, noon–10pm.
Breweries in west London
This west-London stalwart has been mashing, boiling and fermenting since long before today’s brewers were twinkles in their grandfathers’ beards. The on-site shop is the best place to find Fuller’s lesser known beers (don’t worry, there’s lots of London Pride too), and the £20 brewery tour includes plenty of tastings.
Determined to make sure SW19 is recognised for more than middle-class sport and trash-clearing critters, this cask-focused brewery’s reputation is slowly but surely spreading beyond south-west London. See what the fuss is about by booking onto a brewery tour, or dropping by for a ‘beer appreciation day’ on the last Saturday or every month.
Find more craft beer in the capital
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.
Strongroom Bar & Kitchen
Strongroom Bar & Kitchen has been a Shoreditch fixture for nearly 20 years which, admirably, makes it something of a stalwart in a part of town not exactly averse to a whim or two. It's home to Strongroom recording studios, a free late-night music venue and a restaurant serving food from breakfast onwards. The kitchen hosts three-month pop ups. It's now being looked after by Salt & Dry - a street food duo specialising in pizzas, own-cured meats and grills cooked up on a barbecue set up in a burned-out Morris Minor. Dishes range from pulled pork and kimchi pasties, poutine and hot wings to salads, a burger made with Hereford blade, mackerel escovitch and a Ghurka chicken curry. The extensive beer lays heavy emphasis on microbreweries both home-grown and international. Check their website for details of live music and DJ nights.