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.
Situated equidistant between Fulham Palace Road and North End Road, and just around the corner from The Queen’s Club, The Colton Arms was always a pub for locals and luvvies. Manys the time Billy Connolly held court over in the corner, and his first road manager is still a regular of an evening. Once known for being one of the smallest pubs in London with, surely, the oldest landlord, and a reputation for hardy drinkers regularly emptying the optics within an hour of opening, things hit a downward spiral after the owner’s demise, and eventually the pub had to close its doors. But this is now a built-up area devoid of any boozers, and so it seems a no brainer to re-open with a couple of ‘minor’ adjustments. For those who have been before, the front of the bar remains, but a light and airy extension leading to a small, paved garden has been added. The layout and set up confirms food is the way forward for this venture. But is it any good? It won’t knock your socks off, but it’s fine and typical pub fare. Cod could’ve been chunkier, chips couldn’t have been crispier, roast pork came recommended and hit the spot with a faint five-spice seasoning and so on. Puddings were rapidly struck off the menu halfway through the evening, suggesting that the locals are with the programme. Staff are friendly and fun, but the beer choice is below average – on my visit Timothy Taylor’s Landlord was ‘off’, leaving only two choices of ale. Despite that, if you’re in the area and this is your o
Venue says: “On the hunt for a quiet spot for a long, leisurely lunch? Two-course set lunch menu for £10.”