Best beer shops in central London
The Scottish brewery Brewdog is intent on taking over the world with its flavoursome craft beers and ever-increasing chain of bars; this was its first dedicated bottle shop, and as well as its own beers it stocks a mighty selection from around the world, as well as books and homebrew supplies. Look out for tutored tasting events.
Not just whiskies (although there are loads) – a decent range of craft beers, including many from Scotland that you won’t see elsewhere in London.
As backward as it may seem, there’s a noticeable dearth of quality craft beer in central London, especially when it comes to take-outs. This makes the presence of this pocket-sized bar and bottleshop, just off Haymarket, all the more surprising. Ideal for stocking up before a picnic in a nearby Royal Parks.
Best beer shops in north London
Caps & Taps, Kentish Town’s first craft beer specialist, is a tiny place but it sells around 300 beers from London, the rest of the UK, the US and the rest of the world. Look out for relative rarities. And fans of esoteric US beers are particularly well served.
Although primarily a wine shop, this recently extended off-licence also has more than 100 specialist beers from around the world, including Anchor, Coopers, Kernel and Meantime. You can also purchase bottles from its website.
When the original Clapton Craft (the one that’s actually in Clapton) opened back in 2014, it was clear they’d got the formula right. Unsurprisingly, then, expansion didn’t take long: there are now four locations in north London (with a south-London outpost due soon), all offering the same setup of well-curated beers from around the world, plus accessible brews for growler-fill.
Around 250 bottled ales from around the world, many of them British.
This bottleshop attached to the Harringay Arms offers a strong selection of British and international beers, plus growler-fill facilities. Themed mixed cases make good presents for the craft-obsessed folk in your life.
An otherwise unremarkable parade of shops in Holloway is actually a magnet for north London beer lovers thanks to this quirky and packed-in little shop. Ales are arranged by country of origin and come from around the world; look out for Odell's 90 /- and 5 Barrel Pale Ale from the US; occasional bottles from Manchester's Marble Brewery or Otley from North Wales also pop up. The full range of Redchurch Brewery beers is available, as is that from the organic Pitfield and Bermondsey's Kernel.
Best beer shops in east London
The clue’s in the name – this is of course primarily a chain of wine shops, but in recent years it has increasingly stocked a range of well-chosen beers, with a focus on London breweries.
Like Borough Wines, Bottle Apostle is a small but growing chain of wine shops. However, it too doesn’t ignore beer – the Victoria Park outpost is particularly strong, with a whole room dedicated to beer, ale, cider and mead, most of it from within London.
The best bottle shop in London? It’s a strong contender. As well as the original in Clapton, as of 2015 there’s a handsome, brand-new branch in Kentish Town, which has ten taps of draught beer to take away in refillable 1 litre bottles and growlers as well as shelves of brilliant beer. Staff are genial and really know their stuff.
In the ‘posh Spar’ in Walthamstow Village, there’s a comprehensive range of London-brewed beers, including many from Wild Card, made just round the corner.
When one of your neighbours is a cereal café, doing the basic bottleshop thing isn’t going to cut it. As well as running regular tasting events, Kill the Cat has also devised an appropriately novel way of displaying its stock, breaking it up into three sections that range from familiar and accessible (Beavertown’s Gamma Ray et al) to the potent and bonkers (imperial stouts from the likes of Swedish brewer Omnipollo).
A craft beer bar, in the first instance, and one of the best in London; however, all the fridges down one wall hold beers that can be taken away at uncynical prices. A fine place.
This exceptionally well-stocked bottleshop claims to have over 400 different types of beer on the shelves at any one time. The range covers everything from local trailblazers to revered European brewers, with plenty of respect for classic Belgian styles.
Best beer shops in south London
Fledgling brewery Inkspot is behind this artily decorated beer shop in Streatham. The range stretches to over 500 brews and, unlike at many modern bottleshops, real ales (the warmer, flatter stuff) get equal billing, and are available to take home in two-litre growlers.
A dedicated Putney beer shop with a carefully selected range of Trappist, Belgian, fruit and pilsner brews. London ales are well represented – there's Kernel, and Windsor & Eton – and staff will give advice on the optimum glassware to use with different varieties of beer, as well as food matching.
ts 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 and a 60-strong list of bottled beers, ciders and porters – mostly (but not all) from London brewers, all with clear, succinct tasting notes. The Beer Shop also sells everything to take away – even draught beers.
This tiny outlet in Tooting Broadway Market is styled like a Scandi dive bar (that’s a good thing). If your tastes go beyond bigger breweries and basic styles, well-versed staff happily make recommendations.
The well-travelled owners behind this Brixton-based beer emporium have curated a broad and diverse range of brews, which includes lesser-seen styles from around the world. As well as shelves heaving with bottles and cans, there are four taps pouring beer to drink in or take away. The addition of a beer garden is due in spring 2017.
The ‘hops’ in the name is, of course, beer – chosen by two fanatical Kiwis. The ‘burns’ is hot sauce, to put on whatever you’re eating with the craft beer, and the ‘black’ is vinyl, because why not. An inspired retail trinity.
Opened within weeks of fellow Brockley bottleshop Waterintobeer, this smaller shop is, by chance or otherwise, a very different operation. There’s beer on tap, for a start, which you’re welcome to taste before taking home by the growlerful. A lineup of wine and spirits completes a varied offering.
Their focus is wine, but these two boutique off-licences carry a range of around 50 hand-picked beers from Britain, Belgium and around the world. It's a good spot to pick up Camden Brewery beers; Meantime and Kernel are also stocked. Phone ahead if there's something specific you're after and staff will ensure it's chilled for your arrival.
If the dizzying possibilities of craft beer have got you itching to brew yourself, make tracks for this Brockley bottleshop. As well as a better-than-solid range of bottles and cans (with a noticeable emphasis on northern UK brewers), it also stocks brewing equipment and ingredients. There’s also a small seating area where you can sit with a brew and plan your craft beer empire.
This Balham craft beer shop offers 150 different beers from 30 different breweries, and if you'd like to have a go at brewing your own they also sell brewing kits and guides. We Brought Beer have beers on tap to sip on whilst browsing or to take away.
Best beer shops in west London
No prizes for guessing what’s on the menu at this bar-slash-bottleshop. With over 300 beers in the five metres' worth of fridges, picking a few to take home could take time. Our advice? Mull it over at the bar, where you can tuck into juicy-looking burgers and 20 further taps of hop-laden loveliness.
A truly exceptional range of beers from around the world pack the shelves of this dedicated Fulham beer shop. There are more than 500 examples of British, Belgian, German, American, Antipodean and other world beers available, and stock changes regularly. Staff will happily point you in the direction of new and interesting bottles – Brewdog Bashah double black IPA, for example, or Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.
This family-run operation in East Sheen stocks brews from an impressive range of international breweries, plus a strong selection of wines and soft drinks. There are four taps for draught takeouts in one- or two-litre growlers, mostly dominated by London brewers.
This award-winning shop is well stocked with every conceivable type of interesting beer in bottles, cans and on tap. If you’re having a party, they also offer keg equipment for hire, or you can summon brews to your door via Deliveroo.
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