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The best craft beer in London

From pale ales to porters, we salute the city’s finest, craftiest brews. Cheers!

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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.

RECOMMENDED: Find the best craft beer from around the UK

1
London's best craft beer, partizan
© Rob Greig

Partizan Saison Lemongrass (3.8%) Bermondsey

Saison is a traditional Franco-Belgian farmhouse ale, and this version is freshened rather than sweetened by the lemongrass. Summery all year round!

2
London's best craft beer, Beavertown Gamma Ray
© Rob Greig

Beavertown Gamma Ray (5.4%) Tottenham

A king among London’s pales, Gamma Ray is everywhere in this city. It’s easy to see why: it’s quite simply one of the tastiest beers you’ll find. It’s pungent, powerful, super-hoppy and hard to beat.

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3
London's best craft beer, pentonville
© Rob Greig

Hammerton Pentonville (5.3%) Islington

A thick, ultra-luxurious oyster stout: if you think beer made with oysters is crazy, maybe you’re crazy, because it’s a salty party in your mouth. It’s packed with tons of savoury, creamy flavour.

4
London's best craft beer, Hook Island Red
© Rob Greig

Five Points Hook Island Red (6%) Hackney Wick

Proving that craft beer isn’t all about overloading everything with hops, this delicate, biscuity beer sports a delicate aroma, letting the malt base do the talking instead. Listen up!

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5
London's best craft beer, fuller's stout
© Rob Greig

Fuller’s Imperial Stout (10.7%) Chiswick

‘Is Fuller’s a craft brewer?’ you say. They’ve been making beer since 1845, they can call it what they want. This is maybe their finest, a molasses-rich stout so enormous and dark you could get lost in it.

6
London's best craft beer, peckham pils
© Rob Greig

Brick Peckham Pils (4.8%) Peckham

It’s like someone turned a trad German pilsner up to 11: this bad boy has some serious flavour. It’s got all the usual pilsner traits – light, fizzy, easy to drink – but way more intense. That’s a good thing.

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7
London's best craft beer, beartooth
© Rob Greig

Fourpure Beartooth (5.3%) Bermondsey

It may be the colour of Coca-Cola, but this slightly sweet, seriously malty drop from SE16 is a hell of a lot more complex. Expect contrasting notes of citrus fruit over a toffee-ish base. Yum.

8
London's best craft beers, canopy beer co
© Rob Greig

Canopy Milkwood Amber Ale (7.2%) Herne Hill

Canopy’s Milkwood is a Belgian amber, meaning the yeastiness makes itself known much more assertively than in similar examples. Think Van Damme, not Poirot. But tasteful.

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9
London's best craft beer, trinity redemption
© Rob Greig

Redemption Trinity (3%) Tottenham

You might expect this to just be a nice beer to drink all afternoon. But Redemption manages to do the whole low-alcohol thing without compromising on taste: profound and totally delicious.

10
London's best craft beer, Great Eastern Indian Pale Ale
© Rob Greig

Redchurch Great Eastern IPA (7.4%) Bethnal Green

The powerful whack of alcohol makes this almost double or ‘imperial’ strength, so open and savour. India pale ales were originally brewed for export to the colonies, but this one’s a keeper.

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11
London's best craft beer, Neu
© Rob Greig

Orbit Neu (4.7%) Kennington

Düsseldorf is home to the dark, malty alt bier (‘old beer’). This London remix has the distinctive stamp of a beer for the working man, so go for it if you toil at a blast furnace, steel mill or similar.

12
London's best craft beer, howling hops
© Rob Greig

Howling Hops Pale XX No 1 (5%) Hackney Wick

A bone-dry, bitter and spectacularly hoppy mid-strength pale from a brewery that started life in the basement of the Cock Tavern on Mare Street and is going from strength to strength.

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13
Best craft beer in London, BBNO 0114
© Rob Greig

Brew By Numbers 01|14 Saison Jaryllo (5.5%) Bermondsey

All the best bits of a saison are flaunted in this fruitbowl of a beer. It’s wheaty in the top with a gently bitter middle thanks to the experimental new US hop it uses.

14
London's best craft beer, camden town brewery
© Rob Greig

Camden Town India Hells Lager (6.2%) Kentish Town

Lager can be just as ‘craft’ as IPA or porter; up in Camden Town it’s made better than just about anywhere, with loads and loads of hops to challenge the idea that lager is always dull.

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15
London's best craft beers, anspach and hobday
© Rob Greig

Anspach & Hobday The Smoked Brown (6%) Bermondsey

The character of this deliciously different beer comes from smoked malt. Woody, nutty flavours sing loud, making it the ideal partner for a chunk of charred meat.

16
London's best craft beer, meantime yakima red
© Rob Greig

Meantime Yakima Red (4.1%) Greenwich

Unchallenging yet satisfying and refreshing, Yakima Red gets its weighty body (and lovely cherry colour) from crystal malts, and its sparkling, flowery flavour from five American hops.

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17
London's best craft beers, Hop Stuff
© Rob Greig

Hop Stuff Saisonniers (4.5%) Woolwich

After an initial whack of sourness, this authentically involving saison seductively reveals a bitter, herby depth. If you ever thought you didn’t like saisons, try this: it’s a real grower.

18
London's best craft beers, pressure drop
© Rob Greig

Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree (3.8%) Hackney

One sip of this foraged-herb hefeweisse (‘yeast wheat’) and you’re suddenly drinking from a meadow stream. A meadow stream of lemony, cloud-light beer.

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19
London's best craft beer, 40 FT
© Rob Greig

40ft Pale Ale (4.1%) Dalston

Not all pale ales have to smash you over the head with intense hoppiness – that can get boring. This pale keeps things friendly and approachable, and is all the better for it. Plus, it’s made in a shipping container in Dalston. Really.

20
London's best craft beer, brixton brewery
© Rob Greig

Brixton Windrush Stout (5%) Brixton

The darkness of stout can hide a multitude of flavours, and this Brixton brew has the lot: it’s treacly with roasted grains and packed with chocolate and coffee like the world’s most amazing mocha.

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21
London's best craft beer, Crate Brewery Best
© Rob Greig

Crate Best (4.3%) Hackney Wick

Is it the best? If you’re looking for something the colour of burnt caramel and the taste of a Rich Tea to spend a delightful night on the sofa with, then yes, it’s the best. Malty and beautifully brown.

22
London's best craft beers, Hackney Brewery raspberry
© Rob Greig

Hackney Brewery Raspberry Kristalweisse (5%) Hackney

This wheat beer is filtered till it’s so clear you could take a selfie through it. Take a deep sniff of its raspberry aroma before it makes way for a crisp, grassy finish.

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23
London's best craft beer, kernel
© Rob Greig

The Kernel Damson London Sour (4.8%) Bermondsey

Trust The Kernel to take an often offputting term like ‘sour’ and turn it into an explosively flavourful celebration of the endless possibilities of beer. With added damson.

24
London's best craft beer, Sambrook's Wandle
© Rob Greig

Sambrook’s Wandle (3.8%) Battersea

Some craft beers are mouth-assaulting hop bombs that you could only drink one of; Sambrook’s Wandle is an easygoing session ale you can sip all night without getting bored.

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25
london's best craft beer, joker
© Rob Greig

Wild Card King of Hearts (4.5%) Walthamstow

One for the lager drinker who wants to dip their toe into the crafty scene but isn’t ready to dive in just yet. It’s brewed like a lager, but extra malts and hops keep things interesting for longer.

26
London's best craft beer, beavertown holy cowbell
© Rob Greig

Beavertown Holy Cowbell (5.6%) Tottenham

There are weekend beers, and there are everyday-treat Holy-Cowbell-type stouts, as familiar, soothing and eagerly anticipated as a cup of tea and something good on telly, but still exciting.

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27
London's best craft beer, Southpaw
© Rob Greig

Gipsy Hill Southpaw (4.2%) Lambeth

This amber ale doesn’t shout about itself like an IPA, or knock you over like a porter: it just does its thing quietly and confidently. And that thing is to taste really good. Subtle and delicious.

28
London's best craft beer, ELB Orchid
© Rob Greig

East London Brewing Company Orchid (3.6%) Leyton

‘Vanilla mild’ is how you’d describe someone you would never want to bang. But this is a beer you could easily spend the night with. Mysterious, toasty, warming.

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29
London's best craft beer, kernel
© Rob Greig

The Kernel Export India Porter (5.8%) Bermondsey

The Kernel could pretty much fill every page here with its beers, but we chose this one because it’s intense, hoppy, deep like the Thames, and London through-and-through. A real classic.

30
London's best craft beer, Weird Beard
© Rob Greig

Weird Beard Tsujigiri (6.2%) Hanwell

Japanese yuzu fruit is responsible for the creamy, zesty flavours at the heart of this refreshing IPA. Steady as you go, though – it’s as big on booze as it is a citrussy punch, and it’s easy to drink…

Where to drink London's best craft beer

The best craft beer bars in London, Finsborough Arms
© Ben Rowe
Bars and pubs

London's best craft beer bars and pubs

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.

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