Best Craft Breweries in London

The number of breweries in the UK has reached the highest since the 1930s, with more than 1,424 breweries in total, and opening up at a rate of 3 every week. The capital saw a 24% rise in new brewers last year, and its craft beer scene continues to thrive.

There are so many good breweries in London so it would be impossible to visit and include all of them. Partizan, 40 Ft, Weird Beard, Old Kent Road, Wild Card, Brockley, Mondo and UBrew should probably be on this list, just to name a few. However; we have made our selection, and these are the ones:

The Kernel

The Kernel
The Kernel

Founded in 2009 and part of the Bermondsey Beer Mile, it is now a well-established brewery with a good presence in the UK. As they defined themselves on the website: “Upfront hops, lingering bitterness, warming alcohols, bodies of malt. Lengths and depths of flavour.”

They are only open as a bottle shop on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm. They stopped serving beer directly to customers some time ago because it was getting too crowded (“We cannot satisfactorily accommodate the volume of people who wish to come down on a Saturday”). This decision attracted the criticism of beer enthusiasts, which did not affect its popularity at all.

Their beers are becoming quite trendy at the moment. The main advantage of this is that they can be found in a lot of small shops/off-license. The downside is that the prices are normally higher than the rest. They can easily charge £3 for a bottle of IPA.

Some pubs have it on draught as a guest beer. Mason and Company (Hackney Wick) is one of them, but the last time we were there it was ridiculously expensive, we paid £7 a pint. This shows one of the tricks that some pubs are doing. They normally sell half and 2/3 pints, so when you order a full pint they charge extra.

Recommendations:

  • Pale Ale Mosaic
  • IPA Mosaic Summit Citra
  • Imperial Brown
  • Table Beer

Address: Arch 11, Dockley Road Industrial Estate, Dockley Rd, London SE16 3SF. Web

Brew By Numbers

Brew By Numbers
Brew By Numbers

Located on the Bermondsey Beer Mile as well (metres away from The Kernel), they are distinctive because of their carefully selected ingredients and very exotic and original hops. “BBNo is an enterprise in ongoing and extensive research, testing, tasting, tweaking and experimentation”.

In other words, an amazing choice of beers of various strengths and styles, friendly service and a great atmosphere with a nice mix of people. It can get crowded on sunny days, and you may need to queue outside for a place, but it is never too long.

It is well worth a visit, especially as part of the Beer Mile (check our Bermondsey Pub Crawl), or after visiting Maltby Street Market.

Their speciality is Saison, and they are really innovators on that matter. Saison is “is a pale ale that is generally around 7% ABV, highly carbonated, fruity, spicy, and often bottle conditioned” [Wikipedia].

They also charge the glasses in advance (£3), so do not forget to return them before you leave. Some recommendations:

  • 01|01 Saison Citra. One of their first beers, and probably the most acclaimed.
  • 21|03 Pale Ale Citra Amarillo Mosaic
  • 18|04 Farmhouse – Gose. A mixed fermentation sour wheat beer brewed with salt and coriander.
  • 05|11 IPA – Citra and Mosaic

What is the meaning of those numbers? The first one indicates the beer type/style (i.e. 05| for IPA) and the second the recipe (i.e. |11 Citra and Mosaic, |14 Citra Summit). You can find more combinations here.

They open Fridays 6-10 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 8 pm. You can buy small and large bottles to take away.

Address: 79 Enid St, London SE16 3RA. Web

Beavertown

Beavertown Brewery
Beavertown Brewery

Located in the Tottenham area, a few minutes away from Tottenham Hale station, Beavertown is really a hit in the UK and it is somehow dominating the craft beer scene in London. Original and fantastic artwork (by artist Nick Dwyer), beer names and cans, their marketing strategy seems to be working very well. Its founder happens to be the son of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), which could have contributed to its success as well.

There is a spacious area just outside the brewery, with a few tables and benches and a couple of pop-up food stalls. There is also a “fast” alternative bar where you can buy cold cans, and avoid the long queue at the main bar. In a busy Saturday with good weather, you can easily need to wait 20 minutes to get to the tap bar. It is also hard to find a table/seat, but there is plenty of space to sit on the floor, as you can see in the picture below.

They organise a massive beer festival called Beavertown Extravaganza, where more than 60 of the world’s great brewers exhibit their products. Each brewery serves 2 taps of beer, rotating those taps with different beers over the two days. This event gets sold out quite quickly so better to follow the announcements.

Recommendation:

  • Beaverillium: Seriously good. A smooth smashable IPA, mangos and pulped peaches aroma and taste. Outstanding. (In collaboration with Trillium)
  • Lupuloid: a 6.7% ABV IPA, fresh and strong. With Citra, Mosaic and Equinox hops.
  • Gamma Ray: juicy APA with tropical aromas, easy to drink.

Address: 2, Lockwood Industrial Park, London N17 9QP. Web

Hammerton

Hammerton Brewery
Hammerton Brewery

Located in the heart of Islington, between Highbury & Islington and Caledonian Road & Barnsbury overground stations, Hammerton is a local brewery which is gaining popularity slowly but steady.

They offer guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays, which are for up to 20 people and include a taste of each of the beers. The taproom is open to the public at the last weekend of every month. It is a nice casual space, with wooden tables inside and outside, a foosball table, and the smell of fermentation and yeast in the air. Very pleasant and relaxed.

They normally offer food as well. It is a modest and limited menu but more than enough to partner with the beer. His chef Fabio provides quite original dishes, most of the time with Latin American roots, from countries such as Argentina and Peru. They seem to have a special bond with the latter, as the Peruvian restaurant Ceviche has a few of their beers on the menu, plus one called “Somos Libres” which it seems to be exclusively produced for them.

On the historical side, the original brewery opened in 1868 but was demolished by the late 1950s. A few years later, in 2014, a member of the same family (Hammerton) resurrected the name and brought back the brewery to Islington.

Lastly but not least, they have taken over a pub on Holloway Road, in the former premises of the Wig and Gown. It’s called House of Hammerton, and they offer over 20 beers on tap -including all of theirs- and plenty of bottles as well. And it is only 700 metres away from the brewery.

Recommendation:

  • N7 is their first and best beer, a pale ale full of New Zealand and US hops.
  • N7.7 is a stronger version full of flavour.

Address: 8-9, Roman Way Industrial Estate, 149 Roman Way, London N7 8XH. Web

Exale

source: instagram/exaletap_e17

Exale is our favourite brewery among the ones belonging to the Blackhorse Beer Mile, which is another beer mile just 2 minutes from Blackhorse Road station in Walthamstow. It comprises Exale, Wild Car, Signature, Hackney, Truman’s Social Club and Beerblefish.

This great brewery produces balanced and complex beers. Their taproom is super cool, with a hectic decoration, a small garden and two floors. They normally have 10 beers on tap, cocktails and an organic wine menu, rotating food pop-ups, and weekly DJs and it is opened until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Recommendation:

  • OONA NEIPA: A soft and pillowy NEIPA. This is a modern IPA, soft, juicy and packed full of new world hops.
  • Swag West Coast IPA: A strong, big, bitter, piney, resinous dank westie IPA.
  • Zorc Golden Lager: A premium, Dortmunder golden lager. made with Munich and aromatic malt to give a bold rich malt bill. Balanced with a herbal bitterness from Heletrau Blanc and Saaz hops.

Address: Unit 2C, Uplands Business Park London, E17 5QJ. Web

Howling Hops

Howling Hops Tank Bar
Howling Hops Tank Bar (source: http://beerinsider.com/)

They started brewing in the famous brewpub The Cock Tavern on Mare Street, to then open what they called “The UK’s first dedicated tank bar” in Hackney Wick.

“Howling Hops brew an ever-changing range of bold, characterful, uncompromised and generously hopped beer with a bag of flavours”

They are also located on the increasingly busy Queen’s Yard (10 metres away from Crate), where they offer excellent beer and food in a typical East London vibe. There is plenty of seating on long benches, including an outside area, in former industrial premises. They serve 10 different beers straight from 10 different tanks, and you can even buy a pitcher/jar to share.

Recommendation:

  • American Pale XX: excellent Pale with some classic US hops such as Centennial, Cascade, Columbus and Citra.
  • Pils: simple is better. A traditional pilsner with character.
  • Chocolate Stout: for chocolate fans, or those looking for originality.

Address: Unit 9A Queen’s Yard, White Post Ln, London E9 5EN. Web

Crate

Crate's busy backyard by the canal
Crate’s busy backyard by the canal

They may not have the best beers on this list, but they do have the best place. Queen’s Yard on one side, and the Regents Canal on the other. Great DJs playing all day long (on weekends), loads of friendly staff, a laid-back atmosphere and delicious pizzas.

It can get extremely busy (and noisy) on Saturdays, so better to be prepared for waiting. The food can take more than an hour, and you will probably need to wait for a seat as well. They will give you an orange cube with a number and someone will try to find you when your pizza is ready.

Their pizzas are thin, crispy and tasty. I really liked the one with prosciutto and rocket and the one with sweet potatoes and walnuts.

Recommendation:

  • Pale: “a fresh & aromatic single hopped ale bursting with tropical aromas”
  • Golden Ale: light and smooth
  • Special IPA Red: well-balanced and strong IPA (I don’t think they have it permanently, and it is not cheap).

Address: 7, The white building, Queen’s Yard, London E9 5EN. Web

The Real Al Company & Taproom

Located not far from Exale and the breweries of the Blackhorse Beer Mile, The Real Al Company & Taproom is an emerging beer and cider producer.

It is in Ravenswood industrial state, also next to Wild Card and Pillars breweries, opposite Mother’s ruin gin palace and the iconic Neon shop and museum Junkyard (which is also worth visiting with no doubt).

They offer a great beer selection and an ever greater cider one, together with gin, natural wines and coffee. The atmosphere is cosy and hipster, and the staff very friendly and chatty.

Recommendation:

  • Crafty Apple. Fermented from 100% bittersweet, Herefordshire cider fruit juice, with only the natural sugars. this results in a high juice finished product that is full of juicy apple flavour

Address: Unit 4, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St, London E17 9HQ. Web

Camden Town

Camden Town
Camden Town (source: imbibe.com)

Probably the biggest one on the list. Since the first brewed batch in 2010, they have gone from strength to strength. His founder insists that “big can also be beautiful”, in an attempt to maintain its craft spirit. He thinks craft beer is about attitude and ingredients rather than size.

These opinions are aligned with their new £30 million facilities, the largest investment in London brewing for 30 years. The company has accepted a takeover from the global drinks giant AB InBev. But it is hard to believe that it is going to have the same appeal to hipsters and craft beer lovers.

Nonetheless, their recently refurbished tank bar under Camden’s railway arches is worth a visit. Cool area with a good choice of beers, some nibbles and snacks, and a Thai food truck in the outside area. It is also a good place to buy some can packs.

Recommendation:

  • Unfiltered Hell’s: my favourite from them. Full-bodied, hazy and smooth.
  • Hell’s: their classic… light and dry lager
  • Pale Ale: hoppy and fruity

Address: 55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, London NW5 3NN. Web

Gipsy Hill

Gipsy Hill Brewery
Gipsy Hill Brewery

Located just next to Crystal Palace, they have a strong presence all over London, as you can easily find their beers in off-licenses and bottle shops. Finding them on tap is not that easy unless you head south. They focus on “full flavoured, medium strength beer, so you can keep the conversation going”, and their core range is under 5% ABV. Their artwork (by Marcus Reed) is simple, hip and effective.

The brewery’s taproom is quite small at the moment, as they are working on an expansion. No seats nor tables inside, and only a couple of improvised seats outside. They are supposed to have 6 beers on tap, although they had only 2 when we were there (as you can see in the picture below). We could get some bottles, but they were not showing all of them so we had to ask. Hopefully, the expansion will address all these issues.

They run an attractive “Locals Scheme“, so if live within one mile of the brewery you get 15 per cent off everything (once you signup and get a keyring).

It is not that easy to get there if you live in Central or North London. However; if you manage to get to Brixton station, you can then take bus number 3 to arrive at Gipsy Hill stop in 30 minutes.

Recommendation:

  • Hepcat: their core Session IPA. Intense tropical flavour, with traces of orange and citrus.
  • Karoshi: their first solo Double IPA. Strong (8% ABV) and juicy.

Address: 11, Hamilton Road Industrial Estate, 160 Hamilton Rd, West Norwood, London SE27 9SF. Web

Five Points

The Five Points
The Five Points (source: http://fivepointsbrewing.co.uk/)

One of many breweries built and ran underneath railway arches. This time in Hackney, East London, next to Hackney Downs Station. The continuous expansion of this trendy area in London seems to fit very well with the brewery’s own plans as an independent company. They are gaining more attention from craft beer fans, and their bottles can be found in most off-licences around the area.

On the fourth Saturday of every month, they run “Saturday Sessions” at Mason & Company in Hackney Wick, which is a full tutored beer tasting, including 5 tasters (1/3 pints of each beer) and a discount on brunch and beer. They also hold a brewery tour on the second Saturday of every month. They are not open regularly on weekends as other breweries, but they hold a summer tap in July and August.

They show a clear commitment to the local community which is very important. They assist local charities and community projects, they run an apprenticeship scheme for 18-24-year-olds and the electricity used in the brewhouse comes from 100% renewable sources.

Recommendation:

  • Pale: their flagship, a fresh and aromatic pale
  • Railway Porter: aromas of chocolate and coffee with hints of caramel

Address: 3 Institute Pl, Hackney, London E8 1JE. Web

Redchurch

Redchurch
Redchurch (source: beatifullytravelled.com)

Only 10 minutes away from Bethnal Green station, it’s conveniently located on the first floor above the brewery. The room is quite small but cosy. There is a dartboard, a few tables and chairs, and a DJ playing vinyl on weekends. There is also a 45-minute brewery tour, which includes samples as well.

They tap room offers 2/3 and a half pints. They use well-known names from East London to name the beers, such as Brick Lane Lager and Shoreditch Blonde.

Recommendation:

  • Great Eastern: a 7% ABV IPA, strong and tasty.
  • Old Ford Export: stout with an aroma of the coffee, chocolate and light vanilla.

Address: 275-276 Poyser St, London E2 9RF. Web

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