There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the only beer available in most London pubs and bars was strong European lager. Now, however, Londoners are almost overwhelmed with craft beer options, including plenty brewed right in the capital. Here are a few London independents to look out for.
When Meantime launched its Greenwich brewery in 1999, there wasn’t a lot of competition in the London beer market. Fuller’s, maker of London Pride and manager of hundreds of pubs across the UK, was pretty much it. Meantime’s first beer came into the world in 2000 and the company now makes 11 varieties, from the ubiquitous London Lager (4.5% ABV) to more decadent tipples such as the Chocolate Porter (6.5% ABV). Find out more about ale varietals on a brewery tour at the Blackwall Lane headquarters, or pop into the brewery’s own pub, The Greenwich Union, or soak up the heritage atmosphere at The Old Brewery — Meantime’s bar, restaurant and craft brewery at the Old Royal Naval College.
Irishman Evin O’Riordain set up his Bermondsey brewery, The Kernel, in 2009. Despite having no previous brewing experience, he’s won a host of awards — The Kernel was named “Brewer of the Year” by the British Guild of Beer Writers — and has seen his beers stocked by some of the capital’s finest restaurants. O’Riordain and his team like to experiment with different varieties of hops and malts, meaning that there’s a massive number of beers to choose from, including the award-winning Export Stout (7.8% ABV), which is based on an 1890 recipe from a London brewery. Buy direct from the brewery on Saturdays, or check the website to find a pub that serves it.
London Fields Brewery
London Fields Brewery is the new kid on the block, having launched in 2011. At the time, Hackney, one of London’s most happening areas, was without a brewery of its own. Fortunately, the team behind the London Fields Brewery was up to the challenge, and you can now find its locally themed beverages — Hackney Hackney Hopster (4.2% ABV) and Shoreditch Triangle (6% ABV) among them — in pubs and restaurants all over the trendy borough. There are plenty of stockists elsewhere in London, too, but we suggest going on a Saturday brewery tour before exploring Hackney’s evening entertainment.
Photos Courtesy of The Kernel and London Fields Craft Products LTD