London’s Thriving Craft Beer Scene

Continuous waves of new microbreweries and unique beer bar establishments are shaking up the world’s craft beer industry, and London definitely has a hand in shaking it up!

Tower Bridge

Born and raised in the U.S., I observed the changes in the American beer market from the time my interest in craft beer began over 12 years ago. I experienced the excitement firsthand while scoping out the best US craft beer bars and breweries in the northeast during my eight years as a New York City resident.

When I moved to London in January 2012, I didn’t anticipate a large “craft beer” scene. Instead I looked forward to learning more about traditional British beer and in particular getting acquainted with the Real Ales, a term that CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) coined to define a natural beer product using traditional ingredients and left to mature in the cask (read more about it here.) I immediately became a member of CAMRA and sought out to investigate the pub and real ale scene.

But I missed the types of micro brewed beer I regularly drank while back in the United States. Until…on an exploration walk around our neighborhood in the winter of 2012, I stumbled upon Kernel Brewery located in what appeared to be an abandoned railway arch.

There I discovered hoppy IPA beers that resembled styles my husband Jim and I loved from one of our favorite American brewers, Dogfish Head Brewery. From that point on, I did my beer research…

In May, I attended London’s Brewing, a festival from the London Brewers’ Alliance, where I learned that an estimated 30 new microbreweries opened in London in the last 2 years!

London's Brewing event glasses

The most recent statistics show upwards of 45 commercial breweries in London (my reference – Des De Moor’s list of London Brewers and Beers), with that number dramatically increasing over the next year.

Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

Brew by Numbers

BrewbyNumbers bottles

Less than a year old, Brew by Numbers is producing an exceptionally large variety of craft beer considering the scale of their operation.  I was hooked from the minute I tried one of their Saison’s (they now have 5+ different versions of the Saison style).

Beavertown Brewery

Beavertown Smog Rocket label_new

Remember the name “Beavertown Brewery” – it’s one of those breweries you should watch out for! Operations began in cramped spaces in their brewpub, Duke’s Brew & Que (FYI…Amazing BBQ) last year. They’ve currently moved to a spacious facility devoted solely to the brewing operation in Hackney Wick, with future plans to expand to an even larger location in London in 2014.

Beavertown Brewery

I had a wonderful conversation with the owner Logan Plant recently while on a private tour of the brewery (more to come on my blog soon). His enthusiasm makes me excited for the future of Beavertown and I look forward to the day when I can purchase Beavertown beer at my local craft beer bar in New York City!

Pressure Drop Brewing

Pressure Drop bottles

Three beer experts – Sam, Graham and Ben – joined together and began selling their first beers in January this year. They currently make six different types of beer (Try the Stokey Brown and Street Porter varieties…delicious!) and produce about 1,600 liters per week. If you’re lucky to get your hands on this limited supply beer, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

London Fields Brewery

London Fields tap room

In the middle of the summer 2011 riots in London, London Fields Brewery was starting up and the story goes that the brewers locked themselves inside during the riots to avoid the madness on the streets (and protect their equipment from being stolen) – hence why one of their signature beers is named, “Love, Not War”.  They have a brand new tap room (pictured below) which is a perfect place to hang out and a separate facility under the railway arches where there are often music events and parties.

Partizan Brewing

Partizan bottles

An outstanding product complemented by creative beer labels ensures Partizan is the real deal in London’s craft beer scene.  The business started approximately one year ago and I regularly notice their beer on display at all the best craft beer pubs in London (i.e. check out the Rake and Craft Beer Co.)

Kernel Brewery

Kernel bottles

Now four years old, Kernel is one of the “veterans” of the craft beer scene in London because it’s currently older than 30 of the new microbreweries that have opened in the city.  Excellent beer – I especially enjoy some of their London Porter and Stout selections – and I’ve never been disappointed by any of their products.

Summary: The London Beer Scene….

is going strong and I’m happy I’ve had the chance to experience it!

I would love to say that I’ll regularly be filling you in on my knowledge of the beer scene in London as it changes and new breweries open up. But, I’m moving back to New York City in January 2014! So, look out for my new updates on the American beer scene over the coming months…

I originally wrote and published this article as a guest post for the company BestBev HK , a company established in March 2013 with an aspiration to bring quality beer and ciders to Hong Kong. 

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About Tanya

I’m a freelance travel and beer writer and a passionate and energetic 30 something - determined to enjoy life and see as much as possible along the way. Recently I lived abroad in London and traveled to 20+ countries within two years! As of January 2014, I'm back in the USA, and currently living in Charlotte, NC. But before all of that, my roots were set in small town America, where I spent the first 23 years of my life living, going to school, and working in the state of Pennsylvania.

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