Five of the best: London Brewpubs06 Mar 2015
Does London have too many breweries? It depends on your perspective. If you’re one of the few breweries that has been going longer than five years, the arrival of all these new beer-makers could be a little disconcerting. If you’re a punter in a part of the city where it’s still hard to get anything beyond the most generic of beers (and such places do exist), on the other hand, you might think differently.
Whatever your view, the number is unlikely to drop soon - not least because there is one type of brewery the market can probably take a lot more of: the brewpub. If you can sell all/most of your beer on site, then one of the major problems of any new operation is immediately sidestepped, which is probably why the city has such a wealth of them now. Some of them are really good, too - here are five of our favourites (in alphabetical order):
Despite its reputation, Surbiton is a pretty upmarket sort of place - David Essex used to live there, you know - so it’s no surprise that The Antelope is smart and welcoming. Across the outdoor space at the back (more a yard than a garden) you’ll find Big Smoke Brewing Co. This part of south-West London isn’t exactly jammed pack with breweries (although that’s changing) so Big Smoke is much needed. And they sell snazzy sweatshirts, too.
Two pubs, one brewery. Not content with having converted The Bull into a beer destination, the good people behind London Brewing took on the cavernous Bohemia in Finchley last year and installed a brewery there too. Cask ale is made at The Bull, keg at The Bohemia; both pubs are well worth a trip. The former is perhaps our preference, not least because - in the form of Mitch Adams - it has one of the best landlords in the city.
The Cock, Hackney, home of Howling Hops
This modishly aged-wood-heavy E8 boozer has become one of the best-loved pubs in Hackney since it opened in 2013. Howling Hops, the tiny on-site brewery, is downstairs and their (often hoppy and inventive) beer can be found on the bar alongside most of London’s most-vaunted names. There’s also a smartly-chosen variety of pork-based snacks and pickled items.
Acton may not be as glamorous as some of the surrounding neighborhoods but it does boast two decent brewpubs (the other being The Aeronaut). The Dragonfly gets the nod here, though, because of the excellence of their classic British bitter, 2 O’clock Ordinary, which is exceptionally drinkable and moreish. The beer does get out of Acton if that’s a bit of a hike: it’s also sold at some of the other pubs in the same group, including the beautiful Salisbury Hotel in Green Lanes.
Before London’s brewing revolution, there was Brodie’s. This E10 stalwart has been churning out interesting beer since 2008, an age ago in terms of this city’s beer history. The brewery has developed a reputation for fine hop-forward beers and Berliner Weisse-style sours. The current head brewer is the never-knowingly-shy Jonny Bright, who has demonstrated some real brewing chops since coming over from Brewdog. Then there’s the pub itself, an unreconstructed East London classic where the beer - Brodie’s and otherwise - is remarkably cheap.
What do you think? Have we missed out your favourite? Let us know on twitter @craftbeerlondon.