What’s better than spending a weekend in the rain? Spending a weekend in the rain drinking beer. It’s what us Londonders do best. And this city has some of the finest microbreweries to choose from.
What is a microbrewery exactly? Well, we’re glad you asked. A microbrewery is a brewery (a place that makes beer, keep up…) that produces 15,000 barrels or less of beer each year. A lot of them have their own taprooms so you can drink straight from the barrels.
So now we’ve got the boring definition out the way, let’s head to those tasting rooms… Where are they? You’ll find them on pretty much every other street in East London… but if you’re at a loss of where to begin, head straight to Blackhorse Road or the Bermondsey Beer Mile for a weekend-long beer crawl.
1. Five Points Brewery
Let’s start in – you guessed it – East London. Five Points Brewery specialise in unpasteurised ales in the heart of the Hackney Downs. Sink your teeth into freshly cooked pizza in the yard and wash it down with tangy and citrussy pale ales and crisp pilsners. Tickets to their taproom cost a fiver, but you get a complimentary first drink, so it’s totally worth it. They also have small-batch brews like the Derailed Porter and London Smoke for those looking for something a little different.
Where: 61 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 4RG
Tickets to their taproom cost a fiver, but you get a complimentary first drink, so it's totally worth it.
2. Tap East
Six draught casks, 10 draught kegs, and more than 100 international cans and bottles… you’ll be hard pushed to find such a decent selection of beers at Tap East in Stratford. They specialise in craft ale and their microbrewery is well worth a visit. The small venue is the perfect resting stop between all that shopping you want to do. Try the Tap East American Pale Ale to start with. It’s a malty beverage and the citrus tang makes it a refreshing drink in hot weather (which we hope we’ll have soon).
Where: 7 International Square, Stratford, E20 1EE
Bobbing along the river with a beer in hand has to be one of the better ways to see in life after lockdown. Crate serve up their homemade brews on the River Lea in Hackney Wick on top of The Alfred Leroy, a boat named after a famous 70s pub landlord and boat operator. If your sea legs aren’t up to it, you can always just chill at The White Building right next door. Sample refreshing pale ales with delicate mango and grapefruit overtones and characterful but easy-drinking lagers. Feeling peckish? Worry not. They cook up mouthwatering stone-baked pizzas. What’s not to love?
Where: The White Building, Queen’s Yard, E9 5EN
4. Brick Brewery
There are 20 taps to sample at the Brick Brewery’s taproom in Peckham Rye. Outdoor drinks and food are available, and next week you’ll be able to step inside too. They also have a fine selection of guest beers to sample. Put your tastebuds to the test with an Imperial Yuzu Sour (a wapping 10.4%). It’s a knock-out drink sour-fermented with Kveik yeast and conditioned on litres of yuzu juice and an abundance of citrus peel. Go on try it, we dare you…
Where: Brick Brewery, Arch 209, Blenheim Grove, Peckham Rye, SE15 4QL
Put your tastebuds to the test with an Imperial Yuzu Sour (a wapping 10.4%).
5. London Beer Lab
Beer-making experiences, beer tasting and even a selection of home brew ingredients that you can use at home – the London Beer Lab has everything you could want. Join one of their tasting experiences in their Brixton taproom to explore a range of beer styles and flavours.
The cute little taproom opened its doors in Brixton in 2013 with the aim of teaching Londoners how to make beer. They’ve now expanded operations to offer a 14-line taproom of commercial beers, their own brews and a host of guest beers.
Where: Arch 41 Nursery Road, SW9 8BP
Fourpure likes to make beer drinking Fourpure and simple (geddit? Terrible pun, but it’s their tagline so don’t diss it too much). They make beer that’s full of flavour right in the heart of Bermondsey’s beer mile.
They’ve built the ultimate taproom to serve their own craft beer as well as some tasty guest beers too. They have a kitchen run by Oh My Dog! in case you get hungry, which serves up hotdogs and burgers – the ultimate beer food. Sample some of their most popular cans, such as their Fourpure Citrus Session IPA and their Fourpure India Pale Ale IPA.
Where: 25 Bermondsey Trading Estate, Rotherhithe New Road, SE16 3LL
7. Signature Brew
Since 2011, Signature Brew have created music-inspired beers. Yup, that’s right, it’s so East London. They’ve collaborated with musicians in their East London brewery to create beer-drinking sessions with a great soundtrack. Their bohemian microbrewery can be found on the Blackhorse Beer Mile in Walthamstow. Tag this site onto a load of other breweries in this article for a day-long drinking session – start just five minutes from the Blackhorse Road tube and overground station and end at Walthamstow Central tube and overground. Good luck!
Where: Unit 15, Uplands Business Park, E17 5QJ
8. Goose Island BrewPub
Goose Island is a Chicago-based brewery founded in 1988. The founder, John Hall returned to London to set up camp in the city that inspired him. They pour up fresh beer straight from their on-site brewery and are joined by Nanny Bill’s, a little kitchen that serves up hand-pressed burgers and famous croquettes. They are taking walk-ins and takeaways right now, but come Monday next week they’ll be open for bookings. Drink up!
Where: 222 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6PJ
9. Exale Brewing
Have you ever tried a seaweed stout? We thought not. Exale are bringing in our new-found freedom with a host of new releases from sours to saisons. Their taproom has reopened and they have flexible indoor and outdoor spaces for you and your mates.
Their USP is based around finding complex beers inspired by natural ingredients – think foraging in Epping forest and collabs with local coffee roasters and chefs. They have balanced lagers, pales and sours, and they’re always ready to experiment with wine-beer hybrids (try it and let us know how it goes), mixed fermentation and weird and wacky ingredients. They also run apprenticeships and training programmes to improve local employment. They’re just your all round good guy.
Where: Unit 2C uplands business park, Walthamstow, E17 5QJ
10. Meantime Brewing Company
Over in Greenwich, the Meantime Brewing Company is opening its doors on 19 May so you can enjoy fresh beer undercover. Of course you can still pick from outdoor seats, but why not choose the warmth!? They do tours around their brewery so you can see beer-making in action. Then afterwards you can sample some of their most popular ales. The London Pale Ale, the London Lager and the Anytime IPA are all fabulous. Trust us, we couldn’t walk home afterwards.
Where: Lawrence Trading Estate, Blackwall Lane, SE10 0AR
11. Battersea Brewery
Battersea Brewery has a taproom on site, so your pints will be pumped directly from the brewery – you don’t get much fresher than that. Located near the Battersea Power Station, the Battersea Brewery also serves up cured meats and cheeses to complement their beer selection. They also have other menus of tasty nibbles, toasties and sharing boards for your group (or just yourself if you’re feeling ravenous). Try everything from hoppy NEIPAs (New England IPAs for those in the know) to Imperial stouts.
Where: 12 – 14 Arches Lane, Battersea Power Station, SW11 8AB
12. Sambrook’s Brewery
Sambrook’s Brewery in Wandsworth has a lot of grand plans. They’ve set up home in the Ram Quarter, which is apparently the longest continually brewery site in the UK, with brewing dating back to 1533 (it’s also the former home of Young’s Brewery). Their site includes a state-of-the-art taproom (opening in July), kitchen (serving artisanal pizza) and events space. They’ll also be opening a museum and visitor centre to showcase the history of the site, and you’ll be able to become a ‘brewer for a day’. Until July, you can enjoy fresh beer, bottles and cans from their online shop.