The UK has the most breweries per capita in the world and at more than 2000 is behind only the US in total number of breweries. As you would expect some of the best of these are in the capital. Like so many beer fans whenever I visit a foreign city I always seek out the best breweries and bars and use this as my starting point for exploring. If someone told me I could check out the best beer in a city while taking in the iconic sights on a cruise through its heart I’d bite their arm off! So, as a Londoner, I thought the best place to start was at home with the London Craft Beer Cruise.
Hackney Wick with Crate Brewery and Howling Hops in Queens Yard and the Beer Merchants Tap this is an ideal corner of town for a craft beer crawl. Between the three venues you’ve got all your bases covered with HH offering beer straight from the tank, Crate with its riverside former print factory tap room and BMT with it’s incredible range on tap and in the fridges.
If you’re a Belgian beer fan then Lowlander Café in Covent Garden is one of the best places you can visit in the capital. It has a well stocked cellar with beers across all the incredible and fascinating styles produced in the country. Belgian beers have a close relationship with the country’s cuisine and Lowlander offers a fantastic and hearty menu for you to match them with.
Hop Burns & Black is a ‘bottle shop’ in East Dulwich but that description doesn’t really do justice to the special place it has in London’s craft beer story. This little venue is like a Tardis with an eclectic range of hard-to-find and special beers that you can take away or drink onsite while listening to some of the vinyl also sold onsite. More than that though is the independent spirit and passion that the team show for beer. Check out their excellent regular events and tastings too.
With several new breweries opening in recent years it’s profile is changing but West London is still best known for it’s cask (‘Real’) ales. It depends on what your definition of craft beer is but if it involves high quality independent breweries making the best beer they can then check out The Star in Belgravia, West London CAMRA pub of the year 2017 for some terrific examples of British cask beer. This historic venue has some stories to tell about it's shady past before the area was quite as well heeled as it is today too.