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Wind the clock back forty years or so, London’s craft beer scene was pretty much a non-existent shambles, but today new craft breweries are springing up left, right and centre, and the number of breweries in the city has reached around 80. With micro-breweries popping up under railway arches and in once abandoned warehouses, and home brewers turning award winning beer magicians, there’s never been a better time to ditch the commercial beers and opt instead for fresh craft brews direct from the source. Thanks to the UK’s pesky licensing laws, you actually cant't get drunk in a brewery, but you can still visit the taprooms and bars of London’s breweries which arenusually (and happily) located next to one another. So, here are five of the best urban breweries in London where you can merrily sip your way through the tastiest of what the capital has to offer.
In a city where everyone is seemingly being swept up by the craft brew craze, how can you possibly make your brewery stand out? By becoming the first, and so far only, tank brewery the city has ever laid eyes upon, obviously. But what exactly is a tank brewery? Skipping the bottling or kegging process, these beers are served directly from the tank, which means they’re both unpasteurised (so there’s no heating and cooling) and unfiltered (so tend to be on the sediment-y side of things). This does also mean they go off quicker, but who cares when they’re as fresh as you can possibly get? And the crowds who flood to Hackney Wick for a beer and a boogie (in the evenings the taproom becomes a dance floor of sorts) ensure the brews don’t last long!
The huge steel tanks in their row behind the bar lend a sort of NASA, space ship vibe to the proceedings, but that's certainly part of the appeal. Take your pick from ten unique beers which run the gauntlet from pils to IPAs to smoked beers and enjoy the knowledge that your pint has travelled just a few metres from the brewery behind the bar itself to your glass.
As all good stories start, the tale of Bianca Road Brewing Co began with a road trip, the one in question being the team’s beer-fuelled bike ride from San Francisco to Miami. Inspired by the flavours, attitudes and techniques of the west coast’s brewing scene, upon their return they set about establishing their brewery in a warehouse just off the Old Kent Road. With the goal of bringing bold flavours and modern American style beers to a brewery which would draw together the local community, the crew built their taproom and brewery in Peckham before taking their tankards to new pastures in Bermondsey.
You can now drop by the taproom from Thursdays to Saturdays, or for one of their live music sessions to try their core range of seven refreshing beers which include a dry and hoppy American Pale Ale, a blood orange IPA and a crisp and floral and fruity session IPA. With their ethos being to make great beer, try new things and enjoy good times, you really can’t go wrong.
Pizza and beer. Need we say more? In a waterfront warehouse space in Hackney Wick, CRATE are busy brewing seven craft beers, with their small but creative range including a grapefruit infused IPA, a refreshing lager and a classic stout, and firing up a stone baked pizza oven. Order your hand rolled pizza and sample your way through the range, all of which heavily feature local ingredients wherever possible. Their warehouse was once a print factory, but with the addition of their brew tanks and some lost and found materials like railway sleepers, the space has turned into a Hackney institution. As well as their core house brews, you can also try guest beers from across the globe and bop away, beer in hand, to their weekend dj sets. And if you really want to go the extra mile, they offer brewery tours (if you book ahead) so you can get the lowdown on their unique recipes and brewing techniques.
Ask any beer aficionado where to find exceptional craft beers in the capital, and they’ll more than likely point you in the direction of BBNo. Seamlessly bringing together traditional and progressive techniques, marrying Antipodean and Belgian brewing styles and conjuring up everything from Belgian blondes through to one of the best IPAs in London Town, they produce beers of incredible quality which always deliver on flavour. The duo behind the beer are friends Tom and Dave, who decided to explore this melting pot of techniques and brewing heritage to create forward thinking, creative tipples. We wish we had thought of that. You can visit their brewery and taproom, which is tucked away Bermondsey’s brewing mile on Saturdays, and try to figure out exactly what the numbers on each bottle mean. The only clue we can give you is that the first represents the style of beer, and the second the recipe; the rest is a mystery.
With fourteen years experience in the game under their belt, the folks at the Meantime Brewing Company have been brewing beer since way before the rest of us decided it was cool and jumped aboard the craft beer ship. The story began when Alistair, the man at the helm, decided to start brewing in his flat which eventually spiralled into a large brewing house and numerous awards, including medals at the World Beer Cup. Having been the creators of the first craft IPAs, their range has expanded significantly and you can now sip your way through a few of no less than fifty different craft beers from around the world. They now have a restaurant too, The Old Brewery, on site so you can check out where all the experimental magic happens, grab a bite to eat and indulge in their London Pale, Chocolate Porter, Raspberry Wheat Beer and London Stout.
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