London for Beer Lovers

I recently wrote an article for Viator Travel about the beer scene in London, showing how it has been changing and developing in recent years. I mentioned some of the pubs and bars worth visiting for the best craft beers in the city, as well as a few to try. Here is part of the article – click here or the link at the bottom of the page to read the complete article on Viator.

London for Beer Lovers

Not so long ago London was seen as one of the worst beer cities in the country, with only a handful of breweries remaining, despite once being the brewing capital of the world and the birthplace of traditional beer styles such as porters, IPAs, and stouts. But now new beers and bars are starting to appear in every corner of the city as part of this craft beer explosion; there are now over 30 breweries in London, around 5 times more than in 2006, and this number is increasing rapidly.

Micro-breweries such as Redemption, Kernel, Brodie’s and Camden Town are experimenting with beer styles and creating a new wave of craft brews, making it an exciting time to sample what’s on offer, and London has something for everyone on a beery quest. Here are some ideas on where to find fine beer in London, which brews to try, and which breweries are worth a visit.

Craft Beer Pubs

The resurgence in brewing in London, which was partly due to the discerning drinker’s desire to try more diverse, well-produced, flavoursome beers rather than the mass-produced beers that dominated the industry, has brought about the opening of a whole new breed of bars and pubs. These craft beer establishments showcase quality beers from innovative local and regional breweries and also feature unusual beers from around the world.

The Craft Beer Company  — Nearest tube: Farringdon

Craft Beer Company

Photo credit: calflier001 via Flickr.

The Craft Beer Company on Leather Lane, off Holborn, is a great place to start your craft beer crawl. This Victorian pub was taken over only a year ago, but with its ever-changing beers sourced from some of the best microbreweries in the country it has become very popular very quickly.  There are 37 beers on tap including 16 cask and 21 keg taps, and beers range from the light and hoppy Camden Town Pale Ale and the full-favoured Dark Star Espresso Stout (around £3.95 a pint), to interesting German, Scandinavia and US hop monsters on keg (at around £3.95 for a half pint).

There are also over 300 bottles on sale, including many rare small-batch US artisan beers—you won’t find big US names like Flying Dog or Anchor here. The pub has been nicely restored; in the downstairs traditional but sleek bar there is a lavish mirrored ceiling and chandeliers, and upstairs there is a small light and airy lounge. It’s very easy to settle yourself down here on one of the comfy chairs, but it’s not so easy to leave.

The Euston Tap — Nearest tube: Euston

Euston Tap

Photo credit: Bernt Rostad via Flickr.

The Euston Tap is housed in a 19th century station gatehouse opposite Euston Station, and this miniscule square bar has an impressive beer list with about 8 beers on draft and 20 on keg, the names of which are scrawled on a blackboard behind the bar, plus shiny fridges lining the walls stocked with around 150 bottled beers.

It’s not cheap if you go for a US keg beer—a half pint can set you back around £3–4—but a pint of UK beer from micro-breweries such as Redemption (just up the road in Tottenham) should cost less than £4. It’s sparse inside and there isn’t much seating downstairs apart from a few stools—it’s more of a standing pub, inside and out—but up the steep spiral staircase you will find comfy sofas and a few tables. The pub also has a cute terrace, which can be a nice little suntrap in the summer. Despite its small size, the Tap has a kitchen and offers New York style pizzas so you can have something to munch on to soak up some of the beer. It’s great spot to stop off when waiting for your train. Just be aware that you’ll probably end up missing it.

READ FULL ARTICLE  (link takes you to Viator Travel)

Green Man Beer Festival, Grantchester

I was looking forward to visiting the Green Man Beer Festival in Grantchester, mainy because I’d missed their first ever festival and heard good things about it, and secondly because I’d heard which breweries were providing beers.

The festival was held between Friday 30th September and Sunday October 2nd. We headed there briefly on the Friday (by bus, too hot to walk), got off at the Blue Ball and headed to the lovely old Green Man pub in the middle of the village.

The beer festival marquee had been set up between the pub and the garden. The beer selection was very impressive, with beers from Redemption, Skinners, Buntingford, Summer Wine, Thornbridge, Milton and more. The festival glass was £2 to hire, and for CAMRA members beer was priced at a reasonable £3 a pint. There were over 50 cask ales and there were also ciders available.

Green Man Beers

Green Man Beers

Immediately I went for a Redemption Trinity, having missed out on this beer at the Cambridge Beer Festival. I couldn’t believe this beer was only 3% – I had to question the chap behind the bar and he confirmed that was right. He also said it’s quite difficult to get hold of Redemption beers, and he was pleased that they had managed to get some. We took a seat in the shady area of the long garden. The golden ale was full of fruity hops and was very pungent and piney. Lots of flavour for its impressively low abv.

Next up was some Summer Wine Diablo IPA, 6%. It was double the abv of the Redemption, and it tasted strong but incredibly tasty. Those resinous US hops and tropical flavours made this beer a winner.

I then got myself a Cambridge Moonshine Spiritual Matter, 3.7%, and was told I was probably the first member of the public to try this in Cambridge as it was brand new. It was fantastic; light fruity and flavoursome, and probably the best Moonshine beer I had tried. But we then had to head off.

The Green Man, with the Red Lion behind

The Green Man, with the Red Lion behind

On the Sunday we strolled back to Grantchester, despite it being far too hot to be walking across the meadows to the village from the city centre.  Those last few steps to the back garden entrance of the Green Man were pretty tough, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other by that point. But I knew what was inside, so I just kept going.

Redemption Big Chief had taken the place of Trinity, so I went for some of that straight away, although water may have been a wiser idea. On the label on the barrel it stated that this was 3%. Really? It tasted so much stronger. Then again, the Trinity did too. I asked for confirmation of this, as before, and it was confirmed. However, after knocking back this hoppy and full-bodied beer and realising that it couldn’t possibly be that weak I checked the beer list on the bar. It said it was 5.5%. I looked at the barrel again. That said 3%. Hmm. I brought this to the barman’s attention. He said he knew, and had now informed all bar staff. Bit of an issue, though, if you are driving and thought you were just drinking a quick half of weak beer. Luckily we weren’t.

Brewsters Decadence was  next, a tasty beer at 4.4%, hoppy and refreshing and moorish. I love Brewsters beers, especially their wonderful Hophead. I then wanted to try some of the fantastic Skinners Cornish Knocker on cask (I usually drink it bottled) but was upset to find that I had missed out and it had all gone – this tasty beer is one of my favourites; full of hops and wonderful flowery flavours.

We sat inside the marquee to watch a fantastic jazz band, Have You Heard, and I finished off with a Buntingford Polar Star, 4.4%, a great beer from one of my favourite breweries. Pale and light with US hops giving it a grapefruity and citrussy flavour, it was delicious and perfect for the sunny weather –  recorded as the hottest October day ever in England.

The Green Man Garden

The Green Man Garden

The Green Man did a great job in sourcing their beers and organising this wonderful festival. My one comment would be that I’d have liked some tasting notes – it cuts down the time spent at the bar wondering which ale to try next! All in all it was a great event and I look forward to the next one with anticipation.

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