While London may be a hot spot this year with the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics, the city is also garnering some attention from beer enthusiasts who have watched the city bounce back in a surprise beer boom as noted by several local beer experts and writers.
While I’m more partial to wine when it relates to culinary travel, I’m an equal opportunist imbiber truthfully, and have developed quite a soft spot for quality craft and microbrew beers. After a decline in craft beer producers in London several years ago, the city has seen an influx of new microbreweries popping up, many of which are producing some fantastic brews that highlight the qualities that put London on the beer map in the first place.
Old Brewery is a restaurant and bar opened and operated by Meantime London — one of London’s local breweries. Meantime Brewery was founded by Alastair Hook, a south Londoner himself. He graduated from one of the UK’s leading brew schools, and what he started as a small business in his flat back in 1999 has today grown to be one of London’s most respected craft beer producers.
Recommendation: London Porter 6.5%. While not necessarily the most budget friendly brew, it is a 750 ml bottle and with 6.5% alcohol, not one to chug.
Old Brewery: The Pepys Building, The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich (020) 3327 1280
After a fairly recent facelift, Carpenters Arms has been consistently rated as one of the better spots for a pint in the city. While they have a lot of draught beer and an impressive selection of bottles from around the globe, their regularly rotating selection of ales features one worth a try — Truman’s Runner Ale.
Truman’s was founded back in 1666 and lasted until 1989 when the brewery and pubs were closed. It made a surprising return in 2010 when two young local beer enthusiasts decided to bring back what many consider to be an integral part of London history. Their first release is a bitter, “Truman’s Runner”, an ode to the original Truman’s porter that was known as “Runner”.
Carpenters Arms: 73 Cheshire Street, London (020) 7739 6342
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales in Twickenham features several local brews, but one of the producers they highlight is worth a mention — Twickenham Fine Ales. These interesting brews have been known to be pretty hard to find outside of the general vicinity of the brewery itself. One of the more popular year round offerings is “Naked Ladies”, a brew inspired by statues of water nymphs at York House gardens in Twickenham. If the name of this particular brew sounds familiar, it is the one you are most likely to find outside Twickenham, and is even brewed under license in Belgium.
The Prince of Wales: 136 Hampton Road, Twickenham, Middlesex (020) 8894 5054
King William IV Hotel and Bar
The King William IV is the official brewery tap for what was the adjoining Sweet William Brewery. It was eventually abandoned and, in 2008, Jamie and Lizzie Brodie took it over and managed to brew Brodie’s IPA after only six weeks of cleaning and fix up work. They now produce over 30 different beers under the Brodie’s name. King William IV has sixteen different beers on every weekend — all of which are just £1.99 a pint!
King William IV: 816 High Road, Leyton, London (020) 8556 2460
The Kernel Brewery
Stop by for “Saturdays at the Kernel” where you can buy beer direct from the brewery, sample a few different pints, and enjoy the neighboring Matlby Street area. From 9am until 2pm on Saturdays, this newish hot-spot is the place to be for foodies. A number of food merchants, along with Kernel Brewery, moved into this area and you can sample everything artisan foods, coffees, and of course Kernel beers.
The Kernel has been named one of London’s best breweries and has received numerous awards and accolades. One of the more popular offerings is the India Pale Ale (IPA) – a truly artisanal brew that is inspired both by old-style London porters and stouts, but also US-style hoppy Pale Ales.
The Kernel Brewery: Unit 11, Dockley Road Industrial Estate, London (077) 5755 2636
Photos: Flickr, Bernt Rostad, LoopZilla