I have been requested lately to write a blog post about where to go Craft Beer wise in London. As you can see from the map above (The best £1.99 on an app you’ll spend drinking in London. Craft Beer London) there’s a lot of places. So I decided to put a twist on the question and test, how many high profile bottle shops and bars can you realistically visit in a day in London without stretching yourself too much? As well as doing that, I’ll do a few mini beer reviews during this post to keep it interesting!
Sourced Market, St. Pancras Station
Since it opened in 2009, I’ve always thought Sourced Market in St. Pancras Station is a great idea. Fresh produce, great craft and local beers, wines, small batch coffee and other great bites to eat. Imagine a Train Station M&S on steroids, and you’re nearly there. Sourced Market really is a great concept and I recommend seeing it for yourself.
I arrived at around 12:15 due to the great British train system’s delays and made my way over from Kings Cross to St. Pancras. Sourced Market is easy to spot, as it’s right under the clock and train times as you walk through the main entrance facing the back of Kings Cross.
Sourced Market’s Craft Beer selection really is something else, if you’re a London brewery there’s a 99% chance you’ll be represented here. There were also some brands from further afield – Anchor Brewing from San Fransico and Vedett from Belgium amongst others. You can buy your beer refrigerated to enjoy in the Market’s Café area or if you prefer that sort of thing and there’s also well kept shelf beers to take home or if you prefer your beer slightly warmer.
I opted for the Chilli, Falafel and Hummus wrap that had been made fresh earlier that morning, a Beavertown Quelle Dry Hopped Saison to take home and a Brixton Electric I.P.A. to eat with my wrap. The wrap was great lunchtime food, was spicy and filling. As I’m a bit of a Chilli Head this went down well but some people may find it a tad too spicy. It went well with the IPA.At first I was a little nervous about trying the beer, as the Pale Ale by Brixton Brewery had mixed reviews and it seemed as though they had a quality problem for a while. I noticed nothing bad about this brew at all. Lots of Pine and Citrus aromas and flavours with a slight sweet and bitter finish. All in all it was a great brew! After a good look in the fridges, filling up and finishing my beer it was time to move on.
Bottledog, Near Chancery Lane Station & 15 Mins walk away from Kings Cross/St. Pancras
It was a nice day, so I opted for the 15 minute walk from St. Pancras to Bottledog.
Although this shop is relatively small, it has a great selection. Plenty of Belgian beers, American Craft beers, some of the best Craft Beers from London and further afield (think Mikkeller, Evil Twin!) as well as most of the Brewdog offerings (it’s owned by them after all!) I went here as Brewdog had launched a new beer called CapDog, a Black IPA brewed in collaboration with CAP Brewing with cascara, the fruit from a Coffee Plant. I picked up one of these first, together with an Evil Twin/Prairie Fine Ales Bible Belt Stout, Mikkeller Orange Yuzu Glad I Said Porter, a Siren Whiskey Sour (their Limoncello IPA aged in Bourbon Barrels with more lemon zest added) and a Siren Tickle Monster. Some people complain about Craft Beer being overpriced, but this came in at just over £34 which was reasonable.
All in all, the staff at Bottledog are friendly and very knowledgeable (although usually busy!) and most of the beers are reasonably priced for what they are (Between £1.75 and £18) and I recommend any beer lover to take a trip there. There’s definitely something for everyone!
Utobeer Cage, Borough Market, London Bridge
After I finished at Bottledog I made my way to Borough Market – a historic food and drink market to visit the legendary “Cage” Much like Bottledog, this place is small but full of some real gems. There’s a big focus on Belgian beer and American Craft beer as well as some unusual and Craft beers from the British Isles. The Cage is somewhere to go if you’re after something a little harder to find and there were plenty of gems around. The first time I’ve ever seen bottles of Left Hand Brewing‘s beers, Maui Brewing‘s cans in the UK and the biggest selection of Flying Dog Beers (one of my friends favourites) – I had to indulge.
After having a good look on what was on offer, I picked myself 2 Maui Brewing Mana Wheat Beers from the fridge, a Left Hand Brewing Black Jack Porter, a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and a Founder‘s Breakfast Stout. There is no end of great beer at the Cage, and I plan to pay another visit very soon! Again, the prices were reasonable at £27 for these beers. After a quick chat about ABInbev purchasing Goose Island and selling the rights in the UK to Greene King with the guy serving I was on my way. I didn’t ask the staff at The Cage any questions, but from what I heard whilst I was there they too seem very knowledgeable indeed.
The Anchor, Near London Bridge
I stumbled upon this pub by accident, it’s not listed anywhere to do with craft beer but it’s right next to The Borough Market and the River. In all honesty I just wanted to sit by the river and enjoy my Maui Mana Wheat as it seemed too good to save both cans. It’s a Wheat Beer brewed with fresh Hawaiian Pineapple. I’ve got a review for this coming up, so check the Coming Up page!
After this, I had to do something you need to do after a few beers and headed inside the pub. When I went in I noticed they had a few Meantime Keg Pumps at the bar, a Belgian Kriek beer and Shipyard Pale ale on Keg. I couldn’t resist and ordered a half of Shipyard American Pale Ale. I’ve tried their IPA before and quite enjoyed it so thought I’d give it a try as it was the first time I’d seen anything by them on keg. It was an orange colour with a fluffy light head, on the nose some grapefruit, light citrus and some malts. The taste was a little bit disappointing, very malt forward with a touch of grapefruit hops at the end. Although don’t get me wrong, it’s worth a try and still better than the stuff you can get in most normal pubs!
Brewdog, Camden (Near Camden Town Station)
Brewdog Camden is always such a great place, not too busy but with a good atmosphere, an extensive bottle list which involves Craft Beer from around the world, friendly staff and the opportunity to try a flight of some of the guest beers on tap at the time. A flight?! What’s that you ask?
A flight is 4 1/3 of a pints in a little paddle. In Brewdog they usually cost around £8.50, which isn’t too bad seeing as they’re a fun way to try potentially 4 new beers and you get one pint and one third of good beer. This particular one was (left to right) Brasserie de la Senne Jambe De Bois (A Tripel) which I found although strong, a very nice Tripel with hints of Apple, Funky yeast, other fruit flavours and a hint of Coriander, Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, a Hefeweizen with big hits of Banana Bread in the flavour, Brew By Numbers 04|01 Berliner Weisse, one of the best Berliner Weisse Beers I’ve ever had with big sour Lemon and Apple flavours and Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba, a Belgian Pale Ale with hints of pepper, grapefruit and sweet caramel.
I stayed for a little longer, as I’d been rushing around a little and wanted to taste some of the Hopinator, Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA sitting in even more Whole Leaf Hops and Pink Peppercorns and really did create an interesting experience. It made it even hoppier, especially on the Aroma and had a hint of the pink peppercorns on the finish. I stayed for another Brew By Numbers Berliner Weisse and after looking at the time decided to move on. It was a well needed sit down in Brewdog, with reasonable prices, friendly people and friendly staff. They also sell cocktails, wine and spirits for people who maybe aren’t into beer as much.
The Craft Beer Co, Covent Garden (Near Tottenham Court Road Station)
Craft Beer Co. in Covent Garden was probably the busiest of all the places I went, but after you look at the numbers you can’t really resist. 15 Cask Taps and 30 Keg Taps, 45 Craft Beers in Total. On top of this, hundreds of different spirits and an endless bottle selection. You can even take away some harder to find bottles here at 33% off.
I went up to the bar and saw a great mix of World Craft beer, including offerings from Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing, Evil Twin, Beavertown, The Kernel, Five Points and more. I opted for the Stone Brewing Co Levitation Ale, as it’s one of my favourite Amber Ales and something I’ll be blogging about on Friday. I’d never tried it on tap, and it was just as good if not better. After this I moved on to a Siren Calypso – a sour beer with lots of tart cherry and lemon flavours, a beer I think is a fantastic seasonal brew from Siren. I finished off with a Five Points Brewing Co Railway Porter a great roasty, dark beer with lots of Coffee notes and then it was time to go. The light was fading and I had one more stop on my list before heading back. The staff at Craft Beer Co. are very friendly and knowledgeable. Even when it’s busy they’ll take the time to speak to you, which is nice. This place is a little pricier, but in a central area it’s expected and definitely somewhere to visit.
The Euston Tap, Outside Euston Station
As the sun was setting I arrived at the Euston Tap for a final drink. I had to include this place in the blog, as it’s been my go-to bar for great beer in London for a long time. If you want to try something you’ll probably not have again on tap in London, this is the place to go. The staff are friendly, the bottle selection either side of the bar is absolutely amazing and the tap list is always to die for.
The Euston tap is a tiny place, with some seating downstairs, a little bit more upstairs and a nice open outside area with a relaxed glass policy. This place has been here for a long while, and it’s definitely a great stop if you’re waiting for a train at Euston or you fancy trying some great beer. I picked up 2 of my favorite beers – Buxton Far Skyline to take away and ordered a half of Buxton / Omnipollo Pomperipossa – a Sour Cherry Stout. The barman accidentally poured me a pint, and I quickly told him. He said it was his mistake and charged me for a half. This truely is a complex brew, the roastyness expected from a stout is there but isn’t as heavy as usual and the sour Cherry hits straight away and remains the whole way through. It’s a refreshing stout and it was a great end to a great day. My test was over.
A market that sells great food and has a great Bottle selection, 2 well known bottle shops, a Pub I stumbled upon and 3 well known craft beer bars. I think that’s quite a success for a day in London. I spent between 1 and 3 hours in the pubs/bars and between half an hour to an hour in each of the bottle shops. I didn’t rush around the transport system often walking around. Midday until 10pm on a Friday battling through the lunch rush and the afternoon rush hour, I don’t think this was a bad sample of London’s more well known Craft Beer scene. I’m planning on doing the Bermondsey Beer Mile soon, so watch out for that!