Top 10 tips for the London Craft Beer Drinker
Whether you are an existing craft beer drinker, or are thinking of becoming one, here is a list of things that I think are essential as part of your craft beer discovery in London-
1) Visit the Breweries– for anyone who has walked into a pub that sells craft beer and has been put off by their £5 a pint prices, head down to the breweries to drink or take away beers directly from the source, at cost price. A good place to start is Bermondsey, where there are currently five breweries within a mile radius (Partizan Brewing, The Kernel, Ansbach and Hobday, Four Pure Brewing and Brew by Numbers). Set off at 11am to get around as many as possible, closing time 5/6. Great friendly atmosphere too and not too much chin stroking.
2) Go to a Beer Festival– The number of beer festivals has recently been on the rise, many for free or under a fiver. This is the best way to try a variety of beer from different breweries in one place. Two excellent festivals are coming up very soon, the Wandsworth Common Beer festival from the 23rd- 26th March, which is tailored more towards cask ales and the biggest event in the London craft beer calendar, Craft Beer Rising which is taking place the weekend of the 21st-23rd February at the Old Truman Brewery. The latter will interestingly feature some international brews and breweries too.
3) Go to a Craft Beer Co and/or a Brewdog bar– Both have a huge number of taps and very well kept, good quality beer. Take a bit of cash with you as there is plenty to try. Tip, if a drink is priced by the half or third, buy that amount to start with as it could be something that will blow your head off!
4) Drink Cask Ale– Although cask ale has supposedly dropped its old man image, I believe that there are still many people out there that are still afraid of it, as it’s warm and doesn’t have bubbles. It’s easier to convert a lager drinker to craft beer that comes in a keg, as then you can pretend it’s not ale and it’s nice and cold. However if you have tried some craft beers on draft and find that you do like the flavour, especially the bitter ones, I encourage you to try some cask ales the next time you are in the pub, you may be pleasantly surprised. You can always try before you buy
5) Don’t be scared of the English hop!- if like me you were all about American hops the first time you tried craft beer and couldn’t ever imagine drinking English hops again you need to snap out of it. The majority of London microbreweries that have appeared in the last year are using American hops, most of them very well but some i.e the excellent A Head in a Hat and ELB (East London Brewery) are showing what English hops can really do. My top recommendation is Tommy by A Head in A Hat and if not anything else by A Head in A Hat brewery but there are many others out there. Easier to get hold of however and also very good is ELB’s Jamboree which is a golden beer.
6) Download the Craft Beer London app and buy their map– both essential if you’re out and about and want to know where your nearest craft beer establishment is. The app includes a map too but I find the paper map easier to navigate.
7) Find your nearest stockist of craft beer– We are not quite at the point where there is somewhere selling craft beer around every corner but Oddbins, Sainsburys and Waitrose all have decent offerings. However there are more and more speciality beer shops popping up, mostly online but if you’re lucky you may find that there is one near you. The Beer Boutique in Putney and Utobeer in Borough Market both have an excellent variety.
8) Become an Equity Punk- if you believe in the cause and want to help Brewdog’s expanding empire, you can buy shares in Brewdog (their second share offer is now fully subscribed, so you’ll have to wait until the next one). Or just do it for the lifetime discount like me!
9) Brew your own beer- if you want to start talking the talk and know your worts from your sparge, it’s very easy to get hold of a home brewing kit in speciality beer shops and online. You could be joining the list of breweries in London before you know it!
10) Hair of the dog- make sure you always have a good breakfast stout on hand for the morning after
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