Tuesday, 12 June 2012

London Olympics - Craft Beer Guide

With the London Olympics fast approaching I thought it might be useful to put together a guide for those visiting the city during the games. It should also be a useful tool for those seeking out new beer experiences around our capital. Things have changed greatly in the last year or two so even those who consider themselves frequent visitors might find some new venues to visit. I will do this in the form of an alphabetical list and a short paragraph about each place. The list is not exhaustive so please let me know if there is anywhere good I have missed.

The Black Heart, Camden (2-3 Greenland Place NW1 0AP)
Tucked away on a quiet alleyway the Black Heart is a small bar packed with character. Definitely more on the alternative side of things but don't let this put you off. The staff and clientele are friendly and the pub carries a good selection of keg beer and an impressive bottle list with offerings from brewers such as Mikkeller, Odell and Goose Island. Under a minute from Camden Town Tube, five minutes from Camden Road Overground.

BrewDog Camden (113 Bayham Street NW1 0AG)
For the sake of transparency this is where I work. It is a fantastic bar carrying a great range from BrewDog as well as guest draught and a great bottle list of over 170 beers. Also serving some of the World's strongest beers at 32% (Tactical Nuclear Penguin) and 41% (Sink the Bismarck.) Food has been designed by Masterchef 2011 winner, Tim Anderson so the burgers and pizzas really good but very reasonably priced.  The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and always happy to give recommendations. The selection can be daunting, don't be scared to ask for some samples to get you started. Also the Black Heart is around a 30 second walk away so you can enjoy a few beers in each and then the Euston tap (see below) is one stop on the Northern Line. A must visit! Under a minute walk from Camden Town Tube, five minutes from Camden Road Overground.

The Bull, Highgate (13 North Hill N6 4AB)
A palatial brewpub in beautiful Highgate. While only a few stops north of King's Cross Highgate does not feel like London, more like a leafy village. A short walk from the Tube station is the Bull (not to be confused with the Bull and Last on the same street.) A large pub with its own microbrewery on site producing good flavourful beers and a wide selection of guest draught and bottles. Also an excellent kitchen with a strong American influence, expect pulled pork and amazing ribs.

The Carpenter's Arms, Bethnal Green (73 Cheshire Street E2 6EG)
If you're near the always busy Brick Lane and need a break from the chaos, this is the place. A deceptively large pub it has a good selection of Belgian beers as well as some American craft beers both on tap and in bottles. Still has the feel of a traditional pub and is wonderfully relaxed on a quiet side street a stones throw from the madness of Brick Lane. Close to Shoreditch High Street Overground and Bethnal Green Tube. 

Cask Pub and Kitchen, Pimlico (6 Charlwood Street SW1V 6EE)
Tucked away in Pimlico this was one of the first places in London to truly embrace craft beer. Five minutes walk from the tube is Cask. As the name suggests there is an emphasis on cask but also lots of keg beer and an abundance of bottled beer. Expect knowledgeable staff and interesting beers. Voted the world's fourth best beer bar on ratebeer. Close to Pimlico Tube station. 

The Craft Beer Co, Clerkenwell (82 Leather Lane EC1N 7TR)
The sister pub of Cask, Craft is an amazing place to visit. A huge selection of both Keg and Cask and an amazing bottle list. This pub sells a truly exceptional selection of beer with extremely knowledgeable and passionate staff make it a pleasure to spend time there. A must visit for any craft beer lover coming to London. Voted World's best beer bar on Ratebeer.The house lager is made by Mikkeller, that has to tell you something. Nearest Tube is Farringdon or Chancery Lane.

The Dean Swift, London Bridge (10 Gainsford Street Butler's Wharf SE1 2NE)
Just south of the river and a five minute walk from Tower Bridge this is a small gem of a pub. Serving a good selection of both keg and cask with The Kernel (see below) being described as their 'local' brewer expect plenty of bottles and kegs from them. Otherwise a good selection of Belgian and American bottled beers to keep you going. Food looks good both in terms of fresh made bar snacks and full meals. Closest Tube is London Bridge or Tower Hill.

The Dove - Broadway Market, Hackney (24-28 Broadway Market E8 4QJ)
Broadway Market is great on a Saturday. There is an incredible selection of food to choose from. I particularly recommend Ca Phe Vien for a Vietnamese espresso and some ribs. In the heart of the market is The Dove. A good selection of beer on tap including Belgian beer. The real treat is the Belgian bottle list, from Tripels to Geuezes to Saisons this is one of the best Belgian lists in London. The pub has a tonne of charm and a great atmosphere. With plenty of space outside this is a great place when it is sunny but also good when the weather turns as inside is wonderfully cosy. To get here either take an overground train from Liverpool Street to London Fields or use local buses. 

The Euston Tap, Euston (190 Euston Road NW1 2EF)
Situated directly behind Euston Station many times this has been a haven  for me when waiting for many a train back to Warrington. The building is one of the two remaining lodges at the back of the station engraved with the names of the towns to which departing trains went. A great bar with over 20 keg, 8 cask and over 150 bottles this is a truly excellent selection. Expect a great variety from both sides of the Atlantic. Often crowds spill onto the pavement as the bar itself is not that big but this is great in the summer. A relaxed atmosphere and a convenient location make it a great place to meet friends. 

The Jolly Butchers, Stoke Newington (204 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7HU)
Tucked away in Stoke Newington, this pub, and the area itself, are well worth a visit. A stand out in the Jolly Butchers are the staff. They are knowledgeable, friendly and engaging. The pub is large and open plan and the bar boasts a great selection of beer on keg, cask and in bottles. One of my favourites in London, they have a great Sunday lunch which is really one of the best you can get outside your mum's kitchen. Easiest way to get here is an overground train from Liverpool Street or local buses

The Kernel Brewery, Arch 11, Dockley Road Industrial Estate (SE16 3SF)
The new brewery that has been blowing people's minds for the last year or two. Spectacular beers in stylish, understated bottles packed with flavour. The brewery opens each Saturday from 9am-3pm where you can buy the freshest beer possible directly from them either on draft on in bottles. This is a perfect way to start a weekend and is walking distance from Borough Market and the wonders of Utobeer (see below) and the Rake (see below). Closest Tube is Bermondsey.

Kris Wines, Camden (394 York Way N7 9LW)
An unassuming off license slightly outside the centre of Camden with a surprising bottle selection. Kris often provides surprises from the US, the UK Germany, Belgium and around the world. A 15 minute walk from Camden Town Tube this is well worth a visit to pick up an awesome bottle or two at very reasonable prices.

Mason and Taylor E1, Shoreditch (51-55 Bethnal Green Rd E1 6LA)
Very close to Shoreditch High Street Overground is Mason and Taylor. A good beer bar with an interesting selection of beer on keg, cask and bottle. Don't be fooled by the look of a restaurant from the outside, this is very much a beer bar. Also very close to Brick Lane, well worth a visit for some great liquid refreshment.

The Rake, Borough Market, London Bridge (14 Winchester Walk SE1 9AG)
Owned by the same people as Utobeer (see below.) A bar situated on the outskirts of Borough Market. Very small with a larger beer garden. A selection worthy of the bottles shown in Utobeer and an ever changing, yet small, selection of beer on tap. A great atmosphere, great staff and a really fun place to be. Check out the autographs on the wall for all the awesome brewers who have been through this place. Nearest Tube is London Bridge, not Borough!

The Southampton Arms, Kentish Town (139 Highgate Road  NW5 1LE)
A pub still maintaining the style of an old North London boozer. Bare wood floors, communal tables, open fire, man occasionally playing the piano. There is a small yet excellent outdoor area to the back of this long, thin pub. The beer selection is ever changing and hosts a variety of London's best cask ales from producers such as Brodies, Redemption, Sambrooks and others further afield such as Summer Wine and Thornbridge. This pub also has, arguably, the best bar snacks in London. Home made pies, sausage rolls and picalilli are an amazing accompaniment to the excellent beer. The pub is a very short walk from Hampstead Heath so bear that in mind. Closest to Gospel Oak Overground.

Tap East, Stratford (7 International Square, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1EE)
The sister bar to The Rake in Borough Market. This is a far larger site tucked, slightly strangely, inside a giant shopping centre. Not only is this a bar but also a microbrewery. You can see the brewery as it is only enclosed by a pane of glass from the bar itself. The selection here is excellent with fridges packed with great bottles from around the world and a good selection of cask and keg beers including a selection from the microbrewery on site. Of the pubs and bars on the list this is the one closest to the Olympics meaning excellent transport links, very close to Stratford station and with excellent local buses.

Utobeer, Borough Market, London Bridge.
Arguably London's best beermonger. This market stall come shop is pretty incredible with around 2000 different bottles to choose from with 700 on display at any one time. It is open from Wednesday to Saturday and is usually very busy along with the rest of Borough Market. There is a great selection of bottled beers from the UK including; BrewDog, Thornbridge, Harviestons. They also stock a great selection of Belgian, German, Dutch and American beers as well as speciality magnums, books and glassware. 

The White Horse- Parson's Green (1-3 Parson's Green SW6 4UL)
A long time beer lovers mecca. Situated on the beautiful Parson's Green very close to South Kensington. This is a pub with a history of excellence and probably the best pub in London to get a true appreciation of good English cask beer. A really big pub with a great outdoor area which overlooks the green itself. As well as great cask beer there is a good selection of beer on keg including offerings from some of America's best craft brewers and a bottle list which includes a good list of Belgian Trappist and Abbey beers. Extremely close to Parson's Green Tube station. 

There are a couple of places I have been hearing great things about but haven't managed to get to yet. I have been reliably informed they're really good so check these two out as well. 

King William IV, Leyton (816, High Road, Leyton E10 6AE)
The Red Lion E11 (Leytonstone E11 3AA)

I hope this list means people manage to avoid a lot of the terrible beer dominating London at the moment. The last couple of years have been an amazing time for beer in the capital and it seems set to continue, enjoy!

Black Heart, Brew Dog, Euston Tap and Tap East pictures via www.travelwithbeer.com much appreciated.

Kernel Beer- the picture is from Pete Favelle at www.petedrinks.com - much appreciated.


  1. I've noticed that you have used four of my shots on this post - Black Heart, Brew Dog, Euston Tap and Tap East. The originals were posted on either/or both of www.travelswithbeer.com and www.beerlens.com.

    I usually ask for my photographs to be removed when used without permission but I'm a fan of London pubs and like to see them promoted so can you attribute them to me.

    Also, I would suggest asking permission in the future as I usually allow personal bloggers to use my photographs.

    1. Hey, apologies for that. I was in a bit of a rush and didn't really think about that today. I'll add an attribution now, what should I call you, awv or something else?

    2. Can you also add a link to the site? Thanks

  2. The shot of the Kernel beers has come from my blog - www.petedrinks.com (or possibly from the original post on www.kaveyeats.com)

    While I'm generally happy to let people use my pictures, I would ask from some attribution / links. Or at least an email to let me know instead of me having to stumble across it.

    1. Hey, apologies for that. I am still new to the whole etiquette of this. I have added an attribution and will be far more careful in the future. Hope that's ok.

    2. Perfect - thanks.

      In general, it's always worth asking; don't think I've ever said no, but I like to know what's happening with my images. If nothing else it can introduce me to new blogs :)

    3. Understood, i'll do that in future. I honestly didn't know that was how things worked. I do now and will act accordingly from now on.

  3. Something like 'Photo via Travels with Beer' will be fine.

    1. Changed it to a link, thanks very much for being understanding, very sorry.

    2. Can you change it so that so that you can click on the link? It's just that I will get some benefit from the link from this site.

    3. I've changed that for you, thanks for being understanding.

  4. Nice post, always good to have a bit of knowledge like this to share with visitors!

    Great stuff!