As with most interests and hobbies, Real Ale draws a wide range of people, from those who quite like a pint while they watch the rugby or cricket to those who want a total craft beer immersion experience.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, with sixty-nine breweries and counting, London has just the thing for you.
Marston’s at Lord’s Cricket Ground for the casual but discerning quaffer
By the time you have walked from St John’s Wood tube station to Lord’s, you might have the impression that a decent pint is not on the agenda for the day. However, once inside, it soon becomes apparent that provision has been made for you to enjoy some fine ale while you enjoy the game. Last year, the bars at Lord’s served over 600,000 pints of Marston’s beers.
Marston’s have been Lord’s Cricket Ground’s sole supplier of premium cask and craft beers since 2008, and their flagship Marston’s Pedigree is a long-standing favourite. This year they are adding Revisionist, a craft lager to their offering.
Lord’s Cricket Ground
St John’s Wood
London NW8 8QN
0207 616 8500
The Harp, Covent Garden, for those who like variety
The Harp was voted CAMRA London pub of the year in 2010, and continues to offer fine ales in traditional surroundings. Priding itself on a lack of televisions, jukeboxes and slot machines, The Harp boasts no fewer than ten hand-pumps and has a wide variety of short-term guest beers alongside its offering of classic cask ales.
Bar snacks are available, but the emphasis is firmly upon the excellent brews, served in this charming, typically English pub. Chandeliers and portraits feature prominently, and the bar sports a huge montage of pump clips from the hundreds of beers and ciders that have been served here over the years.
47 Chandos Place
London WC2N 4HS
0207 836 0291
London Brewery Tours – a chance to visit and sample
If you are tired of sitting in a pub, however pleasant and well stocked, and would like to explore some of the microbreweries that have sprung up around London, check out London Brewery Tours. All the research has been done for you, so all you have to do is book your place on one of the many tours, and let the LBT staff take you to multiple microbreweries in one tour. Meet the brewers, ask questions and try the beers.
There are various tours available, including a historical walking tour of Bermondsey’s brewing history, so check the website or call the bookings line for more information
Bookings: 0800 294 0574 firstname.lastname@example.org
Camden Town Brewery’s Brewery Bar for a Taproom experience
Camden Town Brewery is London’s third biggest producer of craft beers. It has been so successful that the fermentation tanks have had to be moved outside the original premises, making space for a proper brewery tap under the railway arches in Kentish Town West. Here, you can enjoy the brewery’s six permanent beers, or some of its limited run brews, only yards away from where they are produced.
Jasper Cuppaidge, the Brewery’s founder, is a man on a mission to make fantastic lagers, although he loves and makes other styles of beer, so if you are tired of fizzy, tasteless lagers, you should try Camden Town’s Hell’s Lager.
The Brewery Bar runs brewery tours on Thursdays and Saturdays for you to look around, learn about brewing and sample the beers on tap.
The Brewery Bar
55-59 Wilking Street Mews
London NW5 3NN
0207 485 1671
London Fields Brewery for the total immersion ale experience
If you are such an ale aficionado that you want to tour, try, taste and make your own at home, head over London Fields Brewery in Hackney.
Back in August 2011, when the company started, they were pioneers in the area, with their operation based under the Hackney railway arches next to London Fields. The brewery is run by enthusiasts and based upon the premise that a culturally vibrant area such as Hackney deserves to have its own brewery and enjoy locally produced, “home-grown, handcrafted beer.”
There are now other breweries operating in the area, but London Fields has widened its remit, and now provides beer, food, live music, a great events venue, beer launches and beer festivals.
They also offer brewery tours, allowing access to parts of the brewery normally off limits to the public and “joining the dots between the process and the glass.” Everything is covered, from the reasons for the choice of hops and grains, to the equipment and how it is used, to the beer making process and how the finished product is packaged. To round off the tour, there is a tutored beer tasting in the taproom.
Tours: M-F 19:00, Sat & Sun 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00 Group size is limited, so booking ahead is advisable.
The brewery tour takes about an hour, but if you have a half a day free, and would like to go a step further, they offer a “craft brewery experience” which includes the tour, a hands on demonstration of brewing where you bottle four beers to take home with you, and a three course meal with paired beers. You are well set up for some drinking games with friends when you get home.
Home brewing classes, which include all the ingredients and materials you will need to go home with a demijohn of your own beer, are another of LFB’s offerings. With beer and food pairing meals and tailored events for stag nights, corporate groups, and vouchers for all of their classes, London Fields Brewery are on a mission to spread the word about craft beers, and are always happy to meet other avid craft beer lovers.
Brewery operating hours: 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday
London Fields Brewery
365-366 Warburton Street
London E8 3RR UK
0207 254 7174