Go crazy for craft with London’s top 15 independent beers to try
World Best Bar
Apr 25, 2018
26 November 2020
1. Brew By Numbers Double IPA (55|01)
A deeply hoppy brew with delicate citrus flavours, 55|01 was the Rotherhithe brewery’s first attempt at a double IPA. That’s where the number-based name comes from – the first number is the style of beer (55 is double IPA) and the second is the version. Whether it was beginner’s luck or pure craft, they nailed it first time with this 9.2% ale.
2. Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale
Named London’s best beer by the Independent, it certainly boasts one of the capital’s best can designs with its psychedelic sci-fi illustration. Its unique tropical flavour makes the 5.4% Gamma Ray the perfect way to acquaint yourself with the weird, weird world of this Tottenham Hale company. Try it at London bars like Dalston’s Jones & Sons.
3. Camden Hells Lager
One of London’s most widely available independent beers is also one of its best. Combining hells and pilsner techniques, this NW1 brewery brings the best of German beer brewing to Camden with this 4.6% lager. Despite only being open for six years, the Camden Town Brewery has won awards across the world, and it’s easy to see why when you sample it at pubs like Islington’s Smokehouse.
4. Crate Pale
Created in a converted Hackney Wick factory that doubles up as a pizzeria, every beer from Crate Brewery is East London in a bottle. Surprisingly, the best beer from Crate is not their Crate Best but their pale ale, a tropical-tasting 4.5% brew.
5. Five Points London Smoke
Although we don’t find the actual London smoke from pollution and factory fumes overly appealing, the Five Points 7.8% imperial smoked porter of the same name is a welcome relief after a long, foggy London day. Made with smoked barley and wheat, this Hackney-based beer is a cosy campfire in a keg.
6. Fourpure Beartooth
Brewed in Bermondsey, this 5.3% brown ale comes from the so-called ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’, a cluster of microbreweries that open their tap rooms to the public at weekends. Beartooth is their best beer on offer, with a caramel-ey flavour suitable for the honey-loving bear with a sweet tooth.
7. Gipsy Hill Southpaw
Southpaw was the beer that started off this West Norwood brewing company, named by many as a one to watch for 2017. A 4.2% amber ale, it is based on a home brew recipe of one of Gipsy Hill Brewing Company’s founders. Don’t let ‘home brew’ scare you off, however, as Southpaw hits you with a complex series of distinctive flavours.
8. Hammerton Pentonville
Sharing a name with a prison and a road in Monopoly, Pentonville is a 5.3% stout worth going to jail for. Hammerton has a nearly 80 year brewing history, and that experience goes into every keg and bottle. Vegetarians, be warned: the Islington brewers are renowned for adding oysters to the boil for a moreish and mysterious flavour.
9. Howling Hops Pale XX No. 1
Awooooooooooooooooo! This zesty 5.9% IPA comes from Hackney’s Howling Hops. Named after blues singer Howlin’ Wolf, this independent beer will not give fans of US-style beers with herby and citrus notes the blues.
10. Kernel IPA Citra
Another brewery on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, Kernel creates bottled beers with life. Their 7.2% India pale ale is a highlight and it has gained the microbrewery – which was one of London’s first – worldwide recognition for its hop-heavy flavour. Try it in Bermondsey, or at bars like West Hampstead’s One Sixty.
11. Kew Join the Kew
Join the Kew provides just what the London beer scene needs – more puns! Created to celebrate their first birthday in 2016, this 5.7% IPA is a very fruity birthday present indeed. Plus, 5p of every pint sold goes to saving the rainforest, which is definitely your cue (or Kew) to buy a few.
12. Meantime Yakima Red
Featuring hops imported from Yakima Valley, Washington, this sweet 4.1% amber ale really lives up to that colour description. Also, the brewery’s name is a pun on its Greenwich location, which gives it extra points from us. This top independent beer is available across London in locations like Shoreditch’s Ask for Janice.
13. Partizan Saison Lemongrass
Another Bermondsey inhabitant, Partizan creates beers that are worth picking sides for. Brewed under SE1’s railway arches with a distinctive lemongrass taste, this 3.9% beer is definitely one for every saison (OK, we’ll stop). Fun fact: the company was started from Kernel’s old kit, making for an admirable example of Bermondsey buddying up.
14. Redemption Trinity
Meanwhile in Tottenham, we have the team at Redemption and their award-winning 3% light ale: Trinity. Named after its three malts and trio of hops, it proves that three is very much the magic number. Citrus, sweetness and surprising body for its low ABV…no wonder it has won a handful of ‘Beer of the Festival’ awards from the picky people at CAMRA.
15. Wild Card Queen of Diamonds
Last alphabetically but by no means least is Wild Card’s 5% APA, brewed in Walthamstow. In the male-dominated field of craft brewing, Wild Card is a woman-led brewery that delivers complex flavours due to hops being added continuously throughout the brewing process. Not just the queen of diamonds but perhaps the queen of beers too.
Your next London pub crawl is going to taste great! You can thank us later.