As recently as five years ago there were only 14 commercial breweries in London.
Today there are 78, and by the time you read this there will probably be more as at least another 15 are in the planning stages. Many of them have brewery tours available, some regularly at set times and others more informal. Here’s a range of some of the top tours.
Anspach and Hobday
Anspach and Hobday is a 10-minute walk from Bermondsey tube station in what was a center of brewing activity in Victorian times. The founders Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday are trying to resurrect that; they opened in 2014 thanks to a crowdfunding campaign. One of their beers has been highly praised by the British wine writer Oz Clarke, who’s also a craft beer and spirits expert. Their Porter has won both Gold and Silver Medals at the International Beer Challenge, and their Tap at the brewery is open Friday 5-9.30pm, Saturdays 11am-5.30pm and Sundays noon-5pm.
The Camden Town Brewery
The Camden Town Brewery opened in 2010 in railway arches in Camden and is now one of the biggest breweries in London. It was started by Jasper Cuppaidge who owns The Horseshoe pub in Hampstead. Originally, Cuppaidge brewed beer in his cellar but grew frustrated at the fact that there were no local brews he really liked. So he decided to start his own brewery. Staring January 17th 2016 brewery tours will be at 1pm and 2pm every Saturday, limited to the first ten people who sign up. There will be a charge of £1, which is donated to charity.
The Fuller’s Griffin Brewery
The Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick is one of the best-known in London, and their London Pride one of the best-known beers. The brewery opened in 1828 but the company can trace its brewing roots back to the late 1600s when it was common for households to brew their own beer. Tours are currently running Mon-Fri only, at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, but check timings on their website where you must also book the 90-minute tours in advance.
The Meantime Brewing Company
The Meantime Brewing Company is in Greenwich (as in Greenwich Mean Time) and their head brewer Alastair Hook has won many awards for his beers which include a London Porter, a London Stout and a Strawberry Wheat Beer. The brewery’s been so successful that it was bought in May 2015 by SABMiller, who also own half of Miller Coors. Tours last two hours. See the website for days, times and prices: MeantimeBrewing.com/Brewery-Tour.
Sambrook’s Brewery is named after a London city accountant, Duncan Sambrook, who was so disappointed when Young’s Brewery closed in 2006 (which meant at that time there were no longer London-brewed beers available,) that he opened his own brewery. You can tour at 7pm on the third Wednesday of every month when they have open nights for the public, or book your own private tour through the website.
Redemption Brewing has a core range of seven beers and also makes a new brew every season for a limited time only. They’ve won so many awards it’s hard to count them, and became so successful they have had to pause their brewery tours, which were said by Time Out to be one of the best in London. However, the good news is that in early 2016 they’ll be moving to a brand new brewery and tours will resume then, so check in on their website or sign up for their newsletter.
With Redemption and other London breweries expanding into bigger premises, and new breweries opening all the time, London’s never been better for brewery tours – as well as its historic pubs.