‘Craft beer is part of the overall revolution in food where quality, care and ethical sourcing are paramount,’ says Charlie McVeigh, owner of the craft beer chain The Draft House. ‘And the great thing about craft beer is it’s a democratic drink. It’s actually very cheap for what it is.’ The Draft House pubs are typical of a new breed where the emphasis is on quality beer and food. So if you love a good beer, be it from a local microbrewery or a small producer in Idaho, head to one of these great south east London (and our adopted cousin Brixton) pubs…
1 The Florence, Herne Hill
One of the first brewpubs in London, The Florence is a grand old dame of the craft beer scene. Peter Haydon brews his own beers in the basement – there’s the hoppy, fruity Weasel; Bonobo, a dark, best bitter and Beaver, wheaty and malty with a twist of orange peel. Like many craft brewers, Peter delights in discovering old beer recipes and recreating them. In this sense he is as much an historian as a master brewer. He is author of a number of books on the subject of beer and pubs including The English Pub: A History.
131-133 Dulwich Road SE24 0NG; 020 7326 4987; florencehernehill.com
2 Crown & Anchor, Brixton Road
Martin Harley is owner of the Crown and Anchor on Brixton Road, which opened in April 2012, a great modern craft pub that’s attracting a cool urban crowd with great beer and food and convivial surroundings. ‘There’s a broader range of flavours in beer than wine,’ said Martin, speaking of another characteristic of the craft scene – matching beer with food. ‘This often makes beer the perfect accompaniment to food. Try eating German bratwurst and German mustard (it must be German) with an American IPA like St Lupulin or Goose Island and you’ll see what I mean.’
246 Brixton Road SW9 6AQ; 020 7737 0060; crownandanchorbrixton.co.uk
3 Kernel Brewery, London Bridge
For any craft-beer fan a trip to the Kernel Brewery is akin to a pilgrimage. Just two years after opening Evin O’Riordain’s brewery was awarded the British Guild of Beer Writers Brewer of the Year award 2011. His outstanding beers have shot the brewery into the top ranks in a very short time. You only have to sample the delicious aromas of mango, pineapple and grapefruit in his Nelson Sauvin Pale Ale to realise that his loving approach to crafting beer pays off in spades. You’ll find their beers in pubs all over London, especially the south.
4 The Flying Pig, East Dulwich
The Flying Pig offers a thoughtfully curated selection of fine beers from London’s leading breweries, alongside a bar-menu of authentic American barbeque flavours. You’ll find 12 kegs and 6 casks on offer at any one time, as well as an array of bottled beers, ranging from favourites like Crate, Camden and Kernel to more unusual beers such as EvilTwin, Tempest and Beavertown.
58-60 East Dulwich Road SE22 9AX; 020 7732 7575; theflyingpiglondon.com
5 The Hare & Billet, Blackheath
The Hare & Billet’s draught range evolves constantly, with 10 hand pulls showcasing some of the best mostly local, small breweries and real ciders, including Old Red Eyes from Penge-based Late Knights and Tommy IPA from A Head in a Hat brewery, based at The Florence in Herne Hill. There are also 12 rotating Keg taps offering ‘proper’ lager and some of London’s current finest brews – such as Camden’s Hells Lager and Meantime’s London Lager – as well as craft bottled beer from the USA & Belgium.
1A Hare & Billet Road SE3 0QJ; 020 8852 2352; hareandbillet.com
6 Craft Beer Company, Brixton
The Craft Beer Company, founded in 2011, opened its Brixton pub in 2012, offering continuously changing cask beers sourced from Britain’s best independent microbreweries. There’s also an ever-changing selection of keg beers and regular house favourites from the likes of Thornbridge, Dark Star and Ilkley, as well as a huge range of bottled beers sourced from all over the world (and, um, just over the road, from Brixton Brewery). You’ll always find something new here.
11-13 Brixton Station Road SW9 8PA; 020 7095 9129; thecraftbeerco.com
7 The Rake, Borough
The Rake, a speciality beer bar by Richard Dinwoodie and Mike Hill – the owners of Utobeer – replaced the Jubilee Café on the edge of Borough Market in 2006. What started as a shop window for their Utobeer wholesale business quickly became a stand-alone business, winning several awards within a couple of years of opening. Typically the fridges behind the bar have 130 beers in them at any one time and the draught beer range is ever-changing with 7 keg pumps and 3 cask ale hand pulls. You’ll find beers from the same post code area – the Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey – among beers from as far away as Tasmania!
14a Winchester Walk, Borough Market SE1 9AG
8 The Stormbird, Camberwell
The Stormbird in Camberwell has 15 rotating beers, 4 growler lines, bottles and cans to enjoy in or even takeaway. You can get Innis & Gunn Original and Kernel Polaris Pale Ale on draught here – quite the rarity – or you can get Innis & Gunn Rum Cask and Kernel Bière de Table by the bottle – the choice is yours. Oh and there are Brewdogs, Brooklyns, Odels, Chimays, Mikkellers, Rogues and, well, all sorts!
25 Camberwell Church Street SE5 8TR; 020 7708 4460; thestormbirdpub.co.uk
9 Meantime Brewery, Greenwich
London’s biggest brewery is no longer micro – a regular name at pubs and festivals the country over. It’s always a tough call between the London Lager, The IPA and the Yakima Red (I’m not so much a fan of the Porters, but some people like that kind of thing). Meantime’s brewery and two pubs are based in Greenwich, but it’s not compulsory to drink only Meantime – The Old Brewery also stocks more than 50 beers from some of the world’s top breweries.
The Old Brewery, The Pepys Building, The Old Royal Naval College SE10 9LW; 020 3327 1280
The Greenwich Union, 56 Royal Hill SE10 8RT; 020 8692 6258
Brewery & Visitors Centre, Lawrence Trading Estate, Blackwall Lane SE10 0AR; 020 8293 111
10 The Ivy House, Nunhead
The Ivy House is London’s first co-operatively owned pub, the first to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, and the first building in the UK to be bought for the community under the provisions of the Localism Act. It reopened in August 2013 and is now building a reputation as one of London’s finest real ale and craft beer pubs, and as a venue for music and other live events. There are 8 real ales and ciders on hand pull, and a wide range of craft beers in kegs and bottles, from the best of London’s breweries – including Brockley Brewing Company, Camden Brewery, Late Knights, Meantime, Fuller’s and Beavertown – to interesting beers from further afield.
40 Stuart Road SE15 3BE; ivyhousenunhead.com
11 Brixton Brewery, Brixton
Brixton Brewery’s beers, brewed under the railway arches, pay homage to the rich heritage and modern-day character of the area. Electric is an Indian pale ale inspired by Electric Avenue and made with New World hops, giving it an energy and attitude. Effra is a smooth amber ale that balances pine, lime and grassy hops. It’s named for the Effra River, which now flows under Brixton. And then there’s the Reliance, a light, interesting pale ale that raises a glass to the 1920s market arcade where local cobblers and tailors still practise their craft. You’ll find their beers at plenty of south London pubs, including the Craft Beer Co on Brixton Station Road.
See brixtonbrewery.com (brewery tours can be arranged)
12 Zerodegrees, Blackheath
Livelier than the average brew pub, Zerodegrees takes its beers and its weekends pretty seriously. The pub produces its own Pilsner, Black Lager, pale ale, mango (weird huh? But good – the malt flavour is hidden with a low hop bitterness to allow the fruit notes to dominate. Ok, I read that, but it really tastes fab. A good summer beer), wheat ale, speciality seasonal ales and fruit beer. The hungry can also graze on tapas, mussels and gourmet pizzas – there’s even a guide to help you match your beers with your snacks.
29-31 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath SE3 0TJ; 020 8852 5619; zerodegrees.co.uk
13 The Lord Northbrook, Lee
With live music, great pub food and good beer, The Lord Northbrook has really redeemed itself after being named the Worst Pub in South East London by News Shopper just a few short years ago. But since its rebirth, it’s gained a huge local following and even made ShortList’s Pints and Pistachio Awards in 2013. As well as a range of well kept ales from small local breweries, you’ll find American craft ales like Roscoe’s, Flying Dog and Anchor Steam Beer.
116 Burnt Ash Road SE12 8PU; 020 8318 1127; thelordnorthbrook.co.uk
14 Late Knights Brewery, Penge
Martyn, Mik, Steve and Sam took a derelict Victorian slaughterhouse in Penge, fixed it up, and in 2013 opened Late Knights Brewery. As well as kicking out 100 casks of hand-crafted beer a week (with six permanent beers and a few seasonal numbers, ranging from a pale ale to a best bitter and a stout), they also run four bars – Beer Rebellion on Queens Road, Peckham, Beer Rebellion on Gipsy Hill, the London Beer Dispensary in Brockley, and Brighton Beer Dispensary. They also have plenty of beers form other notable breweries including Signature Brew and XT Brewing Co.
15 The Great Exhibition, East Dulwich
The house ale here is Laine’s Best, a lightly hopped easy drinker, and the rest are rotated weekly. At the start of the week, you’ll generally find three on tap, bolstered to five in the run up to the weekend, with the likes of Dancing Duck Brewery’s Ay Up. If you can’t decide which to drink, opt for a paddle of three, smaller sized drinks to try. You can also grab yourself a bottle of the likes of Beavertown – brewed in E3 with hops imported from America. Oh and they do great beer-battered fish and chips, roasts, live jazz and a killer quiz.
193 Crystal Palace Road SE22 9EP; 020 8693 4968