It's fair to say that London likes the odd tipple. But what counts as an odd tipple these days, when small breweries and distilleries are springing up all around? (Seriously: don't sit where you are for too long, someone will put a mash tun there.) Londonist went to Conway Hall on Monday night to chat through the past, present and future of London drinking and pubs with three booze experts.
Pete Brown has written five (and a half) books, mostly about beer; we highly recommend Shakespeare's Local, one of the best histories of a London pub (The George Inn, in Borough) and surrounds we know of. Melissa Cole is a writer, broadcaster and sommALEier, whose Let Me Tell You About Beer should be your handbook to the hop stuff if you're not sure where to start. Richard Barnett is a writer, teacher and broadcaster whose books include The Dedalus Book of Gin and Medical London: City of Diseases, City of Cures.
The panel talked about how London went from having just two breweries in 1999 to around 80 today, the phenomenal rise of craft beer (and what was wrong with real ale, anyway?) and the parallel boom in small, artisan gin producers. Plenty of opinions were exchanged about what makes a good place to drink, and whether the middle classes are destroying the proper old boozer, before decrying the wanton destruction of pubs by property developers.
The audience, perhaps emboldened by drinks from some of London's independent breweries, cider makers and gin distillers, came up with some cracking questions; broadening out the debate to include cocktails and what the pub will look like in 100 years. If you're now kicking yourself for not having been there, you can listen to the whole talk below (warning: it contains some fruity language).
Remember to browse our database of the best pubs in London while you do.