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Looking to nestle into a bar for the afternoon, and taste your way through the best of what one single brewery has to offer? Most of London's breweries have taprooms these days — while a few from outside the capital have also established their own taprooms here. This is our tried and tested selection of the best.
Full disclosure: we did once brew a Londonist IPA with these guys. But we wanted to collaborate with Fourpure, because the brand has mastered the art of countless beer styles and must be lauded for it. Start off on a tangy Easy Peeler, and work your way through quaffable sessions IPAs, up to head-swirling imperial coconut stouts. An embiggened taproom, secreted away behind some plumbing suppliers on a Bermondsey estate (and now open six days a week), has that real American/professional feel about it, merch-and-all. This is the place to start any Beer Mile odyssey from the Bermondsey end.
Bonus taproom: The rest of the beer mile, basically.
Fourpure, Bermondsey Trading Estate, 22 Rotherhithe New Road, SE16 3LL
Wet behind the ears on the London scene, Cloudwater is nonetheless another beer mile gem. The revered Manc brewery has actually been touted as the second best in the word, and has now set up shop in a bright, gallery-like space underneath an arch in Bermondsey (you'll be seeing plenty of arches in this article). It's the perfect setting for their sunny brews: think juicy IPAs, pale ales and — when you're ready for them — DIPAs. While international craft brands like Goose Island and Mikeller have scooched in on the London taproom action, for us, Cloudwater pips the competition. The best non-London beer taproom in London.
Bonus taproom: Next door neighbours Moor — another non-London taproom giving the local breweries a run for their money.
Cloudwater, 73 Enid Street, SE16 3RA
Camden Town, Kentish Town
Proof that there is more to Camden than the ubiquitous — and let's face it, bland — Hells. The original Camden Town taproom rather confusingly occupies a railway arch below Kentish Town West station. No matter — it's a delightful little hideaway, where you can tuck into less mainstream offerings, like Strawberry Hells and bourbon aged pilsner. The space outside effectively turns into a private street, full of drinking and pizza/BBQ street food. The occasional tank parties — starring impossibly large vats of unfiltered Hells (sooooo much better than normal Hells) — are worth penning in your Filofax.
Bonus taproom: There's now a Camden mega brewery in Enfield, where you can drink yourself into a belching stupor, with a beery bottomless brunch, or go and watch big machines do beer stuff. For our money though, you can't beat the boutique original.
Camden Town, 55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, Kentish Town, NW5 3NN
Two Tribes, Barnesbury
A relentlessly-refreshed beer menu holds in store anything from quaffable table beers and sessions, to more challenging IPLs and West Coast IPAs. Things get really interesting with Two Tribes' collabs, which have produced, among others, an apricot & guava sour IPA and an unctuous Baltic porter. There's a real party vibe in this place; expect the banging tunes and food trucks to keep you saying 'Go on then, just one more...'
Bonus taproom: If you're looking to slow things right down, try Small Beer in South Bermondsey. They specialise in, well, small (aka low percentage) beer.
Two Tribes, Tileyard studios, Tileyard Road, N7 9AH
Southey Brewing, Penge
Board games, bonhomie and the occasional free bowl of nibbles make Southey feel less taproom, more micropub. Like the venue itself — an old Victorian warehouse secreted down an inconspicuous Penge alleyway — the beer selection is small, but worth spending an afternoon wallowing in. Delight in the relatively low ABV session cask beers, and remember a time before it was all about blowing your head off with simcoe. Also see if Deserter have one of their special Southey-brewed beers on (if so, they'll be at the bar drinking it).
Bonus taproom: The Douglas Fir in nearby Anerley. Eight keg taps, two cask pumps and a loaded beer fridge — much of the beer's from the Gipsy Hill brewery.
Southey Brewing Co, 21 Southey Street, SE20 7EJ
Plenty of craft connoisseurs balked when Beavertown went to the dark side, and made a pact with the Devil Heineken. We can only roll our eyes at the taproom's queuing system, which sometimes leaves you 20 minutes without a brew. And, for lack of tables, you usually end up getting your arse scorched on the hot tarmac of a Tottenham Hale car park. So what the bejesus is this place doing in our list then? Simply put, Beavertown consistently makes some of the best beer in London — Gamma Ray IPA is a stone cold classic, and smog rocket is an industrial revolution-inspired porter that every Londoners needs to try. If you happen to like the beautiful game, Beavertown also have a mini brewery stashed away in Spurs' shiny new stadium. The pints are served from the bottom, upwards.
Bonus taproom: We can understand if the Beavertown experience is all a bit too much, in which case, sink a Pale Fire or Two Weeks in Florida at Pressure Drop, next door.
Beavertown, Unit 17, Lockwood Industrial Park, Mill Mead Road, N17 9QP
Howling Hops, Hackney Wick
Beer hall-style benches, rocket-sized tanks of beer and three-quarter-pint serves define Howling Hops — the UK's first 'tank bar'. Poured pretty much fresh from the brewing process, these beers are cold, fresh and fizzy. Start on a Tropical Deluxe, and continue the journey with kolsches, pale ales and red ales. Depending on the season, you might have the option of a nice sour or stout. Street food, homemade cakes and DJs playing extremely respectable music will keep you there for a while.
Bonus taproom: Crate Brewery's taproom lives right next door, offering exciting pizza (try the kashmiri dahl or Middle Eastern lamb), brewery tours, canal-side seats, and a very decent range of keg and cask beers, brewed on site.
Howling Hops, Unit 9A Queen's Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN
Brick Brewery, Peckham
Slowly but surely, Brick have cemented themselves as London's kings of sour beer. Just eyeing up their range (e.g. gooseberry & elderflower; winter berry; melon & rose, Manhattan (as in the cocktail)) is enough to make your mouth pucker. If you're a sour-phobe, fret not — their Peckham Rye taproom is flush with IPAs, stouts and lagers, year round. There's always a cider or two on, plus the fridge heaves with more cans and bottles than you could possibly get through in a session. A shaded beer garden, and pork-and-haggis-heaving buns from Slow Ritchie's, seal the deal.
Bonus taproom: Not five minutes away resides the Peckham branch of Brew By Numbers. Although it's crafted in Bermondsey, it tastes just as good here, and after a couple of ballsy scotch ales you'll inevitably end up playing on the Giant Jenga.
Brick Brewery, Blenheim Grove, Peckham, SE15 4QL
Scoff ye not, neo-beerheads. Though London Pride might be as complex and beguiling as an Ed Sheeran song, you cannot deny that Fuller's are the grandaddies of London beer. The Griffin Brewery — lapped at by the Thames and swept with wisteria in the spring — is far and away the most picturesque in the city, plus the brewery tour's the most interesting one you'll do in the capital. Sign up to one, and end up in the brewery's little vault bar, sipping brews you don't regularly see on tap in their pubs. Otherwise, pop in for a couple at The Mawson Arms (it's connected to the brewery), and order something interesting like a Bengal Lancer, 1845 or a Vintage Ale.
A note on our selection
We've defined taprooms as places that focus on selling beers from one specific brewery. Usually — but not always — you'll be drinking it a few feet from where it was made.
This list is by no means comprehensive; the taprooms we've featured are our personal favourites, owing to their exceptional beer and pleasant/interesting settings. You're welcome to recommend other London taprooms in the comments.
Also check out London's 15 best craft beer pubs.