Beer. It's a scientific fact that we need it. But we can't always be bothered to go to the pub or brewery to get our fill. Fortunately, these days in London, it's easy enough to grab a few decent bottles or cans to take home, or round your mate's place. Here's where to go shopping.
BrewDog, though not a London brewery themselves, were among the pioneers of London's craft beer revolution, and their offshoot BottleDog was a likewise pioneer of taking said craft beer home. 250 bottles and cans (many of them chilled) can be found in this King's Cross emporium, as well as a dedicated growler filling station, for brews from the tap. 69 Gray's Inn Road, WC1X 8TP
We discovered Dusty Dick's (no relation to Dirty Dick) out and about on an amble this summer, and were impressed by the number of bottled brews they've crammed into a humble space. London's brewerys get a good airing here, as do some of the UK's other craft breweries, along with Belgium, Germany, and even Iceland. They'll also do you a growler. 153 Crouch Hill, N8 9QH
As the name suggests, Caps & Taps does bottled beer, and fills up growlers straight from the tap (with two or three guests on at any given time). This place also has a calendar crammed with beery events, so you can swot up and mingle with fellow hop-heads. 130 Kentish Town Road, NW1 9QB
A second Clapton Craft is now open in Kentish Town (see 'East'). 326 Kentish Town Road, NW5 2TH
Peckham's Hop Burns & Black is a labour of love. Set up by Kiwi couple Jen and Glen, it celebrates the holy triumvirate of craft beer, hot sauce and vinyl. The shelves contain a veritable library of London-brewed beers and you'll also find rare and international bottles on the shelves including brews by New Zealand's Yeastie Boys. You can also have a tipple in-store. 38 East Dulwich Road, SE22 9AX
We brought beer. That's what you'll say when you turn up at a house party, having bought beer from We Brought Beer. This squeaky clean shop in Balham stocks over 150 beers at any given time, and sells brew-your-own kits too. 28 Hildreth Street, SW12 9RQ
Among the first wave of craft beer peddlers in London, Utobeer in Borough Market can be trusted to deliver on the major breweries (Anchor, Beavertown, Flying Dog, Goose Island, Left Hand), and provide some surprises along the way. All within the confines of a cage. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. While in the area, check out Maltby Street market, with its Hiver honey beer and The Modern Beer Bar stalls.
Continuing on our Southwark theme, The Bottle Shop on Druid Street has 300 or so bottles at any one time, many of them unavailable elsewhere. While this part of town is already saturated with breweries, The Bottle Shop is where you'll winkle out that something special. 128 Druid Street, SE1 2HH
All right, all right, we did say no pubs. But Mother Kelly's in Bethnal Green has such a selection of takeaway brews in its wall of fridge, we couldn't miss it out. Side by side with the 'conventional' crafts are also oodles of rarities, such as an oak-aged gooseberry beer from Denmark. And as we discovered for ourselves earlier this year, Mother Kelly's sells non-alcoholic beers with a difference. 251 Paradise Row, E2 9LE
The Wanstead Tap in Forest Gate has one of the most impressive selections of beers we've seen, all to take away, although you can sit at one of the tables and drink it there if you just can't wait to get it home. Staff really know what they're talking about and will gladly guide you through the ever-changing stock. Arch 352, Winchelsea Road, E7 0AQ
There are good bottle shops, and there are downright-knee-trembling-sexy ones. Well hello, Clapton Craft, with your black tiles, open brickwork, filling station with butler sink, and row upon row of bottles presented on exposed breezeblock shelves. Take away a bag of bottles, or get a couple of freshly-filled growlers, but not before admiring what they've done with the place. 97 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP
From Abbaye de Rocs to Windsor & Eton, The Beer Boutique in Putney sources from an impressive range of breweries from the UK and further afield. As well as bottles, there are mini kegs, magnums of beer and beery books, so you can learn what 'esters' and 'phenols' are and bore your friends rigid with it. 134 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 2SP
In the 'no-we-haven't-mistyped-that-name' category is DR.iNK of Fulham — stockists of a selection that includes 'double take' beers, like Cave Creek Chili Beer. Speaking of spice, this place also happens to specialise in Indian food, and every Saturday you're invited to munch on samosas in-store while supping brews. 349 Fulham Palace Road, SW6 6HT
Despite its name, Real Ale does much more than bottles of Old Peculiar. This Twickenham boutique — celebrating 10 years in business — purveys a lip-licking range of international brews, including rarities such as BrewDog's 41% Sink the Bismarck. If you don't know where to start, go for the staff's hand selected 12-bottle box. 371 Richmond Road, Twickenham, TW1 2EF
The delivery people
If you're already settled in front of Twin Peaks, and don't want to leave the sofa, you can always order in. HonestBrew is, if you like, a sort of Sunday Times Wine Club for beer lovers. The concept: try a taster kit, tell them which beers you like, and they'll send you brews based on your feedback.
And, provided you've got a cool boss, DeskBeers will mail bottled brews to your workplace on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Lots of their goodies are from London breweries, including Crate, Brixton Brewery, Redchurch, and Late Knights.
The nice little surprises
Wine may be the bread and butter of Oddbins, but they also do a line in beer, notably those brewed in London. Pressure Drop, Hackney Brewery and Kernel are just a handful of the usual suspects. Let's just hope this place doesn't go the way of Threshers. Find out which of their 30 London stores is nearest to you.
A higher quality of beer is available in lots of supermarkets and cornershops now, and though they don't have the choice the specialists above offer, they can still be extremely useful if you happen to be passing by. Among those that have been recommended to us by our readers are City Beverage Company on Old Street (it has a few treats up its sleeve; some Japanese and Australian brews, as well as a decent line of Meantimes), the Londis on Ferme Park Road in Crouch Hill, the Waitrose at Canary Wharf, Offee & Toffie near Bethnal Green tube station, Drinkers Paradise in Kentish Town and House of Bottles on Coldharbour Lane.
Also, Sourced Market in St Pancras station has some tasty brews awaiting you in its fridges — perfect for making those long distance train journeys fly by.
There's no way we can list every single place worth visiting, so if there's one you think deserves a shout-out, tell us in the comments.
The ones that sound like wine shops
You might think we're scraping the (wine) barrel when recommending a shop called Kris Wines, yet take our word for it, this boozy nook in King's Cross is nicely furnished with hop-based vintages, and well worth a look-in. Theatre of Wine (one in Greenwich, one in Tufnell Park) is another example of a wine merchant branching out into beer successfully, as is Kingsland Wine (near Dalston Kingsland), Bob Wines in Crystal Palace, Borough Wines, Highbury Vintners and Bottle Apostle (of which there are a few).
This article rules out a lot of pubs and breweries which also do takeaway beer. If you're feeling strong enough to make it to the pub or brewery, you'll want to check out our article on London's breweries and brewpubs.