One of the areas of the country that seemed to be a bit short on breweries is London, or at least it was. It seems that 2012 has been the year of the London brewery, with new breweries appearing monthly.
In the old days, or what seemed the old days at least, all the visitor to the capital expected in terms of real ale, (brewed within Greater London) was a diet of Fullers and Youngs. Each had their own tied houses and each produced their own range of beers, which although good was not exceptional, and in my opinion not worth the trip down there to hunt out. Then Youngs became part of Wells and Young and London brewing seemed to be a thing of the past.
In the last few years though, London has started to gain a foothold in independent brewing and produced some excellent beers. I have previously raved about the beers produced by Brodies in Leyton, starting up in 2008 and in 4 years providing a bench mark that other brewers should aim to achieve. Meantime also have their own niche market, being on the go for over 10 years, and likewise Kernal, with their range that is predominantly keg or bottled beers, who commenced in 2009.
The last couple of years have seen a massive rise in new breweries though. I initially came across Redemption and Sambrook, producing decent beers but seem to be a little too staid and traditional for my tastes. East London and Botanist then came to my attention and produced some fine beers, just a little hard to track down. This is unfortunately a problem for us northerners, where to sample the beer from these new brewers.
Beer festivals do provide an answer, although not perfect it does give us chance to get some of the range. Just this week the Star festival has provided examples from London Fields and London Brewing, both decent breweries with 'Hops & Mops' from the latter being an excellent beer and having the prized accolade of being the first beer to run off. Recently on the bar we have been able to to try By The Horns 'Bobby on The Wheat', their take on a wheat beer.
However a quick check on Quaffale showed me several breweries I have never encountered, let alone sampled, and some I have never even heard of. No doubt some of readers of this post (Tim the younger I mean you !) can point us towards places where we can find the newer breweries, and try out their products, and will no doubts fill out the glaring gaps in my knowledge of the capital's brewing. Or maybe some local licencee can find a way of sourcing some of the beers for us to try on home soil. One can only hope, and save me the train fare to the capital . (more beer money!)