A day is technically 24h, so I spent the 24h before having to go to bed for my early train looking for all of the craft beer spots I could conveniently stuff into a day, while remaining standing.
The only rules: max out my Oyster card, drink only British beers, and the key, bartender recommendations only. That last bit would add an element of surprise to the day and get me out of the habit of trying beer styles I know I would like.
My original plan was to make my next stop based on recommendations from the bars themselves, but it became apparent London is too large a city for that sort of undertaking. I relied on bars and breweries identified on the Craft Beer London website.
If I had really had my act together, I would have given myself a full Saturday in the city. That’s the day a number of the breweries – especially in the Bermondsey area – are open for visits and tastings. It’s largely informal, just Google “Bermondsey Beer Mile” and you should be able to sort it out.
Now, back the matter at hand, my “Last Day in London DIY Craft Beer Tour!”
Camden Town Brewery
Camden Town is just a short bus ride (for the sights) or Tube journey (to save time) from Central London, which made it a great starting point for my tour. Camden Town Brewery, the most commercial of craft in the city these days, was appealing because of their friendly manner and selection of beer styles I hadn’t tried before. The lads working there were super friendly, happy to make recommendations, and even happier to let me sample a couple before deciding.
55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, off Prince of Wales Road, Camden Town (presently closed for renovation)
Brewdog was the subject of an entertaining long read in The Guardian shortly before my trip, so I went to their Camden Town outpost ready for attitude and a terrific beer selection. It’s available in Canada, so I knew some of the beers, and it became my go-to selection in London when at a chain pub and didn’t want chain pub beers. It was a Friday afternoon before a long weekend, so there was a good crowd on hand with cool music and a laid back vibe. There was a wide selection of Brewdog beers on tap, plus a large sejection of guest beers. The staff was friendly and happy to make recommendations. Per the rules for the day, I went for a hearty 9% Cloudwater DIPA, which, mercifully, is only sold in 1/3 pints. As I was gearing up to leave, they offered me a wee top-up, which was greatly appreciated. I tottered off to the Tube to continue my adventure.
113 Bayham St, off Camden High St, Camden Town
One Tube stop later, I was at the big and busy Euston station and headed straight outside to Euston Tap. This was my second visit, so I was a pro. I waited out a couple of travelers and got a seat by the window on the main level (more ample seating at the top of the spiral stairs). The bar is compact and friendly, and, on finer days, there’s plenty of standing room outside. There are 20 taps, 8 casks, and two large fridges of bottles, so I was spoiled for choice, going with a half-pint of casked 6.8% Earl Grey IPA.
Euston Tap is a great place to grab a quick one before or after your train. Sit near the bar and watch the comings and goings, or head upstairs for more comfortable seating. If the weather’s nice, take your pint outside and soak up some sun.
190 Euston Road, next to Euston Station
Temple Brew House
I needed a bit of a break after some hearty beers, so I took the bus from Euston over to the Temple area for my next stop, the Temple Brew House owned by Essex Street Brewery, London’s most central micro-brewery. Since the brewery is at the bar, their claim to fame is that your pint travels 15 ft from tank to glass. The friendly barmen were happy to provide recommendations and samples. I went with the Essex Street MAC pale ale, featuring rich hop flavours from Mosaic, Amarillo, and Citra hops. The spring bank holiday weekend had begun and the basement pub was full of people intent on merriment to kick off their long weekend.
46 Essex Street, near The Strand, City of London
Hack & Hop
A short block away off Fleet Street, I arrived at the Hack & Hop as the Bank Holiday weekend was properly kicking off. I had some other stops in mind after Hack & Hop, but I got a message from one of my friends that she won Book of Mormon lottery tickets for the night’s performance, so I only had time for a quick half-pint of Mondo Brewing’s Rider Pale Ale before jetting over to the Prince of Wales theatre for my third Book of Mormon experience. The Hack & Hop was bustling, a compact space which I’d loved to have visited earlier in the day.
35 Whitefriars St, off Fleet St, City of London
City of London Distillery
I made gin friends for life at the gloriously dark and charming COLD bar that’s part of the City of London Distillery. My friends and I stayed right around the corner, so I popped in to pick up a bottle before leaving London. We also spent a memorable night there before a trip to the Tower of London for the Ceremony of the Keys. It’s not beer, but they are friendly and happy to share their vast gin knowledge.
22-24 Bride Lane, off Fleet St, City of London
This was an interesting experiment and I’m glad I took the time on my last day to combine careening around London with the chance to pop in and out of a bunch of great bars. London, you are a fantastic craft beer town and I will certainly tackle this DIY approach on my next visit to London and wherever my travels take me next. Until we drink together again!
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