In January 2010, there were only 14 commercial breweries operating in Greater London. A mere five years later, in January 2015, there were 70, an astonishing five-fold increase. By mid-July the count stood at 78. By the end of March 2016 it is down slightly at 76, thanks in part to brewpubs that struggle to find time to brew.
A list of all the London breweries is shown below — click on “Read more” for more about each one. Note this page is in the process of being updated — there may be more recent information in the PDF update here.
By commercial breweries operating in London, I mean businesses with their own physical brewing kit, on a distinct and separate site within the official Greater London boundary, producing beer that is on sale to the public. Separate brewery sites under the same ownership are counted as different breweries.
Planned new breweries are listed in their own section at the end, alongside beer firms based in London. The latter, sometimes called contract or cuckoo brewers, are businesses that own and market beer brands which are brewed on someone else’s kit. Most have plans eventually to brew in London on their own account.
Further details, including notes on beer ranges and extended histories of selected breweries, appear in the new edition of The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars, published in July 2015.
To see how far things have changed in 35 years, see London breweries 1971.
Planned, contract and cuckoo breweries
Three London breweries operating in 2011 are no more. House-brewed beer had been sold at Brew Wharf (Southwark) since October 2005 but new owners discontinued brewing in May 2014. The bar still stocks a good beer range. Ha’penny (Redbridge), a part-time operation in rural surrounds at Aldborough Hatch in the East London suburbs, first sold beer in October 2009 but had ceased operations by the end of 2014.
The Stag Brewery (AB InBev UK) in Lower Richmond Road SW14 7ET was the last working remnant of old school big brewing left in London, with a history going back to at least the 15th century, with commercial brewing from 1641. Watney bought the brewery in 1889 and used it for early experiments with pasteurised keg beer in the 1930s. In 1959 it became Watney’s main London brewery and was renamed the Stag following the demolition of the company’s original Stag brewery near Victoria station. When Watney’s then parent Grand Metropolitan withdrew from brewing in 1991 the plant was sold to Courage (now Heineken), who first leased it and later sold it to Anheuser Busch of St Louis, Missouri, and it was adapted to brew ‘American’ Budweiser in bottle and keg for the European market. After AB merged to form AB InBev in 2008, plans were announced to close the Stag. It was twice reprieved due to demand for Budweiser but finally closed in December 2015. The site has been sold to a Singapore-based developer for rebuilding into a new riverside quarter, though AB InBev expects to remain in occupation until early summer 2016 for decomissioning.
Several breweries have appeared then disappeared in the meantime. Adventure in Chessington (Kingston upon Thames) unleashed a range of interesting bottled beers in June 2012 but little over a year later brewing was suspended and has not yet resumed. Crowd-funded Brüpond in Leyton (Waltham Forest) was launched in November 2012 by Colorado native David Brassfield but folded in August 2013. The Botanist on Kew Green (Richmond upon Thames) became a brewpub in September 2011, followed by sister pub the Lamb in Chiswick (Hounslow) a year later, but both ceased brewing by the end of 2013 after owning group Convivial was sold to Mitchells & Butlers: their kits are now in the Brewhouse and Kitchen venues.
Ellenberg’s, run by former homebrewer Mike Ellenberg, shared a brewhouse in Hanwell (Ealing) with Weird Beard when it opened in spring 2013 but a year later sold out to its sharing partner and folded as a separate entity. Travis Mooney’s Hoppy Collie briefly sold beer from a pilot-sized kit in Hammersmith (Hammersmith and Fulham) from March 2013 but had disappeared before the end of that year. Another pilot-sized brewery that struggled was Little Brew (Camden): brewer Stu Small hand-delivered most of the beers around his Camden Town base from June 2012 but suspended brewing in October 2013, only to reappear with a bigger kit at a new location in July 2014 – in York, a long way beyond the horizons of this page.
Strawman appears not to have brewed since January 2015 but I’ve left its entry in the list above until I receive confirmation it’s been closed for good.
Many thanks to all the people who help me keep this list up to date, intentionally or unintentionally, including all the brewers and brewery staff who keep in touch; tweeters, emailers and social networkers too numerous to mention; John Cryne and his predecessor Steve Williams of the London Brewers Alliance; Geoff Strawbridge of CAMRA London; John Paul Adams of North London CAMRA; Jeremy and Fred of A London Beer and Pub Guide; and Rick Pickup of Quaffale.