Our friends at Rawside bravely volunteered to try some of the best beers, ales and stouts, in some of the great craft brew houses of London, so that you don’t have to – although we heartily recommend that you do.
6. Brixton Brewery
One of the most established names in the London craft scene, it all started when four friends (two couples in fact) decided that every neighbourhood deserves a great brewery – and so Brixton Brewery was born in their local manor. Ingredients sourced as locally as possible? Traditional techniques? A very English small-batch approach but with influences from across the globe? Check, check and check. We like the fact they live local and think global – that’s a very Rawside thing too.
We’re currently rocking their Block 336 Pale Ale, which was brewed to celebrate Brixton art gallery and artist space, Block 336, which is hosting the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition this January. Launchpad for artists such as Damian Hirst way back when, this was the first time this event had been sighted south of the river. Plus, 336 artists helped design the label. How holistic.
Founder Alistair Hook started with a mission statement we can all appreciate: Proper beer for everyone.
Meantime has since built into a household name for fans of said ‘proper beer’. Their secret (if it is one) is making simple ideas…great – something very close to our own hearts. Hard to have a pick of a very big bunch of great gear, but in this instance it’s appropriate to choose either the London Lager or London Pale Ale. Something familiar, done as well as it can be. That’s about as good as it gets.
2. Orbit Beers
Founder Robert, and best friend Brian (who happened to be a VW Camper Van), decided that Scotland might be rightly famous for the amber dram, but could be just as well known for its brewing. The result? A book called the Tea Leaf Paradox (no, us neither, but it’s a great read) that took in smart beer-based thinking from all across Robert’s native land, from Shetland to the Borders. After making this epic journey he knew Orbit Beers just had to be started. Now residing in Walworth, Orbit is well named, as Robert’s roving mind takes in all corners of the globe for inspiration. We like the Nico and Neu models, bit of Vorsprung Durst Bottling right here in London.
3. Brick Brewery
Fellow South Londoners, Brick, started from a shed in 2013, and whilst they’ve expanded more than a little, to a brewery in a large railway arch, they still reside in their beloved Peckham – but despite being local, London and proud of it, there’s also a wealth of worldly expertise they’ve picked up on their travels and brought home that goes into every brew. Our winner? The Peckham Pils they’ve made since day one. Czech-style, classic (with a twist) and crisp and clean as you like. The sooner spring gets here, the sooner we can stick a bunch of them in a big bucket of ice and get cracking.
The story apparently starts with founder Logan, a 50 litre rice pan, a coolbox, a tea urn and a head-full of ideas inspired by the best brews in the world. Present day, Beavertown is globally well known as ‘the cool beers with the crazy can designs’.
We’re big fans of the classic Neck Oil, or smoked porter Smog Rocket, if needing something ‘different’. However, Beavertown’s restless eye on the world of brewing often results in great limited edition collaborations like the West Side Beavo, made with their friends at Firestone Walker, California.
Founded by siblings Dan and Tom in 2013, Fourpure is a great example of international ideas coming together in little old London. It’s all based on four great ingredients: grain, yeast, hops, water (clue’s in the name). Give those four things the respect they deserve and the rest is gravy – like us, they know the difference between ‘experimenting’ and just ‘screwing around’ – and, sometimes, simplest is best. A great example of this philosophy is our favourite, the Session IPA. A New York vibe is given oomph with Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic, Ahtanum,and Crystal hops. Big, bold…but session-able.
7. The Five Points Brewery Company.
Despite being northerners (they’re north of the River in Hackney), Rawside loves everything about Five Points. Outside of their great beers, they are a true community company; charity outreach, apprenticeships for 18-24’s, a living wage and all their electricity comes from 100% renewable sources. Something we aspire to as well. Rawside’s pick has to be the Hook Island Red, a Red Rye ale. A little spice and dryness in there, we reckon? Anyway, it really let’s the rye shine through. Careful though, it’s 6%! Can sneak up on you.
Trust us on that one.