With over 7,000 pubs in London and some 80 breweries, it’s no surprise that beer is always on the agenda regardless of when and where you visit the British capital.
I love trying new beers wherever I go. For me, the best way to discover the best brews in any city is by taking a beer tour, and London is no exception.
There’s something special about learning from a local who knows about the city’s beer culture. You get to understand the traditions associated with each option and learn exactly how to describe the specific tastes.
I have taken a handful of beer tours in London before, whether it’s brewery experiences or full-day pub crawls. In this article, I’m going to show you some of my favorites.
Alternative London – East End Pub Tour
Exploring the East End brew scene is best done through Alternative London’s pub beer-tasting tour.
London’s East End houses some of the city’s most incredible bars, but to get to the best ones, you must join this tour. I had been out in the East End before, but my experience on Alternative London’s excursion was far more exciting than that.
We set off from close to Liverpool Street and were taken to a fantastic selection of bars, including traditional Victorian bars and some more modern establishments. Seeing how some locals spend their weekends huddled up at the bar, watching the Premier League games, was intriguing.
Four drinks were included in total; I loved how the tour guide helped us choose what to order in each bar. In one of the spots, he ordered us a Pimm’s, which is mainly sold in the summer; fortunately for us, it was July.
It was my first time having Pimm’s; it’s made with a gin-based liqueur, lemonade, and a handful of sliced fruits like cucumber, oranges, and strawberries. As you can tell from the ingredients, it was refreshingly fruity with a light spicy taste.
The East End Pub Tour is public, so other members of the public will be joining you.
Alternative London – East End Pub Tour (€€) – Departure point will be sent to you after booking the activity – Start time 3:30 pm every day
London Fields Brewery
The history of brewing beer in London may date back several hundred years, but the London Fields Brewery is one of the newest in the city, opening in 2011. Despite still being very much in its infancy, London Fields has established itself as one of the best breweries in the area.
Funny enough, I tried a beer from London Fields Brewery in a nearby pub and thought it tasted incredible. I asked the barman where it was brewed. He told me to take out my phone, tap the address into Google Maps, and go there, and I could take a tour of their brewery.
The group tour I took was so exciting; I was taken through the brewery by one of their expert guides to see the whole brewing process, start to finish. Seeing how the hops and grain were blended together and transformed into a pint was mind blowing.
You don’t even need that much time there if you’re in a rush. The tour only took me 45 minutes to complete.
Compared to other breweries in London, I wouldn’t consider London Fields a big brewery; it’s remarkably modern, though, and they had an impressive selection of different beers on draught, like the Blueberry Sour beer. I found the first sip pretty sour, but it grew on me once I eased myself in.
London Fields Brewery (€) – 365-366 Warburton Street, London E8 3RR UK – tours are held at 7:00 pm on weekdays and between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm on the weekend
Camden Town Brewery
Another brewery that’s well worth a visit while you’re in London is the Camden Town Brewery. They offer some of the finest fresh ales, lagers, and craft beers in the city; even if you don’t want to take the tour, you should still check out their beer hall and tap room, which serves a whopping 24 beers on tap.
One weekend last year, I joined one of their small group London brewery tours because I had heard great things about it, and it sure did live up to the hype.
The guided tour took one hour to complete; we were taught all about the brewery’s history and shown some of the brewing methods they use while taking a walk around the shiny production facility.
After being on our feet for 60 minutes, they knew we were looking a little bit thirsty and gave us some free samples of a selection of fresh beers from the container; it had a bitter flavor and was quite hoppy with an earthy floral aftertaste, like all good brews.
I was chatting to the man running our tour after, and he suggested going into their beer hall and trying their brand-new stout.
I’m not a massive lover of stout unless it’s Guinness from Ireland, but this one has major potential for its sweet and malty balance. The pint was a little bubbly from the nitrogen they use, which gave it a nice thick, creamy head.
Look at the food menu while you’re there to pair with your new favorite beers. They offer lots of little snacks for a relatively affordable price. I tried the cheddar croquettes; the crispy exterior tasted so good, especially when the melted cheese leaked out over the edges.
Camden Town Brewery (€€) – 55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, Kentish Town, London, NW5 3ED – 12:30 pm to 8:00 pm every day
London Tavern Trails
Founded by beer and pub enthusiasts John Edwards and Morris Jones, London Tavern Trails really knows what they’re doing when it comes to the pubs of London.
I called these guys up one afternoon at short notice to see if I could join one of their tours, and they gave me four options in various pockets of the city, including Holborn, Fleet Street, Covent Garden, and Wapping. Since my hotel was close to Covent Garden, I opted for that option.
The tour was carefully planned to include some of the area’s finest drinking establishments while learning a bit about the neighborhood’s history and culture.
I really appreciated John and Morris asking me if I have any preferences on what type of brewhouses I wanted to visit; they make sure the excursion is catered towards each customer’s needs. Be mindful that because these pub tours are bespoke, they aren’t the cheapest on the list.
It costs £100 for two people, and if you want to add an extra person, you’ll have to pay an additional £25.
No drinks came with my package, but they do offer a drinks add-on for £25; each person gets a glass of wine or a pint of beer at each of the four bars. I decided to just buy my own drinks instead, so I had more freedom.
I couldn’t get over the passion my tour guide had for London, pubs, and beer; it was evident at every stage of the planning and execution of the experience.
He helped me with what to order at all four stops, including the famous Red Lion Pub.
I even had the chance to try my first pint of Magners. My guide told me that if I really wanted to blend it with the locals, this was the way to do it because they all drank it. Magners is a famous sweet-tart apple British cider. It was very sugary; I don’t know how people drink that stuff all day.
Another drink I tried was Buckfast Tonic Wine, a beverage that could be mistaken for rocket fuel because of its high caffeine levels. To be honest, it tasted like medicine because of the unique herbs they used to make it.
London Tavern Trails (€€€) – Various locations in London – Custome times depending on the client’s and operators availability
Drink London! Pub Walking Tour
You won’t find a beer experience in the capital like the Drink London! Pub Walking Tour. Where else do you visit local watering holes, Victorian gin bars, and hidden public houses in half a day?
We spent 4 hours meandering through London’s streets while passing by famous landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’ll never forget our stop at the haunted pub and our guide’s mysterious story about Sweeney Todd. I don’t want to reveal too much, so I’ll save it so you can hear it on the tour.
The ales we tasted on this tour were superb; some looked cloudy and had a full-body flavor with a tinge of sweetness, while the golden ales were more citrussy,
Bear in mind when the tour ended, we finished a fair distance from where we started; we finished close to Covent Garden, so take note.
Drink London! Pub Walking Tour (€) – St. Paul’s Underground (Exit 2) – 2:00 pm every day
Craft Beer Tours London
Look, craft beer isn’t for everyone, but sometimes you just need to find the right one to enjoy, and the only way you can do that is by getting help from someone who has knowledge in this field like I did with Craft Beer Tours London.
I was so fed up with my friends going on and on about craft beers, so I said to myself I’m going to make a conscious effort to try to find some that I like.
Craft Beer Tours London is a big name in the city for beer-based excursions, so I contacted them and asked them to book me onto one of their trips the following week.
I can say this is the beer tour that gave me the most value money.
It was three hours long; we stopped at four breweries in total and got to try ten unique, locally-made craft beers. With each one we tried, one of the brewery’s staff members gave us a full rundown of how it was made and some of its ingredients.
The first round was my favorite; they had a subtle fruitiness and were fairly strong, especially for a lager.
One thing I can praise these guys for is that 50p from all of their sales goes towards a local charity in London, so you know your money is going to a good cause.
Craft Beer Tours London (€€) – Clapham and Battersea – 1:30 pm, once a month
I hope you’ve enjoyed my run-through of the best of London’s beer tours. While these are some of my favorites, don’t think for one second we’ve covered them all; you’ll find so many other options across the capital.
Some of the other interesting outings you should look at include the Twilight Soho Food Tour, where you’ll get to explore London’s most famous nightlife district with a local nightlife expert.
Or, if you’d prefer something more personable, book one of our private tours with one of our guides for the day.
All you have to do is provide us with some information about your group, and we’ll contact you as soon as possible to build the best possible tour for you; whether you want to visit a list of bars or add in some restaurants, there’s no limits with Eating Europe.