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Written by Caroline Roddis
London’s history is dripping with beer. Alehouses have been present in the capital since Roman times and the impure state of London water always guaranteed that beer was in constant demand.
You can trace this history by visiting buildings like the Old Truman Brewery, or examining the codestone lions on Westminster Bridge, which originally graced the entrance of the Old Red Lion Brewery on the South Bank.
Although there are few survivors of London’s original brewing industry, a new generation of artisan brewers has taken up the mantle and there has never been a better time to visit London pubs to taste the best of what the capital produces.
CAMRA’s London: City of Beer is a new website aiming to enhance your experience of beer in London. At the launch, we learned that the city now has 24 breweries that are creating a phenomenal range of exciting brews. Many of them do guided tours and tastings: try Sambrooks in Battersea or the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick.
Fortunately for those who can’t make it down to the breweries themselves, many London pubs offer a wide selection of real ales and other London beers. From smooth malty Porters made at Meantime in Greenwich to intensely hoppy pale ales from Bermondsey’s The Kernel, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.
London also has a fantastic range of beer-related events and you can search for upcoming festivals, tastings and walks on the City of Beer site www.londoncityofbeer.org.uk. A particular highlight will be the Great British Beer Festival, which runs from 7 to 11 August at Olympia and offers over 800 different beers.