Beer has been a part of British culture for centuries, and London has been the capital of some of its biggest breweries, such as Young’s or Fuller’s. However, not all of the city’s breweries still consider London their home, either having closed down like Whitbread (which ceased brewing operations in 2001) or Young’s (moved to Bedford). However, some of these giants remain and are joined by newer breweries that have popped up since craft brewing became popular across the United Kingdom. We’ve identified five of these breweries, from the most recent to the oldest. Fair warning, with over 90 breweries in London, we may have missed one. You can let us know your favorite London breweries in the comments.
SAMBROOK’S – 2008
Sambrook’s, named after founder Duncan Sambrook, counts itself as London’s oldest independent brewery after forming in 2008. As of 2020, it’s housed in a brewery that was once the headquarters for Young’s—the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth, a site that had been a home for beer since 1533. During the pandemic, the brewery has been working to convert the building into its new brewery facility as well as a museum to its brewing history. Sambrook’s has a wide selection of great beers available in cans, bottles, and kegs from its Pagoda Pilsner to the Battersea Rye.
MEANTIME – 1999
Meantime is amongst the oldest of London’s craft breweries even though it’s no longer independently owned and operated. The brewery started in 1999 with brewer Alastair Hook in a lock-up across from Charlton Athletic’s grounds before moving over to Greenwich. SAB Miller purchased the brewery in 2015, and it still operates on Blackwall Lane in Greenwich. Meantime also owns a couple of pubs in the area, including the Old Brewery in the old brewhouse of the Old Royal Naval College, which is only the second brewery in the world to be located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
FULLER’S – 1845
And now we jump way back from the 20th to the 19th Century. Fuller’s began in 1845 when John Fuller, Henry Smith, and John Turner formed Fuller, Smith, & Turner. The current Griffin Brewery in Chiswick is actually older than the company itself, having been a place for brewing beer since 1816. The Griffin Brewery offers tours that focus on its history and the brewing process, culminating in a chance to sample some of its wares in the taproom. Today, Fuller’s has a wide variety of beer, ale, and lager and, as one of the larger breweries in the UK, owns and manages many pubs in London and all over the country.
WIMBLEDON – 1832
William Cook started Wimbledon Brewery in 1832, and it used to be located on the Wimbledon High Street until a fire burned down the facility in 1889. Today located near Lavendar Park, Wimbledon offers about ten different beers as well as making wine and gin. The Wimbledon Tap is the taproom that’s available to visit and sample all their offerings, as well as doing brewery tours. It certainly feels like a new brewery while having the pedigree of one of the city’s oldest.
TRUMAN’S – 1666
Truman’s began life as another brewery, Black Eagle Brewery, near Brick Lane in 1666, though historians put the brewery’s actual founding anywhere from 1663 to 1669. Joseph Truman took over Black Eagle in the 1680s after being employed in the brewhouse. For Centuries, Truman was arguably the king of British beer, but imports in the 20th Century started eating into its market share. The brewery was purchased in 1971 and effectively run into the ground until it closed completely in 1989. The brand was purchased in 2010 and has experienced a revival since 2013, operating a new brewery on Hackney Wick.