East London has long played a prominent role in London’s brewing scene, stretching back to 1666 when the original Truman’s Brewery was founded in Brick Lane. These days, a plethora of craft breweries have taken up residence in the Hackney/Homerton area. Some have outgrown their brewpubs and relocated to larger premises- this includes Beavertown, moving from Hackney Wick to Tottenham Hale in 2014- but local demand and loyalty for their beer remains unabated. It therefore comes as no surprise that there’s such a high concentration of pubs and taprooms serving an exceptional range of craft beers within walking distance of each other.
Any respectable East London pub crawl kicks off at The Cock Tavern in Hackney Central. Once home to Howling Hops- another brewery that outgrew its tanks and moved down the road- this pub showcases a vast and alternating selection on keg and cask. You’ll find their current in-house microbrewery, Maregade Brew Co, on offer alongside local heroes such as The Five Points Brewery, Redchurch Brewery, Howling Hops and Pressure Drop. Other UK-based favourites, including Weird Beard and Moor Beer, are likely to be featured as well. The bar is cash only and the décor is no frills, but you are guaranteed to discover a good drop here.
Nearby, The Chesham Arms is a pub with a backstory: once designated to become another notch in a property developer’s portfolio, it was saved by the local community. Perhaps the most bijoux, friendliest and most authentic pub in East London, it promotes a concise- but excellent- selection of beers. You’ll often find Beavertown, Pressure Drop and The Five Points Brewery on keg and perhaps Dark Star and Hammerton Brewery on cask- but these will be changed over in front of your eyes. There’s a constant rotation of beers to choose from.
Moving on, other local favourites include The Adam and Eve and The Jackdaw and Star. Located across the road from each other, both carry a standout collection of proper beers. The former is a trendy boozer hidden behind a ramshackle exterior, but the inside is impressively capacious and kitted out with a pool table. Expect to find The Five Points pale ale on tap in addition to a great soundtrack, outstanding food and a local crowd. The latter is renowned for its affable and knowledgeable staff and offers another outstanding food menu. Here, The Five Points is again represented and other breweries, such as Camden Town Brewery, are also featured.
For something slightly off-kilter, another unmissable Hackney stopover is Machine No. 3. Although technically a cocktail bar, it carries a meticulously curated range of bottled beer, including a pale ale from local brewery 40ft, The Five Points pale ale, Fourpure’s Beartooth and Gypsy Hill’s Southpaw. All of this is set in a former laundrette, offering a quintessential East London experience in addition to the great beer.
It’s impossible to overlook the trendiest spots in Hackney Wick, namely the Howling Hops tank bar and Crate Brewery. Practically backing on to each other, it’s easy to manoeuvre between the two. Howling Hops is the UK’s first dedicated tank bar- where pints are pulled directly from the source- and their entire range is lined up, literally offering punters a wall of beer. All of their core beers are outstanding and their pale ales frequently pop up on London’s ‘must drink’ beer lists.
Crate is a brewery guaranteed to be heaving with revellers, but their ability to cope with the throngs has significantly improved over the past years. They brew onsite and have released a commendable and growing range, including their sessionable sour and black IPA. The brewery is idyllically located canal-side on the River Lee and offers rustic wood-oven pizzas to hungry wayfarers and ferrymen, who dock their canal boats feet from the bar.
This is a non-exhaustive list of drinking holes in East London that barely scratches the surface of where craft beers can be enjoyed in the area. It’s merely a springboard for those fortunate enough to live in- or visit- East London. For the rest of us, a large contingency of East London breweries are available through the Honest Brew shop with delivery included, allowing anyone to vicariously make the craft beer odyssey without leaving their sofa.
This feature originally appeared on the Honest Brew blog here.