Best microbreweries in the UK
A new wave of independent microbreweries is matching fine beers with cracking food. Read here for our pick of the best across the UK
Looking for the best microbreweries for craft beer in the UK? Read our guide for the best breweries including breweries in London and local breweries.
Buxton Brewery, Buxton, Derbyshire
Opened in 2013 in the splendid Georgian surroundings of the town’s Old Court House, the Buxton Brewery tap house is where ale fans can taste the latest and freshest releases from the brewery. There are always 18 beers on draft and 16 served from the keg, with a menu of burgers, sliders, nachos, tacos, tagines and chilli to soak it all up.
Try the Thai steak tacos (Thai-spiced ribeye steak, soft grilled tacos, spring onion, red onion, radish, cucumber and baby coriander) or the reuben sandwich filled with three-day-aged salt beef, mixed leaves, american mustard, caper mayonnaise and emmental, served on toasted sourdough and topped with gherkins. You could always finish a meal with one of the brewery’s fruit beers – Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie, perhaps?
West Berkshire Brewery, Yattendon, Berkshire
Home to the traditional cask ale producer West Berkshire Brewery and its craft ale sibling Renegade, the tap room in the old dairy at Yattendon allows drinkers and diners to see the workings of the brewery and its brewers at close quarters. The tap room, which opened last December, has a huge glass wall separating it from the brewery on one side and large windows leading on to the rolling countryside on the other.
It serves simple but high-quality food such as burgers, pizzas and sharing boards, and ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. Stand-out dishes on the menu include the venison and red onion marmalade burgers with a blue cheese centre, and the Head Brewer sharing board of English cured meats, scotch eggs, pickles and, of course, ale chutney.
Crate Brewery, London E9
Housed in a former print factory on the banks of the River Lea at Hackney Wick, Crate Brewery was launched in July 2012 by New Zealand siblings Tom and Jess Seaton with their Welsh business partner Neil Hinchley. The brewery was quickly followed by the launch of the tap room, which was created from up-cycled materials including a bar created from sleepers, benches fashioned out of ladders and light fittings made from bedsprings.
Now open seven days a week, the tap room in Queen’s Yard serves made-to-order stone baked pizzas such as courgette, feta, red onion and gremolata or Middle Eastern lamb, alongside the core range of Crate beers and seasonal ales such as the citrussy Lemon Gose.
Beavertown Brewery, London N17
Founded by Logan Plant, son of Led Zeppelin rock god Robert, Beavertown Brewery is called after the old nickname for trendy east London district De Beauvoir Town, which is where the brewery had its first premises before expanding and moving north to Tottenham Hale. Best known for beers like Gamma Ray APA, Smog Rocket smoked porter and Neck Oil IPA, as well as the striking artwork on its stubby cans, Beavertown’s tap room opens every Saturday, serving the brewery’s beers straight from the keg alongside food from a revolving choice of local street-food operators.
Scottish influenced Deeney’s serves toasties such as the Hamish MacBeth and Evi Peroulaki and Conor Mills of Souvlaki Street with their “proper Greek wraps” – the bestseller is The Special consisting of a skewer of either marinated chicken breast or pork shoulder, served with tzatziki, sliced tomatoes, red onions, a sprinkle of fresh parsley, oregano and paprika, and topped with two slices of grilled halloumi wrapped in warm handmade Greek pitta bread.
Temple Brew House, London WC2
Tucked down a quiet side street between The Strand and Fleet Street, London’s most central brewery is situated in the middle of the Temple Brew House pub so drinkers can see their beer being made, the ales travelling just 15 feet from the brewery tank to your glass.
The food menu complements the range of head brewer Vanesa de Blas Montoya’s beers, which include Antipodes Pacific pale ale and Dark Knight brown porter. Influenced by American smokehouses, albeit with a British gastropub twist, diners can chow down on pulled pork and chilli beef burgers, fish and chips in batter utilising beer from the brewery and homemade pies such as wild game with spinach and pistachio.
Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley, Cumbria
Lake District brewery Hawkshead serves a ‘beer tapas’ menu created by consultant chef Steven Doherty, who used to work for the Roux brothers at London’s legendary Le Gavroche restaurant.
The menu is ever-changing, and there is usually a selection of around 12-14 tapas to choose from, with typical dishes including bitter-battered plaice goujons with tartare sauce; sweetcorn and coriander fritters with apricot chutney; and a Yorkshire pudding filled with beef braised in Brodie’s Prime, an award-winning dark ale with hints of chocolate and treacle.
Wild Beer Co, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
Specialising in wild fermentation techniques and barrel-ageing, the Wild Beer Co still leads the charge in the UK beer market and it has produced around 100 different styles of beer in its five-year history.
The menu at the brewery’s flagship bar in Bristol’s Harbourside encourages visitors to pair the food with different beers. This means you may well find yourself sipping a Beerlini (sour beer with peach purée) with your brunch of avocado smashed with chilli, lime and coriander on sourdough toast topped with two poached eggs, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate.
Stroud Brewery, Stroud, Gloucestershire
All the beers made at Stroud Brewery are organic and the food served in its brewery bar follows a similar commitment to high-quality local ingredients. From Thursday to Saturday, Vélo Bakery serves sourdough pizzas made with organic flour and toppings including a range of organic and local meats, cheeses and vegetables – the meatball parmesan made with local beef is a big favourite.
A weekly special might be ale and cheddar béchamel with smoked ham and chestnut mushroom. Vegan visitors are also catered for, with the bar offering at least one unfined cask beer each week in addition to its vegan-friendly keg beers, bottles and cans. Vélo also provides gluten-free and vegan pizzas.
Wylam Brewery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Award-winning Tyne & Wear brewery Wylam often serves exclusive beers in its tap room, which is all the more reason to visit the tap kitchen, which serves bar food from Thursday to Saturday, with must-book roasts on Sundays. Described by director Dave Stone as “small plates with a north-east twist”, the beer-soaking snacks include haggis scotch egg with HP sauce; satay chicken skewer with crunchy Asian salad (pictured above); and slow-cooked beef short rib with bone marrow and watercress.
Hop Kettle Brewing Co, Cricklade, Wiltshire
A short hop from the Thames Path, the 17th-century Red Lion pub at Cricklade is also home to the Hop Kettle Brewing Co, which brews cask ales such as Heather IPA (made with raw heather honey) and North Wall bitter, which appears in a number of dishes on the menu including the Welsh rarebit on toast and sticky toffee pudding, which is served with a beer caramel and vanilla ice cream.
Campervan brewery, Edinburgh
Paul Gibson started out by brewing small batches of beer in his Edinburgh garage before converting a 1973 VW campervan (named The Hoppy Camper) to house his brewing equipment and serve beer around the city. In 2017, he upscaled to an industrial unit and has been brewing on a larger sale for the past year.
The tap room opened last August to allow people to enjoy beers such as the Cherry Grenade morello cherry-infused stout at source. Now open Friday evenings and Saturdays, the tap room has introduced food to pair with the beers and local restaurant East Pizzas has designed a bespoke menu with ale-friendly toppings such as chorizo, potato, red onion, parsley oil and smoked mozzarella, creating the likes of a ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, truffle salami and lemon pizza.
Paul also serves bar snacks from Aye Pickled, an Edinburgh business producing handmade pickles, ferments and slaws including spicy golden beets and Thai shallots pickled in lemongrass and kaffir lime. The pickled cucumbers are fermented in brine with a spice mix for up to six weeks, leaving them crunchy, salty and with just a hint of sourness – perfect with blonde ales.
Magic Rock Brewery, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
The Tap at West Yorkshire’s Magic Rock Brewery has gained a reputation for food as much it has for its outstanding ales such as Inhaler pale ale and the gooseberry-infused Salty Kiss. From Tuesday to Thursday, The Tap serves a vegan curry supplied by local company Dabbawala alongside an enormous Yorkshire ploughman’s from the local Handmade Bakery. From Friday to Sunday, different food trucks appear in the brewery yard, including pies from Pie Eyed, and fish and chips from The Hip Hop Chip Shop, including the Fat Butty.
Walled City Brewery, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland
James Huey opened the Walled City Brewery in 2015 – it was the first craft brewery to be built in Derry-Londonderry for more than a century. The bar’s kitchen sources ingredients from more than 20 local suppliers, from third-generation Coleraine butcher McAtamney’s to bacon, sausages and ribs smoked on the premises. The menu is divided into Basque-style pintxos – small plates such as duck rillettes with balsamic onion and date purée, or fish croquettes with beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche – and more substantial ‘fillers’ like the pan-roasted Fermanagh duck breast with spiced winter roots, chocolate mole, sour cherries and pomegranate.
Tiny Rebel, Newport, Wales
Famous for its Cwtch red ale and Stay Puft marshmallow porter, Tiny Rebel’s brewery bar is a hidden gem thanks to its industrial-estate location. Not that it has put people off as they flock there to order from a menu that ranges from baked aubergine stuffed with mac ’n’ cheese to lemon and thyme chicken breast, garlic flat mushroom, grilled tomato, dressed bitter leaves, triple-cooked chips, garlic breadcrumbs and pesto dressing.
“Our menu is a mix of pub classics such as fish and chips, and burgers, but with a few special dishes thrown in,” says the brewery’s Niall Thomas. “The majority of the dishes utilise our beer in some way – our panna cotta is a malted milk version that really captures the aroma of the brewery’s mashing process. The chefs like to play with our beers. In an experiment recently, they made a wine-gum-type jelly using our raspberry sour beer Frambuzi.”
Written by Mark Taylor