There’s never been a better time to be a beer lover. With over 2,000 breweries in the UK, craft beer production is at its highest since the 1930's.
More than just a fad, this trend continues to rise, with figures by UHY Hacker Young suggesting that the number of UK breweries has grown by 64% in the past five years.
With more independent breweries than ever, we look at seven of the best microbreweries for any self-respecting beer aficionado!
1. Kirkstall Brewery, Leeds
Leeds is paving the way for the new-wave ale revolution, but there’s nothing new about Kirkstall Brewery, which enjoyed 150 years in the industry from 1833 before taking a 28-year hiatus in 1983 and returning in all its glory in 2011. Since then it has re-established itself as purveyors of great beers, with a diverse collection, ranging from Kirkstall Pale to Kirkstall Cloudy Wheat. Their pub the ‘Kirkstall Bridge Inn’ is a great spot to sample a brew or two.
2. Beavertown Brewery, London
Ⓒ Beavertown Brewery
You can taste the rock ‘n’ roll in Beavertown brews, crafted by the son of rock legend Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin! With bright colourful artwork decorating the cans, their philosophy for something a bit different can be seen in every carefully thought-out detail. Available in cans, their core range includes uplifting beers such as the “juicy and tropical” Gamma Ray, while Black Betty (bam-ba-lam) is an IPA laced with undertones of aniseed infused with aromas of the Pacific West coast hops. It’s undeniable that there’ a whole lotta love for this brewery!
3. Mad Squirrel, Hertfordshire
Brewing a colossal 1.2 million prints of beer a year, this contemporary brewery prides itself in their forward-thinking and innovative approach. It has used crowdfunding to accelerate its growth and continue to develop great tasting beers for its loyal fan base. Some of these include its American Pale Ale ‘Sumo’ and the ‘Flying Squirrel’ Pilsner. Using cans that allow the lowest possible oxygen pickup and are lighter in weight for efficiency and recycling, it’s clear that a lot of thought goes in to the entire process.
4. Orkney Brewery, Orkney Islands
Recent winners of the Cask Champion for Speciality Mid to Dark Beers at the SIBA National Independent Beer Awards, there’s much love for Orkney Brewery right now. With a stomping 10% abv, their award winning Dark Island Reserve is a rich strong Orcadian Ale that uses old scotch malt whisky casks to ferment, bringing out a richness in the blend. Housed in a former schoolhouse, their philosophy is that “Beer is not just a drink… it is an experience”
5. Magic Rock Brewing, Huddersfield
Magic Rock has a way with hops! Their range includes the heady 7.4% ‘Cannonball’ Indian Pale Ale, the ‘Salty Margarita’ a homage to the Mexican cocktail and ‘Inhaler’ a hoppy pale ale-IPA hybrid. With a nod to US craft beer, their range remains “balanced and drinkable”.
6. Meantime, London
No stranger to pubs throughout the country, this award-winning craft brewery has gone from strength to strength. Founded in 2000 by passionate brewer Alistair Hook, it was bought out by SABMiller in 2015. Its name pays homage to Greenwich meantime, the location of its origin. With London Lager and Anytime IPA among firm favourites, it’s easy to see why this is one of the capital’s most notable microbreweries.
7. Campervan Brewery, Edinburgh
What started as a one-man passion from his garage, serving home brewed beer from a VW campervan, has transformed into a growing business. The Campervan Brewery now produces large scale quantiles for its keen customers.
This includes exciting additions such as milk stout ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ with a rich chocolate, coffee and roasted coconut flavour, and ‘All Shook Up’ a unique champagne style beer.
Founder Paul Gibson, says: “We are a brewery with a passion for quality beer and a thirst for travel. Our adventures take us on the quest for unusual places to brew, discovering flavoursome ingredients along the way, direct from their source.”