10 Independent British Breweries You Should Know About
A well-made beer is a very nice thing, MOB. A very nice thing indeed. Whether you’re sipping it in a pint glass in your favourite taproom and pub or simply enjoying a bottle from the comfort of your own sofa, beer is a beverage that’s about as British as they come. Well, sort of. Okay, it’s not really British at all. It’s said that beer was first invented about 5,000 years ago back in Mesopotamia. Which is very far from good ol’ blighty. But, although it’s not a totally British creation, I’m still quite confident in saying that we make some of the world’s best beers right here in the UK.
Yes, MOB – there’s a lot of independent British breweries knocking about these shores who are producing some of the best beers on the planet. The craft beer scene has, after all, been booming for years now and it’s evident from a quick walk down any off-licence that there’s more competition than ever before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it does make it difficult to separate the independent breweries from some of the larger conglomerates and there’s only so many hazy boys one can drink.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there’s not a time and a place for an ice-cold Coors Light or a tin of Heineken every now and then, but you should really be trying to support independent breweries when possible. The quality is generally of a much higher standard and the fact that you’re helping keep a small business afloat makes those jars taste all the sweeter.
From Wild Horse Brewing and Purple Moose Brewery in Wales to Gipsy Hill in London, these are 10 independent British breweries that you should probably know about. Grab a couple of cans, bottles, crates, and don’t forget to drink responsibly.
Wild Horse Brewing
North Wales isn’t world-renowned for its craft beer scene just yet but if Wild Horse Brewing Co keeps at the rate they’re going, we’ll all be planning trips to Llandudno for our fix of session IPAs. Based in that pleasant seaside town, Wild Horse Brewing Co has been around since 2015 and produces a range of hoppy, hazy IPAs and pale ales as well as some top saisons, stouts, and their particularly refreshing Buckskin lager. This is craft beer brewed in small batches by a small team with very big hearts. Iechyd da, MOB.
Speyside water, malted grains, whole hops, and yeast are used to produce the excellent craft ales at Windswept Brewing Co. This Lossiemouth-based brewery specialises in your regular selection of beers, dubbed “the beaten path”, as well as those that are classified as “off the beaten path”, “off piste”, and “uncharted”. These innovative Scottish brewers are just as comfortable creating a bottle of cloudy wheat beer as they are a raspberry cask-aged dark ale. It’s that pioneering spirit that makes them one of the best independent British breweries around. If you can, get down to the taproom and sample a fantastic selection of award-winning cask, keg, and bottled beers.
SALT Beer Factory
Founded in 2018, SALT Beer Factory have been all about making sublime hop-forward beers since the very beginning. And if you want a history lesson with your pint, how’s this for you: the brewery is housed by a Grade II Listed Edwardian Tram Shed building in the UNESCO World Heritage Village of Saltaire. Core beers in the SALT range include their super juicy Jute Session IPA, their slightly bitter Crash APA, their coeliac-friendly Calico Session Ale, and more. SALT’s regular collabs and specials are also worth your time and money. Just like every beer they make.
Swannay Brewery makes award-winning beers of all styles from a plot of rustic farmstead in the northwesterly tip of Orkney. That’s pretty neat, right? Well, what’s even neater is how good their beers are. Scapa Special is the brewery’s flagship beer and it’s definitely a case of special by name and special by nature – a biscuity, malty pale ale that’s unbelievably moreish. That being said, it’s hard to go wrong with anything that Swannay Brewery are cobbling together with malt and hops. Even the 9% ABV Orkney Porter is deceptively smooth. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll still leave you suitably binned if you drink more than two of them… but it’ll do it really smoothly.
Gipsy Hill in south London is where you can (rather unsurprisingly) find the Gipsy Hill Brewing Co. What began as a passion project started by two mates has grown into one of London’s best-loved independent breweries. Even if you’re not from the Big Smoke, you’ll probably recognise their unique cartoon-y labels that immortalise real people associated with the brewery. The Hepcat session ale, for example, is adorned with Marcus – Gipsy Hill’s designer and illustrator. It’s that convivial feel – along with the esteemed quality of their beers – which makes Gipsy Hill one of my personal favourites.
Loch Lomond Brewery
Brewing from a state of the art brewery near Dumbarton and canning their beers in-house, Loch Lomond Brewery have done their due diligence, MOB. It’s that attention to detail that makes them one of the best independent British breweries and their ever-evolving beer range is definitely one you’re going to want to check out for yourself. The cans themselves are beautiful objects and I’m pleased to say that the insides are just as stunning. From the Zoom Time (a session New England IPA) to Silkie Stout (a robust oatmeal stout), you’ll definitely find something from Loch Lomond Brewery that gives your all-time faves a run for their money.
Lacada is a community-owned co-operative brewery based out on the northern coast of Northern Ireland. Not only is that community ethos a major reason to support the brewery but the fact that they produce a sublime beer range also helps. They’ve got some rather outre creations (like a NEIPA brewed exclusively with hops from the southern hemisphere) as well as some more typical table beers and pillow-soft IPAs. There’s a reason this brewery is an award winner, MOB.
Purple Moose Brewery
Purple Moose is a micro-brewery based in the town of Porthmadog, North Wales, not far from the mountains of Snowdonia. They’ve been brewing since 2005 and haven’t looked back since. Except to look back at the competition biting at their heels. Purple Moose have been on top of the Welsh craft beer mountain for a good number of years and their excellent range of delicious beers are why they’ve stayed there. Dark Side of the Moose is a stand out (it’s a delicious dark ale brewed from Welsh mountain water), while Mŵsh (a pale, straw-coloured German Kölsch-style lager) underlines the range of Purple Moose’s brewing abilities. Get a case in and you’ll be hooked.
Beer Hut Brewing Co.
A small independent brewery based in the small town of Kilkeel in County Down has no right being this good. Absolutely no right. But Beer Hut Brewing Co are this and, although they might not have the largest operation, they’re undoubtedly one of the best independent British breweries. Andrew McBride and Neil Chambers are the men behind the bevs. Inventive beers like the Frankie Says Relax gose and Trippin’ On Sunshine mango and peach pale ale epitomise the fun and fresh approach that Beer Hut Brewing Co are all about. Nab a few cans and some swish merch to show your love for some seriously good brewers.
The Five Points Brewing Company
The Five Points Brewing Company is an independent brewery based in Hackney that have been doing the goods on a superb range of beers since 2013. Most of the beers are inspired by British real ales with core products like their single-hopped Best Bitter and Railway Porter being modern interpretations of classic styles. If you want a consistent brewery that have never really dipped in quality, Five Points is one to add to your list. Their taproom is also a laugh and the perfect place to enjoy open-air pints and freshly cooked pizza.