Best craft beer in London: Artisan and IPA beers

Pump Clip for the Mark E Smith IPA, designed by PJ Design. Image courtesy of The Snooty Fox Pub.

Pump Clip for the Mark E Smith IPA, designed by PJ Design. Image courtesy of The Snooty Fox Pub.

Independent breweries are creating beers inspired by their favourite bands and songs.

Ranging from techno-inspired to punk-rock flavoured, these artisan beverages have taken hold of small breweries and pubs across Europe and North America. Here in London, you might have sampled some without even knowing it.

An ale inspired by The Fall singer, Mark E Smith, has gained popularity in the Big Smoke after The Snooty Fox, an Islington pub, commissioned a brewery to do it.

The Fox commissioned Northern Brewing to make its tribute beer.”It will be available in bottle at the end of June as we’ve been negotiating with Mark Smith himself,” explained the brewery’s Dean McDonald.

“All our beers are originally inspired by northern soul music,” McDonald added. “Here in the brewery we are all soul fans and all our beers reflect that love for soul music.

“Hit and Run, for example, is a beer named after the soul music record label.”

Clash London Porter. Image courtesy of Revolutions Brewing Co.

Clash London Porter. Image courtesy of Revolutions Brewing Co.

Music-themed brewery Revolutions Brewing Co. was founded by Mark Seaman and Andrew Helm in October 2010. Both share a passion for beer and music, which resulted in The Revolutions Brewing Company.

Their selection of ales covers a wide musical spectrum. In tribute to the German pioneers of electronica, they created Kraftwerk Braun Ale. Their Devolution Amber Ale was inspired by a group of post-punk pioneers from Akron, Ohio, who had their own philosophical movement. Clash, a traditional London porter, is an homage to the iconic punk band. And Severin Dark was created in honour of Siouxsie and the Banshees bassist and founder, Steven Severin. “This beer has five decades of musical pedigree,” says Revolutions Brewing.

Punk IPA from Brewdog

Punk IPA from Brewdog. Photo Credit: Silvia Rothlisberger

Perhaps the most commercially successful music-themed brewery is Brewdog. Founded in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie when they were only 24 years old, the brewery has become a staple at beer houses all over London. Brewdog’s beer has even made it to the shelves of Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco.

Brewdog founders were “Bored of industrially brewed lagers and stuffy ales that dominate the UK market,” and decided to brew their own beer.

“We are rocking a brew house which is powered by energy drinks and loud-metal-music,” they said.

Their beers, which are named after music genres and rock bands, come in all colours. Trashy Blonde is their weaker golden ale. Punk IPA is a six per cent India pale ale, and the brewery’s biggest selling beer. Inspired by punk music and a classic IPA, “This beer is a contemporary version of classic beer”.

Rounding out list is a brewery further afield that is getting its fair share of recognition. Their musical beer is called Stairway to Heaven, and was named West Midlands CAMRA “beer of the year” in 2006. It is brewed by Burton Bridge, a brewery located in Staffordshire.

This brewery, unlike the other ones in this list, is not musically focused. According to Steve Harris from the Burton Bridge Brewery, the beer got its name because “the person that commissioned it was a Led Zeppelin fan.” Perhaps Jimmy Page gets a free case at Christmas.