Lockdown Beer Guide
Updated: May 18
During the bizarre and uncertain times of the last couple of months, it has seemed as though the only reassuring comfort has been my unshakeable desire to settle down with a cold one at the end of a hard day. Some things, it seems, will truly never change. And I’m not the only one. Craft breweries from across the land have been trumpeting beer delivery services which have taken on a new and unexpected importance during lockdown.
Although we are allowed to go out and buy beer – off licences were given an ‘essential’ status early on in the lockdown, and I know that a can or two has slipped into my basket during my weekly trips to the supermarket. But, let’s face it, we need something to look forward to at the moment. Without even mentioning the challenge of carting home enough beer to keep me going for the week, the promise of a new and enticing range of interesting craft beers to look forward to has been genuinely helpful for my own mental health and no doubt that of many readers.
My biggest (beer related) challenge has been where to buy from. While cheaper than a pint from the pub, at often £3 a pop craft beers are not cheap. And if you’ve been on my Craft Beer Running Tour, you will know that the explosion in craft breweries in recent years means that there is an incredible, and frankly unhelpful level of choice for where to pick up your bottles and tins.
What follows is far from an exhaustive list. OTHER BREWERIES AND RETAILERS ARE AVAILABLE. But these are a few places who I can recommend first hand. If you have any more suggestions, please pop them in the comments!
Beer52 – www.beer52.com
If you like beer, there is a decent chance that you’ve heard of Beer52. A craft beer delivery service, founded in 2013, the coronavirus crisis has propelled them from plucky outsiders to a mainstay of the UK craft beer scene.
Beer52 offer a great range of beers, from the best of the UK’s breweries to weird and wonderful European brews. The boxes (which include 8 beers for £24) are not cheap, but they do include a snack, and their own Beer magazine ‘Ferment’. It’s also very easy to find a range of introductory offers, to ease the strain on your wallet.
It’s hard to fault the variety provided by Beer52, but this does of course mean that your boxes may contain more ‘challenging’ beers. It is all a matter of taste, but I tend to find some of the very dark, strong beers that they send lingering in my fridge. I received a message from a friend yesterday alerting me to a ‘cream ale with green tea’ that he had received in his latest box, which gives a glimpse of some of the more ‘out there’ beers that they offer. It’s worth noting though that if you have more particular tastes, you can curate your own box – but where’s the fun in that! (it’s also more expensive).
Tiny Rebel Brewery - https://www.tinyrebel.co.uk/
If you’ll excuse another plug of my Craft Beer Tour, past attendees may recognise this Newport brewery. Their easy drinking tropical IPA Clwb Tropica is often on offer at our first stop, the White Hart brewpub, and I usually recommend a pint of their caramel infused red ale ‘Cwtch’ at our final destination, Crate Brewery.
In recent years, Tiny Rebel have become slightly ubiquitous on the Craft Beer Scene. This is not without good reason, and even their more experimental concoctions (jam doughnut pale ale anyone?) still have the innate beeriness that we are all looking for when we crack open a can of the good stuff. The aforementioned Clwb Tropica and Cwtch are my personal favourites, and their Easy Livin’ Pale works well as a more conventional session I.P.A.
Considering the quality on offer, their prices are pretty reasonable. You can pick up a mixed 12 pack for £20 (plus delivery) which is pretty much as cheap as I’ve seen anywhere online.
Fourpure Brewery - https://www.fourpure.com/
I’m starting to lose count of the number of times I’ve used the phrase, but ‘when this is all over’ I implore you to check out Fourpure’s excellent Taproom next to South Bermondsey station. I live and work nearby, and it’s a fantastic place to while away a summer’s afternoon.
With this in mind, I decided to check out Fourpure’s online selection a couple of weeks into lockdown. Their online offering is slightly more polished than Tiny Rebel’s, and I ended up opting for their ‘Explorer Pack’, which includes 12 of their core beers for £23. Slightly more than Tiny Rebel, but I was eligible for local delivery (you might be too if you are reading from South London).
Fourepure’s beers are less obviously zany than Tiny Rebel’s, but in Easy Peeler they have created one of London’s most iconic fruity IPAs. If your tastes run along the sweeter end of the spectrum I would highly recommend it. If you’re missing the pub, make sure you check out their 5L minikegs at £35-£40 (although from the looks of it these are currently only on offer for Monsoon and Easy Peeler). Their range also extends to snacks, as well as t-shirts, jumpers and hats for those of you still working on your lockdown look.
Brick Brewery - https://www.brickbrewery.co.uk/
Although I haven’t ordered from them yet, it would be remiss of me to end this Blog without mentioning the excellent Brick Brewery, whose taproom is located round the corner from me, in Peckham.
Brick’s recognisable and simply named beers lack the pizzazz and flashy artwork of some other craft breweries. This does however make ordering a much more straightforward experience, and behind the unshowy names lurk some fantastic modern craft beers. Brick’s Foundation range – Peckham Pils, Peckham Pale, Peckham IPA and the aply named Peckham Rye – includes something for every beer lover, with Peckham Pale being my personal favourite. They also offer seasonal specials on a more infrequent basis, and their sours are worth a look if you want something a bit different.
Brick have started to offer collection at their Peckham Rye Taproom from last Thursday. Or, you could enter our Virtual Craft Beer Race next weekend - the best finisher photo will net a FREE Mixed 24 pack delivered to you.