An ode to West London
Sarah Sinclair explores the West of London
Saturday 20 November 2021
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Most when you talk about the London beer scene picture the rough yet gentrified streets of Hackney with murals, gritty streets and IPA pouring in every bar. The West is an after-thought but burgeoning with modern brews, micropubs and a large sense of community. The grass is definitely greener on the other side.
West and South West London was and always will be my London of choice for its beer community that welcomed me into my first forays into craft beer with open arms.
Lucy Do welcomed me into her business, The Dodo Micropub as a novice beer drinker, a freelancer and a woman in beer but this was no exception to how she makes anyone feel. She not only took a leap of opening a cask-focused micropub after being made redundant from her city job but she carved out a community and created The Hanwell Massive, named after the micropubs location just to the edge of Ealing.
She says: “Community, and I mean that in a real tangible sense as it is a word that gets thrown about a lot these days. Patrons of The Dodo Micropub are collectively and affectionately known as the Hanwell Massive and they are passionate, kind and get that human connection and community is everything. I really advocate for the West London beer and wider small business community.”
The Massive threw a 70-year-old his first-ever birthday party, helped a young lad build a train track around the pub so his Thomas the Tank Engine could go on an adventure and they've cried with joy when Lucy and the pub won awards and pulled off amazing events because they are part of the business and they’re that invested.
From Ealing to Battersea, Mondo Brewing Company sell the lion’s share of their beer within a six mile radius of the brewery. They do group bike rides and runs with their neighbours as well as taking part in fundraising events — they call West London home.
Co-founder Thomas Palmer says: “We've been lucky enough to be there and be the place where our friends and neighbours have celebrated some of the most important events of their lives. From birthday parties to graduations, marriages, anniversaries and myriad other momentous occasions, our local community has chosen either our taproom or our beer specifically to play a role in that experience they're sharing with loved ones.”
Linda Birch, founder of a different kind of bottleshop, Brewery Market, says that growing up in West London she always found it to be a really diverse, welcoming and family-focused community: “The people around you want you to do well, especially the business community. The craft beer community knows no borders though, I have seen their support to be beyond neighbouring boroughs.”
It’s a fresh take on the bottleshop, not a bar or a pub, but a safe place to discover a way to drink differently. Linda says: “West London and Twickenham have many traditional bars and pubs, places to drink pint after pint. We wanted to give people a different perspective on beer.”
It’s a bottleshop that has a close place in my heart as it was here I met and joined my first bottle share where I learnt how to taste beer properly, had many laughs and even learnt that hops weren’t just for beer, they could be used in balms and lotions for all-around wellbeing with Linda’s range of Beertanicals™. Every community deserves a business that makes them look differently.
Getting a job at The Black Dog Beer House in Brentford, how smart, entrepreneurial people who care about community and the quality products they produce could see the opportunities that lie in West London and its continuing development with new train lines and rejuvenated sports stadiums.
Pete Brew, co-owner of The Black Dog Beer House and Fearless Nomad brewery says: “West London and its inhabitants have a great vibe. It's inclusive, friendly and unpretentious…West London has such a cross-section of such different people that it brings us diversity, and in a pub environment diversity is vital.
“I think we bring some diversity of our own in the form of a brewpub which is just a bit different from the more traditional pubs in the area around us. Our range of beer, ciders and wine along with our food is just a little bit different from the norm. From choosing to build our first business in the area we are hopefully providing just another reason to visit West London and helping build its reputation as a destination worth travelling to.”
Pete notes a difference to other parts of London in that the diversity of the drinks leads a to larger cross-section of ages and tastes in West London beer venues. He says: “Craft keg beer sits side by side with traditional cask ale and cider, there doesn't seem to be as big of a divide amongst drinkers which is pleasing to see.”
West London is also greener, fact. Frankie Kearns, co-founder of The Park Brewery in Kingston Upon Thames says: “We’re all about open spaces, near the city, in particular Richmond Park, hence The Park Brewery. West London has more green space… there’s the whole pull of the countryside in the west generally. We live and work over here with our kids, and family life is a big part of being in West London for us.”
Lucy Do, owner of The Dodo Micropub says that Hanwell is like a village at the end of West London and Linda Birch, owner of Brewery Market says what West London has that East doesn’t is beautiful parks and green open spaces, fresh air, low crime and Sir David Attenborough.
Thomas Palmer, co-founder of Mondon Brewing Company says that the overall vibe of West London is one of a more patient, low-key, relaxed flow. He says: “London is a dynamic city. And each cardinal direction offers something different and unique and new. The West, for us, seems just a bit more low key, a bit dialled back and certainly somewhere we feel really comfortable. We love all of London, but SW8 is truly the home of Mondo Brewing Company.”
The West London beer scene has grown more slowly and isn’t as saturated as the East but its community is strong and loyal. Frankie Kearns, co-founder of The Park Brewery says: “The West London beer scene has come a long way since we started back in 2014/15. I love the gradual change that’s happened. It feels pretty solid. It may have taken a while to convince West Londoners to try out new, different beers, but now they’re on board I think the loyalty and commitment are strong and here to stay.”
West London had a traditional brewing history, which helped attract these businesses the area but with the growth in popularity of hoppy styles you know have a true mix of drinkers coming together that opens up the playing field.
Frankie says: “People didn’t have the taste or interest in new hoppy beer styles, but that was probably because there was no one selling it over here. The wheels have slowly turned and now there’s plenty of interest and buzz about new beers and microbreweries…We’re a pretty varied bunch of breweries over here. Big, tiny, modern, traditional, quirky, casky, new and old. There’s something for everyone and it’s been really exciting to play a part in the general mood change from traditional beer drinkers to a more open-minded crowd, up for trying new styles.”
Twickenham being Brewery Market’s location of choice was influenced by how much Linda Birch, the shop’s founder, says she hated travelling back from East London late at night after visiting several taprooms or craft beer venues. She says: “There simply weren’t enough venues, microbreweries, or taprooms in West London focusing on the products of small independent breweries compared to the choice you had in east London. We’re really happy to be in Twickenham, already it had its history of hops but since we opened, two new microbreweries have opened nearby.”
West London may be bustling but it’s beer scene still has room to grow. Linda says the best thing about the West London beer scene is “That it’s growing all the time, getting better every day and it’s still not reached its full potential.”
Pete Brew of The Black Dog Beer House and Lucy Do from The Dodo Micropub both noted how West London needs more independent beer businesses. Pete says there’s still plenty of opportunity and room while Lucy iterated that more micropubs and small businesses will always be welcomed with open arms.
Thomas Palmer, co-founder of Mondo Brewing Company says: “We were drawn to the underrepresentation of small and medium-size breweries in the Southwest. We had no intention of being a part of the Beer Mile and found Hackney and Shoreditch saturated…with the new Northern Line extension and the Power Station opening in phases it’s changing that, we're having a pretty good time down here.”
Let West London lure you over to its greener pastures diverse brews and embracing licensees. Let West London never be an after thought when thinking of the city’s craft beer scene again.
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