An American brewery in London

Thirsty like the Wolf


If you’re going to have a thing as a craft brewery, you really need to lean into it with your whole body and soul, or risk coming across as inauthentic. So, as I approach the railway arch home of Werewolf Beer in Camden and find myself in the middle of a full-blown Scooby Doo fairground ghost train setup, I teeter on the tipping point between excitement and jaded cynicism. Thank the brewing gods then, that brewery founder Rich White is the closest thing I have ever met to an actual werewolf.

The elaborately bearded Rich is behind the bar at the back of the arch, surrounded by heavy metal merch, horror memorabilia (including an old cathode ray TV playing ‘An American Werewolf in London’ – “the most important horror-comedy of all time”) and ramshackle brewing equipment. His tap handles are an eclectic mix of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Bass, and other pointedly non-craft brands, salvaged and repurposed for Werewolf’s own brews. There’s a vintage jukebox in the corner, covered in band stickers and blasting out psychobilly tunes at a speaker-distorting volume. He does not turn it down.

“Yeah, so welcome to Werewolf Beer,” he says, with a broad Syracuse accent and a somewhat lupine grin. “The only brewery I can think of that has a ghost train. I'm gonna say it's the only one in the world... Yeah, let’s go with that.”

The ghost train is definitely a feature, and apparently the first piece of brewery equipment Rich acquired (“at great expense”) after deciding to leave his role as head brewer at London Brewing Company in 2019, to set up on his own.

“It was ‘do or die’ time,” he recalls. “After five years at London Brewing Company, I wanted to make something that was 100% mine, so I came up with this concept of the ‘American Brewery in London’. I'm trying to make the sort of beers that I was drinking in the US in the early 2000s, when craft beer was super blowing up. So Americans, especially brewers, will look at my range of beers and be like, this reminds me of going into a brewpub in like, 1995.”

And he’s not wrong. There’s Psychobilly American Pale Ale (“because if you’re going to be an American brewery in London, you’d better make a damn good pale ale, right?”), then Stomp, Rich’s take on the ubiquitous American light lager, a rye IPA called Horror Show, Stray Cat citrus wheat beer, and Creepster American brown ale. On this last beer, Rich takes pains to point out that this is an American brown ale – a style basically invented by US homebrewers who had never tried a British brown ale. Such details are clearly very important to the overall vision, which to be honest is hard to fault.

Rich, the founder

“The focus is bitter, clear and balanced beers. You know, I can do hazy things, but what I'm going for is visually pleasing, high quality, perfectly carbonated, crisp and balanced. The real ale folks, when they come in here, they gravitate towards the Horror Show and the American brown, and pretty much stay there.”

According to Rich, a good chunk of his clientele are Americans looking for a slice of home, and he takes pride in getting groups of his countryfolk talking to each other, when they start on tables at opposite sides of the room. He also does well from the world-famous music scene in Camden, particularly when the right kind of bands are in town; Werewolf has a genuine cult following among psychobilly fans in particular.

Beyond that, the biggest draw for Werewolf and its beers is the simple fact that it’s a hell of a lot of fun. There’s something profoundly welcoming, good natured, earnest and silly about the whole setup. Most importantly though, it rings true. This isn’t a marketing schtick; Rich bought the jukebox for $75 dollars when he was 19, and the stickers covering its surface are from gigs he’s personally attended. The artwork around the bar is from people who just came in and loved the place. He is a man who’s having a great time being his authentic self, and brewing beers in his own image. And, somehow, he makes it look really fucking cool.

Share this article