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Thursday 10 September 2015

Jezza's Guide to Beer on the Southbank

For this guest post on London's increasingly beery South Bank, I've turned to the well-informed Jezza from (@BeerGuideLondon.) He is one of a select group of London heroes that keep me in the know in their respective fields, and his guide to pubs and breweries in London is second-to-none. Over to you, Jezza...

Choosing where to drink good beer in and around Waterloo or on the South Bank used to be a simple task: you went to the ever reliable Kings Arms on Roupell Street: 

This traditional pub in a gorgeous 'olde worlde' back street near Waterloo Station has long offered excellent Thai food (or roasts on Sundays) and more recently its beer range has gone from strength to strength.  8 cask ales sit alongside a keg range of growing quality and a small but well chosen bottled range from breweries such as Kernel and Fourpure.

But recently, and out of virtually nowhere, London's South Bank has become a beer destination oozing with potential for a great day out.  Here are some of the new places to check out:

The Hop Locker - Owner Joel loves good beer, and this is reflected in the outstanding selection in this busy market stall in the bustling Southbank Centre Market, directly behind the Royal Festival Hall. This bottle shop cum bar provides such a great range of beers you'll always find something of the very highest quality. 

Now offering 8 drafts and around 30 bottles, you can choose either to drink in the tiny bar area or at a table in the general market area.  Breweries such as Magic Rock, Kernel, Moor, Siren, Fourpure, Beavertown, Burning Sky and Arbor feature regularly, so you can see it's very much the best of British brewing.  The market is open Friday 12 -9pm, Saturday 11am - 9pm and 12 - 6 on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and you're sure to find some excellent food from one of the other market stalls.

N.B. The Southbank Centre Market (and therefore The Hop Locker) is not open this weekend (11th-13th September), but it will return on 18th September.

At the front of the Royal Festival Hall there are now three additional stalls offering good beer. Firstly, Beany Green - of Broadgate Circle coffee fame - is at the top of the steps leading down to the river, just beside the main front entrance to the Royal Festival Hall.  Usually offering several beers from Bermondsey favourites Fourpure, they also offer guest beers from the likes of Partizan Brewing Co. & Pressure Drop.

At the bottom of the steps nestling under The Golden Jubilee Bridge you'll find Look Mum No Hands - again a South Bank offshoot - their permanent location is on Old Street - and then perhaps most prominently, Bleecker Street's burger and beer van - the third of the triumvirate who also have a permanent location elsewhere (in the case of Bleecker Street their regular venue is Old Spitalfields Market - read more here).

N.B. Look Mum No Hands is currently closed for the Winter, and Bleecker Burger has moved, but only as far as the Southbank skate park. Phew.

Look Mum No Hands offer up to 10 draft beers, including some outstanding selections from breweries like Beavertown, Moor and Magic Rock.  Bleecker Street meanwhile currently offer 6 draft lines, often from standout American breweries such as Flying Dog and Brooklyn.  However there's a great additional reason to come here: to eat their superb burgers, such as the award-winning Bleecker Black, which contains black pudding as well as their stand out 40 - 50 day aged beef.   

Both Look Mum No Hands and Bleecker Street are likely to be summer only venues on the South Bank, so visit by the end of September to be sure to catch them in full swing.

Walking along the river towards Waterloo Bridge you'll soon come to the National Theatre, and here you'll find the rather excellent Understudy.

Don't be put off by the rather grey and foreboding concrete exterior: this super relaxed and comfortable venue offers a great selection of around 12 draft and 35 bottled beers, including many from excellent breweries such as London's Brew by Numbers and Siren Craft Brew from Berkshire.

Photo credit : Philip Vile

As you can see, the South Bank is now an excellent beer destination in its own right and a visit is highly recommended.

Guest post written by Jezza, SW London, with photos (mostly) from Matt The List.  Jezza's guide to pubs and breweries in London can be found online at

The site contains full details of The Hop Locker, The Understudy and The Kings Arms – including opening times, which you should check carefully while planning any visits. You can also follow Jezza on Twitter @beerguidelondon or @bonsvoeux1 for frequent updates.

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