The toast of the town: London breweries are celebrated by the Campaign for Real Ale in new book out today

Cask ales are experiencing a surge in popularity Pic: Gerard Prins

Cask ales are experiencing a surge in popularity Pic: Gerard Prins

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The Campaign for Real Ale published their new Good Beer Guide 2015 today, featuring pubs and breweries across the UK, including two breweries in EastLondonLines boroughs which opened in the last year.

The book lists a total of 54 London breweries, 16 of which opened in the last year – 10 per cent of the new breweries in the UK as a whole – and also claims that Britain now has more breweries per head than any other country in the world.

Two of the 16 new breweries are in EastLondonLines boroughs: One Mile End Brew Company in Tower Hamlets and Signature Brew in Hackney. Check out the map below to find the nearest one to you.

At the helm of one of these is Simon McCabe, Head Brewer at One Mile End Brew Company, based beneath the White Hart pub on Mile End Road.

The brewery has only been in business since June this year, so it is very much the new kid on the beer block. “Some of our first beers are on the bar now and we’ll be having a launch party on October 24,” said McCabe. “It’s still really early for us but production is picking up month on month, and we’re looking forward to a great winter.”

“We’ve learned an awful lot in just a few months. Mostly contained to the brewery, rather than commercially, so far. For one, using four different yeast strains in one room was very educational!”

McCabe is far from a lone ranger in East London. The area has seen its number of breweries rocket in recent years, which could pose concerns about levels of competition, but he sees this as an advantage more than a hindrance: “The London brewing scene is very supportive in general,” he said.

“One of the great things about east London is proximity. I’m about five minutes away from ten other microbreweries. We all have an issue with couriers or suppliers every now and then and someone is always on hand to help you out with a loan of ingredients or mechanical advice if equipment malfunctions.”

McCabe is also optimistic about the future of craft beer in the city, defying those who might argue the industry could be reaching saturation point: “There’s a lot of talk of saturation and it is inevitable at some point. I personally think we are a long way from it yet.”

He said: “Things become a little more competitive but a large number of London breweries are sold out week after week, and I see more traditional pubs putting in keg and cask lines as well as pub company ties being relaxed. Craft beer is 20 per cent of the beer market in America at the minute and that is our potential.”

The book’s editor Roger Protz shares McCabe’s optimism: “Real ale is the only success story in a declining beer market,” he said.

“New breweries, making handcrafted beers, continue to come on stream while many long-standing regional and family breweries are expanding with new equipment and new brands. Real ale has almost doubled its market share over the past decade.”

Protz emphasised the importance of small breweries, like McCabe’s: The overall brewery number has been heavily contributed to by small breweries which have been popping up across the country.”

The Good Beer Guide has been published annually since 1972, just a year after the Campaign for Real Ale was founded. But with cask ale and craft brewing experiencing a surge in popularity – their Pig’s Ear Beer and Cider Festival has recently reported record numbers – this could be a sell-out year.

As well as championing cask ale and the people that brew it, The Campaign for Real Ale has also been at the forefront of campaigns to save pubs from property redevelopment, such as the Chesham Arms in Hackney.

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