London's rich history is undeniably one of its most distinguishing features, but in among the towering office blocks and throngs of city workers it's easy to forget some of the capital's oldest traditions - specifically the art of brewing beer, which dates back to the Middle Ages.
Yet despite various wobbles and the fact that many brewers were effectively driven out of the capital by the turn of the Millennium (maintaining a presence was simply becoming too expensive) brewing has been on the rise in recent years. Here are three microbreweries that have led the resurgence - and a look at the positive impact they are having in local communities.
Sitting in the cellar of a Hampstead pub called The Horseshoe, Jasper Cuppaidge decided it was about time customers had a better selection of beers to choose from at the bar. Rather than order some in, he thought it would be better to make his own.
While the project initially started on a small scale - there wasn't a huge amount of room to brew underneath the pub - it quickly proved popular. Expansion seemed a logical step, so Cuppaidge converted a space beneath some old Victorian railway arches in Camden Town and used the location as a base to produce beer on a bigger scale. Somewhat fittingly, he called it Camden Town Brewery.
That was in 2010, and by this time last year the brewery was churning out 30,000 pints a week - an impressive feat considering its relative infancy. The beers it produces are sold on draught in numerous pubs throughout the capital - and people seem happy to pay for a taste of something with such a local feel to it.
This community angle is something the brewery likes to focus on - another nod to the traditional aspects of London life - by publishing its own newsletter: the Camden Post. The principle is simple in that it recommends beers and food that are available in the surrounding area, but it's another effective way to promote the presence of microbreweries in the capital and maintain a local identity.
Another baby of the brewing industry, Redemption was established in Tottenham in 2010.
Using domestically-sourced materials and emphasising its production of hand-crafted beers, the brewery has won numerous awards for its ales. It even uses water taken from reservoirs in north London's Lea Valley as part of its brewing process, further adding to the local focus.
Based in south London, By The Horns has been going since 2011 and distributes its beers around the capital.
With a website tagline that says "Let's put London back on the brewing map", the brewery's intentions are clear: founders Chris Mills and Alex Bull are attempting to play their part in helping Londoners rediscover the history of beer in their city.
It also makes one-off monthly specials in a bid to keep people interested, which is a clever marketing ploy given that enthusiastic beer drinkers tend to like the opportunity to try a brand new brew.
The common theme here is that all the microbreweries pride themselves on their independence. They're making beer for local pubs that are shunning the mass-produced products on offer throughout the country.
It's this sense of community that adds to the appeal of the tipples coming out of the smaller breweries. This helps distinguish them from bigger brand names as they establish their own customer base that is happy to pay slightly more money for what they perceive to be a superior product.
This trend is one that appears to be taking place throughout certain areas of London as independent businesses grow in popularity. The lesson is relatively clear: it's not easy to compete with the biggest names in the industry - but if you're going to try it, go upmarket and make your localness your focal selling point.
By creating a distinctive, quality product on a small scale it's possible to succeed in niche areas of the market. People like to identify with their local area and contribute to its affluence, so tapping into their sense of local pride is rarely a bad idea.
Image credit: Bernt Rostad
Dan O’Sullivan is Make It Cheaper's Web Content Manager, which means much of his time is dedicated to ensuring we have plenty of online material to help business owners understand the energy, insurance and telecoms industries. With years of experience working alongside SMEs, Dan is committed to making life as easy as possible for smaller firms. You can email Dan at email@example.com
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