Best UK Craft Breweries – 2021

, Best UK Craft Breweries – 2021

They don’t really call them craft breweries in the UK. They’re “independent breweries.” But no matter what you call them beer fans have picked the best in a data draw run by South Western Railway.

Here’s the deal…

South Western Railroad is a train transportation company in the United Kingdom that recently generated a list of the country’s best “independent breweries” drawing on data from Google, RateBeer and the Society of Independent Brewers. And many of them you can buy a ticket on their train line to get to.

With over 2,000 independent breweries in the UK, and over 74,000 Google searches a month for ‘breweries’ alone, this listing was an ambitious undertaking. And its a good place to start when you’re in the hunt for serious beer in the UK.

South Western Railway ranked each independent brewery based on their average Google review rating, the number of beers the brewery has produced and the rating of the top performing beer, according to RateBeer.

Rank Brewery Town/City Google Rating Number of Beers Brewed Top Rated Beer
1 Cloudwater Brew Co. Manchester 4.6 816 5
2 Stewart Brewing Loanhead 4.8 903 4.33
3 Kernel Brewery London 4.6 919 4.3
4 Siren Craft Brew Wokingham 4.8 578 4.25
5 Abbeydale Brewery Sheffield 4.9 518 4.3
6 Arbor Ales Bristol 4.8 369 4.37
7 Bristol Beer Factory Bristol 4.8 196 4.8
8 Tempest Brewing Co. Galashiels 5 182 4.6
9 New Wharf Brewing Co. Maidenhead 5 28 5
10 Powderkeg Brewery Salterton 5 25 5
11 XT Brewing Co. Long Crendon 5 286 4.25
12 Northern Monk Leeds 4.5 466 4.25
13 Wiper and True Bristol 4.8 235 4.55
14 Anspach & Hobday London 5 311 4.1
15 Rudgate Brewery York 5 330 4


Unfortunately American Craft Beer hasn’t visited the majority of these breweries, but we have spent some time at The Kernel  which came in at #3   and it was pretty impressive. And Cloudwater which was ranked at #1 already has a huge international following.

Located in a small Scottish village, Stewart Brewing is the #2 independent brewery in the United Kingdom. That award-winning brewery has produced more beers than almost all of the breweries in the top 15 ranking, an incredible 900 varieties.

Below is a table courtesy of the South Western Railway showcasing the top 50 most popular independent brewers in the UK.

, Best UK Craft Breweries – 2021


The table above shows four distinct independent brewery capitals in the UK: London, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol and all of them are worth a train trip to, next time you’re in the UK.

And while we’re at it there’s also this…



(Chart Image credit: South Western Railway)

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