London Breweries Cycle Ride 2023
09 October 2023
Where can you find two stags, a lamb, griffin, ram, lion, and Jacob the Dray Horse?
You’d have passed them all on the London Breweries Cycle Ride on Saturday 7 October from Mortlake to Woolwich – along with many of London’s historic and working breweries. On a fine autumnal day, cycling gets no better than a Thames towpath passing morning rowers, or a glorious sunset over the Thames Barrier. In between, London’s historic brewing past was toasted at Watney’s Stag, Whitbread’s Chiswell Street, Truman’s Brick Lane and Courage Horsleydown.
The trip highlight was John Hatch’s tour of Young’s brewing heritage at Sambrooks in Wandsworth including his stories of their well, rescuing the stables’ clock mechanism and why wort receivers were shaped like that. Hearing from Steve Wilkinson what it costs to rent the Porter Tun Room at Chiswell Street proved that its current hospitality use is more profitable than brewing. Derek Prentice showed the group Sich’s Lamb Brewery next door to Fullers which closed in 1920, and where Truman’s transported casks along a tunnel under Brick Lane to the racker. Chiswell Street and Horsleydown each operated for over two centuries, both replaced by new sites outside London which were gone within about 30 years.
The lion statue on Westminster Bridge stood over the Red Lion Brewery from 1836 until 1948 when the site was demolished to build the Festival Hall. And Jacob is to be found around the corner from the IBD’s Curlew Street office to commemorate the shires that worked out of Horsleydown.
A special thanks for the hospitality provided at Fullers, Sambrooks, Fourpure, Small Beer and Meantime which fuelled the 27-mile tour.