The research, commissioned by South Western Railway, has found London is the best location for independent breweries with Manchester second and Leeds third while Bristol is home to three of the top 15 sites.
According to the analysis, there are more than 2,000 independent breweries in the UK, which have been ranked on their average Google review rating, the number of beers each has produced and the rating of the top performing beer, according to RateBeer (the international website for craft beer enthusiasts).
Cloudwater Brew Co saw off competition from its rivals by being one of only sites brewers to receive top marks for a beer produced, with 5 out of 5 from the RateBeer, and has brewed 816 beers. In second place was Stewart Brewing, which is located in Loanhead, Scotland. Stewart produced more beers than almost all of the breweries in the top 15, with 900 varieties. It also has an average Google rating of 4.8. Its highest rated beverage on RateBeer is the ‘retired’ Stewart Cauld Reekie (Rhubarb and Custard).
Kernel produces most beer variants
Third place went to Kernel Brewery in London and with the highest number of beers produced (at 919) and a top rating on select beers of 4.3 out 5 for its Kernel Pale Ale Hallertau Blanc Nelson Sauvin Cascade and its porter beer, Kern Export India Porter Zues Centennial.
Rounding out the top five are Siren Craft Brew in Wokingham and Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield, both with more than 500 beers produced, and google ratings of 4.8 and 4.9 respectively. Their top beers are Siren Pilot Series: Benda’s Plum Rennaissance and Beer Works Doctor Morton's Horse Tonic.
Stout is the top-rated beers type from the top 15 independent breweries, with the variety appearing no fewer than six times. This includes the New Wharf Vanilla Stout from Maidenhead’s New Wharf Brewing Co, which clocked a 5 out of 5 on RateBeer during its time of production.
Meanwhile, four from the list of the top 15 are a type of ale, while another three are a type of IPA, including the Powderkeg Slow Groove, which received full marks in its ratings on RateBeer.
ABV strength appreciated
Additionally, it seems drinkers in the UK like a strong beer with the ABV of the top-rated beers averaging 7%. The highest percentage on this list is Manchester’s Cloudwater A Great Many Breaths, a beer that weighs in with 12.7%.
Looking at the locations of the UK’s top 15 independent breweries, Bristol populates the list the most, with three of their breweries featured in the top 15. All three have an average Google rating of 4.8 out of 5 but it’s Bristol Beer Factory that has the city’s top-rated beer on RateBeer. Its creamy stout, Bristol Beer Factory Artemis Series #3 of 4, scores 4.8 out of 5.
Delving into the top locations for breweries overall, the research also revealed that London is the best city for independent breweries. After analysing the number of breweries in each area, their average rating on Google, the number of beers produced and the average rating for the top beers on RateBeer, the capital has taken the crown. With more than 2,300 beers produced from 40 breweries, London produces more beer and is home to more breweries than anywhere else in the UK.
South Western Railway head of marketing Paul Bright said: “As more of us look to shop local and support local businesses, particularly since many are feeling the effects of the national lockdowns, the research is a great step in highlighting the best independent breweries we can taste and explore right here in the UK.”