Want to know where the best independent breweries in the UK are?

Research by South Western Railway reveals the best independent breweries in the UK, as rated by the public.

With pubs finally reopened after lockdown, returning for one of our favourite beers has never been so good.

With over 2,000 independent breweries in the UK, and over 74,000 Google searches a month for "breweries" alone, it is evident that the UK’s love for local beer continues to grow. But who really are the best local producers of beer?

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

Best-rated beer breweries

The top 15 independent breweries in the UK are:

  • 1. Cloudwater Brew Co., Manchester       
  • 2. Stewart Brewing, Loanhead           
  • 3.  Kernel Brewery, London   
  • 4. Siren Craft Brew, Wokingham
  • 5. Abbeydale Brewery, Sheffield
  • 6. Arbor Ales, Bristol
  • 7. Bristol Beer Factory, Bristol
  • 8. Tempest Brewing Co., Galashiels
  • 9. New Wharf Brewing Co., Maidenhead
  • 10. Powderkeg Brewery, Salterton
  • 11. XT Brewing Co., Long Crendon
  • 12. Northern Monk, Leeds
  • 13. Wiper and True, Bristol
  • 14. Anspach & Hobday, London
  • 15 Rudgate Brewery, York

The Cloudwater Brew Company in Manchester ranks on top. It is only one of three to receive top marks for a beer produced. The company have 816 beers listed on RateBeer, showing a variety of options for everyone's beer tastes.

The Westmorland Gazette: See the top independent UK breweries - and where to try the beer (South Western Railway)See the top independent UK breweries - and where to try the beer (South Western Railway)

Loanhead, a small town in Scotland, is home to the second-best independent brewery in the UK. Stewart Brewing has produced more beers than almost all of the breweries in the top 15, with an incredible 900 varieties. The brewery has an impressive rating of 4.8 on Google.

Third place goes to Kernel Brewery in London and with the highest number of beers produced (at 919), they are not one to be missed for those who like a lot of choice. Although there is plenty of variety, both their Kernel Pale Ale Hallertau Blanc Nelson Sauvin Cascade and their Porter beer, Kern Export India Porter Zues Centennial are liked by enthusiasts with both receiving a respectable score of 4.3 on RateBeer.

Rounding out the top five are Siren Craft Brew in Wokingham and Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield, both with over 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. The latter received high praise on RateBeer and has been described as being light with hints of lemon and grapefruit.

The most popular types of beer

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. This IPA from the Powederkeg Brewery in Salteron has been described as tropical and fruity, to really impress your taste buds.

By analysing the tasting notes of the top-rated beers, seven are described as smooth, while four

Paul Bright, Head of Marketing at South Western Railways says, “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; even from the comfort of our own homes through online delivery. One of South Western Railyway’s key focuses is to support local businesses and with five of the top 15 independent breweries of the UK, being found in the South West region, we’re proud to be showcasing them in our research.”

Please find more information and the extensive list of the top 50 independent breweries in the UK on the South Western Railway site here.