A note for the times: I’m re-publishing this post because of some very good news! The shop and pub at Fuller’s re-opened in June (though tours are still suspended) and the Dove just reopened in the last days of July. There’s nothing I love more than the idea of people safely, thoughtfully, supporting these businesses (I’ll be back when it’s safe to travel, too!)
When I’m visiting cities with “iconic” breweries it’s always a battle – to visit the classic brewery, or not to visit? In the case of Pilsner Urquell I went. In the case of Duvel Moortgat I haven’t been…yet! If you’re visiting London and are questioning a tour of, or just a visit to Fuller’s, my answer would be a resounding yes!
Touring Fuller’s Brewery in Chiswick
When it comes to a brewery tour scoring anything above average, it needs to go beyond the steps of the brewing process to teach you something you can only learn at that specific brewery. I think we’ve all heard the spiel at least a dozen times, “Brewer’s don’t make beer….yeast make beer!” And then you get to smell some really old hop pellets. At Fuller’s there’s a bit of cliche, you look in mash tuns and boil kettles. But you also learn about the antiquated technique of parti-gyle brewing. A method that has essentially disappeared from breweries other than Fuller’s. (Here’s a good podcast episode on the technique.) You also learn about the role Fuller’s has played in British society.
The brewery has been operating out of the same location since the 1800s and it’s fascinating to see where the modern equipment meets the antique equipment. There are still narrow passageways and cobblestones that would never exist in the shiny stainless steel breweries of today, but there are also autonomous robots that fill casks of London Pride whirring away along side some of the oldest relics.
As with all brewery tours under the Asahi Breweries group (yes, part of Fuller’s business was purchased by Asahi in 2019 allowing the historic brewery to continue to produce beer), there is a part of the tour with samples. You have around 15 minutes to try as many cask pours of the classic Fuller’s ales as you’d like, and if you’re really nice to your tour guide, they might even let you pull your own.
The Brewery Shop and On-Site Pub
Even if you can’t make it to an actual tour the shop and pub on the brewery campus are a fun stop (though I would only go out of my way if I was taking the tour). The pub is pour beers that are hard to find elsewhere in the city like Bengal Lancer IPA.
The shop has all kinds of vintage fullers and special brewery only releases – some bottles were priced in the hundreds of dollars! It’s definitely a paradise for a barleywine collector. Of course, there are also tons of trinkets with London Pride printed on them: scarves, playing cards, bottle openers. There is something of every size and price level if you need to bring gifts back to friends and family!
If you stop in for a pint in the pub, save room for another one at the Fuller’s location just a short walk away: The Dove Hammersmith.
The Dove Hammersmith
I’m not one to go out of my way for “world record” landmarks but when the ~World’s Smallest Bar Room~ is just a short walk down the water from the Fuller’s, my thought is, “why not?”.
The Dove is like the many Fuller’s pubs you’ll find all over London. Very clean tap lines and the same handful of standard beers but this pub has a tiny indoor space and a large back porch overlooking some boats on the water. There are pretty flowers out front and quiet relaxing views out back. The food is also very good – try the scotch eggs and the lemon tart if it’s in season!
If it’s a nice day and you’re visiting the Fuller’s Brewery or store its worth the short quiet walk to see a more quaint side of London.
We didn’t spend much tine in the *Guinness World Record* holding mini taproom because the sun was shining too beautifully off the water in the back. I can’t imagine how they crammed 27 (or does that sign say 29?!) people inside!
I found this pub to have more charm than many of the other Fuller’s locations around the city. It’s clear that the owners put their own special spin on it and it’s nice that it’s tucked in an area more akin to a neighborhood than the bustle of the city.