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There are times in life when you know you are ‘lucky’, such as winning the lottery or sharing a hotel pool in Bangkok with all the ‘Miss Asia’ contestants (a true story). The fact that I live in West London within walking distance of one of London’s finest and most historic breweries, Fullers, could also be construed as lucky. Better still, they also offer brewery tours which culminate in a visit to their very own brewery bar, with a treasure trove of beers and lagers to try.
The tour starts off in the newly refurbished and refitted brewery shop (although note this used to start in the nearby Mawson Arms, also owned by Fullers – our admission ticket said this still was the starting point so do ask a member of staff if you aren’t sure).
The brewery shop has lots of bottled goodies to buy as well as branded merchandise and your very own opportunity to refill your own ‘growler’ (I’m not sure whether this is the proper term to use in polite British brewing society – it is just the phrase they used when I visited a brewery in New Zealand).
From the very onset of the tour, you definitely sense the history all around you – in particular, the guide draws attention to the historic wisteria in their compound, supposedly the oldest in England (another fine example of this can be found in nearby Fulham Palace, approx. a one hour work along the Thames Path from the Fullers Brewery).
After donning a high vis jacket (fluorescent, so very on trend – nice!), we explore the museum and watch a short video presented by one of the founding family members, before seeing an epic map of all the pubs owned and managed by Fullers (living in West London, we have lots of nice Fullers pub on our doorstep, including The Dove, a historic pub located on the banks of the Thames which we visited after the brewery tour and reputably where ‘Rule, Britannia was written’ by James Thompson).
We then got to walk around the brewing section (big tanks ahoy) and factory floor (although we visited on a Saturday so none of the machinery was being used or brewing staff at work). If you want to see the ‘action’, it is best to take tour on a weekday.
One of my personal highlights was seeing the brewer’s handwritten notebooks from over 100 years ago.
One of the most interesting facts which was imparted to us whilst walking through their array of vehicles (each with their own ‘FST’ – Fuller, Smith & Turner – private registration plates) was the deal they have in place with the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company from the USA – they ship all their wares over to the UK for Fullers to distribute, the bottles are then washed, refilled with Fuller’s goodness, and shipped back to the States, ready for the American market to indulge in their very own ‘West London Wonder’.
At the end of the tour, we were then treated to a trip to the brewery bar, where we were allowed to choose what we wanted to drink, with free reign of the bar (served and poured by our tour guide) for approx. 30 mins or so. There were lots of choices on tap (the Black Cab Stout and Frontier lager are particularly good), with some new additions (for instance Fullers recently acquired Darkstar so one of the taps had this). This was a nice end to a great tour and one which I plan to do again – cheers!
Bonus tip – after your tour, head back to the brewery shop to stock up on on whatever you liked most from the bar – they have a fridge / chiller full of bottles. Or head to the Mawson Arms (the brewery pub where staff meet one Friday every month for 2 hours of free beer). Just to note that if you are doing a tour on Saturday, the pub stops serving food at 5pm.
After your brewery tour, head outside and turn right and continue your walk along the Thames Path – turn left when you hit the Thames and you’ll find several other pubs and bars overlooking the Thames within a ten minute walk including the Old Ship (Young’s), the Black Lion and the Blue Boy. If you still have a taste for Fuller’s finest, head under Hammersmith Bridge and the first pub you’ll see on the Thames Path (near to the new Riverside Studios) is the Blue Boat, another new-ish Fuller’s pub.
The tour costs £20 and you can book online on the Fuller’s website.
More London and beer related blog posts
- Visiting the Village of ‘Beer’ in Devon, UK
- Visiting the Monteith’s brewery in Greymouth
- Emerson’s and Speight’s brewery tours in Dunedin, New Zealand
- The Best Brewery tours in New Zealand’s South Island
- Top things to do in Walthamstow, London
Words by Neil Hassall. Photography by Neil Hassall and Caroline Keyzor.
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