A visit to Kanpai, UK’s first sake brewery

Something I really love to eat is Japanese food, preferably in combination with a glass of sake, Japanese rice wine. I’m beginning to appreciate this drink more and more and slowly become acquainted with the different types. For people who aren’t so familiar with sake: it’s a drink that has been produced in Japan by fermentation of rice and water. Rice beer would therefore be a better name than rice wine, because the production process is more like beer than wine. The alcohol percentage is usually around 5 to 19%. There are various categories of sake, in which an important distinction is made between sake types to which alcohol is added or not. Sake can be drunk cold or warm. This depends on the type of sake and what the brewer wants to gain with his sake.

A visit to Kanpai in Peckham.

In recent years, the number of beer and gin breweries has multiplied. Where most started as a small hobby in their apartment room, they grew into a professional brewery with an adjacent shop and tap room. When you walk through the streets of London, you hardly get away from it, in almost every district you can find one. The one we haven’t seen so often, but probably will do more in the coming years, is the sake brewery. Last weekend we visited the first sake brewery in England: Kanpai in Peckham.

Tap room at Kanpai.

Located at Copeland Park, behind a graffiti-sprayed roller shutter, you’ll find this London sake walhalla by founders Tom and Lucy Wilson. After traveling for three years in Japan, they fell in love with the country, culture, food, and the secret of the sake. With the necessary inspiration, knowledge and previous experience with brewing beer, they returned to London where they started experimenting in their small apartment to prepare their own sake. People around them reacted so positively that they decided to continue. Meanwhile they own a professional brewery from where their sake is successfully delivered to various specialized wine shops and catering in the UK.

Tap room drinks.

On Friday and Saturday the tap room is open for public where you can go for a tasting and a traditional bowl of ramen. If you would like to see more of the brew process, or want to brew some sake yourself than you can book a 1 hour tour + tasting or join the Sake brewing experience.

Selection of different sake bottles from Japan.

Kanpai strives to produce fresh seasonal varieties, which they can adapt to the taste of the people (also with sparkling and fruit versions). In addition, Kanpai’s interest is completely natural, vegan, sulphite-free, gluten-free and contains no additives or preservatives. The sake of Kanpai tends to be dry and their flavors are somewhat more robust than some of their Japanese counterparts. Characteristic is also the bottle label where a silhouette of the London skyline can be seen with a blood-red, rising Japanese sun behind it.

Of course we wanted to try out this ‘London Sake‘, as they call it by themselves, so we chose for a little tasting with all the variants they currently offer.

There is no doubt that sake is a versatile drink, it can be drunk cold and hot, but can also be mixed in cocktails. Therefore Kanpai hopes to attract a wider audience and to grow into a larger brewery with a tapping room, in the style of a relaxed Izakaya, where sake is offered by the glass. A new culinary experience in London style where this Japanese drink is not only excellent with sushi and ramen, but also can be drunk with a Sunday Roast. – Something I definitely would like to try.

For more information about this special Sake brewery in Peckham, I would like to refer you to their website.


Venue Type

Suitable for ages
Children (under guidance of a parent/carer), Adults

Brewery – food and drink – toilets 

Address & Contact
Unit 2A.2 Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Road, Peckham, London SE15 3SN
For more information about Kanpai, click here

Opening times Tap Room
Fri: 5pm till 10pm
Sat: 12pm till 10pm

– Admission to the tap room is free
– A sake brewery tour + tasting: £25
– Full day brew course: £250 (lunch + tasting included)
– Group brew course: £500 (max. 5 persons, lunch + tasting included)

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