Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Are Your Favorite London Pubs?

Let's give American beer mag readers the real ale experience. I want to know: Where are your favorite spots in London for drinking well-kept cask ale?

I've been there a few times on my own and have some ideas. But here's what I want from you: Imagine plucking an American extreme hophead beer geek off the street and showing them around London. Where would you take them for a proper brainwashing?

A few notes: You need not be local to respond, especially if you've visited and some place left a mark on you. No foreign beer bars, please — we're talking British cask ale. And feel free to argue vehemently amongst yourselves.


  1. Because cask is so perishable, you rarely find specialist pubs in the UK with cask choices running into double figures -- there's certainly no equivalent I can think of that matches the array of 50+ "draft taps" at some of the specialist US beer pubs. So you'll need to move around to get a rounded view.

    Personal favourites with a well-kept range: Wenlock Arms, N1, and, lovely place but with a smaller range, Dog & Bell SE8.

    White Horse, Parsons Green, also has a great range and well-kept and is considered a "must" but it's a tad too well-heeled for my taste and hardly a typical pub. Used to rate the Doric Arch at Euston station but it disappointed last time I was there and no longer does a regular mild.

    Some of the bigger Wetherspoons, for all their drawbacks, are great for their range of cask ale. Among these are the Crosse Keys EC3, one of the few city pubs open on Sats (Sat afternoon is a relaxing time to go) and the Coronet, N7.

    Check out Jeffo's Beer Blog at http://stonch.blogspot.com for a London beer map. The author also runs a nice pub, The Gunmakers, EC1, with a well-kept and well chosen few on cask.

  2. The Harp is a nice pub in a handy central location with a good mix of rock-solid house beers and interesting guest ales.

    The Victoria near Paddington Station is a multi-award-winning Fuller's pub and among the best places to try their beers.

  3. The Royal Oak, Tabard St is a must for the full Harveys range, and whilst you're there there's always the Market Porter up the road!

  4. Thanks for all the suggestions, guys, keep 'em coming. Some known classics there and also a few I wouldn't have guessed.

    I'm still hoping for more. Repeat votes are welcome, and disagreements are encouraged.

  5. Forgot to mention the Market Porter -- I echo Brian's recommendation on that. And yes, the Royal Oak, a great pub as well as offering the Harveys range -- someone should put a list together of recommended top "tied houses" (brewery-owned pubs) for each brewer thus represented in London.

    That area around London Bridge / Borough / Tower Bridge is rich pickings for a pub crawl -- there's also the Rake in Borough Market, which I didn't mention since although it does a couple of draught cask ales, is arguably strongest on imports, and a bit further along, Adnams showcase the Bridge House and a decent Wetherspoons, the Pommelers Rest, on the approach to Tower Bridge. The Charles Dickens in Union Street is also relatively near, and there's the galleried George Inn, off Borough High Street, and the Anchor, Bankside, a short walk upriver, neither particular standouts for a wide choice of real ale but both of great historic interest.

  6. Disagreements, eh? Well, I've not been to the Wenlock, but I'm told that while the beer is great and plentiful it's a horrible pub in an unpleasant part of town.

    And I'll add a nomination for the Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell, owned by the first-rate St Peter's Brewery. Closes at weekends, though.

  7. I'm new to quality London Pubs - but I recently really enjoyed The Harp, in Covent Garden - great beer, kept well, pleasant surroundings and staff. I enjoyed the Market Porter too, but it can get hectic in there.

  8. I recommend The Warwick Arms, Kensington. It's a good Fuller's pub, but the real highlight here is the seriously kick-ass Indian food.

  9. Pride of Spitalfields!
    Poll closed.

  10. Wenlock Arms
    Market Porter - The Rake - Royal Oak (Borough Station)
    The Dove Inn (Hammersmith)
    Bree Louise

  11. Cask and Glass, Victoria -- a Shepherd Neame pub. Perhaps one of the tiniest pubs I've ever been too, but easily one of the most memorable. Also, it turns out the Bishop's Finger tastes better than you'd imagine.

  12. Ye Olde Mitre is fantastic and is renowned for its beer quality. Closed on weekends
    The Coal Hole off near Embankment

    Bit further afield

    The Cape of Good Hope in Oxford