THE PUBS OF LONDON
This section is devoted to the best pubs in London…
There are well over 3,500 pubs in Greater London. Despite the efforts of the big pub chains to clone their pubs into looking the same, so they are a little like going into a Macdonalds (bland and not very memorable) there are still a lot of good pubs with character left in London. In our opinion, we will recommend you to the best 300 pubs in London. As London is a big city, there are some areas that are stronger than others but we are working on it! All opinions are those of the authors when we have visited the pubs some recent, and some not so recent. As we are going for the top pubs most of the reviews are favourable, but we call it as we see it.
Why Real Ale?
Our favourite type of beer is real ale. This is a handpump beer served with no pressure. It’s a living beer which, while not hard to look after, does take a lot of time and effort to serve just right. If a landlord takes the time to serve good beer the chances are he will look after the rest of the pub as well. In our opinion, the best beer in the world is well kept real ale, but on the other side of the coin, the worst beer in the world is badly kept real ale. Which is why people tend to play it safe and drink bland pressure beer. If you get served a bad pint take it back. Most landlords are okay about that; after all why should you get gut rot just to keep them happy.
If you look at the draught beer taps in most London pubs you will see international lagers from all over the world. These beers are mostly brewed in the UK by British brewers under licence and usually taste nothing like they do in their homeland. We are big fans of authentic lager, especially from Germany and the Czech Republic. If a pub stocks any interesting overseas beers we will mention it.
While I am a real ale drinker, I appreciate other beers which are not. I love Belgian bottled beers and authentic Franconia Bavarian lagers and Czech pilsners. So just because a beer is not real ale it does not make it a bad beer.
Real ale’s problem is that when served in the right condition it is a good beer; when it is not it is a bad beer. Most regular drinkers drink mainstream keg and lager beer (despite being gassy), because they know where they stand with it. Which is where craft beer comes in; not as gassy as mainstream beer ( hopefully), but without the faults of badly-served real ale. No problem with that; but craft beer seems to be an excuse to sell expensive beer. In the Pelt Trader in London EC4, a pint of Mahrs Keller beer from Bamberg, Germany (a rare and excellent beer to find in London) was £5.80 a pint, where as a pint of Kernel Pale Ale, brewed a few miles from the pub, was £6 a pint. Which in my opinion sums up craft beer prices. The excuses of being a well-made premium product does not wash, as most London micros which do real ale and craft beer sell their real ale at a cheaper price; also these breweries pay a lot less beer duty. Whilst I have nothing against craft beer and it introducing new drinkers to a new drinking world, I do against their prices.
About 35 years ago most pubs in London and the UK were owned by the brewers as a way of guaranteeing outlets to sell their beer. The stock market over recent years now thinks there is more money in owning pubs than in brewing beer. Most of the big brewing companies have got out of brewing, and set up their own pub chains, letting other people brew their beer brands.
In London there is one independent family brewery that still brews and sells their beers in their own pubs. Fullers own over 350 pubs each in London and the South East, and serve their beers the traditional way.
Griffin Brewery, Chiswick Lane South, Chiswick, London W4 2QB. Tel 0208-996 2000. Web site www.fullers.co.uk
Founded in 1845, brewing excellent award winning beers. London is lucky to have such a world class brewery, in the city. Fullers do brewery tours. Just ring the number above. As they do tours every hour they should be able to fit you in. Tours cost £5, but you get drinks at the end of them. In my personal opinion Fullers beers taste better in their own pubs than in the free trade.
Beers (ABV = Alcohol by Volume)
Oliver’s Island- ABV-3.9%. Tasteless golden beer. Proof Fullers can brew a bad beer, and have not learned their lesson from Discovery which was a similar beer !
London Pride-ABV-4.1%. Outstanding best bitter- one of the best beers in the UK.
ESB-ABV-5.5%. ESB stands for extra special bitter- well named. It is maybe a little too strong to drink all night but a great beer.
Seasonal beers-Chiswick Bitter, Jack Frost, Summer Ale, Red Fox, London Porter, Bengal Lancer IPA and Old Winter Ale..
Bottled beers-1845 Celebration Ale. ABV-6.3%. Brew for Fullers 150th anniversary is now a regular bottle conditioned beer. A great bottled beer.
Golden Pride-ABV-8.5%. Strong barley wine which is occasionally found on draught at Christmas time.
In November 2005 Fullers purchased Gales of Horndean. Gales were a family run brewery with 111 tied houses in the Portsmouth and Hampshire area. The brewery was closed in March 2006 and the brewing of Gales beer was transfer to Chiswick.
Meantime, London SE7. . Mail order brewery doing own label brews. Now owns a pub in Greenwich, London SE10 see under entry in South East London section. Now brewing cask beer for the pub market. Second biggest brewery in London after Fullers. Web site www.meantimebrewing.com
London brew pubs and micros breweries
In recent years there has been a brewing revolution going on in the London brewing scene. In 2012 there are over 30 brew pubs and microbreweries in London, most (22) have opened in the last 3 years. Now in 2017, there are almost 100 microbreweries or brew pubs. This is great time to be beer drinker in London. It is a little hard to keep up with what is happening. For new London breweries visit these sites.
http://www.londonbeerguide.com/breweries.php. Online guide seems to be updated site.
http://desdemoor.co.uk/london/brewers-and-beers/ Des de Moor site has breweries which are in the planning stage.
EX LONDON BREWERIES
In 2006 Young’s stopped brewing in Wandsworth and transfer brewing to family brewer Charles Wells in Bedford. This no longer makes them a London brewer. The new company is called Wells and Young’s. In my opinion I find this the perfect marriage as Wells beers are just bland as Young’s beers.
The Ram Brewery, High Street, Wandsworth, London SW18 4JD.Web site http://www.youngs.co.uk/
Family Brewery founded in 1831. While Young's have the right credentials for brewing real ale, I am not a great fan of their regular beers. Real ale is often a matter of personal taste; after all Young's would not be in business if every one had my opinion of their beers. When served in good condition Young's beer is drinkable.
As if to prove my point. Young's have changed the recipe to Young's Special in June 2003, making it lighter in taste and reducing the ABV by 0.1. If it was such a great beer why changed it?
Young's have some nice pubs-I have over 20 in the guide. There might have been even more, but for their obsession with turning some of their better traditional pubs into café style bars. Some good examples of this are the Duke of Cumberland in Parsons Green and Finchs in the Fulham Road SW10
Young's Bitter- (ABV-3.7%) Use to be called ordinary bitter which I thought was a apt name.
Young's Special Bitter-(ABV-4.6%) Not much better than the bitter but a bit more taste
Seasonal beers-Kew Gold (ABV 4.0%) Summer beer available in July and August. Winter Warmer ( ABV 5%)-Excellent dark Winter beer .
Bottle beers- Double chocolate stout-ABV 5.0%. Special London Ale-ABV 6.4%
Other ex London breweries
Guinness, Park Royal Brewery, London NW10 .The Guinness that’s on draught in London use to comes from here not Dublin. The brewery closed in the summer of 2005. All Guinness now comes from Dublin.
Pitfield, London N1. A beer shop which brews its own beers. In 2006 moved to Essex. Web site www.pitfieldbeershop.co.uk
Stag Brewery. This is where the infamous Budweiser is brewed in the UK. Ex-Watney brewery where Watneys' infamous Red Barrel was brewed. The jury is still out on whether this is a step backwards or forwards for the brewery! Closing in 2015.
Bunker Bar, London, WC2. Ex brew pub brewing lager.
As well as Fullers and Young's there are independent regional brewers outside of London who also own pubs in the Greater London area. Some like Greene King, Mcmullen, Samuel Smith, (sadly not all outlets real ale) and Shepherd Neame own up to ten or more pubs. Others like Adnams, Gales, Hop Back and Harveys own the odd one or two. Either way it makes for varied drinking in the great metropolis than is London.
Maybe I should say lack of them. In this guide we are only interested in reviewing pubs. If you need any more information about a pub, we have tried to provide a phone number for you to ring and Google map for the location. Beers mention were the beers on draught at the time of visit.
As from July 2007 all pubs in the UK are non-smoking.
As well as John and Stuart there are guest reviews from Sue the Mouse, telling us about authentic lagers, cheese and plants! And also saying things like 'this is a mouse-like pub'.
Worth a try
All the entries are my choice; some pubs get every close to being included. Some tough decisions have to be made. The worth a try section are pubs which just missed out, but are worth a visit especially if you are in the area and want to do a extra pub or two.
Total number of pubs in each area.
City of London 24 pubs
West End 28 pubs
Westminster 13 pubs
East London 38 pubs
North London 41 pubs
South East London 50 pubs
South West London 35 pubs
West London 38 Pubs
Total number of pubs 267
April 2017 day trip to Oxford ( See UK Towns and Cities Part 1)
April 2017 day trip to Oxford ( See UK Towns and Cities Part 1)
April 2017 1 pub in Hartlington revisited.
April 2017 1 pub in W2 ( Paddington) revisited, 2 pubs in W8 ( Kensington) revisited, 1 pub W11 ( Notting Hill) revisited.
May 2017 day trip to Oxford ( See UK Towns and Cities Part 1)
May 2017 4 day trip to Bruges and Ghent ( see the Belgium café section).
May 2017 3 pubs in W6 (Hammersmith) revisited.
June 2017 day trip to High Wycombe.
June 2017 2 pubs in W3 ( Acton) revisited, 2 pubs in W4 ( Chiswick) revisited
June 2017 1 new pub in Gidea Park added, 1 new pub in Chadwell Heath added.
July 2017 1 pub in E2 ( Bethnal Green) revisited, 2 pubs in E1 ( Spitalfields) revisited, 1 pub in EC2 ( City of London) revisited.
July 2017 2 pubs in SW1 ( St James) revisited, 1 pub in SW1 ( Belgravia) revisited.
July 2017 3 pubs in EC1 ( Clerkenwell) revisited.
August 2017 4 days in Cambridge ( See UK Towns and Cities Part 1)
August 2017 2 pubs revisited in SW1 ( Pimlico). 1 pub in SW1 ( Pimlico) deleted.
August 2017 3 pubs in Barnet revisited
August 2017 3 pubs in E3 ( Bow) revisited, 1 new pub in E3 ( Bow) added
September 2017 1 pub in E1 ( Whitechapel) deleted, 1 pub in E2 ( Bethnal Green) revisited.
September 2017 2 pubs in NW5 ( Gospel Oak) revisited. 3 pubs in N6 ( Highgate) revisited
September 2017 2 pubs in W5 ( Ealing ) revisited.
September 2017 N17 ( Tottenham) brewery tap tour, no new enrtys.
October 2017 W9 ( Maida Vale) 1 pub revisited and 1 pub deleted.
October 2017 visited, Looe, Polperro and Bodmin in Cornwall.
October 2017 1 pub revisited in WC2 ( Temple), 4 pubs in EC4 ( City of London ) revisited.
October 2017 1 pub revisited in WC2 ( Convent Garden), 4 pubs revisited in WC1 ( Holborn)
October 2017 3 pubs revisited in E14 ( Canary Wharf)
November 2017 2 days in Amsterdam ( see Amsterdam section)
November 2017 1 day in Dusseldorf ( see Germany section)
November 2017 1 new pub in N13 ( Palmers Green) added, 1 new pub in N21 ( Winchmore Hill) added.
November 2017 2 pubs revisited WC1 ( Holborn)
November 2017 3 pubs in revisited E17 ( Walthamstow), 1 new pub in E17 ( Walthamstow) added
December 2017 1 new pub in NW5 ( Kentish Town) added.
December 2017 1 pub revisited in W2 ( Westbourne Park), 1 pub revisited in W9 ( Maida Vale)
December 2017 1 pub in SW17 ( Tooting) revisited, 1 pub in SW12 ( Balham) revisited
January 2018 4 pubs in W1 ( Fitzrovia and Marylebone) revisited
January 2018 2 pubs in WC1 ( Holborn) revisited, 1 pub in WC2 ( Temple) revisited
January 2018 5 pubs in W1 ( Soho) revisited, 1 pub in NW1 ( Euston) revisited.
January 2018 5 pubs in WC2 ( Covent Garden) revisited, 1 pub in WC1 ( Holborn )
February 2018 4 pubs in WC2 ( Covent Garden) revisited
February 2018 2 pubs in EC3 ( City of London) revisited. 1 pub in E1 ( Wapping) revisited
February 218 3 Pubs in E11 ( Wanstead and Leytonstone) revisited, 1 new pub in E11 added, 2 pubs in E10 (Leyton) revisited. 1 pub in E10 deleted.
February 2018 1 pub in Woodford Green revisited, 1 pub in E4 (Chingford) revisited, 2 pubs in E5 ( Clapton) revisited.
March 2018 3 days in Belfast (see UK towns and Cities part 2 section) plus a day trip to Dublin ( See rest of the world section)
March 2018 4 pubs in EC3 ( City of London) revisited, 1 pub in EC2 ( City of London) revisited.
March 2018 2 new pubs in Richmond added.
March 2018 4 pubs in EC4 ( City of London) revisited, 1 pub in EC3 ( City of London) revisited.
March 2018 1 new pub in Sidcup added, 1 new pub in Sidcup in the worth a try.
April 2018 3 pubs in E9 ( Hackney Wick) revisited, 1 new pub in E9 ( Hackney Wick) added.
April 2018 1 pub in SW17 ( Tooting) revisited, 1 pub in SW8 ( Stockwell) revisited.
Future planned visits.
SW11 ( Clapham), SW18 ( Wandsworth), SW15 ( Putney)
Brighton in May 2018
Click on area you want below.