THE PUBS OF LONDON
This section is devoted to the best pubs in London…
There are well over 5,000 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.
About 20 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)
Discovery- ABV-3.9%. Tasteless golden beer. Proof Fullers can brew a bad beer!
Chiswick Bitter-ABV-3.5%.Light Session bitter- not a bad beer but overshadowed by London Pride and ESB.
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-Jack Frost, Summer Ale, Red Fox, London Porter, Mr Harry, 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
Other 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 micro breweries in London, most (22) have opened in the last 3 years. This makes life interesting for us London drinkers!
Brew Wharf, London SE1. Brew pub in Borough Market, started in 2005. Web site WWW.brewwharf.com
Brodie’s, London E10. A brew pub in Leyton at William IV which started brewing again in November 2008.
Camden Town Brewery, London NW5. A small micro started in August 2010. Web site http://www.camdentownbrewery.com/
Florence, London SE24. Brew pub in Herne Hill, started in 2007. Web site http://www.capitalpubcompany.com/the-florence/
Ha’penny, Aldborough Hatch, Essex. A small micro started in 2009. www.ha-penny-brewing.co,uk
Kernel, London SE16 A small micro started in August 2010. You can buy their bottled beers at the brewery, most Saturdays between 0900 and 1400 hours. See entry in South East section. Moved from SE1 to SE16 in April 2012. See web site http://www.thekernelbrewery.com/
Old Brewery, London SE10. Brew pub in Greenwich started up by the Meantime Brewery in March 2010. Web site http://www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com/
Redemption, London N17. Small micro brewing in Tottenham, started in January 2010. Web site http://www.redemptionbrewing.co.uk/blog/?page_id=2
Sambrooks, London SW11. Small micro brewing in Battersea, started in August 2008. Web site www.sambrooksbrewery.co.uk
Twickenham Fine Ales, Twickenham, Middlesex.. Brewery started in October 2004. Brewing two real ales at present. Web site http://www.twickenham-fine-ales.co.uk/
Zero Degrees, London SE3. Brew pub serving international beers, started in 2001, making it London’s oldest brew pub! See under entry in South East London section. Web site http://www.zerodegrees-microbrewery.co.uk/
LONDON BREWERIES WHICH HAVE OPENED SINCE 2011
This is great time for beer drinkers. 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 2010.
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
February 2016 1 pub in Greenford revisited
February 2016 1 pub in W1 ( Mayfair) revisited,1 pub in W1 ( Marylebone) revisited.
February 2016 Visit to Rome. See the Various Counties section.
March 2016 Visit to Cardiff. See the UK Towns and Cities part 2 section.
March 2016 6 pubs in SE10 ( Greenwich) revisited
March 2016 1 pub in Uxbridge revisited, 1 new pub in Uxbridge added, 1 pub in Ruislip Manor revisited.
March 2016 5 pubs in W1 ( Soho) revisited.
April 2016 1 pub in SE13 ( Lewisham) revisited, 3 new pubs in SE4 ( Brockley) added.
April 2016 1 pub in SE23 ( Forest Hill ) revisited.
April 2016 1 pub in EC2 ( City of London) revisited.
April 2016 2 new pubs in SE19 (Crystal Palace/Gipsy Hill) added.
April 2016 1 pub in SE1 ( Tower Bridge) revisited, 1 new pub in SE1 (Tower Bridge) added.
May 2016 2 new pubs in E9 (Hommerton/Hackney) added, 1 pub in E9 (Hommerton/Hackney) revisited.
May 2016 1 pub in N2 (East Finchley) revisited, 1 new pub in N12 ( North Finchley) added.
May 2016 Visit to Manchester. See the UK Towns and Cities part 2 section.
May 2016 1 new pub in N5 (Highbury) added, 1 pub in N7 ( Holloway) revisited.1 new pub in N4 ( Crouch Hill) added
May 2016 2 pubs in EC3 ( City of London) revisited.
June 2016 1 pub in Surbiton revisited, 1 new pub in Surbiton added, 3 pubs in Kingston-upon-Thames revisited.
June 2016 1 pub in N1 ( Kings Cross) revisited, 4 pubs in NW1 ( Euston) revisited.
June 2016 1 pub in WC1 ( Holborn) revisited.
July 2016 1 pub in SE1 ( Waterloo) revisited, 1 new pub in SE1 ( Waterloo) added.
July 2016 1 pub in Rayners Lane revisited.
July 2016 2 pubs in SW17 (Tooting) deleted, 1 new pub in SW17 added,1 new pub in SW17 added to the worth a try section, 1 pub in SW12 (Balham) revisited, 1 pub in SW1 ( Pimlico) revisited.
July 2016 4 pubs in Twickenham revisited, 1 new pub in Twickenham added to the worth a try section.
July 2016 1 pub in Hampton Wick revisited. 2 pubs in Teddington revisited, 1 new pub in Teddington added.
August 2016 2 pubs in Isleworth revisited, 2 pubs in SE1 ( Waterloo) revisited
August 2016 1 new pub in EC3 (City of London) added. 1 pub in EC4 (City of London) revisited.
August 2016 1 pub in NW6 ( West Hampstead) revisited, 1 pub in NW6 ( West Hampstead) added in worth a try. 1 pub in NW3 ( Hampstead) revisited, 1 pub in NW3 ( Hampstead) added in worth a try. 1 pub in NW5 ( Gospel Oak) revisited.
September 2016 1 pub in SW2 ( Streatham Hill) revisited.
September 2016 2 pubs in WC1 ( Holborn) revisited.
September 2016 4 days in Brussels ( see the Belgium café section). 1 day in Amsterdam ( see Amsterdam section)
October 2016 1 pub in Sutton revisited. 1 pub in SE24 ( Herne Hill) revisited. 1 new pub in SE24 ( Herne Hill) added.
October 2016 4 pubs revisited in E8 ( Hackney).
October 2016 5 pubs revisited and 1 new pub added to the worth a try section in Richmond.
November 2016 1 new pub added in N22 ( Wood Green), 1 new pub added in N10 ( Muswell Hill)
November 2016 2 pubs revisited and 2 new pubs added to the worth a try section in SW4 ( Clapham)
November 2016 day trip to Birmingham City Centre ( See UK Towns and Cities part 1)
December 2016 3 pubs revisited and 1 new pub added to the worth a try section in N1 ( Islington)
December 2016 2 pubs revisited in N16 ( Stoke Newington)
December 2016 1 pub revisited in NW1 ( Primrose Hill). 1 new pub added and 1 pub revisited in NW5 ( Kentish Town)
January 2017 4 pubs revisited in SE1 ( Borough)
January 2017 6 pubs revisited in N1( Islington), 1 pub revisited in EC1 ( Angel)
January 2017 1 new pub in Upminster added
January 2017 2 new pubs in SW6 ( Fulham) added, 1 pub revisited in SW6 ( Fulham)
February 2017 3 worth a try pubs revisited in SE1( Borough/Tower Bridge), 1 pub revisited and 1 pub added to the worth a try section in SE1 ( Tower Bridge).
Future planned visits.
Hayes, SE16 ( Rotherhithe), (SW5 Earls Court), E1 ( Wapping), E14 ( Limehouse)
Click on area you want below.