London's best craft beer bars and pubs

The watering holes with the best selection of US-style craft beers from breweries both near and far

Craft beer – interesting, progressive beers made by small-scale breweries, and distinct from real ale – is often explosively hoppy and quite unlike traditional British beer. An increasing number of London bars and pubs are specialising in them. Here's our pick.

Do you have a favourite bar that serves brilliant craft beer? Let us know about it – leave a comment below.

Craft beer in central London

Cask

The Cask claims to stock Britain's biggest selection of bottled beer – a staggering 400, in fact – and it's no slouch on the draught front either, with ten cask and 15 keg options. As well as some of the best brews from Germany, Holland and Belgium, you'll find many rare beers from the USA. To eat, there are Forty Burgers, and roasts on Sundays.

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Pimlico

Craft Beer Company

A whopping 37 beers are served on draught here, and the owners work directly with microbreweries to snag some rare and unusual tipples. The USA and Belgium are well represented in the selection of bottles. Look out for exclusive imported beers you won't see anywhere else in London. There are branches in Brixton, Clapham and Islington.

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Farringdon

Draft House

Eclectic beers and pub-style food are clearly proving a good formula for the Draft House mini-chain – currently, it has five branches. Smaller than its older siblings, this pub is more about supping pints (or thirds of pints if you want to vary your drinking) than sitting down to a relaxed meal. Among ten or so fine draught brews you'll find the likes of Camden Pale Ale and Sambrook's Wandle, as well as around 20 bottled beers, including Schneider Weisse, Thornbridge Wild Swan and powerful Duvel Tripel Hop. The other branches are in the City, behind London Bridge, on Northcote Road and near Battersea Park.

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Fitzrovia

Euston Tap

Far more than a pre- or post-train pint stop, the Tap has eight beers on cask, 20 by the keg and a further 150 in bottle. The constantly changing selection is an international one, taking in Rogue (Oregon), Nogne O (Denmark) and Magic Rock (Huddersfield).

 

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Euston

Holborn Whippet

This place has a cracking beer selection and an unusual one, in that it's draught only, no bottles. You'll find a constantly rotating selection of around 16 beers and ciders, from such breweries as Kernel, Siren and Redwell from the UK, and Konig, Rothaus and Bitburger from Germany.

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Midtown

Old Red Cow

This historic Smithfield pub offers a regularly changing selection of craft beers and real ales; London faves Kernel and Redchurch are well represented, and there are also brews from Belgium, Germany and Scotland (the fabulous devil-black porter, Ola Dubh). There's a carefully curated, if small, selection of bottled beer too, and great Sunday roasts.

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Smithfield

Craft beer in north London

Camden Town Brewery Bar

Camden Town Brewery's fabulous beers are widely available in London's better pubs, but if you want to go straight to the source, head to its railway arch premises – Thursday to Saturday only, though. There are brewery tours at 6pm on Thursdays.

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Kentish Town

Duke's Brew & Que

This De Beauvoir pub has Hackney's Beavertown brews behind the bar, along with British bottled beers from Kernel, Meantime, Beaumonts and Harviestoun. The US is represented by the likes of Flying Dog and Bear Republic, and there are 15 or so more from further afield.

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London

Earl of Essex

Check the daily updated beer board to see the list of 18 cask and keg beers offered at this nicely refurbished Islington local. It could be something from the likes of By the Horns (Wimbledon), Tiny Rebel (Wales), Brewster's (Lincolnshire) or the pub's very own Earls brewery.

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Islington

Hops & Glory

This is a handsome Victorian boozer, all maroon tiles and buffed-leather sofas. Currently, there are 20 keg and cask beers available from the likes of Weird Beard and Brooklyn breweries, plus 80 or so in bottles. London brews (Beavertown, Camden, Redemption) get a good look-in, and the pub's own brewery should be up and running by spring 2014.

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London

Jolly Butchers

This no-nonsense Stokey boozer is known primarily for its real ales and ciders, but there is also solid representation on tap and in the fridges from local microbreweries like Kernel, Camden and Pressure Drop, and other progressive British producers such as Thornbridge and Brewdog. The 80-plus bottled options cover Europe and the US, including 25 alone from the UK.

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London

North Pole

Real ale, craft beer and US-inspired food make a strong trio at North Pole. There's a constantly changing choice of seven real ales and three ciders on tap, from such breweries as Arbor, Thornbridge and Pressure Drop. Choosing is made harder by the 12 beers on keg (Wild Beer, Burning Sky, Titanic, perhaps) and a globe-trotting array of bottled beers.

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Islington

Pig & Butcher

You'll find more than 45 bottled craft beers here, covering the UK, Belgium, Germany and the States – many from small producers, and including a notably good range of pale ales. Good food too.

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Islington

Railway Tavern

Critics' choice

A very friendly neighbourhood pub on the Islington/Dalston borders that delights locals with a changing range of craft and real ales on draught. There's always a Brewdog, and Redemption, Purity and Meantime get a look in too.

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Dalston

Southampton Arms

Critics' choice

Lovers of traditional pubs who expect a thoughtful beer list to pick through cite the Southampton Arms as a perfect model. Everything on draught comes from small, dedicated and independent UK brewers such as Marble from Manchester, Fyne in Scotland and Slater's in Stafford.

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London

Craft beer in south London

Craft Beer Company

The fabulous Craft Beer Company mini-chain specialises in the more offbeat offerings from small, unusual, mostly British breweries. At this Clapham branch – there are also outlets in Brixton, Islington and Farringdon – you'll find around 30 beers on tap (ten cask, 20 keg), all carefully tended by enthusiastic staff. There's a sterling array of 120 exotic bottles too, and the burgers are pretty decent.

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Clapham

Crown & Anchor

At this Stockwell pub, run by the people behind the Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington, there are seven real ales from cask, and 14 keg beers and ciders. The breweries you'll see represented regularly are Redemption, Dark Star, Camden Town, BrewDog, Kernel and Five Points; bottles take a worldlier approach and include a fair few Belgians.

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London

Draft House

True to its name, the Draft House puts beer centre stage, taking provenance, cellaring and pouring seriously. The brews (from the likes of Camden, Meantime, Kernel and Duvel) are indeed impressive, and the option of one-third pint measures reinforces the spirit of discovery. There are other branches in the City, Fitzrovia, Battersea and near Tower Bridge.


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London

Old Brewery

Critics' choice

Brewer Alistair Hook and his team's own artisan beers feature strongly on the menu at this Greenwich bar and restaurant, as you'd expect, but there's plenty of outside choice too. The full Meantime range – including London lager and the more outlandish Strawberry and Chocolate varieties – are worth a visit on their own. The best of British, Belgian and beyond appear among the 50 or so craft beers served by the bottle.

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Greenwich

Powder Keg Diplomacy

An almost-over-the-top colonial theme might put off some serious drinkers, but a glance at the beer menu should dispel any doubts. The US, Australia and New Zealand are well represented alongside some little-seen British beers from the likes of the Bristol Beer Company. Alternatively, keep it very local and take your pick from London's Beavertown, Kernel or Redchurch breweries.

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London

Rake

Critics' choice

Seven kegs, three casks and 130 bottles: you wouldn't expect the owners of Borough Market's comprehensively stocked Utobeer stall to hold back when it came to their own diminutive bar. The bottles come from all over the world, with about 20 of the selection changing each week; the taps rotate on a daily basis.

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Bankside

Craft beer in east London

Brewdog

This Aberdeenshire brewery's first London branch is in Camden. Everything on offer at this second branch is a celebration of the endless drinking possibilities that arise when malt, water, yeast and hops come into contact, from the dark and spicy Alice Porter to the sharp and fruity Raspberry Revolver. The most popular brew, Punk IPA, has enough hops packed into it to dispel all memories of any brackish brown beer you might have tried and hated.

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Brick Lane

Crate Brewery

Not quite a stone's throw from the Olympic Park, perhaps more of a decent javelin pitch away, is this popular pizzeria-cum-microbrewery. There are Crate's own brews (Lager, Golden Ale, IPA, Best Bitter, Pale Ale and Stout) plus a changing selection of 15 or so craft beers, including plenty from the States. The cask and keg choice varies regularly too. We can vouch for the Middle Eastern lamb pizza.

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Olympic Park

Fox

This Dalston hangout has really upped its beer selection of late, and now boasts 22 draught pumps (the range changes daily but stalwarts include Camden, Kernel and Brooklyn breweries) alongside 170 bottled beers. Here, the emphasis is on the UK, US and Belgium, but let's face it, you'll never run out of something new and interesting to drink.

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London

Sebright Arms

With a regularly changing selection of around 15 draught and 30 bottled beers, the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green showcases all that's good about London microbreweries such as Redemption, London Fields, Redchurch, Sambrook's and Camden. They also serve cask ciders and perry, and have a great music programme. A fine example of a reborn East End pub.

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Haggerston

Well & Bucket

A lot of care has gone into renovating this long-closed pub near Brick Lane. The huge array of craft beers on offer includes about 18 on tap. The fine selection ranges from Kent’s Caveman Brewery Citra to Little Creatures from Western Australia. The dozen or so porters are chosen to match the oyster menu.

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Craft beer in west London

Brewdog

The characterful Aberdeenshire brewery brings its love of craft beer – there are 40 choices on tap, plus more in bottles – to this site just off Shepherd's Bush Green. There are also branches in Camden and Shoreditch.

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Shepherd's Bush

White Horse

Critics' choice

You'd be hard pushed to find a pub that treats beer with more reverence than the White Horse in Parsons Green. Numerous Camra awards recognise its dedication to real ale, but craft brews also are taken very seriously.

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Parsons Green

Comments

6 comments
Hannah G
Hannah G

The Cock Tavern on Mare St should be on here! With a craft beer selection & micro brewery downstairs (I know cause they'll show anyone who'll chat with them about beer) I don't understand how they aren't on this list?!  

Crafti Beet
Crafti Beet

Agree, surprised The Rake isn't on the list

Honky Tonk
Honky Tonk

LONDON'S FIRST EVER BEER TROLLEY TAKEOVER! Brand new venue Honky Tonk Clapham will host a trolley takeover with London’s first ever beer trolley on 21st November. The Trolley Takeover will be a craft beer and food matching master class, where the experts will come in and hi-jack the Honky Tonk Beer Trolley. Top beer sommelier, Phil Harding will host the evening, matching five different craft beers to a delicious five course-tasting menu of Honky Tonk classic dishes including the crab cakes with Fordham Wisteria Wheat, the Honky Tonk burger with Fordham Copperhead - Brooklyn Lager and glazed ribs with Fordham Ramshead. So if you think you know your malty brews to your fruity fusions come down to Honky Tonk Clapham and prove it. Trolley Takeover 21st November 7pm - 2am Tickets Available from: https://trolleytakeover.eventbrite.co.uk/

Honky Tonk
Honky Tonk

LONDON'S FIRST EVER BEER TROLLEY TAKEOVER! Brand new venue Honky Tonk Clapham will host a trolley takeover with London’s first ever beer trolley on 21st November. The Trolley Takeover will be a craft beer and food matching master class, where the experts will come in and hi-jack the Honky Tonk Beer Trolley. Top beer sommelier, Phil Harding will host the evening, matching five different craft beers to a delicious five course-tasting menu of Honky Tonk classic dishes including the crab cakes with Fordham Wisteria Wheat, the Honky Tonk burger with Fordham Copperhead - Brooklyn Lager and glazed ribs with Fordham Ramshead. So if you think you know your malty brews to your fruity fusions come down to Honky Tonk Clapham and prove it. Trolley Takeover 21st November 7pm - 2am Tickets Available from: https://trolleytakeover.eventbrite.co.uk/

Allison
Allison

Beer Mutiny: British Craft Beer Festival Wednesday 19th June - Sunday 23rd June Arch 402, 37 Cremer Street, London, E2 8HD http://www.TheCraftBeerSocialClub.co.uk Beer Mutiny is the only beer festival that fights the establishment – no more dull beer, we say! Taste a fantastic range of beers from ALL OVER the UK. Shatter the perception that UK Beer is boring, and be proud to drink British! All sessions include a selection of over 30 beers to choose from. Plus! An introduction to the science behind how we taste! You'll learn some fascinating facts about how you experience flavour and how you can improve your palate! Tickets: £15 per person for ten beers £20 per person for ten beers plus snacks http://www.TheCraftBeerSocialClub.co.uk

Michelle
Michelle

I'm surprised that The Rake near Borough Market isn't on the list!