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

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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 north London

Camden Town Brewery Bar

  • Rated as: 3/5

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.

  1. 55-59 Wilkin Street Mews, NW5 3NN
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Duke's Brew & Que

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. 33 Downham Rd, N1 5AA
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Earl of Essex

  • Rated as: 4/5

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.

  1. 25 Danbury St, N1 8LE
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Hops & Glory

  • Rated as: 4/5

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.

  1. 382 Essex Rd, N1 3PF
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Jolly Butchers

  • Rated as: 3/5

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.

  1. 204 Stoke Newington High St, N16 7HU
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North Pole

  • Rated as: 2/5

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.

  1. 188 New North Rd, N1 7BJ
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Pig & Butcher

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. 80 Liverpool Rd, N1 0QD
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Railway Tavern

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • 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.

  1. 2 St Jude St, N16 8JT
More info

Southampton Arms

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • 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.

  1. 139 Highgate Rd, NW5 1LE
More info


Users say

5 comments
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!