London's best craft beers and real ales

Who fancies a pint of Willie's Old Groyne?

You probably think that the world of real ale is all about middle-aged men with eccentric facial hair, jumbo corduroy trousers, leather waistcoats and a thinly veiled interest in pagan festivals and Morris Dancing. (Wow, you've given this a LOT of thought, obviously.)

Well in actual fact, real ale is now hugely championed by the hip and the trendy; and why wouldn't it be? Real ale is the perfect antidote to the chemically clean lagers of the continent and strives for taste and character above huge volume sales.

... and if it takes you a while to acquire the taste you can always extract some enjoyment in the bizarre beer names, such as Bishop's Finger, Village Idiot, Fox's Nob and Old Rosie.

So hunt out some of these pubs, sit back, soak in the atmosphere and maybe sup a pint of Willie's Old Groyne.

The Jolly Butcher
204 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7HU
Region: Stoke Newington
Nearest Station: Stoke Newington (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: This Stoke Newington pub has quietly been impressing with its range of craft ale and Belgian beers for a few years now. The Jolly Butchers excels with its Sunday roasts and yet even they are eclipsed by some of its beers. Try: Brew Dog Punk IPA.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
Mason & Taylor
51-55 Bethnal Green Road E1 6LA
Region: Shoreditch
Nearest Station: Bethnal Green (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Mason and Taylor is all about celebrating the hipper side of craft beer and with a location at the end of Redchurch Street, you can see why. Live bands support the wonderful array of beers in the fridges and on tap and although prices are fairly high, you’ll certainly remember a drink here. Try: Bristol Milk Stout from the Bristol Brewing Factory.

  • OUR REVIEW 5/10
The Rake
14 Winchester Walk SE1 9AG
Region: Southwark
Nearest Station: London Bridge (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Transformed from a greasy spoon into a specialty beer pub in 2006, The Rake is established as one of London’s best for unusual ale. There are seven keg pumps and three real ales on at all times and best of all, none are permanent so as well as the 130 beers in the fridges the draught will surprise you every time. Try: Brooklyn India Pale Ale.

  • OUR REVIEW 8/10
  • USERS 9/10
Craft Beer Co
82 Leather Lane EC1N 7TR
Region: Farringdon
Nearest Station: Chancery Lane (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: The Craft Beer Co. may be a relative newcomer to the London craft beer scene but it arrives like a big beer bully pummeling challengers to the ground. The largest selection of craft keg beer in the UK (they call themselves a never ending beer festival), 16 cask ales and over 300 bottles. Just don’t attempt to try too many at once. Try: An extremely random guest ale.

    Euston Tap
    190 Euston Road NW1 2BN
    Region: Regent's Park
    Nearest Station: Euston Square

    AIL Says: With a façade fitting of what lurks on the shelves of the fridges and in the cellar below, The Euston Tap is a fine pub. There are eight rotating cask ales, 20 keg beers and over 100 bottled beers. Forget about the wacky and disregard affiliated breweries, The Euston Tap is simply about delivering the best in craft to London. Try: Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10
    The White Horse
    1-3 Parsons Green SW6 4UL
    Region: Fulham
    Nearest Station: Parsons Green (0.1 miles)

    AIL Says: The Parson’s Green stalwart offers craft to the West of London by the fridge load. The White Horse is a convivial kind of place that just so happens to be one of the most highly regarded beer pubs in the UK. Try: Westmalle Tripel.

    • USERS 2/10
    The Draft House
    94 Northcote Road SW11 6QW
    Region: Battersea
    Nearest Station: Clapham Junction (0.5 miles)

    AIL Says: With three locations in London and all of them dedicated to storing and serving beer and ale in the correct way, each Draft House pub is a must for aficionados out there. There are over fifteen draught beers on tap and a mammoth collection of bottles from Europe, the Americas and the Southern Hemisphere in each location. Try: The Moosehead Pale Ale.

    Camden Town Brewery
    55 - 59 Wilkin Street Mews NW5 3NN
    Region: Camden
    Nearest Station: Kentish Town West

    AIL Says: The Camden Town Brewery has added a bar to their slick operation and not just that – Big Apple Hot Dogs too! Anybody with a penchant for pork in buns and craft beer will find a kind of paradise at 55 Wilkin Street Mews. Try: Camden Hells Lager.

    • OUR REVIEW 9/10
    The Old Brewery
    Old Royal Naval College SE10 9LW
    Region: Greenwich
    Nearest Station: Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich (0.1 miles)

    AIL Says: When it comes to grand venues, they don’t come much more regal than the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. The microbrewery on site delivers fresh brews and there is a carefully curated list of classic craft winners to go with them. Just a beer bottle’s throw from the Cutty Sark (don’t actually throw any bottles, that’s dangerous) it’s like a day out – with craft beer. Try: Meantime Helles.

    • USERS 7/10
    London Fields Brewery
    370 Helmsley Place E8 3RR
    Region: Hackney
    Nearest Station: London Fields (0.2 miles)

    AIL Says: Established in 2011, the London Fields Brewery is one of the city’s youngest microbreweries. This may not be a bar per se, but watch out for their Saturday events – often weekly - for the chance to sample their newest brews. Try: Love Not War (first brewed when barricaded in during the 2011 riots!)

    • OUR REVIEW 8/10

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