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The Best Places to Drink Cask Ale in London

Updated on

Beer in England is not warm and flat.

Misconceptions and outdated stereotypes still follow around cask ale to this day. The fact of the matter is, cask ale (or real ale) is absolutely delicious when properly cellared and served. It takes a savvy publican to ensure every pint is poured to perfection.

Here is our list of the 10 best places to drink a proper pint of ale in London, England:

Sutton Arms

16 Great Sutton St, London EC1V 0DH

Blending British pub tradition with modern craft beer bar gusto, Sutton Arms is a lively, unique, and amazing place to discover cask ale. They source the best British cask ales to serve from their 3 hand pulls. Along with the real ale, their keg list is second to none in the city.

Expect refined ales from some of England’s best craft breweries like Cloudwater, Thornbridge, and Anspach & Hobday. They’ll also highlight smaller, artisan ale producers like London’s own Macintosh Ales.

It’s important to know that there are a few pubs in London (and even in the same area) called some variation of “Sutton Arms”. This one – the best one – is located on Great Sutton St.

The Resting Hare

8, 11 Woburn Walk, Upper Woburn Pl, London WC1H 0JW
+44 20 3137 6434

Nestled among offices and residential buildings, The Resting Hare pours a delicious selection of real ale in a relaxed, airy space. Offering a rotating selection of 4 cask ales, they highlight small and artisan British real ale producers.

Stepping into The Resting Hare, you can expect perfectly conditioned real ale. Refreshingly chilled, spritzy, and creamy, this pub will turn anyone into a cask ale fanatic. Their knowledgeable bartenders will be happy to explain the ales and find exactly what you feel like drinking.

The Harp, Covent Garden

47 Chandos Pl, London WC2N 4HS

Across the south of England, Fuller’s owns and operates more than 380 pubs, inns, and hotels. These establishments are often historic and important locations that have been absorbed by Fuller’s over the years. Recently, Fuller’s sold the brewing arm of its company to massive brewing giant Asahi.

Because of these various corporate influences, there are certainly mixed opinions related to Fuller’s pubs. Whatever your stance, there is no denying that some of their pubs offer a fantastic drinking experience and serve great quality real ale.

The Harp, in Covent Garden, is located in one of London’s busiest neighborhoods. It’s a beautiful pub inside and out and a great place to have a pint and some food. They serve several real ale options from Fuller’s as well as various guests.

The Pembury Tavern

90 Amhurst Rd, London E8 1JH
+44 20 8986 8597

Proudly serving locals since 1856, The Pembury Tavern is a Hackney staple. A few years ago, the pub went through a refurbishment. They modernized the space and menu but kept its distinct charm.

They now work in partnership with London brewery Five Points Brewing. This collaboration means that The Pembury Tavern boasts a range of local craft beer, with 6 hand pulls pouring Five Points and other guests.

Five Points Brewing focuses on British brewing tradition but with a contemporary mindset. Their real ales are spectacular. Five Points Best, their best bitter, is one of the truest modern examples of this British pub classic. Lucky for us cask lovers, it’s always freshly available at The Pembury Tavern.

The Euston Tap

190 Euston Rd, London NW1 2EF
+44 20 3137 8837

Probably the most unique pub on our list, Euston Tap is located at the entrance of Euston station. The pub is stretched across two small stone lodge buildings. Each building serves a different selection of cask and keg beer with plenty of outdoor seating.

You can freely pass between the two buildings (just be careful crossing the road), sampling their delicious selection of real ales. Euston Tap is related to The Resting Hare, so you can expect a top-quality selection of hand pulls, served with care and precision.

Southampton Arms

139 Highgate Rd, London NW5 1LE
+44 7375 755539

Cozy, no-nonsense, and dedicated to serving amazing beer, Southampton Arms is a must-stop for real ale lovers. It just might win over the skeptical, as well.

Eight hand pulls, plus more for cask cider, take you on a journey of diverse flavors. Whether classic bitters, pale ales, IPAs, or stouts, Southampton Arms work with only the finest breweries. Take your time enjoying their small but charming space while sipping a perfectly conditioned pint.

Cask Pub & Kitchen

6 Charlwood St, Lillington and Longmoore Gardens, London SW1V 2EE
+44 20 7630 7225

As its name might suggest, Cask Pub & Kitchen is an excellent place to sample cask ale. Since 2009, they’ve been a staple in Pimlico, dedicated to preserving cask ale in an evolving craft beer world.

10 hand pulls adorn their bar, pouring a mix of incredible British craft cask beer. You’ll find cask ales from popular craft breweries like The Kernel and Cloudwater as well as smaller, up-and-coming breweries. They also have a nicely curated list of keg beers as well as an extensive bottle menu.

The Craft Beer Co. Clerkenwell

82 Leather Ln, London EC1N 7TR
+44 20 7404 7049

The Craft Beer Co. is a small chain of beer bars across London started by the founder of Cask Pub & Kitchen. The first location opened in 2011 and now they offer 7 great places to drink. The original Clerkenwell pub is one of the best places to savor real ale in London.

With a selection of 16 hand pumps serving the very best British cask ale, there will surely be a beer to suit any taste. If you’re just starting on your cask ale journey, opt for one of their bitters. From there, you can work your way through their extensive list sampling your way around Britain.

The Cadogan Arms

298 King’s Road, Chelsea SW3 5UG
+44 20 3148 2630

If you’re lucky enough to be wandering through Chelsea and in need of a good pint, The Cadogan Arms should be your top choice. At first glance, this ornately decorated pub might seem overly posh. Fear not, the warm staff and jovial atmosphere will make anyone feel right at home.

Now, for the beer. They offer a rotating, curated selection of traditional English styles. Expect low-alcohol beers like a bitter, pale ale, and mild. The type of beer that goes perfectly with their tasty meals in both the pub side and dining room. For a quick lunch, grab a scotch egg and a pint of Tribute, a 4.2% ABV pale ale from Cornwall’s St Austell Brewery.

Tapping The Admiral

77 Castle Rd, London NW1 8SU
+44 20 7267 6118

Tapping the Admiral has relaxed and old-school pub vibes. All of their ales are kept with the highest of care and served perfectly conditioned. Definitely a top stop for craft beer lovers in the Camden area.

Stop by for one of their regular takeovers. You’ll be able to sample a range of cask ales from the highlighted invitee. At Tapping the Admiral, you know you’ll be drinking the freshest beer, just as the brewer intended. Oh, and be sure to say “Hi” to their pub cat, Nelson.