Good beer and real ale

Thankfully, there are a lot of pubs selling great real ales nowadays, but a handful take that passion a stage further. If you're looking for something just that little bit more special, here are our recommendations.

Our list of favourite pubs offering great real ales
Jolly Butchers, London
Formerly the roughest pub in N16, with a late licence that attracted the local waifs and strays, this poor old pub has reverted to its former name under the same ownership as the Rose and Crown up the road. The transformation couldn't be more complete. Now described as an 'Ale and Cider' house,...
The Dovetail Bar, London
Like its sister pub, the Dove in Broadway Market, Hackney, the Dovetail Bar specialises in things Belgian - strong beer beer, moules frites etc, plus more esoteric Continental stuff such as Genevers and the like. While typical English pub fare (burgers and lagers) is available, the more curious...
Priory Arms, London
Just as the Wenlock Arms is the real ale mecca in north London here's its equivalent south of the river. Going by the beer mats plastered round the pub they've had more ales guesting here than you'll probably taste in your...
Bricklayers Arms, London
When we previously looked in on this place we took its choice of Timothy Taylor beers as a sign that this was a regular thing. So when we turned up this week expecting to see pints of Landlord and their other wares on sale we were rather surprised that there was no TT to be seen. Instead, and...
Lower Red Lion, St. Albans
No music, no TV and a selection of eight real ales and ciders. No, this isn't another Wetherspoon, but instead a pub that's arguably up there as one of the beat in the South East. This is not only real ale heaven but a jolly fine pub too. Two bars, warped wooden beams, red velvet curtains and a...
The Blue Boar, Maldon
Now, given that it was one of Father Brown's hangouts, we wouldn't be the first people to think of (and raise a toast to) G.K. Chesterton every time we enter into a pub of...
Shipwrights Arms, Faversham
We've known and loved the Shipwright's arms for a long time, but for one reason or another we keep forgetting to write it up for our guide. We do occasionally get asked if we ever leave our particular favourites out, just to keep them to ourselves, but we don't - it's just simple forgetfulness...
Rising Sun, Sheffield
The Rising sun was taken over a few years ago by the Abbeydale Brewery - in fact it's currently the only pub they own - and what a transformation they accomplished. Rescuing the old pub from dingy obscurity, the new pub is a lesson in how to do a great real-ale pub in the 21st century. There are...
Sheffield Tap, Sheffield
Until now, we’d come to expect all station pubs to be pretty low down in the quality stakes, such was our bitter experience. Happily, however, the Sheffield Tap completely refutes that expectation. It’s a fantastic pub, housed in a careful, obsessive even, restoration of the elegant Edwardian...
Jerusalem Tavern, London
Fears about polycarbonate pints replacing glass ones are unfounded. The Jerusalem Tavern is, as it has been for many (award-winning) years, a haven for lovers of the excellent St Peter's beer. True, owing to its particularly cosy interior, it can get extremely busy and as such is not recommended...
The Greystones, Sheffield
In 2010, the Highcliffe Hotel looked like it was about to join the ever-growing list of failed pubs, that is until Thornbridge Brewery stepped in and took it over. In a remarkable transformation, the Highcliffe became the Greystones and in the process changed the pub from a dismal, rundown...
Cask Pub and Kitchen, London
This poor pub has had a chequered past with numerous changes of management and decoration in recent years. However, a friendly husband and wife team took over in the Autumn of 2009 and elevated this into a place worth seeking out. Their selling point - as testified by the name - is quality beer....
Southampton Arms, London
Having been open in its new guise since late 2009 now, we can barely remember what the old Southampton Arms was like anymore. This pub has it all: friendly staff, a wide cross-section of locals and one of the best beer selections you'll find in London (and that's with strong competition). There...
The Euston Tap, London
Housed in one of the gatehouses by Euston bus station - the last remnants of the long gone Euston Arch - we first encountered this one as the (ladies only) Glass Bar. The newly reopened Euston Tap couldn't be more different, setting itself out as a mecca for cask ale and craft beers. It's a fair...