Take a real ale tour of England with these top picks
What could be better than a pint of hand-pulled real ale in a cosy pub?
Read on for our round-up of the top real ale pubs in England – as voted by independent consumer campaign group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
From rural retreats with blazing log fires to micropubs stripped bare of TVs and jukeboxes – there’s something for everyone.
Greater London pub of the year
The Door Hinge
11 Welling High Street, Welling
Want a quiet, hand-pulled pint in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere?
London’s first permanent micropub is so cosy it’s like sitting in a friend’s front room.
The focus is on the ale and the conversation – there are no TVs, fruit machines or music to distract you. Run by ex-London cabbie Ray Hurley, the Door Hinge is a great place to wile away an hour or two.
It offers something a bit different too: the beers are dispensed from within a cold cellar room that you can view through a glass window.
Ales: The pub has a constantly changing selection of real ales poured straight from the cask, such as Rockin’ Robin, Kent and Green Jack.
Nearest Virgin Trains East Coast station: London King’s Cross.
Another one we love: Railway Tavern, Islington
This is a proper old-fashioned London boozer with a twist – it serves delicious Thai food. But it’s the ale we’re getting excited about. There are six ever-changing ales on tap. Make sure you try a London beer from Greenwich-based brewery Meantime or the East London Brewing Company.
East Midlands pub of the year
The Dog and Bone
10 John Street, Lincoln
Like a comfy pair of slippers, the Dog and Bone is welcoming and cosy, the perfect place to rest and refuel after a visit to Lincoln Castle and Magna Carta.
Step off the street into this small, intimate pub and into a bygone world. Pictures by local artists grace the walls, and there’s a collection of old valve radios to admire. The floorboards are reassuringly old, and the chairs scattered with comfy cushions.
Enjoy reading? Pull a book from the library shelf and wile away an hour with a hand-pulled pint. Musicians can bring their guitars down for a jam at the folk night, while Etsy-inspired crafters can enjoy the sewing night.
Ales: There are six real ales and one or two real ciders to choose from. We recommend Batemans XXXB.
Nearest Virgin Trains East Coast station: Lincoln
Find out more
Another one we love: The Strugglers
Locals love this Lincoln pub so much they lobbied for it to be included on a list of buildings considered important to the community’s social well-being. Just a stone’s throw from the castle, the pub dates back to the 1800s. Expect a fine pint of real ale and a cosy atmosphere.
Yorkshire pub of the year
The Kelham Island Tavern
62 Russell Street, Sheffield
Choose from 1 of 13 hand-pulled real ales before pulling-up a pew in the front parlour of this traditional northern boozer. The décor harks back to Sheffield’s industrial past – it’s the last surviving building from a row of terraces lived in by steel workers.
Expect an open fire and the hum of South Yorkshire chatter. Dogs on leads and walls adorned with relics from the golden age of the working man’s pub.
Ales: There are always 13 real ales on, including mild, porter and stout. Try Abbeydale, Barnsley Bitter or Brewers Gold.
Find out more on their website.
Another one we love: The Maltings, York
You can’t miss this real ale favourite. The building is painted black, but once inside you will find a warm, cosy atmosphere and an ever-changing roster of guest ales. Think heavy wooden tables and tin-plate beer adverts from the ‘60s adorning the walls.
North East pub of the year
The John Bull
12 Howick Street, Alnwick
Finds darts dominoes and delightful ales at this historic Northumberland pub. This 185-year-old inn can be found just outside the original town walls, hidden among the quaint back streets.
It’s a good old-fashioned meeting place, with a friendly atmosphere and hearty banter in place of music and quiz machines. The ale is something else too – it’s known for its vast range of Belgian beer.
It even has its own beer festival…
Ales: The Bull offers a wide range of cask-conditioned ales, real cider, more than 120 single malt whiskies and the biggest selection of bottled Belgian beers in the country.
Nearest Virgin Trains East Coast station: Almouth
Another one we love: The Duke of Wellington, Durham
Find a roaring log fire, real ale and good grub at The Duke of Wellington. This Ember Inns pub is serious about its real ale. It even has a leader board on its site where you can rate your favourite brew.