Elevator Pub Advice

We’ve got quite good at answering “Where should I drink in…?” queries, distilling our advice into one or to Tweets.

We generally find ourselves using the following format:

1. A full-on craft beer place
2. An old-school real ale pub
3. Somewhere in between, or otherwise interesting

So in Falmouth, for example, that’s Hand Bar, Seven Stars, and Beerwolf (also a bookshop). In Victoria (today’s example) it’s Cask at Pimlico, the Speaker in Westminster and the Jugged Hare for excellent Fuller’s ales. You get the idea.

We like this because it’s (a) a straight bloody answer — a rarity in any forum — but also (b) takes into account people’s differing needs and tastes.

If nothing else it usually elicits further preferences: “Oh, I should have said, it also needs to be child-friendly. And have food. And a choice of ciders.”

So, just for fun, if we asked for advice on where to drink in your town, suburb or city, what would be your 30-second/140-character answer?

55 replies on “Elevator Pub Advice”

“There’s a brilliant choice of pubs to suit all tastes in central Stockport, especially around the Market Place. But unfortunately, my local, the National Inventory-listed Nursery, isn’t what it used to be.”

Further South in Cork.
The Mutton Lane,Bierhaus,Franciscan Well,Crane Lane,Abbott Ale House,Rising Sons,The Oval.
I normally do most if not all of those when Mrs Professor Pie-Tin is hitting the shops.

For Berlin, I’d suggest three places:

1. either a craft beer bar or a local microbrewery like Vagabund or Hops&Barley,
2. Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt, they seem like a tourist trap, but keep all the Augustiner beers rather well (and they really have the full selection available),
3. Försters Feine Biere for the full on German beer experience, be it traditional Franconian lager beer, Düsseldorfer Altbier, or modern craft beers and rarities that otherwise haven’t made it to Berlin.

Horsham, West Sussex. Decimated by H&W purchase of K&B, but make sure you do The Anchor Tap, The Malt Shovel and Piries Bar. Otherwise it’s just ‘spoons and overpriced, unloved nonsense.


Central – Beer Engine, Rutland Arms, Bath Hotel
Suburbs – Hop Hideout, Sheaf View, Brothers Arms, Broadfield
Kelham Island – Shakespeares

Hammersmith, London (non-River pubs)
1. Draft House (craft)
2. The Swan (Real ale)
3. The Distillers (In between)

Linköping, Sweden: Backen, The Horse & Hound, –

Norrköping, Sweden: Café Broadway, Durkslaget, The Black Lion Inn

Stockholm, Sweden: Omnipollos Hatt, Tudor Arms, Oliwer Twist

Copenhagen, Denmark: Mikkeller Victoriagade, Charlie’s, Ørsted Ølbar

Oslo, Norway right now:
Haandverkerstuene for a splendid range of Nordic beers and good food
Røør for 60 well kept beers on tap
Café Sara for a mixed crowd, inexpensive food and always new Norwegian craft beers in taps and bottles.

@Knut, I have been very impressed with the growth in the craft beer scene in Oslo the past couple of times I have been there! I have been to the Crow Bar several times before, but last week I made a nice little circuit, including Occulus and Brus as well. Some very good beers in a pleasant environment!

GBG has nailed it for Newbury – Catherine Wheel, King Charles Tavern, Cow & Cask (micro) – all near the market place and the railway station.

The Red Hoose is quite quaint, has a real fire in season; and featured in Still Game. Otherwise, go to Falkirk or Stirling.


Somewhere traditional – Morte Subite or Les Brasseurs (if you want lambic on draught without the hordes of beer geeks)
Somewhere modern – Dynamo Bar
Somewhere in-between(ish) – Moeder Lambic Original

My top 5 for Brussels are Poechenellekelder, Moeder Lambic Fontainas, Brussels Beer Project, Cantillion Brewery & Laboureur

Sheffield entries I’d agree with, Belfast I’ve not been for years, Horsham was generally woeful last time I was there..

1. A full-on craft beer place; Criterion\Tres Bien (only open friday\saturday evening)
2. An old-school real ale pub; The Globe
3. Somewhere in between, or otherwise interesting; The King Richard III

Paul – The Anchor Tap (Dark Star) has made it worth a visit and The Malt Shovel is going through a period of good landlord with well kept local beer. Not worth getting on a train especially, but if you’require in the area. The rest is pretty dire because of Hall & Woodhouse…


1. Overdraft – modern keg and cask, Mexican food and DJs playing vinyl – lumberjack shirts.
2. The Hyde Tavern – traditional local cask ales, folk bands – older beardies and dogs.
3. The Black Boy – go for the ales and roaring fire, stay for the quirky clutter and taxidermy. Something for everyone.

I love all three, no offence intended by my stereotypes. This exercise has made me appreciate how well served we are for fairly traditional pubs in Winchester as I could easily have picked 3 or 4 others. Many are a little dull on choice (GK/Fullers) but generally the pubs seem to try a bit harder here than in many places I’ve lived.

We don’t really have a stereotypical craft beer bar in Cambridge, there are a range of over-priced pseudo-pubs in the city centre populated by the local red-trouser brigade and big groups of disappointed looking tourists, and another selection of wood-clad beer emporia in the terraces, that kind-of straddle your first and second categories.

Everyone says the Cambridge Blue, so I’m going to say the Blue Moon, the Kingston Arms, and Calverleys Brewery Tap.

This thread is turning into a really useful resource…..! 😉

For Reading, The Nags Head is both the best Craft Beer Bar as well as the Best Real Ale Pub.

Honourable mentions for the Castle Tap, as an up and comer in the craft stakes, and The Alehouse (formerly the Hobgoblin) as a very quaint haven in the main High St, with a good choice of well kept cask beer.

You are spoilt for choicein the middle of Nottingham,suburbs within the City boundarys are mostly no go zones.

Our top five city centre pubs are.

Farradays,my wife’s favourite at the moment,four real ales on all pretty local
Southbank City,an out and out sports pub that has live music on at weekends,also a dance floor later in the evening,run by Navigation Brewery.
Keeens Head,a small Castle Rock tied house,only problem is getting a seat.
Langtrys,Handy for the theatres and close to the Corner house,eight real ales on,we visit it quite a lot.
Organ Grinder,a Blue Monkey tied house with their usual really nice beers on the bar.

There are loads more that we like in the middle of Nottingham.

I agree Alan, the pubs in notts are fantastic. You haven’t even included any of my top ten notts city centre pubs.

The pubs in the suburbs are even better, if anything. The strat, the lion, the crown, the bread and bitter, the johno

Re Py,
I also love the Statford Haven,but it is in West Bridgeford and outside Nottinghams tight city boundarys,me and the wife love The Crown in Beeston which is yet again not within the city boundarys,the same goes for the Bread & Bitter,just outside the cities borders up in Mapperley.

We do visit loads of Nottingham pubs most weeks and probably have about 40 that we do in turn.
I would be very interested in your top 10 city pubs.

I like:

The Sal
The Malt Cross
The Canalhouse
The Old Angel (although I hear it has been ruined)
Ned Ludd
Vat & Fiddle
The Tap

That’s all I can think of for now.

Definitely agree with a lot of these for Nottingham, certainly the Canal House for beer choice, Malt Cross for a unique venue, Stratford Haven for a traditional pub (best place for pre/post Forest games) and Kean’s Head.

Heavy on the Castle Rock there, but personally I think their pale ales are some of the best around. Ned Ludd offered something new when it opened but I didn’t prefer it over the other great places – haven’t been for years now so the city is likely to have changed a lot.

I do like Castle Rock beer, and they know how to run a pub. Nottingham Brewery are also great, particularly the EPA and Rock Mild – the Plough out in Radford is a cracking pub, if often quite quiet

Manchester (city centre): City for a decent range and good ambience*, Beermoth for all the Craft Beer you can shake a stick at, Bock for Belgian bottles, Smithfield for the perfect cross between old-school pub and craft beer bar.

*Although if I’m honest I spend more time & money in the pub next door – the Waterhouse, a rare multi-room Spoons.

Chorlton Proper: the Beech (proper pub, good range of well-kept beer), the Parlour (bit more upmarket and crafty). There’s also a whole bunch of capital-B Bars down that way, but I’ve only been in most of them once or twice – it’s about twenty minutes’ walk from our house, and if I wanted a walk I’d go to the Beech.

Not Really Chorlton (the bit where I live): Font for mad beer selection, comfortable seating, twenty-somethings larging it and squawling infants; Pi or Keg & Cask for a more chilled ambience, with the first of those things but without the others; and (my favourite) the Marble Beerhouse, for a bar that wants to be a pub (or vice versa) and some excellent Marble beers. There aren’t many properly ‘pubby’ pubs round where I am; the closest is probably the Greene King about a quarter of an hour’s walk away, and I’d have to pass all of the above and a couple more to get to it.

1. Cafe Beermoth
2. Briton’s Protection (and Peveril of the Peak a short stagger away)
3. Marble Arch

(4- brewtaps: Track and/or Cloudwater)

The Pev is worth seeing, but I wouldn’t drink in there. Last time I did I ended up on Deuchar’s IPA. I didn’t include the MA – or any of the brewtaps – because they’re a bit of a trek out of town, but YMMV. I don’t actually like going to Cafe Beermoth, if I’m honest, but it is what it is.

Best Real Ale Pub + great wknd food – The Plough
Best Craft Beer Selection + music – The Firefly
Other good pubs – The Lamb & Flag + exc Italian food, The Paul Pry + more exc food, The Dragon, The Chestnut + music. And more: best era for beer

Go to the Live & Let Live, drink cask Citra and Green Devil. Finish the night on rum. Go home.

Cambridge. FWIW.

And we have an increasing number of good places to fit everything from the cask ticker’s paradise to National Craft Bar. But you can get all these everywhere. Fantastic for the local scene.

So I point folk to what is both unique and good. Why bother with what you can get in every other reasonable sized town? It’s like travelling cross-county to visit Maccas, no matter how überhip their wikkid crafts or tickable their bitters. (Tickers and craft junkies will likely disagree.)

I like the Live – and the Citra and Green Devil are indeed excellent there – but its not really that unique, is it? Wood-clad backstreet pubs with 4-5 handpumps, full of old boys reading the newspaper and small groups of postgrads chatting about their research are ten-a-penny in Cambridge. Its not even the only backstreet Pub in Petersfield that specialises in rum – the Geldart does that as well.

Ten-a-penny in Cambridge, but worth pinpointing one of them to a visitor I reckon. Mill Road isn’t an area you’d necessarily stumble upon as a tourist and it is a good area for the kind of backstreet boozers that might be dying out in many towns.

Whether you prefer the Kingston, Cambridge Blue or Live & Let Live is really just a matter of preference – all are quite “Cambridge” and all well worth a visit.

I do find it strange that Cambridge still hasn’t really got a good craft beer bar to recommend – Peterborough’s Stoneworks puts Cambridge to shame!

Personally I think what we have – a variety of pubs that have the range of a craft beer bar, but without the prices or the hipster décor, is a preferable arrangement.

IMO the craft beer movement in the UK has ALWAYS been about persuading our existing pub sector that there is a significant market for providing a wider variety of high quality beers than they previously offered, say, a decade ago. We don’t necessarily want to go to new bars, what we want is to be able to drink better beer in the pubs we already go to.

In Cambridge (and elsewhere), this is what has happened and is continuing to happen. As recently as 5 years ago, 50% of pub visits ended up with me drinking lager because there was simply no other palatable option. That simply doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t think I’ve drunk a pint of lager this year.

My suggestion would be The Pint Shop for craft, surely it hits the spot? And for real ale my preference is The Kingston. Not sure on the “otherwise interesting” but how about Calverley’s Brewery?

Py – which pubs would you say have “the range of a craft beer bar without the prices”? There are increasing numbers of pubs that have the odd keg pale on, but I’m not sure I could name many where I could reliably find a 6% ABV US IPA on tap, let alone an imperial anything…

Why does it have to be keg? Is cask beer not craft?

Anyway my previous suggestion was the Blue Moon.

Most pubs around here nowadays seem to have 4-5 decent cask ales and 2-3 craft keg beers on. Some have more, some have less (I don’t go in those pubs)

It doesn’t have to be keg, but you’re probably even less likely to find a full-blooded US IPA or a double IPA or an Imperial Stout on cask…

Ah, sorry forgot folks … I had to jump off the elevator on the 2nd floor.

I just like the Live. I do think it has a uniqueness of character combined with an excellence of quality. None of the over-loaded cask lineup pubs in the area manage to offer quality in the cask department – it’s a “try and select the most recent beers” roulette.

Cambridge is getting much much better on the “craft” front (including better cask) … it could drop with another couple of venues IMO. But have you seen Cambridge rents & rates?! Ouch.

But…. why would I direct a visitor to Pint Shop for the beer? It’s good, but it’s like other “national craft beer bars” – you can go there and be as if you are in one of many other good craft-centric bars in the UK. If I know that is what someone is after then Pint Shop is where I will direct them (they also have good rep on the sit-down dining front.)

It comes back to the Live. A fairly local pair of beers, kept as well as you can hope to find them, in a pub with some local character (and characters). Easy for the station too. And it’s where I drink in the vary rare circumstances I have time for a casual “non business” pub visit in town. ????

If you’re in Woking walk to Horsell and drink at The Crown. If you’re stuck for time the ‘Spoons in the town centre is a good one.

Reading: agree with the previously mentioned Nags Head and Alehouse, but I’d swap the Castle Tap for The Greyfriar, which has the advantage of being just down the hill from the station and has a good mix of cask and keg.

And if I wanted to have a look at the Thames I’d cross the river into Caversham and go to the Fox & Hounds.

There are too many to list in Oxford, but one point of note is that Hook Norton have recently opened their first tied house in the city.
The Castle Tavern on Castle Street is adjacent to the new Westgate shopping centre, and down from ‘Spoons Swan and Castle branch.
The Castle Tavern has previously alternated between cask and keg, and over the years has been known as The Oxford Ale House and the Paradise, the latter as it is on the corner of Paradise Street.
I haven’t visited since the Hooky takeover, but it is said to stock the full range of Hooky cask ales.

For Bath
– The Raven
– The James Street Brewery
– The Star

Although you could also include the Green Tree or Bell

La fin mousse
Le super coin
Zero zero

Il bovarro
Public house
James Joyce pub

De Heeren (Denderleeuw)
Moeder lambic

Cask Pub and Kitchen, Pimlico
The Royal Oak (Borough)

Black Sheep
L Mulligan Grocer

Austin, Texas:
Jester King
The Draught House
Black Star
Hop Fields
Hops and Grain

San Antonio, Texas:
Atta girl
Big Hops
Claude hoppers

Hood River Oregon:
Double mountain

Asheville, North Carolina:
One world brewing
Wicked Weed

This is a great list. Ill be consulting this on my travels for the next few months.
The sportsman
The grove
Magic rock tap. Obvs.

Ilkley has a much improved beer scene in recent years. Here are my recommendations:
1. Friends of Ham
2. The Flying Duck
3. Bar Tat
Plus the Crescent would also fit into category 2

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