London - Best beer spots in central London
I have spent around 4 holidays a year traveling to London, primarily for the food and wine destinations... but why not beers?
I know that anywhere can stock a bottle of X, Y and Z; but where are the hotbeds of quality beer on tap?
I should state that I enjoy ales and whatnot at home, but my true love is Belgian. De Hems is the best place I have found so far. Also a fan of seriously hoppy IPA/Extra IPA/Quadruple IPA styles.
Does the White Horse in Parson's Green qualify geographically? I also vaguely remember seeing aged Belgian beers there, but don't have details. Anyone to confirm or deny?
There is lots of excellent beer in London (and The White Horse used to stock good beer), and probably more than enough locally brewed to keep you going instead of looking for Belgium beers. There has been a micro-brewery revolution in the UK so lots and lots of variety.
Where to start? I suggest getting hold of the CAMRA "Good Beer Guide" (http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=gbg), it is a guide produced by one of the original consumer movements who can be credited with saving much of the UK craft beer industry. The pubs may not always be the best pubs but they usually serve good well kept beer.
Try the Dovetail in Clerkenwell. They have a wide selection of Belgian beers and do regular Belgian beer tastings.
Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico is my new favorite.
The Rake at Borough Market is great but tiny.
Wenlock Arms is out of the way but has a great selection of English Ales.
Here's a map I made of many of the good beer bars. Some are just plain cool pubs with better than average beers on tap and others are great beer bars.
I don't have any of the Belgian places on here but this website can help with that.
The Rake and Cask Pub will more than satiate your thirst for IPA's, Imperials, etc.
We went to Cask for the first time on Saturday and it definitely will not be the last. Good range of Oktoberfest beers on cask, along with a great range of real ales, a kriek (my favourite) and some ciders. No Fosters/Stella type of beers. Also a massive range of bottled beers including old favourites like Orval and some other more obscure ones and some good looking food.
I'd also recommend the Draught House, the Rake and the Wenlock (although not to everyones taste). We've also had some fabulous Belgian beers in Belgos!
I third the Blackfriars Pub, just north of the bridge. Good selection of real ales and an absolutely stunning 1905 arts & crafts setting to boot. Weekends are quieter than during the week, when it gets mobbed with businesspeople. Pub grub is pretty decent too—a big selection of pies.
Also a little off the beaten track is the Dog and Bell at 116 Prince Street in Deptford, near Greenwich. This pub has the feel of a real local (in fact, it feels more like a small town pub than a London pub). It's quiet and old-timey. They do several real ales, and they also have a pretty fantastic selection of bottled Belgian beers, including a thick binder to guide you through the choices. The landlord and his wife are Irish, but they take a special interest in Belgian beers. If you want to make it a Chow evening, you can have dinner at Chung Viet in Deptford High Street and then walk over to the pub.