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UK’s top 10 craft beer pubs

Prop up the bar in one of these best boozers for craft beer in the UK.

The pub: a Great British institution, the heart of local community, the place where we love to meet friends or unwind after a long week.

Despite suffering from a drop in sales after the recession and the taint of reckless binge drinking, it seems like you can’t keep British brewers down for long. Now is a great time for independent microbreweries and pubs specialising in innovative, craft beer brews, as this trendy tipple is brought to the attention of wider, younger crowd. There are now more breweries in the UK than there was in the 1970s, testament to the enduring popularity of the pint.

Whether it’s catching up with friends on the weekends or enjoying after-work drinks, we bring you ten of the best craft beer pubs in the UK, serving the widest selection of British and international brews around:

1. The Hanging Bat

Their mottos is ‘happiness is measured in schooners’ and you’ll definitely be smiling after a visit to this wonderful watering hole. With six cask and 14 keg lines, largely dedicated to British brews, the staff are very knowledgeable and can point in the right direction in finding a tasty third for you to try. They’re also on hand to serve up some hearty BBQ food, including American hotdogs and meatloaf burgers, should you get peckish. Find their latest draft list @TheBatTaps

Where: Lothian Road, Edinburgh.

©David Monteith-Hodge

2. Small Bar

Despite the name, Small Bar is a pretty big deal. Located in Bristol’s ‘Beermuda Triangle’ due to the number of quality craft beer pubs springing up in the area, this is place to sample some of the south-west’s finest brews. Unusually, they serve each of the 25 beers on tap to specific measurements, as directed by the brewery who makes them. It may sound pretentious, but beer connoisseurs and novices alike will learn something new. It’s a great place to socialise with friends or grab a drink in solitude with a good book on one of the bar’s comfy sofas.

Where: King Street, Bristol

3. Porter’s

Not only does this boozy bolthole serve up some classic craft beers, but Porter’s hosts a whole range of week night events. Monday night is bingo, Wednesday you’ll find stand-up comedians taking to the stage, whilst Saturday night is where the party’s at. Although old fashioned pub purists might bulk at this line up, this city centre crowd pleaser draws crowds of students, tourists and locals alike, intrigued to try what’s on tap, as well as some of the more unusual offerings in the fridge, including Kelpie seaweed ale from Scottish brewers, Williams Brother.

Where: Harlech Court, Cardiff

Click on the image to find out where to find the cheapest pint in the UK.

4. The Baltic Social

Another one for the artsy late-night bar lovers, The Baltic Social makes the list for their focus on local, independent breweries in both Manchester and Liverpool. Their delicious seasonal menu is another reason to pay a visit – the big ‘Baltic Breakfast’ is enough fry to fight off even the worst hangover. Slap bang in the city centre, this hip hangout is also located in a historically important spot, across the road from the old Cains brewery and surrounded by other local producers, including ‘nanobrewery’ Mad Hatter and the Liverpool Craft Beer Co.

Where: Parliament Street, Liverpool

5. North Bar

If you’re looking for where the British love of craft beer began, make a pilgrimage to Leeds’ (and apparently the UK’s) first bespoke boozer. Open since 1997, North Bar has always been ahead of the curve, and its selection of 130 imported craft beers proves that this remains the same today. In spring, celebrate Dutch and Belgian beers during their annual Lowlands festival, whilst summer brings the sweet nectar from across the pond and you’ll find primarily American brews on tap. Keep up with their kegs @NorthBarDrinks.

Where: New Briggate, Northern Quarter, Leeds

6. Port Street Beer House

The premier place to try US imports before bigger drinking chains caught on, Porter Street Beer House serves a wide variety of local, national and international tipples to take your fancy. From Danish Brown Bag, to Nth Cloud from Derbyshire, you’re bound to find something to quench your thirst for a fiver or more – bottles start at £4.50.

Where: Port Street, Manchester

7. Hilden Brewery

Before cool kids all over the country adopted it, the Scullion family were brewing award-winning ales and building their brewery empire, Hilden’s. Started in 1981, their 11 ales, porters and stouts are now piped in to pubs all over the country, but there’s no better place to get the real deal then down at the original brewery in Antrim, set in the grand Hilden House. After wandering around the grounds, which were once visited by William Wordsworth, refuel in the Tap Room restaurant next door for some hearty Irish dishes, including pork belly and Clonakilty black pudding.

Where: Hilden, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

8. Old Red Cow

Next door to the historic Smithfield Market, this stylish craft beer bar is a hotspot for city-slickers sacking off work to unwind with a beverage (or several). But the Old Red Cow, in the heart of the capital, has plenty of substance as well as style. At last count they were serving 12 keg and 4 cask beers, all of which came from breweries in the UK, like Magic Rock and Firebrand – not to mention a carefully crafted bottles menu too. If that’s not enough to be getting on with, they also pride themselves on having a wine list to compliment the beer range. Bottoms up!

Where: Long Lane, London

Click on the image to read more about the best drinking destinations in Europe.

9. Golden Ball

In York, they’re putting the heart back in to their community with this truly local tavern. A community co-operative pub in a beautiful Grade II listed Victorian building, they concentrate their offering on breweries and small businesses on their doorstep, like Treboom, whose Yorkshire Sparkle pale ale is a permanent on the menu. Kill two birds with one stone too and pick up a loaf of bread, or half a dozen eggs, down the Golden Ball, who also sell fresh produce from local farmers and artisans.

Where: Cromwell Road, Bishophill, York

10. The Fat Cat

Another old favourite that has more than stood the test of time, but in fact pioneered the concept of regularly changing guest beers and offering something new, The Fat Cat in Sheffield has been pulling pints for more than 30 years. With the Kelham Island Brewery less than 20 yards away, it’s unsurprising that they are always on tap, including their Island Pale Rider, and even feature on the food menu with Kelham sausages and Yorkshire puddings. Not a fan of the heavy stuff? Don’t worry, they’ve got three pumps dedicated just to cider to make sure everyone’s thirst is thoroughly quenched.

Where: Alma Street, Sheffield

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