ESB-style Cask Ales to Seek out in London?

I’m heading to London in a week or three. The English beers and ales I know are the ones with current or former US distribution, my favorite being Fuller’s ESB, which no longer has US distribution in my state, so I will be having a pint or three of that somewhere that has it from cask, and visiting the brewery.

I’m looking for recommendations, though, for others in that style I should try - particularly those that are not available in the US. Do you have a favorite (favourite, I suppose I should say)?

If you know which pub(s) in or near central London (Let’s say between the Tower of London to the east and Kensington Palace to the west) have it from cask, that information would also be much appreciated.


This takes me back about four decades (plus) and pub crawls around the City. . I have no current info but look forward to others’ contributions.

One thing surprised me … you get UK cask ales in the US? I thought all imports were in bottles or tins. In Ontario we get some decent UK imports in bottles (and tins for those who like that sort of thing).

Indeed, my one piece of generic advice is to find pubs serving from the cask. Beer should not need plumbers on call :scream:.

Second piece of advice, find some journalists and follow them. City types will lead you to fancy wine bars which are generally deprecated.

No, we get bottles. I’m dividing the world of cask ales into two groups - brands I know because we get bottles of that brand in the US, and brands I don’t know because we don’t. But either way, if I want to have it from cask, I have to get on a plane.

(I wonder if there are some exceptions - are there any places near the Guinness brewery in Baltimore, for example, that get casks and have proper pumps?)

Ok this is weird. You replied to that one question, while I was still finishing my post.

How does that happen?

Ok my shortlist from the mists of time, and across different styles (please diversify)

Abbot Ale
Ruddles County
Theakston Old Peculiar

I was going to add London Pride but if you are focused on ESB you may be Fuller up. :grinning:

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Dunno. I’m good, but I don’t think I’m that good.

This is another I’ve had from bottles in the US (and prefer the ESB). I don’t know the other two at all, and I will keep an eye out - thanks!

There’s a range of styles in my list. I’d encourage you to experiment as much as you can, beyond that list.

And try to get to some rural pubs. Old building, nice garden, fresh air - it really does taste different.

Old Peculiar is one of my all time favorites but never had it on cask and is apparently no longer available in the states. Abbot Ale, along with all the Greene King products I have had, was great on tap. I have had Ruddles in the past but don’t remember if it was the country. We used to get some casks of British ales in the Bay Area, CA in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The local pub I frequented at the time had a beer engine but it wasn’t in use the last few times I was there.

And I didn’t think Discurse was that bad ,….

What if I’d changed my mind on my post before finishing.

Anyway, have a great trip.

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has a pub search feature.

I would 100% go this route and place quality/convenience of pub over seeking out any specific beers. CAMRA has long been an excellent resource (used an info packet from them during a trip to Belgium in 1999), and a decent pub will likely have good craft options we’ve never heard of that are worth trying. Not said to throw shade, but if a Greene King’s product is the BEST option at a bar, you should move on. It’s the Sierra Nevada of GB; easy to find, good in a pinch, but not the thing that makes you stop and stay.

Don’t rule out looking for excellent Scottish and Welsh options as well. There are regional ‘single malt’ breweries that just don’t have the capability to ship internationally, but are likely to have a presence in London and just as likely to put out a few cask versions.


If you see Coniston Bluebird Bitter, that’s always a favorite of mine. I know, it isn’t Extra Special.