What are the best beer cities in the UK?

MrsSHIG just sent me the question: What are the best beer cities in the UK?

My first thoughts are London, Bingohame, and Edinburgh

Would love to hear what everyone thoughts are.

I think Manchester would have to be in there.


London’s obvious but surely Manchester and Bristol will be among peoples first thoughts? Probably the major Yorkshire cities too: Leeds, York…

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What about Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby?

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As a non Brit who doesn’t follow the scene super closely Manchester, Bristol and Sheffield are ones that stick out to me on first thought. Not sure if that counts for much :slight_smile: Sheffield from RB forum references over the years, Bristol partly biased by having been there so it’s more top of mind than some.

Also how are we defining best? Does a town with 5 great breweries in crappy industrial locations beat a town with 5 just good breweries that have great taprooms? (as a hypothetical comparison)

I was actually just wondering this. For me (not that I do city beer trips) … strong contenders would have to have the following:

  • Breweries / brewery bars
  • Solid real ale pubs, ideally historic
  • Modern, eye-wateringly expensive craft beer bars
  • Decent bottle / can shop

A lot of cities have all these, in fact it’s hard to pick a city which doesnt nowadays. But to whittle it down i think a good beer city is one you could spend a weekend in, not just one evening.

Birmingham’s a good shout - a city centre crawl takes in trad and craft in equal measure with another day to soak up Stirchley beer mile or Lichfield bars.


Sheffield is up there with the best of them. Nottingham is pretty damn good as well. I frel like Derby is great for cask but lacks a more diverse craft scene overall (some notable exceptions but not enough to carry the city).


Sheffield is great cos you can have top-end craft in a proper pub, whereas e.g. L**ds the proper pubs serve mostly twig and for high-end craft you have to go to modern hipster bars (I’m sure someone will be along to say ‘what about xyz’, but as a general thing…). I will grudgingly admit Lds has a decent craft scene but it’s pretty expensive and hipstery… but then Lds isn’t really Yorkshire, it’s a Zone 97 suburb of that London

Notts is great, and pretty compact - there’s a couple of outliers but you can arrive by train and never be outdoors more than 5 mins between pubs/bars/taprooms

Manchester is decent and has some good ‘clusters’ of bars

Birmingham is disappointing for a so-called second city

Bristol is good, fair bit of walking involved to do the top places but King St alone will keep you busy a while

Edinburgh on my last visit seemed a bit of a shadow of its former self, with the Banging Hat not being what it was, some places having gone, and just generally a bit uninspiring. That said, I do like Wee Vault and the Fierce place

I’d put a shout out for Nottingham, Sheffield or Newcastle (upon Tyne not under Lyne)

Now I think Leess can hold their own. Not in Sheffield’s category but loads of great bars.

It’s York that is most overrated for me. Mostly touristy rip-off venues although HoTM is worth a visit on its own

i forgot York but yeah I think tourist trap. And with the Maltings up for sale that could be another ‘fixture’ off the list

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Toon, good call! Forgot that, dunno how, been a fan since my cask ticking days, and like Sheff it’s mostly compact and there’s decent craft in proper pubs

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WHAT??!!! How very dare you

If Gluten Free options are factored in I would go Sheffield, followed by Manchester and then Bristol

I’ve not ‘done’ Newcastle. Not sure I’m allowed that far north…

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You will need your passport!!

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London is huge. I bet not all areas are equally good beer wise. For example historically I’ve done Bermondsey Beer Mile, which was great for crafty stuff, but lacked real ales and traditional pubs.
I think you can apply same rule to Manchester and maybe Birmingham?

But keep that discussion going! I’m planning a trip to UK in the coming future and that will help me to prioritize which direction to go :slight_smile:


Birmingham for me, off there tomorrow. Nice, easy mix of traditional pubs and modern establishments with ‘Craft’.


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Those are two cities with some of the best real ale pubs (certainly some of the most characterful and historic). And Manchester’s Victorian ale pubs are a joy to behold.

Re London I’ve tended to focus trips on different areas. Last one was the Bermondsey beer mile but previously I’ve done the historic City pubs seperately.

My bad. What I was thinking was size wise. Different parts of city might have different selection or lack of selection.