Five best cosy pubs with great beer

21 Oct 2016

Cold, wet, gloomy - that’s Autumn! Not much to write home about; more a reason never to leave home, unless you’re going to the pub. It’s the time of year for huddling up by the fire, for warm stews, for cuddling smelly, mud-caked dogs and for people who’ve spent the last six months necking extremely hoppy pale ales to wonder where all the soft brown beers have gone.


This presents a bit of a problem for craft-beer-loving Londoners since, if we’re honest, many of our best pubs and bars struggle a bit for cosiness. Yes, they can be stylish. Yes, the bar staff have both nice tattoos and excellent haircuts. Yes, they sell Gamma Ray. But are they cosy? Mostly, no.


But don’t despair! Some of them do pass the cosiness test, and we’ve compiled them here in a handy list for you. Now you know where to go for open fires and extraordinarily hoppy American-style brown ales.

1. Craft Beer Company, Islington

A lot of the Craft Beer Co venues are pubby, but not many are cosy. What sets the Islington branch apart? It’s partially carpeted; there is more than one room; the roof is quite low; there are some Chesterfield armchairs - all of these are factors. What is beyond doubt is its cosiness and the fact that it sells excellent beer: Magic Rock chose it as their London Beer City base and you can’t say fairer than that.


2. Express Tavern, Kew

Kew is best known for its gardens, but they’re a bit of a sodden chore at this time of year. Instead, head for the Express Tavern, a pub so cosy and downright pubby it could be torn down and re-assembled in Lake Tahoe as an exemplar of the old-fashioned English boozer. Wood-panelled, slightly careworn bar heaving under the weight of handpumps? Check. Plenty of nooks? Check. Stained glass and old pictures of stuff? Check. Lots of other stuff that adds up to a wonderful atmosphere? CHECK.


3. Ivy House

A pub so romantic that a Spectator columnist once alluded to it in a derogatory fashion. Cooperatively owned (hence the derogation), The Ivy House passes the cosiness test with flying colours. The front of the pub is a small room but there’s a huge room at the back with a stage, plus (and this’ll blow your mind) another room. Bands as good as Dr Feelgood played here back in the day, you know.


4. Mall Tavern

Notting Hill used to be rough, then it was groovy, now it’s pristine and dull and - who knows? - maybe one day it’ll be rough again. (That’s the sort of thing that Brexit can achieve). Anyway, it’s not all dull - this superb pub livens up the ‘hood no end. It’s small (although there are other rooms you can use for meetings and the like, and they’re really nice too) with banquettes and seats at the bar. Rich Notting Hill folk! Support this wonderful pub, I implore you.


5. The Royal Oak

Does Harvey’s count as craft? Yes! Now we’ve dispensed with that, let’s move onto the pub. A Victorian street-corner, effort, it boasts burgundy tiling, whitewashed window frames, net curtains and Harvey’s lettering on the windows. Inside it’s equally charming, with solid wooden wheelbacked chairs, an odd-shaped bar, worn carpets and various London-focused wall adornments. It’s a classic, so let’s hope Harvey’s don’t change it.