Located by the River Thames in southeast London, the district of Greenwich is noted for its long maritime history and for the fact that this is where zero degrees longitude stands.
The locale gives its name to the term ‘Greenwich Mean Time,’ and the area’s long history coupled with its naval connections means it has a great concentration of historic pubs. Not only that, but many of them serve authentic ‘Real Ales.’
The term ‘Real Ale’ was coined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 1971 as a way to elevate the artisan brews from the mass market bottling. Real ales undergo a secondary fermentation in a cask or bottle, adding layers of depth to the flavor. We aren’t telling you to forgo the Guinness (which is a brilliantly executed keg beer), but by all means sample the Real Ale.
So, when you’ve visited the Maritime Museum, seen the Cutty Sark, and taken the inevitable photo straddling the Greenwich Meridian at the Royal Observatory, head for these places where history meets beer, with a few modern pubs thrown in for good measure.
The Ashburnham Arms
25 Ashburnham Grove
This Shepherd Neames pub, built in 1855, is set on a quiet residential street and serves its own range of excellent ales along with seasonal guest ales too.
The Coach and Horses
A fixture in Greenwich Market since 1780, the Coach and Horses serves a seasonal selection of Real Ales. Doom Bar from Cornwall’s Rock Brewery is permanently on draught, along with four others.
The Cutty Sark
4-6 Ballast Quay
Cask ales, guest ales, and draught beers from London breweries (including the Meantime Brewing Company and the Camden Town Brewery) are served in this riverside pub dating back to 1795. It also has a menu offering superior pub grub.
The Gipsy Moth
60 Greenwich Church Street
Right by the Cutty Sark, there are 20 specialty beers and ciders always on tap, with changing guest ales too. Their spirits list is a cut above the average pub, with Hendricks gin and British potato vodka on offer. A major attraction is its garden, which seats up to 200 people.
The Plume of Feathers
19 Park Vista
You don’t even have to climb up to the Royal Observatory to stand on the Greenwich Meridian — you can do it in this 1691 pub, which claims to be the oldest in Greenwich. It’s a pub with great character, and although it only amounts to one room it still manages to field its own football team, and have a golf society. Listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, it serves Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter, Sharp’s Doom Bar, and two other guest ales on tap, as well as bottled beers from all over Britain.
Charles Dickens and his literary mates came to this tavern to eat whitebait, which is still on the menu and best washed down with a pint of Guinness. The Trafalgar is right by the river, so you can watch the world float by while sampling draft ales which include Sharp’s Doom Bar and Adnams Bitter, plus Belgian ales both on tap and by the bottle.
5-7 Crane Street
With great views of the Thames, the Yacht has been serving cask ales and solid bar/restaurant food for over two centuries. Cask Ales include their own 1730 Pale Ale, and they’ve also served Windsor and Eton Conqueror, Speckled Hen, and Wells Bombardier among their guest ales. CAMRA members also get a discount.
Ye Olde Rose and Crown
1 Crooms Hill
This is a Taylor-Walker pub, like the Yacht, and serves a similar range of beers. As it’s right next door to the Greenwich Theatre, it attracts a rather campy crowd. It’s much more of a locals and Londoner pub than a touristy spot.
Richard the First
52-54 Royal Hill
Despite the historic name, this pub is a relative youngster as it only opened in 1923. It has a lovely conservatory and garden area, and draught beers include Meantime Yakima Red, Camden Hells, and Dogfish Head DNA. It also has an impressive bottled collection of craft ales.
The Greenwich Union
56 Royal Hill
Owned by Greenwich’s Meantime Brewery and only opened in 2001, this pub may lack history but makes up for it with its beers. It serves an impressive array of modern craft beers from all over the world as well as its own brews, with a selection of over 60 draft and bottled beers to choose from at any one time.