There are few destinations in the UK where Beer lovers are as well catered for than in York. The historic city has a lengthy story to tell, with countless landmarks, things to do and an excellent food and drink scene.
Where real ale is concerned, there are a seemingly endless selection of historic pubs, set within fantastic buildings and with a selection of beer from local, national and international breweries.
So whether you’re looking for locally sourced craft beer, or hard to find niche beers – our Real Ale in York guide’s here to help you navigate the city and make the most out of your time in York.
CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has a big presence in York. Along with their vibrant calendar of beer-centric events, they’ve quickly become THE authority on everything real ale. In fact, their annually released Good Beer Guide is to the pub industry is what the Michelin Guide is to the restaurant trade.
The passionate members of CAMRA frequent the cities, on a quest to find the perfect pint. We’ve spoken with members of CAMRA to get the low down on Real Ale Pubs in York.
Award Winning Pubs in York
The highly coveted Pub of the Year awards from CAMRA is the jewel in the crown of the York Real Ale scene. Each year, members of CAMRA vote on their favourite pubs, based on a number of criteria ranging from service, quality of pour and the variety available.
Pubs which have won awards in recent years include Waggon & Horses, who were crowned the Pub of the Year in 2017.
Breweries in and around York
As well as the fabulous array of pubs, which include both traditional and contemporary establishments, York has a thriving selection of Local Breweries.
Among perhaps the most well known Breweries in York, are Ainsty Ales, Bilbrough Top Brewery, Brew York, Breworks, Little Black Dog Brewing, North Allerton Brewery, Eyes Brewing and Isaac Poad & Sons.
The Best Pubs in York
The Old Ebor
Winner of CAMRA’s Town Pub of the season way back in 2013, The Old Ebor is housed within a 19th century building overlooking the city walls. It’s a lively pub at times, with a real local feel.
They’ve got two regular beers in the form of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin and John Smiths Bitter. On top of that, they’ve got three regularly rotating beers which often include local and regional favourites from some of Yorkshire best Breweries.
Known for its lively live music throughout the week and more so on weekends, The Hop is a local favourite with those wanting a fun night of entertainment.
Being owned by Ossett Brewery, The Hop also serves food, with delicious wood-fired pizza being available. Of course, the stars of the show here are Ossett’s own ales, which come in various forms including IPA, Stout and various others.
Found on the trendy Fossgate, the pubs stylish, with a charming, creative interior. It’s got a great open feel and the open mic nights are legendary in the area. Definitely worth a stop for any ale lover looking for some food and a bit of entertainment with their pint.
The Duke of York
A relative newcommer to the ale scene in York, The Duke of York is owned by Leeds Brewery and although young in years, have become a must stop shop for anyone looking to sample the best of Yorks beer offering.
Of course, Leeds Brewery ales are the firm focus here, although they’ve not monopolised their selection, with four regularly rotating guest beers available, often from local microbreweries. The selection of craft beers and lagers is great.
The pubs lively, has a great atmosphere and offers a reasonably priced menu to complement the locally brewed ales. It’s also in Kings Square, so in the summer months, it’s a must visit for anyone wanting to watch the street performers outside.
The Volunteer Arms
If you’re looking for a proper local with a good selection of beers, the Volunteer Arms is a must visit. Found off Holgate Road, a few years ago it was close to extinction after being deemed unprofitable.
However, its popularity is such that this could never happen – and with secen hand pulled cask beers (most of which are sourced locally) and a regular calendar of entertainment such as open mic and jam sessions, it’s to our benefit that “The Volly” survives.
Ossett Brewery have got a big reputation in Yorkshire. With a seemingly expanding array of locations across Yorkshire, one of their best pubs can be found within the walls of York.
Found within the Holgate area of York, the Fox has a markable histor and many will remember that before 2014, the venue was in need of some live – enter Ossett and the loving restoration that took place.
These days, The Fox is an ever popular destinations for drinkers, who flock to enjoy the delightful array of beer they showcase week in, week out.
What’s more, they host a solid calendar of events, including a Beer Fesitval – which takes place in May each year. They also welcome local musicians who really bring the venue to life. Definitely worth seeking out if you’re in the area.
The Blue Bell
For those who’re in York to soak in its wonderful history, a stop at The Blue Bell is a must.
Found in Fossgate, the city-centre pub is compact, with a fairly small number of seats, however with a decor that hasn’t changed since 1903, it’s something of an experience.
What’s more, it offers a delightful selection of beers, pouring from no less than seven handpumps featuring beers from Yorkshire and beyond.
The Golden Ball
.Found in Bishophill, this charming and inviting local pub has a lot going for it. Reminiscent of a pub of yesteryear, it’s got a great atmosphere with a packed schedule of entertainment which ranges from live music, quiz nights and even a monthly soul club.
Having been at the epicentre of the pub scene in York for many years, its known far and wide for not one, not two but three separate drinking rooms, one of which includes a billiards table for those who like an activity with their pint.
It’s popular all year round, and is a bit of the beaten track, so offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of York city centre, which of course, is a welcome prospect for those who’re used to the scores of tourists that visit the historic city each year.
On tap, you’ll find the usual array of ales, with beer ranging from local to international, they’ve got a few crowd pleasing lagers too, and a good selection of wines and spirits.
Ask anyone what to expect at the wonderful Pavement Vaultss and you’ll be told about their great focus on food, winning atmosphere and the brilliant array of craft beer, solid range of wines and the skillfully crafted cocktails that’ve made it such a winning destinations for drinkers looking for the perfect pub in York.
Found within one of the various medieval streets in the historic city, the surrounding architecture dates as far back as 1378. Like so many, it’s a great place to grab a drink or a bite to eat.
They’ve got a flavoursome, inclusive menu which includes BBQ and smoke food. They’re super popular, and so the atmosphere’s often buzzing. What’s more, their kitchen teams no joke either, and they’ve been trained by BBQing royalty.
Although it’s only been in existence since 2015, it’s quickly risen to become one of the best pubs in the area, and so firmly deserving of a place on this roundup.
The Pheonix Inn
Another pub in York that’s a little off the beaten track. With a welcoming atmosphere, it’s located next to the cities historic walls and is another destination that’s perfect if you’re looking for somewhere that offers a relaxing atmosphere.
Live musics top of the bill when it come to the attractions that the Pheonix Inn offers. Not only does it offer a chilled out vibe, with a great selection of ales – but it’s one of the most reasonably priced pubs in York. You’ll find the Pheonix Inn on the other side of the walls from York Barbican – so it’s popular with those who’re in town for a show at the Barbican.
The Slip Inn
There are countless reasons to love The Slip, but I’ll just give you a few. They’re exceptionally passionate about local beer, and regularly feature within CAMRAs top accolades, even winning Pub of the Season a few years ago.
You’ll find the Slip Inn down York’s historic Clementhorpe and delight in the fact that it’s 100% independent. Throughout the year, they host a myriad of events, which are sure to excite the discerning drinker.
With Beer Festivals, live music and others, there’s something for everyone down at The Slip. If you’re planning a boozy itinerary to complement your tour of York, it’s one that’s not to be missed.