We have you covered if you are looking for a real ale pub in Chester!
The original pub crawl took place around 1645 in either England or Scotland (both claim bragging rights) when Sir Geoffrey Toppenbottom and pals went out for an ale or two.
Three villages and four pubs later, nobody in Toppenbottom’s posse could recall where they had left the horses. What to do? Crawl home. We make no judgements about Toppenbottom or about you, but we want to make sure you don’t misplace your horses, so we alphabetised this list of pubs and provide taxis now.
Real Ale Pubs
If you fancy a real ale overlooking the Chester Racecourse when it is racing season, you will want to arrive early because the queue for seating tends to get long. It is easy to spot this unique Georgian building with indoor and outdoor seating, so your first visit should be when the track is closed. Enjoy a meal or quaff your thirst. Sit under the stars if you are a romantic and love the night air.
Location: 54 Nicholas Street, Chester, CH1 2NX
Bear and Billet
First opened in 1664, this legendary stop not only has “an exquisite range” of real ale and assorted food offerings but there is no charge to interact with the pub’s ghosts if you run into a few of them while you imbibe. The building may look innocuous given an austere Tudor façade, but you are guaranteed a rousing good time once you step over the threshold.
Location: 94 Lower Bridge Street, Chester, CH1 1RU
As part of the Spitting Feathers family of venues, Brewery Tap also offers tipplers a taste of the past thanks to its location within the historic Gamul House. Located close to the Bear and Billet, your crawl will take less time, and no matter your condition, when you arrive, you’ll find eight hand-pulls and eight keg lines delivering an excellent selection of beers and ciders. Five of these beers are award winners, so do test them all out to make sure the judges did their jobs!
Location: 52-54 Lower Bridge Street, Chester, CH1 1RU
Brewhouse and Kitchen
A pub with a microbrewery onsite? Yes, please. Even the dining menu is unique, so if you’ve got a mind to see which beer or ale is recommended for each entrée, you can also expect to receive a culinary education. If you like the idea of dining and imbibing at a pub with a non-traditional look, this is your hang-out, but check out the building’s history, and you will find plenty of nostalgia within this building’s bones.
Location: Love St, Chester, CH1 1QY
How unique is this place? A real ale pub run by beer scholars who have received the equivalent of degrees from Cambridge on the subject, start your pub crawl here by becoming a knowledgeable consumer of pints. The Cellar prides itself on more than just brews and booze; sample ciders also get rave reviews. The staff stages a Beer Without Fear tasting event monthly that attracts loyal minions, so if you want to increase your BQ and make new mates, show up early to be part of this popular activity.
Location: 19-21 City Road, Chester, CH1 3AE
Commonhall Street Social
Chestonians recommend this pub as a place to go for the best outdoor seating and a quirky vibe, so if both are your criteria for a fun night out, Commonhall could become your favourite haunt, too. Known for its signature low ceiling that adds an air of intimacy and comfort, the food won’t disappoint either, especially if you try the burger. Beverages are matched to specific bar glasses, though we have no idea how barkeeps manage to pull this off given the long list of beers and ales on the menu.
Location: 10 Commonhall Street, Chester, CH1 2BJ
The Cornerhouse is a first cousin to the aforementioned The Cellar, and since that venue doesn’t serve food, a natural progression would be starting there and heading for The Cornerhouse to throw back a few and dine. Promoted as the place to enjoy a quiet pint, catch up with mates, enjoy live entertainment or dine, this Tudor-style pub has all the atmosphere you crave, food, drinks, and proximity to The Cellar.
Location: 4-8 City Road, Chester, CH1 3AE
Craft & Company
For those who like to mix things up, Craft & Company deserves a visit. Located on the Chester rows of Watergate Street, find like-minded patrons, booked entertainment, a comfy atmosphere and 15 different taps plus multiple bottled beer options at this neighbourhood hangout. The pub is located opposite sister venue Liquor & Company, so if your mates insist on ale but you prefer a gin, you can repair to separate venues and meet up to share the gossip you picked up at either location.
Location: 24 Watergate Row North, Chester, CH1 2LD
The Deva Tap
For an authentic brewery experience, you could not find a better location than the Deva Tap, a family-run commercial enterprise located on Brook Street where beer making is elevated to an art. Don’t expect a typical brew pub atmosphere. Perch on picnic benches and under parasols to sample just about every beverage under the sun, from hand-pulled cider to cask ales and keg beers. Devotees love the staff almost as much as they love the beverage selection and you needn’t worry about going hungry during your sampling experience because the menu is fanciful, too.
Location: 121 Brook Street, Chester, CH1 3DU
Olde Cottage has received so many Chester Pub of the Year accolades you may be curious about what this pub has that the others don’t. Renowned for its brew selection, you won’t find a friendlier group of staffers or a more hospitable vibe. Well-established at the corner of James and Brook Streets, this pub isn’t hard to find: Follow the crowd eager to be part of Olde Cottage pub quiz night. We have it on good authority that answers come faster after downing a few pints to lubricate the brain!
Location: 34-36 Brook Street, Chester, CH1 3DZ
Old Harkers Arms
According to this pub’s founders, this venue is the epicentre of authentic Chester charm, as evidenced by images of lively guests found on the pub’s website. An epicentre of cask ale varieties, you can sip your suds amid old world interior charm, though hanging about outside puts you in the midst of the social scene. Situated on the canal, Old Harkers makes an ideal stop for anyone in need of a tasty meal following a pint of the best the house has to offer.
Location: 1 Russell Street, Chester, CH3 5AL
The Pied Bull
The Pied Bull offers the ideal respite: Hand-crafted beers and ales brewed onsite at the facility’s micro-brewery, good food and there’s a hotel upstairs to help you sleep off your celebration. As the oldest licensed house in Chester, The Pied Bull is located in a building that harkens back to the 1100s, so there is plenty to recommend this pub for its history, authenticity and nostalgia.
Location: 57 Northgate St., Chester, CH1 2HQ
Not far down the canal from Old Harkers, Telford’s Warehouse is the pub to frequent if you like your drinking venues huge, expansive and entertaining. Not only can you sample a variety of European beers but cask ales and cocktails dominate an impressive beverage menu. The place to go for live entertainment and arts events, Telford’s is a trendy venue catering to ale fans, so whether you visit by day for events or stop in late at night for a bite, this welcoming pub won’t disappoint.
Location: Telford’s Warehouse – Canal Basin, Tower Wharf, Chester, CH1 4EZ
**If you come across a real ale pub we have not included and you think it deserve a place on the list, please let us know.
History of Real Ale in Chester
Chester has a rich brewing history and has been a beer production centre since medieval times. Real ale, or cask-conditioned ale, has been a popular drink in the region for centuries, and there are still many pubs and breweries in the area that specialize in its production.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Chester was home to a number of large-scale breweries, including Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton, as well as some smaller, family-run operations. These breweries produced various beer styles, including milds, bitters, and stouts, many sold in local pubs and taverns.
During the mid-20th century, however, the popularity of real ale began to decline as the large breweries began to consolidate and focus on more commercially viable, mass-produced beers. This led to the closure of many smaller breweries and decreased availability of traditional cask-conditioned ale.
Fortunately, in the 1970s, a movement emerged to promote and protect traditional British beer styles like real ale. The Campaign spearheaded this movement for Real Ale (CAMRA), founded in 1971 and quickly gained a large following across the UK.
Notable local breweries in Chester include Spitting Feathers (pub listed above), Weetwood Ales, and Offbeat Brewery, all producing a range of different real ales popular with locals and visitors alike. Additionally, the annual Chester Real Ale Festival, organized by CAMRA, is a popular event that draws beer lovers from all over the UK to sample the latest and greatest real ales from around the country.
- Chester’s Best Bars and Pubs
- Restaurants in Chester
- The Best Breakfasts in Chester
- Chester Real Ale, Craft Ale & Beer Festivals (2023)
- Chester Restaurants & Pubs With Outdoor Seating