In 2012 a new player exploded onto the pub scene – the micropub. They gave new life to the British pub, and have proved to be quite the success, as there are now over 500 micropubs in the UK.
According to The Micropub Association, a micropub is a:
small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales, promotes conversation, shuns all forms of electronic entertainment and dabbles in traditional pub snacks.
With so many new micropubs popping up every year, it is difficult to know which ones are worth visiting! It was difficult to narrow down, but here are my top 10.
I have to start with The Butcher’s Arms. Owned by Martyn Hillier, this micropub was opened in 2005, and is the pub that started the revolution! Martyn has been voted as a Top 40 campaigner for his micropub revolution, and has won many CAMRA awards.
Formerly a butcher’s shop, this classic micropub usually has at least 4 ales with enough variety to suit all tastes. Drink these beers off of the original butcher’s block, and enjoy a bit of banter with the pub’s regulars. The Butcher’s Arms can be found in Herne Village, Kent.
One of the first micropubs to open in West London, The Dodo:
showcases a constantly rotating line up of independent real ale, craft beer, organic natural wine, real cider and prosecco.
There are no electronic distractions like loud music or big TV screens – it is a community-focused pub that favours good company and even better conversation. Security is headed by owner Lucy’s pet pug, Bo, and free cheeseboard Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday of every month.
Going a bit more north, Doctor’s Orders is Nottingham’s first micropub, which is inspired by the pub’s former life as a pharmacy. Linked to the Magpie Brewery, a small-batch brewery that creates British ales and ciders, Doctors Orders has five handpulls – one of which always being a Magpie creation.
You can see your beer being pulled straight from the cask via a small window into the cellar, and if you get hungry, there’s always a range of bar snacks available, including Pork Pies, Vork Pies, Scotch Eggs, Pork Scratchings and Karkli.
Another Kentish micropub is The Just Reproach. They are known for their zero-tolerance policy towards mobile phones – an array of mobiles are nailed to the walls, and a ringing phone will result in a fine. They are also known for Five Beer Friday, which celebrates five craft beers that change every week.
Kent produce tends to be prioritised, with The Just Reproach selling Kentish cheese, crisps and pork pies. Dogs are also warmly invited!
Winner of West Kent Pub of the Year 2019, 10:50 from Victoria is a railway-themed micropub run by 3 equal partners – an Englishman an Irishman and a German. A perfect place for a relaxed drink, this pub features five real ales on tap.
They occasionally host local musicians and bands, and while it can get a little cramped, it always gives a very friendly welcome.
West Yorkshire’s first micropub, the Cap and Collar is a bit more modern than many of the others on this list. The name is inspired by owner Phil Garvey’s previous life as a property lawyer, when rental values would fluctuate between a high cap and a low collar. Interestingly, the price of a pint varies from day to day depending on the style and strength available.
The Cap and Collar has friendly, knowledgeable staff who go out of their way to explain about the beers on offer. It can be found in Bradford.
This pub has a very interesting history! The name is a tribute to the Green Dragon pub that was a local landmark in Enfield from the 1700s until 2014, when it was closed by developers. In 2015, local beer lover Richard Reeve made a mission to visit all 100 micropubs in the UK that were open at the time. After returning from his travels, Richard resolved to open his own micropub. When an empty shop unit became available just around the corner from the closed Green Dragon, it felt like it was meant to be, and so the Little Green Dragon was born.
The Little Green Dragon is a warm and friendly place, offering board games, table skittles, and shove ha’penny alongside their real ale. In 2018 they also won CAMRA Greater London pub of the year!
Rutherfords has been given an array of awards, including a ‘Best innovation in Scotland award’, and it is easy to see why! The first micropub to be established in Scotland, they have an eye for the bizarre. Their house gin, for example, is served on tap through a microscope, and they offer a range of snacks from their own own Applewood smoked cheese to local game pies. Owners Debbie and Simon have also created their own haggis gin!
They host a range of events from Halloween parties to classic Scottish Burns night celebrations. Rutherfords can be found in Kelso, a town in The Scottish Borders.
A pub in a bookshop? It’s more likely than you think! Owned by partners Jon Harris and Charlie Sunley, The Bookshop Alehouse was converted from a bookshop into a micropub in 2016. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, stocking ales from local brewers, including vegan-friendly beers.
Along one wall there is a bookcase full of books for sale, and although they don’t sell food, they’re more than happy for customers to eat their takeaways inside the pub. The Bookshop Alehouse can be found in Southampton.
Last, but certainly not least, is The Bow-Legged Beagle. Named after co-owner John’s pet beagle Bobby, this micropub is committed to celebrating new and unusual beers, as well as the people who drink them. The Beagle is warm and inviting:
We understand that atmosphere is a vital part of drinking and enjoying good beer. We have created a warm, cosy and relaxed space that is free of technological distractions – we value the good old fashioned notion of talking and socialising, just like the old pubs used to offer!
Based in New Brighton, The Bow-Legged Beagle cheerfully welcomes everyone who wanders in for a pint (or two!).
For an eccentric foodies’ guide to Brighton, follow this link.
To read Could Tracey Dowse’s Little Bean Café be the Tiniest Café in Britain, follow this link.