10 of the best pubs and bars in Nottingham

It’s not just Nottingham Forest on the rise now that the Reds have reached the top flight for the first time in 23 years. Nottingham’s brewing scene is now Premier League quality too – the city has just launched seven Ale Trails, all named after a friend or foe of famed outlaw Robin Hood. So as the new season kicks off, with craft beer and football fans in mind, we present our pick of downtown action – from bustling boho hangouts to traditional pubs and vintage treasures.

barrel fall

Tucked away in a narrow ginnel, the cozy Barrel Drop – clean tables, ephemeral beer, interesting music – has a Parisian jazz cellar feel. It is closely linked to Nottingham’s Magpie Brewery, whose beers are a major attraction in Barrel Drop’s 17 lines of casks, casks and ciders. Beer lovers who crave the bitter, resinous era of West Coast IPAs will love Magpie’s Simcoe’s Trailhound, while featured beers from the likes of Siren, Arbor and Wild Beer cover numerous stylistic underpinnings. Of particular interest to traveling football fans, Magpie’s Crafty Warehouse brewery-tap (Fri-Sat, Unit 4-6, Ashling Court) is located off Notts County’s Meadow Lane, a 10- to 15-minute walk from Nottingham Forest’s City Ground. Opens on game days.
Pint from £3.60, magpiebrewery.com

The Kilpin and the Junkyard

Named after the Nottingham-born founder of AC Milan, Herbert Kilpin, Kilpin shares a courtyard garden and property with the neighboring Junkyard. Broadly speaking, Junkyard is a modern, post-industrial bar offering 15 lines of all varieties of craft beer, from complex imperial stouts to fruity pastry sours. Events with top breweries, most recently Maltgarden from Poland or Brewski from Sweden, complete this geek beer paradise. Kilpin is more traditional: it looks like a pub, it shows live sports and its range of beers goes beyond German and Belgian beers; try the elderflower dyed pale Kilpin, made by Nottingham aces, Black Iris. Fans of Trappist beers, wits, saisons and spontaneously fermented sour beers may never leave.
Kilpin pint from £3.70, thekilpin.co.uk


This Edwardian-era taxi driver’s shelter at Nottingham Station is a vintage gem: a simple wood-paneled room with 11 immaculate cask taps and draft beer and a compact, demanding selection of cans, ciders and perry. Local breweries such as Totally Brewed and Lenton Lane share the bar space with the cream of UK craftsmanship: Burning Sky, Buxton, Wander Beyond, Wilderness. There are some outdoor seating, but stay inside if you like musical surprises with your beer – Jonathan Richman, on this visit.
Pint from £3.90, beerheadz.biz

malt cross

A stone’s throw from Nottingham’s Old Market Square (fun fact: the largest public square in the UK after London’s Trafalgar), this striking Victorian architecture is now a café-bar and non-profit event space operated by the Nottinghamshire YMCA. Malt Cross, aptly named, is also a big supporter of craft beers. Its selection includes leaders of the national scene such as Marble, Kernel and Verdant, with an emphasis on Liquid Light from Nottingham, well represented in barrel (Malt was pouring Veloria, a blueberry and lemon radler sour, at the time of writing), and in several canned options.
Pint from £3.80, maltcross.com

Kean’s head

Nottingham’s Castle Rock began production in 1997 and, as a pub group, enthusiastically supported the emergence of modern craft beers. Its US-influenced Harvest Pale was stylistically pioneering, and in its pubs, Castle Rock has always featured its beers alongside those of its international brewing peers. Your beer coffee, the Barley Twist (91 Carrington St), or the Channelhome (a pub with an actual canal running through it, 48-52 Canal St) would be worthy additions to this guide in their own right. However, the one-room Kean’s Head near St Mary’s Church in Nottingham’s historic Lace Market district is a pilgrimage site for beer lovers. A screen scrolling through 14 pages of bottles and cans gives an indication of its reach, even before including six rows of kegs and 18 kegs. In the kitchen, Paajis also makes great food; he try the Punjabi samosa chaat.
Pint from £3.90, castlerockbrewery.co.uk

Related: The Inn Crowd: 10 of the UK’s Best Renovated Food Pubs with Rooms

The angel

This large, bustling boho space in Nottingham’s trendy Hockley enclave is as much a brewery as it is a music venue; you’ll find vinyl shelves, reel-to-reel tape machines and a concert space, the Chapel, which once housed the Arctic Monkeys, upstairs. Alongside beers from Northern Monk or Glen Affric, expect to see Angel’s pale four-grain Exodus, Archangel IPA and very citrusy pale Genesis at the bar. Very much a pub where you can pop in for one at 4pm and find yourself dancing upstairs at midnight.
Pint from £3.80, theangelmicrobrewery.co.uk

Six Barrels Shipyard

The draft beer selection at Hockley Six Barrels includes some enticing beers (on this visit, a 12% chilli stout from Nottingham’s Navigation Brewery), but it’s the bar fridges that will have beer nerds bowing in awe. They’re packed with beers from top breweries (Birmingham’s Dig, Derbyshire’s Bang the Elephant, Edinburgh sour specialists Vault City) covering every beer style imaginable, from dessert-inspired pastry stouts to lightly salted gose beers. If you want a 10% New England IPA from Dutch brewery Moersleutel, you’ve come to the right place. There is a second Six Barrels (14 Mansfield Road) near the Victoria mall.
Pint from £3.60, sixbarreldrafthouse.co.uk

Cock & Hoop

Unusually, this small bar at the Lace Market Hotel is big on beer. In this fly-pass, it was a Derby’s Shiny Brewery takeover, but don’t overlook their can selection, which, due to Cock’s new pricing strategy (calculated by strength, so a 4.1% can of Pentrich Brewing’s Little Fury would cost £4.10), may yield some relative bargains. The Cock’s fridge is full of good stuff from breweries like Burnt Mill and Elusive, as well as the talents of Nottingham Black Iris and Totally Brewed.
Pint from £4, lacemarkethotel.co.uk

bunker hill

Any pub that advertises a 10% Evil Twin Triple IPA as their beer of the week (25% off!) Brewing) is crammed with top-tier beer options. Also notable – a theme in Nottingham – was how friendly and engaged the bar staff were, sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge of good beer in a way that felt inclusive and welcoming.
Pint from £3.70, bunkershillnottingham.co.uk

brewery taps

Along Bunkers Hill Road you’ll find the low-lying streets of Sneinton Market, a 1930s wholesale market that was reborn as a hub for creative businesses and boutiques. The 12 lines of Neon Raptor brewery tap (Sex-Sun, pint about £5, neonraptorbrewingco.com) carries a range of pales, sours and IPAs and stronger, stronger stouts. Their 6.2% Dial Emma New England IPA is excellent. From Neon Raptor it’s a short walk to another of Nottingham’s hottest young breweries, Liquid Light. It’s a nice indoor-outdoor setup (Sex-Sun, beer from £4.80, liquidlightbrewco.com), with street food and a wonderful stack of vintage speakers above the bar. If you have time to venture outside of the city centre, the always brilliant black iris it is easily accessible by tram, open to the public from Friday to Sunday, and serves 12 beers by keg and keg (pint from £3.30, blackirisbottleshop.co.uk)

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