Canalside craft beer, revamped castles and olde English charm at London’s best pub gardens

Posted at 5:30 pm, July 12, 2014 in Food & Drink, Outdoor London
Crate brewery

Summer has arrived (in theory), bare flesh is on display and Londoners everywhere are a tiny bit cheerier. Time to savour a long, cool drink outside in one of the city’s best pub gardens. Our prediction for the next few months: good, becoming brilliant.

EAST

Crate Hackney Wick
The Wick may be a hinterland of former industrial warehouses, but perched on the River Lea is a welcoming space filled with people, noise, pizza and beer. Crate serves up its own fine microbrews right by the water – and if you’re lucky, you can even sit in one of their rowing boats. A pleasant enough experience when sober, but a little dicey when sozzled. You have been warned. The White Building, Unit 7, Queen’s Yard, E9 5EN. Hackney Wick Overground.

crooked billet

Crooked Billet Clapton
Clapton is transforming quicker than Katy Perry doing a costume change, but the refurbed Crooked Billet remains a place for all E5-ers to enjoy. When the mercury rises its massive garden becomes a big boozy playground: there’s a food truck, beach-hut booths for groups, a pingpong table and loads of plants and deckchairs for that Clapton-on-Sea feel. Grab a locally brewed beer, slap on a ‘kiss me quick’ hat and reveal your knobbly Hacknees. 84 Upper Clapton Rd, E5 9JP. Clapton rail.

peoples tavern

People’s Park Tavern Victoria Park
One minute it was an everyday boozer, the next it had become a forward-thinking microbrewing gastropub destination. But the real appeal of the pub formerly known as the Britannia is its lush beer garden backing on to the vast Victoria Park, with an outdoor kitchen and a fantastic selection of drinks. It offers all the benefits of drinking in the park without looking like a derelict, accidentally tripping up an angry red-faced jogger or wandering around looking for a loo. Heaven. Grove Rd, E9 7DE. Hackney Wick Overground.

SOUTH

Bar Story Peckham
Admittedly, there’s not much greenery to Bar Story’s ‘garden’, but what it lacks in foliage it makes up for in hip urban ambience. Nestled in a railway arch under Peckham Rye station, it boasts two outdoor spaces, either side of the bar, filled with potted plants and London’s next generation of important, opinion-dividing artists. Top-notch cocktails and DJs make this one of Peckham’s quintessential destinations, whether you’re there to explain where Nicolas Bourriaud has gone wrong, or just to relax and have a nice time. 213 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL. Peckham Rye Overground.

The castle

The Castle Tooting
There has been a pub on this site since 1832, although the current incarnation of the Castle is a tasteful contemporary Young’s revamp. It’s perfectly nice, but the outside is more exciting with a great range of seating areas, cabana-style huts and heaters. Line your stomach with pub classics like burgers or fish and chips, then lounge in the sun and down some pints. Fit for a king! 38 Tooting High St, SW17 0RG.  Tooting Broadway.

[Photo: Jack Latimer]

The New Cross House New Cross
The appeal of the New Cross House doesn’t lie in its garden as such (devoid of grass, though sizeable); it’s in the ivy-covered, two-storey barn next to it. Lean out of a window with a glass of wine and a Gauloise on a sunny evening and, if you squint really hard, you could be in the South of France not sarf London. Or even Italy, if you’re enjoying one of their decent pizzas. 316 New Cross Rd, SE14 6AF. New Cross Gate Overground.

WEST

The Crabtree Hammersmith
Neighbouring footie team Fulham FC may have been relegated and the club’s bizarre Michael Jackson statue has bitten the dust, but locals here are still blessed with one of the capital’s finest beer gardens. The outdoor area is nothing short of epic: swish wooden decking stretches from the residential streetfront to the banks of the Thames, with weeping willows and parasols providing shelter for the sun-shy. It can get several-deep at the bar when things hot up, but jugs of Pimm’s (naturally), ales and a sizzling barbecue keep fans from playing away. Rainville Rd, W6 9HA. Barons Court.

the eagle

The Eagle Ravenscourt Park
While the inside of this boozer is nothing to write home about, the outdoor area is definitely worth an Instagram. You’ll feel like you’ve gatecrashed a garden party at an absolutely minted friend of a friend’s house: the Eagle’s garden is a luscious green space complete with enough decking to put B&Q to shame, many potted plants and a pair of beach huts to provide welcome shade. You may have to zigzag past rampaging toddlers on your way to and from the bar (this is Nappy Valley territory), but a top drinks selection makes it worth the trip. 215 Askew Rd, W12 9AZ.  Ravenscourt Park.

The Windsor Castle Kensington
No crowds of tourists, no £20 entrance charge and no shortage of lovely booze – the Windsor Castle pub in Kensington is undoubtedly more fun than its real namesake upriver, and its garden is a right royal treat. This walled suntrap has its own outside bar; this is prime Pimm’s territory, so gallons of it are drunk here every summer, although just as many real ale fans flock here too. It’s also close enough to Hyde Park to make it a super stop-off after a splash in the Serpentine. 114 Camden Hill Rd, W8 7AR.  Notting Hill Gate.

NORTH

the albion

The Albion Islington
This Georgian boozer embodies its name with so much olde-worlde English charm that you’ll feel like a few rousing verses of ‘Rule Britannia’ after just a couple of ales. Returning to practical matters, it’s far enough from Barnsbury’s main roads to ensure there’s barely a whisper of traffic noise to be heard. At the wooden tables in the walled beer garden, you can sit amid trees and colourful flowers, and feel a world away from modern city life. 10 Thornhill Rd, N1 1HW.  Angel.

faltering fallback

The Faltering Fullback Finsbury Park
Oh, you think the forest moon of Endor is in a galaxy far, far away? Well, here’s a little-known fact: it’s not. It’s in Finsbury Park. At least, that’s how you’ll feel when perched on one of the many tiers of the Faltering Fullback’s small but clever suntrap of a beer garden, whose decked levels are covered in endless foliage that rises up to cover the pub’s roof. Sadly no Ewoks. 19 Perth Rd, N4 3HB.  Finsbury Park.

White Hart Stoke Newington
Far from the organic veg shops and holistic pharmacies of the rest of Stoke Newington, the White Hart is an oasis of meat-eating, alequaffing delight (there are no fewer than five Sunday roast options on the menu). During summer, its immense, two-tiered garden, with a patio area as well as an expansive green space, explodes into life. The perfect spot for a large group gathering in the sun, a shared bottle of wine or other Stokey staples. 69 Stoke Newington High St, N16 8EL. Rectory Rd rail.

Find more great beer gardens in London. For another cool place to grab a beer, try the Craft Beer Bus.

Compiled by Euan Ferguson, Eddy Frankel and Mark O’Donnell.

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