London’s best pubs for Guinness

All Outside Ireland: London is one of the best places outside of Ireland to grab a Guinness

Not all pints of Guinness are created equal.

The beloved Irish stout is a delicate thing; a decent jar needs an expert hand. There is some pub science, something to do with nitrogen, pressure, temperature, cleanliness (or not) of the lines. The glass matters. And then there’s the whole theater of pouring, the 45-degree angle, the famous pause, the possibility of letting it settle. Does everything matter? Maybe not by itself, but maybe altogether – no one argues about where to get the best pint of Heineken, after all.

While 40% of the world’s Guinness is said to be brewed in Africa, every drop of Britain’s drink comes from St James’s Gate in Dublin, which can produce around three million pints a day. And while the stuff across the sea will always have a better reputation than we have here – and there is a difference, all to do with pumps and pressure and gas – London certainly keeps its end, especially if you know what to look for. The Guinness Guru and @ShitLondonGuinness have some pointers here.

Before we get into our definitive list, we should make a few honorable mentions. The Tipperary on Fleet Street, which claims to have been the first pub outside of Ireland to sell Guinness, has what it takes to back up such a claim, but it closed after the pandemic and now looks permanently closed. We’re also fond of the Trader’s Inn on Church Street just off Edgware Road, as well as Flynn’s on Holloway Road, both well worth a stop if you’re passing through. There’s still a bit of research to be done in both before they hit the list below.

However, after countless pints, many consumed on our search for London’s 50 best pubs, here are the places to go for the best black stuff across the city.

The Auld Shillelagh

Stoke Newington might be a bit of a journey from anywhere other than Stoke Newington, but Auld Shillelagh is reason enough to visit. Young for a pub – born in 1991 – the place has an ancient soul. Snuggled into a tiny, tight corner from the outside, it opens up inside, though the space is kept cozy with old photos and newspaper clippings, alongside the odd sports trophy.

Owned by Roscommon brothers Aonghus and Tomas Leydon, and managed on a day-to-day basis by Tomas and his wife Iwona, Guinness is truly perfect, rich as anything. Its reputation not only runs through London, but also across the Irish Sea, where the press cite it as having the best pint of the black stuff in London (although sometimes pole position is also granted to Coach & Horses, below) . As a result, everyone from Shane McGowan to Brendan Gleeson has passed through, though there are countless stories of Irishmen in town heading to test things against their exacting standards. At the moment, they seem to be sticking to table service, so expect hands to go up every 20 minutes or so for the next desired round. There’s always another round here.

105 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UD,

Carriage and horses

    (Ewan Munro/Creative Commons)

(Ewan Munro/Creative Commons)

Though an American accent or two can be heard barking in the bar’s only room, this devoted old-fashioned drunk has managed, despite sitting at the east mouth of Covent Garden, to avoid a life of tourist hell. Guinness lovers will be drawn to the bragging signs outside, which claim to be the best Guinness in London, according to the Irish Post. Inside, the walls are a jumble of old newspaper clippings and antiquated pictures and mirrors, while the staff are friendly, chatting to the regulars, and service is quick. serves as a reminder why Freehouses can be so good. The pints here really are something special: they’re nice, actually, and entirely unhurried; the team is dedicated to giving him time to rest before reloading him for the right head. An absolute duty.

42 Wellington Street, WC2E 7BD, @coachandhorses_coventgarden

The Guinea Grid

Guinea is a decidedly English place, and therefore perhaps appears as an anomaly on this list. However, the legacy of former Irish landlord Oisin Rogers remains strong and there are few better places for a pint of Dublin’s most famous export. Though he’s since moved on to other projects, Rogers is a rare breed who can adequately explain why the 119.5-second pour time is more than a publicity bluff, and he’s passed on that knowledge to his former team – many who remain at Guinea – they are especially good at il pour (watch out especially for Tony). The pub clinks around 2,700 pints of the stuff a week, boosted in part by the Guinness Guru’s rating of the place as the best Guinness in central London.

30 Bruton Place, W1J 6NL,

The Audley

    (Simon Brown)

(Simon Brown)

…Where did Rogers go? Here, albeit as a consultant rather than landlord, but he’s often enough to keep an eye on things and do his gas sleight of hand. While the quality can drop from time to time when the place gets particularly busy, for the most part the pub has settled down and found its groove. It’s a nice room and it buzzes pleasantly throughout the day; the best time to come is early afternoon, for a pint and whisky, or maybe a Calvados. Something about it – probably that ceiling mural – gives the Audley a sense of occasion.

41-43 Mount Street, W1K 2RX,

Shephaven Bay

An unpretentious venue in Camden, this local favorite proudly boasts a regular tap of Guinness alongside the more customary extra-chilled one. The bartender here tends to always ask if there’s a preference, and if you’ve never done it before, go for the regular. Being slightly hotter means more of that Guinness flavor is evident, and pints here are reliably creamy and always have the all-important dome. Seated in one of the booths, it’s the sort of place you can spend hours on end, whilst, if it’s not too busy, the team brings the pints to the table once they’re ready. Decent whiskeys there too.

2 Mornington Street, NW1 7QD,

Home boy

A glittering den of absolute bliss. A neighborhood bar executed with disarming charm, Homeboy comes from top Irish bartenders Aaron Wall and Ciarán Smith, who stuck to a premise that should be foolproof – good drinks, fair prices – but which seems to confuse so many others. The two are dry, quick to laugh, and cocktail experts, but they also know their pints. The couple and their (presumably long-suffering) Guinness rep have spent a lot of time fiddling with the taps for just the right pressure, playing with the pipes to keep the beer from coming out shiveringly cold, and are picky about when the lines are cleaned. It may sound fussy, but their pints are nearly perfect. Those gasping for a Guinness across the river should head to the Homeboy down in Nine Elms, which cheerfully offers much the same.

108 Essex Road, N1 8LX,

Gibney’s / Narcissus Mulligan

Down under Richard Corrigan’s Daffodil Mulligan’s good food is “the space bar, Gibney’s”. Named for famous Irish landlord Tony Gibney and run by his son, Cormac – he figures he’s poured his first pulled pint around 11 – the bar is warm and happy; entering is like stumbling upon an old photo of a good time. Brass faucets glisten at the counter, where the Guinness toucan perches. They pour slowly here, carefully, taking care of the pint; it comes out absolutely silky. They have a dangerous amount of Irish whiskey to drink.

70-74 City Street, EC1Y 2BJ, narcisomulligan. com

O’Connor of wax

The stately exterior of this fine old Irish pub on Rupert Street is truly a must-see, but it’s inside where it really comes alive. Walk through the doors of the Mayfair Boozer and you’ll find a beautifully decorated interior, a great atmosphere and an outstanding pint. The pub is justifiably proud of the quality of its beers, and when the pub comes alive on matchdays, there are few better places to enjoy a few pints than W1.

14-16 Rupert Street, W1D 6DD,

The faltering fullback

Finsbury Park institution, the Fullback, is one of North London’s most popular sports pubs and the welcoming front room is an ideal place to gather at weekends. It’s also one of the best Irish pubs in the area and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to Guinness. It’s true that the post-lockdown quality of its black stuff hasn’t been infallibly good, but it’s still worth a visit. Be warned, it can get a bit crowded.

19 Perth Road, N4 3HB,

The twelve pins

Stock Image (Erik Jacobson/Unsplash)

Stock Image (Erik Jacobson/Unsplash)

Together with his full-back, this Seven Sisters Road drunk helps make Finsbury Park something of a Guinness bonanza, says Ian Ryan of @shitlondonguinness, the omniscient black junkie who lives nearby. Indeed, the Twelve Pins have knocked all local competition out of Ryan’s top five, and while it may not be the friendliest place – and its proximity to the Emirates Stadium means it’s packed whenever Arsenal play in home – there’s something self-effacing about the place, sounding like a local wino has quietly nailed the art of a Guinness.

263 Seven Sisters Road, N4 2DE,

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