Best Brew Pubs in Edinburgh

Find Wonderful Beers and Ales in Some of Edinburgh's Best Drinking Establishments

Beer has been brewed in Scotland for over five thousand years, and throughout this time Edinburgh has been an important center for the production of beer. Edinburgh’s nickname, Auld Reekie, is a reference to the smoke produced by the furnaces which powered this industry. The city streets are no longer clouded by the smoke from breweries, but Edinburgh’s love affair with beer is in no way diminished and until very recently Fountainbridge retained the distinct aroma of hops. All over the city, real ales and craft beers are sold in Free Houses (pubs not tied to one of the large breweries) and patrons can whet their whistle with a truly eclectic mix of beers from Scotland and beyond.

Brew Dog may have set tongues wagging with publicity stunts, such as their battle to obtain the highest ABV (alcohol by volume) possible, and wrapping their “End of History” beer in roadkill, but they are also very serious about the business of creating great craft beers. Similar devotion to the craft of brewing is evident in Andrew Usher & Co, named after the famous Edinburgh distiller and philanthropist. Those who crave a relaxed environment and some wonderful craft beers and ales will be right at home in the heavenly Cloisters.

Whatever your preference, there should be somewhere on our list of brew pubs which is just right for you.


Holyrood 9A has gained quite a reputation for its selection of beers and ales and for the excellent burgers. Behind a deceptively diminutive exterior lies an open and welcoming bar with a large dining area to the rear. The polished wood paneling, leather seating and minimalist décor give the bar a cool, relaxed atmosphere and the large picture windows keep even the cozy alcoves feeling light and airy. They feature a regular rotation of regional draft beers from Scottish craft brewers and internationally acclaimed exporters, but the real stars of the show are the craft beers from the William Bros Brewing Company such as the wonderfully named Caesar Augustus and the rich dark Blackball Stout.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Holyrood 9A is a great place to sample a wide range of craft beers from Scottish microbrewers in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Simon's expert tip: The seven rotational keg lines and three rotational cask lines means that you will always find something to tempt you, whatever your taste.

Read more about The Holyrood 9A →

The Cumberland Bar is hidden away in a quiet, cobbled street in the picturesque and historic New Town district of Edinburgh. The bar boasts a wide array of cask conditioned real ales, draft beers and ales, and bottled craft beers, but also has what few good beer bars in Edinburgh can offer – a wonderful beer garden. The interior of the bar is decorated in rich warm tones with wood paneling and features a huge real fireplace to warm revelers when the inclement weather drives them out of the leafy beer garden. This pub is a little off the beaten track for visitors to the capital, but well worth seeking out for the quality beers and the relaxed friendly atmosphere.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: The Cumberland bar has a great selection of beers to enjoy, and a wonderful beer garden to enjoy them in.

Simon's expert tip: Look out for Wells and Young's "Waggle Dance" beer, a real treat made with fair trade honey.

Read more about The Cumberland Bar →

Brauhaus is a cosy little German style beer house with an incredibly large menu of bottled craft beers from all over the globe, although they do specialize in German beers and beers from Scottish microbreweries. An old Scottish student favorite known as Snakebite (a fifty-fifty mix of beer and cider also known as a Pink Panther or Diesel if blackcurrant juice is added) has been reinvented here in a collaboration between Thistly Cross Cider and the Tempest Brewery with surprisingly good results! The bar is small and intimate with comfy couches and a smattering of bar stools, so go early if you want a seat.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Brauhaus has a huge range of bottled beers from all over the world and features craft beers from a number of Scottish microbreweries.

Simon's expert tip: The £10 beer bucket, featuring five beers from different regions of the world, is great for those who find the huge menu daunting.

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Jeremiah's Taproom is a haven for lovers of craft beer. With over sixteen taps featuring five craft-keg and three cask lines as well as a growing range of bottled beers from many of Scotland and England's best microbreweries there is much to celebrate for devotees and tourists alike. The interior may be a rather strange meeting of a traditional Victorian public house with a trendy New York beer bar, but the honest enthusiasm of the staff and the wide selection of quality beers has done much to win a loyal following. They also serve rather good pub grub, most notably generous burgers and hot dogs, crispy beer battered fish and excellent chips.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Jeremiah's Taproom has a great selection of beers and a friendly unpretentious atmosphere

Simon's expert tip: Be brave and try the wares of the newest microbreweries (such as the delightful 3.9% Smoke Bomb from Morpeth's Anarchy Brewing). You will not find them in many other pubs, and will not be disappointed!

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Brew Dog was established in 2007 by two young men who were passionate about craft beer and tired of uninspiring industrially produced beers and ales. They began to brew headline grabbing beers such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin (with an astonishing 32% ABV) and Sink the Bismarck (an incredible 41% ABV -the result of a beer arms race between Germany and Scotland). They opened their first bar in Aberdeen in 2010 and the following year opened a Brew Dog pub in the heart of Edinburgh which quickly became a local sensation. The bar is nestled within the suitably grimy Cowgate alongside rock bars and live music venues and the exposed brickwork, stainless steel and reclaimed furniture creates the perfect backdrop for some truly exceptional micro-brewed beers and ales. How can you resist?

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Brew Dog is a genuinely independent brew pub with a great selection of craft beers and ales.

Simon's expert tip: Be careful – some of their ales are very strong indeed and not for the fainthearted!

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In the summer there's no better pub to head for in Edinburgh because the Pear Tree features a large suntrap beer garden and it is always busy with an eclectic range of people. It's especially busy during the festival thanks to its proximity to a number of popular Fringe venues. The rest of the year it serves as a popular student haunt, but anyone in the South Side with a thirst should pop in here for a drink. The large central bar has been serving up drinks to locals since 1982, but the building has been around for over 250 years now.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: The Pear Tree is a great place to enjoy the produce of Barney's Beer - Edinburgh's only microbrewery.

Simon's expert tip: Head here on rare, warm summer days and enjoy the beer garden.

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Bow Bar
Photo courtesy of Simon Hill

Once named "best drinker's pub in Britain," the Bow Bar is known for its huge selection of ales, malts and whiskeys. At last count, there were 140 kinds of malts on the menu! The bar staff are friendly and always ready to help newcomers choose a suitable tipple. Decked out in traditional pub style, this is an unpretentious, friendly place with comfortable booths. You'll find it on Victoria Street which curves down from the Old Town and stretches into the Grassmarket. If you want to soak up some of the lively atmosphere without braving the crowds then the Bow Bar is close enough.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Bow Bar has a huge range of quality ales and still uses Scottish tall founts instead of English hand pumps to serve cask-conditioned beer.

Simon's expert tip: This is a great place for curious people to try out new whisky.

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Andrew Usher & Co (also known simply as "Ushers") is a wonderful craft beer pub in the south side of Edinburgh. It is named after the wealthy distiller who funded the construction of the Usher Hall and once lived in Nicholson House (now known as Pear Tree House). They pride themselves on being "the purveyors of mankind's greatest creation", so it should come as no surprise that they have an outstanding selection of both draft and bottled craft beers and ales. Not to rest on their laurels, they also serve very good pub food which is a step above your usual pub fayre. The beer glazed burgers and spicy drunken chicken are delicious and generously proportioned and their all day breakfast is a thing of beauty.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Great beers, delicious food and lively ambiance make Andrew Usher's a worthy memorial to Edinburgh's great distiller and philanthropist

Simon's expert tip: In a fitting tribute to Andrew Usher's reputation as the father of blended Scotch whisky, you can blend your own unique bottle of whisky on the premises.

Read more about Andrew Usher & Co →

This classic, dark wood-lined pub has a laid-back appearance and friendly, laid-back staff to match. It's a welcoming pub with a great range of drinks and a lively conversational atmosphere. A more mature crowd meets here for real ale made on the premises along with all the classic British favorites. The lunch is popular, thanks to a large variety of well-prepared pub food. The bar is well-stocked and this is a popular place with locals and visitors alike. It's always busy which is the unmistakable sign of a good pub. You'll find it just along from Tollcross towards the Meadows.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: Cloisters is a great place to worship at the altar of craft beers and ales.

Simon's expert tip: If you hate loud music in bars then Cloisters is for you, it never has any music.

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The Hanging Bat offers a delectable array of independently brewed beers and ales including over twenty draft beers and one hundred bottled beers. They also brew their own beer in a pilot brewery, and it is well worth seeking out. The bar is suitably crypt-like, with lots of dark wood and deep red leather couches, dimly lit by a plethora of candles and gas effect lamps. The atmosphere is always warm and relaxed. The beers and ales are perfectly complimented by independently sourced breads, sausages, cheeses, pretzels and cakes that are a cut above usual bar snacks. This is a real gem hiding amongst the less inspiring bars of Lothian Road.

Recommended for Brew Pubs because: The Hanging Bat has a great selection of independent beers and ales and their own weekly brew is of a very high standard.

Simon's expert tip: The cask and keg beers change frequently, so there is always a new and delectable brew to sample.

Read more about The Hanging Bat →


Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

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