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7 Real Ale Pubs in York We Love

We have picked 7 of York’s best real ale pubs to satisfy all beer lovers! From cosy traditional pubs to trendy craft beer spots, here are 7 real ale pubs in York that we love.

Incredibly, York’s pubs offer over 300 real ales anytime. This is a testament to the popularity of cask beer and the pubs that serve them. Selecting the top 7 real ale pubs in York was daunting, but we have managed to curate a solid list that guarantees quality and variety! Here are 7 real ale pubs in York that we think you will love as much as we do.


1. The Blue Bell

Adults only | York’s smallest pub | Dog friendly

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The Blue Bell real ale pub in York
Yorks’s smallest pub!
Image credit: The Blue Bell Facebook.

A visit to The Blue Bell in York is necessary if you love your real ales. This spot caters to those with a taste for cask-conditioned real ale. The pub features a 19th-century interior that has remained intact. The entire space is adorned with beautiful wood panelling and features a cosy front bar, complete with a real fire that adds to its ambiance. It also boasts a small back room and connecting corridor, conveniently served through a hatch. Even though it may seem small, the pub impresses with seven handpumps on the bar. They are dog friendly but kindly ask you to keep four-legged friends off the furniture. Treats and water bowls are always available.

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2. The Swan

Lovely outdoor seating area | Close to city attractions | Dog friendly

The Swan Pub in York
Just outside of the city walls of York, The Swan is a true gem of a pub.
Image Credit: Tripadvisor.

Just outside of the city walls of York, The Swan is a true gem of a pub. It’s a short walk from Clifford’s Tower and the other renowned attractions in York’s city centre. So, it’s a great stopping place for a drink. The local community and visitors cherish this two-roomed pub; the service is always friendly, the atmosphere is welcoming, and the ales are exceptional. Their beer garden is lovely if you fancy sitting in the sunshine.

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3. The Golden Ball

Community run pub | Grade II listed building | Live music from local artists

The Golden Ball real ale pub in York
The Golden Ball is a unique and cherished establishment in York.
Image Credit: Tripadvisor.

A proper local and community-run pub, The Golden Ball is a unique and cherished real ale pub in York. Set in a Grade II listed building, which features a beautifully preserved Victorian layout, it has been recognised for its historical significance. It is listed in CAMRA’s national inventory of historic pub interiors. They prioritise offering a range of hand-pulled cask ales, particularly emphasising exceptional quality locally produced beers. They strive to maintain a well-balanced selection that regularly rotates, ensuring a delightful experience for beer connoisseurs and enthusiasts. In addition, the Golden Ball strongly emphasises fostering a sense of community. 

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4. The Brew York Beer Hall & Tap Room 

Under 18s welcome until 8pm | Brewery tours | Dog friendly

Brew York tours
Brew York conducts weekly brewery tours.
Image Credit: Brew York Facebook.

The Tap Room is the ground floor space with exposed brick walls and murals. They offer a diverse selection of Brew York beers, served fresh from six cask hand pulls and ten keg taps. Adjacent to the original brewery, the taproom provides an up-close and personal experience where you can learn more about the craft and artistry of beer-making. They also conduct weekly brewery tours. These interactive tours offer an opportunity to learn about the equipment and brewing process. Plus, you get to taste four different Brew York beers. On the first floor is the Bavarian-style Beer Hall, which boasts the largest selection of beers, lagers, and ciders in York. The open kitchen here, Yuzu Street Food, offer incredible dishes to enjoy with your drinks. They receive fantastic reviews, and we recommend visiting. 

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5. Pivni 

Central location | 16th century building | Dog friendly 

Pivni in York serves a selection of real ales
Pivni is a real ale and world beer free house in York.
Image Credit: Pivni York Facebook.

Pivni is a real ale and world beer free house in York. Set in a three-storey, 16th-century building just off the famous Little Shambles, they serve real ales and a carefully curated selection of premium cider, wine, and spirits from across the globe. The staff are welcoming, kind, and friendly, which reflects in the excellent reviews they receive. They also know their stuff and will let you sample beers before choosing. 

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6. The Pheonix Inn

Pretty beer garden area | Live jazz sessions | Dog friendly

The Pheonix Inn serve northern beers and always has five real ales on tap.
The Pheonix Inn serve northern beers and always has five real ales on tap.
Image Credit: The Pheonix Inn Facebook.

This is an authentic and independent real ale pub in York. Here you can expect a traditional pub experience free from the distractions of gaming machines, televisions, jukeboxes, or mobile phones. Instead, during the winter months, find tranquillity in the front bar as you cosy up by the crackling log fire, indulging in a good read. They are committed to serving northern beers and always have five real ales on tap. Golden Pippin, Landlord and Wold Top Bitter are the current resident beers served alongside two regularly changing guest ales. They have a delightful, paved beer garden, a sun-soaked haven that offers a picturesque view of the city walls. It’s the perfect spot to soak up the warmth and enjoy the atmosphere.

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7. The Market Cat

Shambles Market location | Milanese-style pizzas | Dog friendly

The Market Cat Pub in York
This three-storey pub offers excellent city views through to York Minster.
Image Credit: The Market Cat Facebook.

Nestled on the corner of Shambles Market, this three storey pub offers excellent city views through to York Minster. Formerly housing Yorkshire’s esteemed pawnbroker, Herbert Brown & Son, the building has undergone a meticulous restoration, resulting in a pub that blends timeless traditions with a contemporary flair. They serve a vast range of craft beers on cask and keg and also feature a superb wine selection which boasts many sustainable and organic wines. They also showcase spirits from across the globe, including no less than 17 Gins, hand-picked soft drinks and locally sourced coffee and tea. Fancy a pizza? Their pizza chefs craft the best Milanese-style pizzas. A selection of bar snacks, nibbles and salads are also available.

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So, whether you’re a devoted ale enthusiast or simply looking to immerse yourself in this city’s rich history and culture, explore these 7 real ale pubs in York we love. Let us know in the comments if we have missed out on your favourite!

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