Jeff Evans: The World's Best Beer Bars

28 August, 2013


The White Horse, 1–3 Parson’s Green, London SW6 4UL

whitehorsesw6.com

London has gone beer crazy. Breweries seem to be opening every week and there are now so many excellent pubs and bars specialising in quality beer that you’re never far from a classy pint. 

Despite all the justifiable attention showered on these vibrant parvenues, there is one pub that has been showcasing outstanding beer for more than two decades and continues to meet the challenge of rivals head on. 

The ‘Sloaney Pony’ has been a destination beer pub since the early days of cask master Mark Dorber’s involvement in the 1990s. Dorber has now moved on but The White Horse remains a remarkable place to indulge in fine beer. 

Cask ale continues to be prominent, with a bank of handpumps dispensing beers from top British breweries. But keg beers from the US, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic and other beer outposts now also vie for attention – as does the seriously impressive bottled beer selection, which pulls together many global classics. 


Weisses Bräuhaus, Tal 7, 80331 Munich

weisses-brauhaus.de

Germans are so conservative when it comes to beer that international influences are only now beginning to take hold in their country. Most pubs, bars and taverns still focus on the output of one, usually very local, brewery, with perhaps just a hell (pale lager), a pils and weizen (wheat beer) on tap. 

But there are some establishments that are somewhat more adventurous. The Weisses Bräuhaus in Munich is one. 

Reconstructed from the bombed-out remains of the Schneider brewery, this bustling pub-restaurant is solidly traditional, right up to its army of no-nonsense waitresses who take your order at the table and charge you at the end of the experience. 

If you can find room around your substantial food selections – each Bavarian to the core, including more ways to cook pork than seems possible – then there are some terrific beer choices to take on board. The Schneider brewery survived the WWII bombing by relocating fully to its other brewhouse in Kelheim but today the old site is a showcase for its impressive selection of wheat beers, including the perennially classy Schneider Weisse and the astonishingly complex Aventinus. 


In De Wildeman, Kolksteeg 3, 1012 PT Amsterdam

In De Wildeman

indewildeman.nl

Despite the gracefulness of its canals and bridges, the glory of its museums and its compelling – often tragic – history, Amsterdam, at times, can be hugely claustrophobic. 

It feels you’re struggling through a hedonistic nightmare of thronging crowds and drunken stag parties, confronted by a sex trade so in your face you feel you need a damn good wash. 

Defying this insanity for many a year has been In De Wildeman, a knocked-about but true oasis of beer quality in the midst of the teeming city centre. 

The tables are scuffed and the comforts are sparse but, with some 200 beers in bottle and a further 18 on draught, you can easily forgive this lack of softness. The roll call of celebrated Low Countries and international breweries on the beer menus provides welcome respite from the commerciality of most Amsterdam outlets. 

The food is defiantly simple – cheeses and dried sausages – but, in combination with an inevitably wise selection from the taps or fridges, takes on the persona of a culinary feast. 

So very often, the best things in life are, if not free, at least free of frills. If you’ve come into the ‘Wild Man’ to escape the madness on the streets, you’ll find it hard to leave and step into that gaudy maelstrom again.





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Nick Strangeway

Bar food's blurred lines

Once upon a time pubs and bars were somewhere you went with the sole purpose of getting pissed and there wasn’t a knife and fork in sight, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.

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