6 of the best real ale pubs in Edinburgh

Here's some of the best places to enjoy real ale in Edinburgh

Published 19th May 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

With all the furore currently surrounding craft beer, many people will have overlooked the cask ales that kick started the demand for good beer in the first place.

Should you be looking to find somewhere to enjoy real ale in Edinburgh we have created this handy guide to some of the best pubs in which to enjoy some amazing cask ales from some of Scotland's (and the rest of the UK's) best breweries:

1. The Abbotsford

(3-5 Rose Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 2PR
0131 225 5276)

A wonderful traditional pub situated on the city's lively Rose Street, the Abbotsford has it all; a great interior (including a wonderful Jacobean-style ceiling), a stunning collection of real ales, whisky and spirits and luscious amounts of delicious food.

Like an Aladdin's cave of spirits, ales and Scottish cuisine, the Abbotsford doesn't look like much from the outside but inside, you are greeted by a mahogany island bar with welcoming staff and several real ale taps with beers on rotation, many of which are local staples. If you are looking for a great traditional pub in Edinburgh to enjoy real ales then look no further.


2. Bert's Bar

(29-31 William Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NG
0131 225 5748)

Located only a few minutes' walk away from Princes Street shopping and Princes Gardens, Bert's Bar is a throwback to the simple days of pubs serving great beers with simple delicious food (usually used just to soak up that wonderful alcohol). Sporting no less than nine cask ale pumps loaded with the best of Scotland's breweries and offering a pie and a pint for just £5, Bert's is the best place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life or to take in a great game of rugby in relaxing surroundings.

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3. Malt and Hops

(45 Shore, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH6 6QU
0131 555 0083)

Dating all the way back to 1749, it's safe to say that Malt and Hops have been satisfying Edinburgh's residents' need for good beer for a very long time.

Overlooking the water at The Shore in Leith, M & H is a regular in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and offers no less than eight real ales on tap at any one time as well a plentiful amount of whisky and interestingly, cask conditioned cider (not for the faint of heart). With a traditonal real ale pub feel, complete with open fire, beer mats and traditional mirrors, you'll feel right at home.

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4. Noble's bar

(44a Constitution Street, Edinburgh EH6 6RS
0131 629 7215)

Prepare to be dazzled by the stunning stain glass and interesting features that are on display at Noble's. The wonderful decor doesn't distract from the great range of local beers, and with a cracking selection of individual and unique furniture fixtures, including old church pews, you'll never struggle to find a seat. Be careful though, once you do get seated, the enticing array of beers, spirits and gorgeous Scottish food - created from locally sourced ingredients by head chef Thomas Parsons - might just make you stay longer than you intend to.


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5. The Roseleaf 

(23/24 Sandport Place, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH6 6EW
0131 476 5268)

Situated in the historic Port 'o Leith, you'll find the exciting Roseleaf bar and cafe, already featured on our cocktail bars guide, this excellent little pub also offers an extensive selection of real ales, mainly bottled (though there are two taps, one resident and one guest). You'll love the classic decor and the insane amount of curiosities that fill this wondrous little bar. With a lively atmosphere and brilliant service, you'll find yourself coming back again and again.



6. The Bow Bar

(80 West Bow, Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2HH, 0131 226 7667)

A real ale pub in the truest sense, the Bow bar focuses on doing the simple things well, namely serving great beer and offering a wondrous amount of whisky. When you enter the first thing you'll notice is the gantry, quickly followed by the fact that the bar has no less than eight real ale taps.

Offering all the best Scottish real ales including Kelburn, Alechemy, Loch Lomond, Cromarty and, Knops as well as a few from across the border, you'll be spoiled for choice.

Bow bar

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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