What can I say about the last few months! But with light at the end of the tunnel (fingers crossed), here are my thoughts on the best pubs in Central Oxford.
Oxford City Centre is such an amazing place for anyone who enjoys a few pints. The trouble is, whenever people ask me “what’s the best pub in Oxford?” my answer depends on what they want: just a quick pint, decent pub food, or somewhere to spend a few hours with some drinks? So, I’ve jotted down some brief notes on my top 3, with a few honourable mentions.
Please note: some businesses may still be closed or working on limited opening hours due to COVID, do check their websites for updates.
My Top 3 Best Pubs
You may have seen my review on the reopening of The Grapes – which was frighteningly over a year ago; and although the food has changed, thankfully the beer variety has not! Many may remember turbulent times for the pub, being passed from brewery to brewery before West Berkshire Brewery took over. However, the consistently good beer selection keeps me going back week in, week out – when we’re allowed to anyway.
The core range of WBB beer remains; like the Maharaja IPA and Good Old Boy, as well as great seasonal lines. They held some excellent ‘Tap Takeovers’ from Tap Social, OxBrew, and Thornbridge which proved really popular. These breweries also feature in their guest lines, providing a perfect mix of differing beers from Stouts to Sours.
This is the place to go for one of the best beer selections in Oxford.
Winner of ‘Oxford City Pub of the Year’ from CAMRA, The Blenheim is another great pub. They have a wide selection of White Horse beers, and permanently stock of a couple of Titanic lines. Titanic Plum Porter is my go-to pint, as it’s one of my favourite beers of all time. The number of friends who’ve told me “I’m not drinking that, it’s too dark” or “I don’t drink porter”, then upon trying it “that’s actually really nice”. I even converted one of my exclusively larger drinking friends, and now the Blenheim is where we visit for after-work beers.
Not only is the cask ale selection great, they have more mainstream keg beers for those that don’t want ale. The Titanic plum gin is also excellent if you don’t fancy a beer. I’m also going to stick my neck out and say they do the best pork scratchings in Oxford!
Hook Norton’s City Centre pub, that’s come a long way from The Castle Tavern a few years ago. The extensive makeover now gives a brilliant upstairs bar which looks like it’s made from old Hook Norton beer crates. As you’d expect, it showcases Hook Norton’s flagship cask ales such as Old Hooky and Hooky Gold, plus keg beers like their Cotswold Pale.
Rotating keg lines at the other end of the bar are usually excellent, with the likes of Tiny Rebel, Northern Monk, and Wild Beer featuring pre-lockdown. They also offer a great pub food menu for lunch and dinner.
I wanted to mention some other establishments that are worth a mention for some good beer in central Oxford.
This is a great micropub in the Covered Market, boasting a great selection of Churchanbrewry beer, plus good local providers. They have an excellent bottle selection for takeaway, and you can fill up a growler for draught beers to takeaway.
Always busy, and a great place if you want to watch sport. They have a room upstairs where they show big sporting events, and have a couple of TVs downstairs. The beer selection remains pretty consistent with regular lines dedicated to XT brewery. They have a selection of mainstream lager which also has some changes for specials. St Aldates also serves up some great pub food.
This was a bit of a last-minute add if I’m honest, and a bit further out of the city centre. But, I’ve been impressed with the core range of beer and the interesting guest beers. They have Sierra Nevada California IPA on keg as well which is a nice change.
Keep an eye out for more comprehensive reviews, and I’ll be visiting some areas outside the city in coming months – subject to COVID-19!
I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Where do you think the best pubs are in Central Oxford? Give us your recommendations for perfect pints in other OX postcodes too.