204 Stoke Newington High Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 7HU
The Jolly Butchers suits its convivial name – a big, welcoming free house at the point where Stoke Newington Church Street (chi chi shops, hip bars) meets the High Street (chain stores, pound shops). With its astonishing range of real ale and craft beers – not to mention its vast open space and high ceilings – when it’s busy (which is most nights), this pub has the feel of a particularly groovy beer festival. The crowd, from winsome twenty-somethings to a beardy CAMRA crew, are here for the beers, of course, but also the conversation – it’s the kind of place you’ll bump into old friends and get chatting to strangers. During the day it’s the perfect spot for a quiet pint enjoyed while reading the newspaper; flooded with light from the huge Victorian windows, there’s generally no music here, and no TV. As for the beer, there are seven real ales and three real ciders on tap at any one time, and scores more in bottles. It’s an impeccable selection, many of them drawn from independent breweries from all over Britain – including Brodies from Leytonstone, the Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey (great porters and pale ales), and Tottenham’s Redemption Brewery (try the Big Chief Cask Ale). You can have a Rauchbier, an Erdinger Weissbier or an American barley wine; perhaps a Fuzzy Duck, a Goose Island 312 or a pint of Jaipur. There’s good food, too: cheese and beer tasting platters, a modern European menu, and a Sunday roast (including a vegetarian nut roast) that’s a firm favourite with local families and singletons alike.