Chester is a lovely city and you can easily while away a day exploring its historic and cultural gems. Or you can choose to get pissed in one (or more) of its many real ale outlets. With 48 to choose from, it’s probably better for your legs-and liver-to be somewhat discriminate in your choice of venues.  

Never mind six of the best. Here’s nine of the best that were put through their paces on Saturday.

Marlborough Arms
An interesting, narrow, one-roomed pub on St John Street that specialises in Stonehouse beers who are based in Oswestry, Shropshire. Sunlander, described as the first summer beer of the season, was tried and its tropical fruit and dry, but not aggressively hopped, nature was adjudged to be very conducive to calming our midday thirst.

Brewery Tap
This very impressive Jacobean property is must stop on any tour of Chester. Run by Spitting Feather brewery, it features their beers as well as a range of guest beers. The Citra infused offering from Yorkshire Dales was excellent and considered the beer of the day by the hophead lovers.

Cross Keys
Owned by Joules brewery, this is a smart pub on the corner of Lower Bridge Street. Pale Ale was the order of the day here and found to be in good quaffing order.

Pied Bull
This is a pub on the main drag that has transformed itself by becoming a brewpub. Hoppy and refreshing was the verdict on their beers here.

Red Lion 
Handily placed next door to the Pied Bull, this is now part of the Nicholsons estate and has been refurbished to a high standard. Posh as the Bolton folk would say. Or posh and expensive if you’re from Oldham. But there were no complaints on the beer front.

The Mill
Something of a Chester institution, this is a canal side hotel that used to be a favourite of late night barflys and ladies of the oldest profession. A sterile atmosphere is somewhat compensated for by the ten handpumps.

A Brunning & Price establishment that offers a good range of well kept beers. The relaxed vibe and good food make it a draw for many and seating is at a premium on a Saturday night.

One of the two bars that flank Harkers. Utilitarian in nature, it has recently started brewing its own. The lack of customers may have said something, but we felt duty bound to try some. Unfortunately, on this visit, of the two on offer, one was so-so and the other was vinegar.

The other bar that flanks Harkers. A silly name but now I’ve leant to stop calling it Asparagus, I’ve grown to kind of like it. A modern, but warm interior attracts a good crowd and the beer I usually go for-Outlandish Pale from Offbeat is a tasty treat.

An ex Italian restaurant, this is now a rare outlet for Bluball beers from Runcorn. There are two on handpump and several more on draught. They seem to major on speciality beers, but I doubt Kate Green would approve of their pumpclips.

In terms of pubs, Chester is a great compact crawl and probably only beaten by York in terms of sheer numbers. But, as a famous publication might say, this is only a snapshot of one visit. Why not try it yourself?


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