Cheers! Why we love real ale

Derby is the best place to enjoy real ale in the UK

With 14 real ale breweries in the city, Derby’s fantastic brewing history is as popular as ever.

The city has been the CAMRA Capital of Real Ale for over 10 years and there has never been a better time to come and enjoy a pint or two.

Whether or not you’ve ever tried real ale before or not, the experience in Derby is unrivalled.

Mr. Grundy’s Tavern in Derby

Mr Grundy’s is a micro-brewery and tavern on Ashbourne road. 

This is Taylor Brown, of Merchant Street’s, favourite spot to drink. 

He said “It sounds funny but Big Willie is great, it tastes awesome. We just don’t get ales like this back in the States.”

This is of course one of Mr Grundy’s very own real ales and one of eight other options.

The selection at Mr. Grundy’s makes it one of the best places in Derby to drink real ale and the people who come here also seem to think so.

If you’re catching a train in to the city then you will be greeted by a fantastic place to drink real ale.

The Brunswick inn boasts a huge selection of around 16 real ales from the city and the licensee Alan Pickersgill says “we work very closely with the hotel next to use to make sure we offer different ales.”

This means straight off the train there is a fantastic variety right at your feet; it’s a must stop off inn on the way into the city.

Another fantastic place to drink real Derby ale is The Exeter Arms. This pub is owned by one of Derby’s favourite breweries, The Dancing Duck Brewery.

The Dancing Duck is of course an award-winning Derby microbrewery that makes over 14,000 pints a week for sale.

With four core ales and 14 more regular ones, The Exeter Arms is a must visit if a true taste of Derby is what you want.


READ MORE: Derby is an Ale of a time!


The licensee of The Exeter Arms and owner of The Dancing Duck Brewery Rachel Matthews says “if you’re looking for a Dancing Duck, the Exeter Arms is as good a place as any. If not the best!”

The Dancing Duck’s Dark Drake remains its most popular ale after winning multiple prizes over the last few years – notably the champion beer of Britain two years ago.

Whilst on a real ale trip to Derby, a pilgrimage to Ye Olde Dolphin Inne is a must.

Ye Olde Dolphin Inne is located in the Cathedral Quarter of Derby’s city centre. Picture source: VisitDerby

In one of the oldest pubs in England you will find friendly staff and more importantly a whole host of real ales.

A pub that has been here since 1530 and the beer is anything but old. You will not regret visiting this fantastic grade 2 listed pub.

The Bless is another favourite pub of residents in the city. 

Josh Carrington-Mackenzie of Ashbourne Road says “The Bless always has a huge selection of ale, but my favourite at the moment is Dancing Duck’s ‘Hoppy Christmas’. The selection of real ale here is great.”


Here are a few real ale’s to try in Derby.

  1. Big Willie (Mr, Grundy’s) 4.3% – A golden ale packed with hops found at Mr. Grundys tavern and The Bless.
  2. Ay Up (Dancing Duck) 3.9% – A great session ale with citrus and floral flavours found at the Exeter Arms and The Bless. 
  3. Dark Drake (Dancing Duck) 4.5% – Delicious caramel and malty stout also found at The Bless and Exeter Arms.
  4. Gold (Derventio) 4.2% – A great tasting pale bitter found at pubs all around Derby.
  5. Triple Hop (Brunswick) – Three hops used to create a great tasting straw coloured ale found at the Brunswick Inn.


There really has never been a better time to come to Derby to experience this fantastic local culture.

If pubs and bars aren’t your thing and Beer festivals are, Derby has lots to offer here too. 

There is a Summer and a Winter beer festival.