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16 of the best real ale pubs in Devon

PUBLISHED: 15:40 16 February 2018

The Ship & Pilot Inn (c) (Mick Baker)rooster, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Ship & Pilot Inn (c) (Mick Baker)rooster, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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From pale ale and real cider to craft beer, Devon is home to a number of real ale breweries and CAMRA award-winners, meaning a good pub is never far away – we pick 16 places to go in Devon to find the best pint

1) The Queens Arms, Brixham

Aiming to ‘bring back traditional values for locals and visitors alike’ the Queens Arms in Brixham was awarded the 2014 South Devon Pub of the Year by CAMRA. Boasting seven hand pumps with six ales and one traditional cider that change frequently, it has rightfully earned such critical acclaim.

2) Tom Cobley Tavern, Crediton

A traditional 16th Century pub in Spreyton, the Tom Cobley Tavern serve up to 14 real ales are served at any one time from 8 hand pumps at the bar, and the remaining straight from the cask in their cellar.

Six-time winner of Exeter and East Devon CAMRA Pub of the Year, you will also find 14 real ciders including some perries stocked at any one time. Their food is also exceptional and they were the winners of Devon Life’s best Sunday roast at our 2017 Food & Drink Awards

3) The Butterleigh Inn, Butterleigh

This traditional Devonshire Inn is nestled in the heart of the rolling countryside on the edge of the Exe Valley. Featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 28 consecutive years, The Butterleigh Inn is accredited under the CAMRA Locale scheme so you can be sure it stocks the best beers from local brewers.

Regular ales are the Cotleigh Tawny Bitter, Yellowhammer and Otter beers in addition to a fourth guest beer that’s sometimes local and sometimes from further afield.

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4) Ship and Pilot, Ilfracombe

Promising ‘excellent beer and great company’, the Ship and Pilot offer a selection of six real ales and six ciders to choose from. Decorated with local photos spanning many years, the focus of The Ship and Pilot really is on the beer – food is not something you can order at this pub.

The pub was crowned North Devon CAMRA’s Pub of the Year 2013 and was refurbished in 2017 to ensure the surroundings are as tip-top as the drinks they serve.

5) The Drewe Arms Inn, Drewsteignton

Listed on CAMRA’s inventory of historic pub interiors, The Drewe Arms Inn evolved from a series of cottages. Featuring a cosy bar with fixed seating, a toasty open log fire and traditional pub games such as bar billiards and shove ‘alfpenny, the whole atmosphere is tailored to remind you of the pubs of old.

Drinks are also served the old-fashioned way from three serving hatches to further reinforce an ancient, traditional feeling you don’t see too often these days.

6) Red Lion, Exbourne

Named North Devon CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2014, 2015 and 2017, The Red Lion is a traditional 16th Century real ale pub set in the countryside of Mid Devon near Dartmoor.

Real ale is served direct from the barrel, with Fox from Exmoor Ales, Brewers Blend from Hanlons Brewery and Sharp’s Original as the regular ales. In addition to the changing guest ales, Winkleigh Cider supply the locally produced cider, made at their factory just six miles away.

7) Foxhound Inn, Brixton

Plymouth CAMRA Country Pub of the Year 2013 and Pub of the Year 2012, the Foxhound - located just three miles away from Plymouth - was first opened in the 1700s and has been keeping patrons happy ever since.

Owner Steve offers five rotating real ales - including ales from local including Summerskills Brewery and South Hams Brewery - in addition to his own homebrew Redcoat, an easy-drinking amber ale with the sweetness of the crystal malt.

8) Chichester Arms, Mortehoe

This 16th-century village free house in Mortehoe boasts views of the expansive beaches of Woolacombe Bay nearby and was once the old vicarage, even retaining the old gas lighting in the bar.

Normally there are four real ales available with one or two guest ales occasionally represented. Busy during holiday times, quality food is served all week except Mondays in winter.

9) Bridge Inn, Topsham

Topsham is home to the Bridge Inn, an award-winning pub with scenic views overlooking the River Clyst. This 16th century inn is no better described than charming and timeless with local stone brickwork and an olde worlde décor.

Specialising in real ale, escape the winter cold with friends next to the roaring fire with a pint of beer in hand or soak in the summer sun from the beer garden.

10) Old Market Inn, Holsworthy

The Old Market Inn hotel and restaurant in Holsworthy is the three-time winner of North Devon CAMRA’s Pub of the Year as it picked up awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Offering two regular beers and four guest beers, they also serve regular house beer BOMB (that’s Best Old Market Bitter), a popular beer brewed exclusively for the Old Market Inn. If the sun is shining, check out the secluded beer garden, which is open all year round.

11) Court Farm Inn, Newton Abbot

The Court Farm Inn is a 17th century pub situated just off Wilton Way in the historic, quaint village of Abbotskerswell. Out the front you can take a seat the beer garden or step inside the charming pub and admire a beautiful interior of stone walls, open fires and beamed ceilings.

Court Farm prides itself on providing patrons with real ale brewed locally and we recommend that you try the Jail Ale or Otter & Bass.

12) Ferry Boat Inn, Dittisham

Perched on the pretty River Dart, the Ferry Boat Inn is a pub with a great selection of real ales including local favourites Otter Amber and Sharp’s Doom Bar.

We recommend taking a perch by the roaring fireplace and tucking into the game casserole with mash and red cabbage alongside a pint of the specially brewed FBI Bitter while the Dart runs past outside.

13) The Duke of York Inn,Iddesleigh

A CAMRA listed 15th century pub overlooking the rolling hills of Dartmoor, the Duke was voted as one of the best country pubs in the UK for 2016 and was also named one of the top five UK country pubs by Countryfile.

Escape the cold at this country gem and cosy up next to the fireplace or venture out back to the beer garden where you can enjoy the warmer weather with a pint of real ale straight from the barrel. If a group of you wishes to eat here, they even offer a free minibus service to get you out to this relatively remote location.

14) The Pony & Trap, Cullompton

From as early as 1760 there was public house on the site that is now home to The Pony and Trap, the winner of the Exeter & East Devon CAMRA Pub of the Year for 2014.

From its Mid-Devon location the Pony and Trap offer up to 7 Real Ales, ciders and perries with a focus on local breweries. Originally built to the north side of a Quakers Meeting House, it is believed that the Quakers Burial ground is in the garden at the rear of the pub.

15) The Bell Inn, Chittlehampton

After a walk in the countryside with your four-legged friend, bring the whole family to this village pub just 20 minutes away from Barnstaple.

This North Devon gem is home to a great selection of real ales and there are few places better to sit back with a pint of Exmoor Bitter whilst enjoying views of the rolling hills from the garden.

16) The Grampus Inn, Ilfracombe

Up until the 1970s this 14th Lee Bay village pub was a working farm serving North Devon but now it is a social hub of the area, providing a location for lively skittles, darts and pool matches.

Bring along your pooch and take a seat in a chair hand-crafted by owner Bill while supping a pint from the local Forge or Wizard microbreweries.

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