Top 20 British drinks shops

Christmas kittenWondering where to head for that last minute drink gift or bottle for the Christmas table? These places all offer more than just their own creations. Many offer foodstuffs too, and all offer an inviting welcome, where you can generally taste before you buy. All are worth a detour.

Read on for my Top 20 Best of British Drinks Shops.

Black Sheep, Masham, Yorkshire

Take Black Sheep’s Drayman Hamper for example. Not just a quintet of beer, including my favourite the moreish Rigwelter, but also chutney, Masham Tun Marmalade and – keeping it local – some Wensleydale cheese. Wallace would be pleased. With over 1000 items on sale, and a taste café on site too. While you're there, try and get your hands on their limited edition 20th anniversary ale, Progress. Seriously tasty and fine testament to Black Sheep's two decades in business. Twitter - 

Open - Xmas Eve - 10am-3.30pm

Chiltern Brewery Shop, nr Aylesbury, Bucks

Incomparable range of tasty goodies, both food and drink-wise, plus tempting hampers. As well as its own beers, there’s a good selection of English wines and Lurgashall fruit wines, plus whiskies from the English Whisky co, and Foxdenton gins. Tour tickets a good gift bet.

Hamper making and tastings on offer in run-up to Christmas day.

23 Dec & Xmas Eve – 9am-5pm


Rebellion, Marlow, Bucks

Wonderful chance to pour yourself a sample of the engaging beers while you decide what to go for. Good global wine selection too, plus cider and tasty local foods. And for a chance to enjoy the legendary monthly Members Only tours, consider the Rebellion Beer Club.

22 Dec 8am-4pm; 23 Dec 8am-8pm; Xmas Eve 8am-4pm


Adnams, various locations via Cellar & Kitchen

Located in the brewery’s Cellar & Kitchen group of stores, Adnams offers much to enjoy. Choose betwee the 6 or 12-bottle mixed cases of head brewer Fergus’ wonderful beers, a good-looking Christmas pud with a splash of Broadside inside (now in little and large sizes), a smattering of English wines and an eclectic array of fine spirits – I'm a firm fan of the Winter Spiced Liqueur but the Cherry Liqueur is quite delicious too, and now that their new whisky has touched base too, decisions are getting quite difficult.

With stores in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Lincolnshire, and Bloomsbury, London, check Stores page for Sunday hours. Monday as normal

Xmas Eve open until 5pm, with several opening early at 8am


St Austell Brewery, Cornwall

Now in its even larger premises, combine a shop visit with a stop in the Hicks Bar, whether for a beer, coffee or light meal.

For gifts or the Chrimbo Day table, I’d be hoping that either the Cardinal Syn or abbey-style Bad Habit are still around, with the Korev Cornish lager and Clouded Yellow for lighter moments

Mon 23 as normal; 24 Dec 9-11am


Beer Ritz, Leeds

Run by the wonderful Zak Avery, I haven’t had the good fortune to visit his shop in Headingley, Leeds, but I have met him and read his words of wisdom in Off License News for a fair while. So expect the unexpected when you visit his Online store or enter his gaff. It could be the newest beer to arrive on these shores. The mixed packs look particularly delectable, and it's great to see.

Online delivery deadline: midday Mon 23 Dec

Shop - open Sun & Mon, 12-9pm; 24 Dec 12-6pm


Cobbetts & Denbies, Dorking, Surrey

Surrey-dwellers are spoilt with both Denbies mega-shop and Cobbetts’ boutique beer shop in Dorking. The latter has an excellent range of bottled beers and ciders plus a limited selection on draught. Check out its extended Christmas hours. 

To quote your shopkeeper, the shop is named after family ancestor, William Cobbett,

"who wrote a number of books, including Cottage Economy (1823), in which he gives the cottager information about how to brew beer. He deplored the growing practice of drinking tea (‘kettle slops’) and recommended that every cottager brewed and drank his own good beer"

Cobbetts - 22 Dec 12-6pm; 23 Dec 10am-8pm; Xmas Eve 10am-6pm


I’ll be making my annual trip to Denbies for Drinks and Other Friends. The ultimate gift emporium,  it is handily next to a proper café to keep you fortified as you choose, although if I were you, I’d take advantage of what ever is on the tasting counter as you make your selection.

Denbies - as normal, 22 Dec 10am-5pm; 23-4 Dec 9.30am-5pm


Wine Pantry, London - Borough Market

This year's rabbit out of the magician's hat for Julia is a vast pop-up store and bar right next to her bijou English wine boutique in the heart of Borough Market.

Taking over what was the Rabot Estate site, until New Year's Day you can find winter warmers made with exclusively British spirits.  A true hotspot of English wine goodies with the knowledge and enthusiasm to match, there's also a range of hampers, alongside the excellent choice of English wine, still and sparkling.

22 Dec 11am-5pm; 23 Dec 12-8pm; Xmas Eve 12…"to when people disappear"


Utobeer, London, Borough Market

Speaking of Borough Market, there's always the godfather of craft beer shops, Utobeer. Not content with supplying many of the nation’s top bars, pubs and restaurants with fine ales, and running its own inimitable hostelry, The Rake, right next to Borough Market, you can find Utobeer with its 700 beers at Unit 24 of Borough Market. Affectionately known as the cage - you'll understand once you visit, it's not normally open on Sun, Mon & Tues, but since it's Christmas…

Open: 22-24 Dec


Bristol Cider Shop - guess where? yep, Bristol!

The lucky people around Bristol live in cider and perry paradise. Head north and its Herefordshire with its magic Much Marcle Ridge and coteries of fine producers. Head south and its Somerset and Devon, with its heritage of scrumpy and dynasties of cidermakers.

No wonder Bristol Cider Shop has the richest array imaginable of artisan ciders and perries, as well as cider brandies, traditional two-handled cider mug, and an attractive Ultimate Cider Glass from Dartington.

Mon 23 Dec 10am-6pm; Xmas Eve 10am-2pm


Three Counties Cider ShopThree Counties Cider Shop, Hereford

The shop from Once Upon a Tree, the Three Counties Cider Shop, is an exciting treasure trove of ciders and perries, plus local foods and a chance to try before you buy - magic!

There’s Pixley Berry Cordials, Chase Vodka & Gin, Tyrrells crisps, local honey, Martell & Son apple & pear spirits, plus hampers made up while you wait and a host of tempting surprises. Don’t delay.

22 Dec 10am-4pm; 23 Dec 10am-5.30pm; Xmas Eve 10am-2pm


Westons, Herefordshire

A wonderful shop as well as an excellent café and scrumptious bistro. Try before you buy, and take advantage of being able to get your hands on limited release goodies.

Sun 22 Dec 10am-4.30; Mon 23 Dec 9am-5pm; Xmas Eve 10am-4.30pm


Beer Boutique, London - Putney

Check out Putney’s aptly named Beer Boutique. If you are after something special or out of the ordinary, or simply want to ask some really knowledgable guys what they would  suggest, this is the place to go.

Xmas Eve 10am-6pm


DrInk of Fulham, London

Wonderful cubby-hole of a shop that is an Aladdin’s Cave with 100s of interesting brews – and fresh spiced delicacies. Check out their selection of Christmas beers. Gift with a difference? A ticket to one of Shrila’s monthly Friday or Saturday supper clubs, run with that maestro of food matching, master brewer Alex Barlow.

22 Dec 11.30am-4pm; 23 11.30-8pm; Xmas Eve 11.30am-6pm


Chapel Down, Tenterden, Kent

Not only does this beautiful pocket of Kent have some of the best terroir for wine, it also boasts one of the best local food and wine shops at Chapel Down’s winery.

Thirty British cheeses, handmade chocolates, plus a host of other goodies add to award-winning beers and wines. And while you’re there, why not take yourself on a self-guided vineyard tour or try a wine or two. Well worth the visit.

22 & 23 Dec 11am-5pm; Xmas Eve 10am-5pm


The Bottle Shop, Cardiff

Thanks to twitter and Rob for telling me about this fab Cardiff haunt. The only place lucky enough to be stocking all of Brains’s IPA collaboration brews – it’s got an array of some of our favourite craft brewers, such as Thornbridge and Harviestoun, as well as Welsh breweries like Purple Moose and Celt Experience, plus Penderyn, and top Welsh wine producer, Ancre Hill from Monmouth.

22 Dec 11am-8pm; Mon 11am-9pm; Xmas Eve 11am-5pm


The Bottle Shop, Canterbury

Same name – and why not, it does what it says on the tin – different city. Those lucky guys in Kent can lay claim to the shop with the largest bottle selection in the South-East - allegedly. No mean feat these days, but then that passionate beer maestro, Andrew Morgan, is behind this venture. Take advantage of the crew’s expertise, or stop and have a drink after 6pm in the historic Goods Shed with some tasty British pub-food. Located in the Goods Shed, right by Canterbury West station, it's been going for three years now, and the ability to pick a bottle off the shelf and sample it there and then means I bet you you'll stay longer than you think.

For Christmas, think about Gift Vouchers that can be used online or for tasting nights.

22 Dec 10am-4pm; 23 Dec 10am-11pm; Xmas Eve 10am-3pm


Tiddly Pomme & Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent

Faversham offers a double hit: Shepherd Neame’s delightful Visitor Centre-come-shop, and the Tiddly Pomme over at the Brogdale Collection, with its incomparable selection of goodies.


West Street Vineyard - English Wine Barn, Coggeshall, Essex

A wonderful addition to the Top 20 British Drinks Shop, as well as its delightful bistro with terrace seats overlooking the vines, the shop stocks dozens of English wines, still and sparkling, or all colours, along with a wide range of other stylish gifts.

22-24 Dec 9am-5pm


Santa Claus

The Hop Pocket, Herefordshire

Where else can you buy hops to make your own hop pocket sleep pillow? Or a hop garland? And head into the Hop Pocket Wine Co for a taste of something artisan, whether it’s cider, beer, spirits or wine.

Halfway between Hereford and Worcester, this vast craft and gift centre also boasts 20 other independent shops and a Farmhouse Fayre Restaurant.

22 Dec 11am-5pm; 23 Dec 10am-5.30pm; Xmas Eve 10am-4pm


Enjoy, and let me know how you get on. And don't forget, if there's somewhere else that you know of that should feature, let me know...