Oxford Pub Guide: A Primer

In May 2021, my friend Rob and I decided to attempt to visit every pub in Oxford. At this point we were fourth and final year undergraduates with finals rapidly approaching, and Covid lockdown rules slowly steadily lifting. Long time pub enthusiasts throughout our degrees, we assumed finishing off the last few stragglers that we hadn’t managed to get around to would be easy. Inspired by the classic poster, we began cataloguing, but realised that it was disappointingly limited, and somewhat arbitrary. We would be thorough, and therefore had to cast our net wider. We settled on the Oxford ring road. Within that hallowed tarmac: order, civilisation; we would be masters and defenders of this domain — beyond lay chaos, barbarism, and whatpub.com.

As of January 2022, the project is ongoing. Rob has graduated and left Oxford, I have stayed on for a DPhil. Of the 98 pubs in Oxford, we have visited 90, and intend to complete the job. In the meantime, we wish to share our wealth of knowledge with the world, providing a definitive tier list of Oxford pubs, and a convenient database of ratings, locations, and key information.

We gratefully acknowledge the pioneering work of Martin, the author of oxfordpubguide.co.uk, which is, for my money, the perfect pub guide. Unfortunately, it has not been updated since 2013; even more unfortunately, dozens of the pubs reviewed since he began the project in 1998 (the year I was born — Christ) have since closed down. Many more have undergone significant changes in the years since the site last updated. It is my fervent wish that this guide serve as the spiritual successor to Martin’s seminal online opus.

This site reflects the personal opinions of two twenty-something ex-students whose only credentials are having been to a lot of pubs (and one of us worked in a couple). We expect that many will disagree with our ratings, not least the pub-owners themselves, but we hope that our opinions can be taken in a spirit of love for this precious resource: great pubs selling great beer.