Old Haunts #1: The Brunswick, Derby

Sketch of The Brunswick.

I was nervous about revisiting Derby’s famous brewpub The Brunswick, so happy are my memories of our last visit almost a decade ago.

My wor­ry, I sup­pose, was that any­thing less than a great expe­ri­ence in 2018 might wipe out the warm glow around the mem­o­ry of 2009.

But I sim­ply could­n’t resist when the oppor­tu­ni­ty arose to acci­den­tal­ly-on-pur­pose arrange my trains to allow for a stopover in Der­by. Too many times in the past few years we’ve sailed through, seen the pub from the train, and day­dreamed about jump­ing off and run­ning across the road.

I just could­n’t watch it sail past again.

So off I came, through the bar­ri­ers, and out on to the road by the sta­tion (which is as love­ly as most roads by sta­tions), from where I com­menced a ter­ri­bly long walk over the short dis­tance to the pub.

What if it has got worse? I won­dered. What if it’s just the same but my tastes have changed so I can no longer appre­ci­ate it? What if I’m sim­ply fussier now than I was then?

Approach­ing the door was odd, like being  yanked back a decade into a pre­vi­ous phase of my life, twen­ty-some­thing and full of beans: the pub looked iden­ti­cal, as if it had been wait­ing with breath held all these years.

Inside, noth­ing seemed to have changed either: slate floors, well-worn wood, the buzz of con­ver­sa­tion in local accents with beau­ti­ful­ly twist­ed vow­els.  A choice of rooms to park your­self in. Above all, the thing that made it great then was still out­stand­ing­ly good now – the wel­come from the staff. I felt like I belonged there, even though I was an obvi­ous stranger with my south­ern accent and enor­mous ruck­sack.

Sat there on my own, I looked up our tast­ing notes from 2009 and, yes, they still apply: “[Not] espe­cial­ly com­plex or clever, but… unbe­liev­ably fresh. When peo­ple say cask ale is alive, this is what they mean… The pale and hop­py White Feath­er (3.6%) was the stand out — it was easy to believe that it hadn’t long stopped fer­ment­ing.”

I’m so glad I revis­it­ed this won­der­ful pub and I cer­tain­ly don’t intend to leave it until 2027 before going again.