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.