We’d be wanting to visit The Black Cat, Weston’s year-old micropub, for ages and then, with the promise of glorious sun the weekend before last, a trip to the seaside became irresistible.
Even as we approached The Black Cat, we got a sense of what it was about: quirky, somewhere between hip and Gothic.
Inside, the first thing that struck us was the midnight vibe: indigo walls, black porcelain cats, and a mural that seemed to hint at The Rat & Raven.
Then we noticed the craft beer bar trappings: tealights, posh pickled eggs, £2-a-bag crisps, a complicated menu of beers in different categories, bare wood and bare brick – well, sort of: it was actually, oddly, brick-patterned wallpaper.
This strange hybrid is a thing we’ve seen a few times, now, in towns apparently not quite big enough or hip enough to support both a micropub (real ale, conservatism) and a craft beer bar (keg beer, trend-chasing). Sonder in Truro springs to mind as another example.
It sounds a bit chaotic but we immediately felt quite at home, as apparently did the customers: a handful of older men grumbling about football and a young couple with see-through frames on their specs grumbling, in plummier voices, about the difficulty of making a career in The Arts.
We struggled, in truth, to land on a beer that we really loved, which happens sometimes in pubs with rotating beer ranges. Butcombe Underfall Lager (think Camden Hells) was very welcome given the heat, though, and Wylam Galatia (a 3.9% pale ale) was certainly good enough to warrant a ‘same again’.
The main selling point was the atmosphere and the chap behind the bar, Rich, who could not have done any more to make us feel welcome, help us navigate the menu, or accommodate off-menu requests for (a) cups of tea; (b) instant coffee; (c) a surface on which to play cards.
Ray’s dad, who is fussy about pubs, left with a loyalty card in his pocket and plans to come back.
It’s not the kind of pub we want to drink in every time but it’s certainly a good addition to Weston’s beer culture.