These are a Few of our Favourite Pubs

Over a few beers the other week we found ourselves making a list of pubs we love and find ourselves longing to be in.

It’s not The Best Pubs, it’s not a Top Ten, it’s just some pubs we like enough to feel wist­ful for. We’ve been tin­ker­ing with it since and decid­ed to share it.

Brains bitter at the City Arms, Cardiff.
The City Arms, Cardiff

10–12 Quay St, CF10 1EA
This is, in fact, the pub where we had the con­ver­sa­tion. It was our first vis­it but love at first pint. The per­fect mix of old school, new school, cask and keg, it just felt com­plete­ly right to us. Worn in and unpre­ten­tious, but not cur­mud­geon­ly, and serv­ing a rev­e­la­to­ry point of Brains Bit­ter. (Not SA.) Is it an insti­tu­tion? We assume it’s an insti­tu­tion.

The Brunswick, Derby.
The Brunswick Inn, Derby

1 Rail­way Ter­race, DE1 2RU
We loved this first time, and it’s still great. Flag­stones, pale cask ale, cradling cor­ners, a view over the rail­way, and the mur­mur of love­ly local accents. Worth break­ing a train jour­ney for.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “These are a Few of our Favourite Pubs”

Old Haunts #1: The Brunswick, Derby

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.

Flat beer in a very popular pub

The Brew­ery Tap (aka Der­by’s Roy­al Stan­dard) is a beer geek pub and is the pri­ma­ry out­let for the prod­ucts of the Der­by Brew­ery Com­pa­ny.  When we vis­it­ed on a Sat­ur­day night, it was very busy indeed, but the huge range of guest ales and Bel­gian beers isn’t the secret to this pub­’s suc­cess – a major­i­ty of peo­ple seemed to be drink­ing wine, big-brand lager, spir­its, cider or Guin­ness.

It is suc­cess­ful, we sus­pect, because it is bright, clean and mod­ern.

The entic­ing sound­ing two day rare beer fes­ti­val was less suc­cess­ful. The ales on offer were served very flat from a tem­po­rary bar in the back yard, and there weren’t many tak­ers. It did­n’t help that some mem­bers of staff had been called in on their day off to work the fes­ti­val and were vocal­ly unhap­py about it.

We pre­ferred the Brunswick, but the local CAMRA branch dis­agree, hav­ing named the Brew­ery Tap city pub of the year.

Beer with zing

The Brunswick Inn, Derby

The Brunswick Inn in Der­by has quite a fol­low­ing. A friend of ours who grew up in Der­by said, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, that it was the one pub we had to make sure we vis­it­ed on our trip.

And, sure enough, it is tru­ly one of the coun­try’s great pubs, and worth vis­it­ing Der­by for in its own right.

There aren’t many brew­pubs in Britain and many of those that we’ve vis­it­ed have less than excit­ing beer. That is not the case in the Brunswick: the beer did­n’t seem espe­cial­ly com­plex or clever, but was 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.

There were also sev­er­al guest ales in per­fect con­di­tion and very tasty, but lack­ing the zing of the own-brand beers, none of which were any­thing oth­er than deli­cious.

We are by no means the first beer blog­gers to spot the Brunswick:

Die Derbische Schweiz?

A British phone box in Germany

Because we’ve got Ger­many on the brain, we could­n’t help but jok­ing­ly refer to the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side around Der­by as the “Der­bis­che Schweiz”, with ref­er­ence to the nick­name giv­en to the nation­al park in Upper Fran­co­nia.

Some­times, though, a joke turns out to have some­thing in it. In 24 hours in Der­byshire we came across:

  1. a very authen­tic Bratwurst stand with “Schleswig-Hol­stein” writ­ten all over it
  2. a shop and cafe for Ger­man and Aus­tri­an ex-pats with a win­dow dis­play of Sem­mel Knödel mix­es
  3. two micro­brewed, unfil­tered, unpas­teurised pil­sners
  4. more beer gar­dens (that is, prop­er beer gar­dens, with trees and attrac­tive panora­mas) than we’ve ever seen any­where else in the UK.

Maybe all of that makes up for the time we came across a dis­con­cert­ing and unex­plained red phone box in Goslar?