The 2017 edition of the Good Beer Guide, GBG, published by the Campaign For Real Ale, CAMRA, celebrates the big fight back by the much-loved British pub. Editor Roger Protz says “that while traditional pubs continue to close, new types of pubs are opening at a fast rate and are drawing large crowds of enthusiastic drinkers.”
“It’s tragic that pubs that have been the heart of their communities for decades and even centuries continue to close – though the closure rate is declining to around 21 a week. But they are being replaced by new pubs, often in the most unlikely places,” Protz says.
“The national JD Wetherspoon group plans to open eight new pubs from Scotland down to the West Country. The first is in the former booking office at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station.
“It’s full steam ahead for pubs in train stations as Waverley joins London’s Euston, Paddington, King’s Cross and St Pancras, all with excellent pubs, along with stations in Newcastle, Sheffield and York.
“Fuller’s Parcel Yard at King’s Cross Station is in the former pick-up and delivery area for Red Star packages. Set over two floors, packed with railway memorabilia and with views of trains arriving and leaving, the Parcel Yard is now one of the Chiswick brewery’s most successful pubs, offering good food as well as a fine range of guest beers from smaller breweries.”
In Manchester a number of new pubs have sprung up in old railway warehouses and arches. The Knott, opposite Deansgate Station, stands below the bridge that carries both trains and the Metro. It offers beers from independent breweries in the Northwest and caters for modern demands with many vegetarian and vegan options on its menu.
The Piccadilly Tap stands in the arcade of shops leading to the station. It has seats on the pavement as well as in the large airy bar and beers from local breweries are available to drink on the premises or in carryout containers for train journeys. Close by, Beer Nouveau is in old railway buildings in – of all places – Temperance Street. It’s a small brewery run by Steve Dunkley, who plans to add a tasting room and a facility where customers can brew their own beer.
In the Northeast, at Monkseaton in Tyne & Wear, a new pub called the Left Luggage Room is based in a building previously used for storing bags and parcels in the train station, now part of the Metro line.
The Good Beer Guide – this year sponsored by real ale quality assessor Cask Marque – also salutes the boom in micro or pop-up pubs.
“In just a few short years, micropubs have become a national phenomenon,” Roger Protz says. “The number has grown to more than 250, with just under half making it into the Good Beer Guide, and 29 of them have their own in-house breweries as well.”
Micropubs regularly win CAMRA awards and two of them are still in the running for CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year competition. The Brookstead Alehouse in Worthing and the Arvon Ale House in Llandrindod Wells have made the final shortlist of 16 regional winners, and will now hope to be named in the final four “super-regional” pubs competing for the coveted prize.
Martyn Hillier opened the first of the breed, the Butcher’s Arms in Herne, Kent, in 2005. As the name implies, it’s based in a former butcher’s shop and has room for 10 people sitting and 20 standing, with beer served from the former butcher’s cold store. Others are based in a variety of premises. Including funeral parlours, hairdressers and pet shops.
The just-opened Bumble Inn in Westgate, Peterborough, run by Tom Beran, is in a former pharmacy and can accommodate 35 people. It stands in sharp comparison to the Oakham Brewery Tap a few yards away, sited in a former Labour Exchange, and claimed to be the biggest brewpub in Europe. A second micropub is underway in Peterborough in a former bookmaker’s in Church Street.
“You can’t keep the good old British pub down,” Roger Protz says. “It has always regenerated itself over the centuries and made spirited comebacks after wars and Puritan revolutions. Now beer lovers can enjoy great beer in often amazing and bizarre surroundings as a new wave of enthusiasts rides to the pub’s rescue.”