On 11 May, I took the short train journey to Rugby to visit their festival. I arrived 45 minutes before the festival opened so strolled to The Alexandra Arms. This pub sells five real ales, sometimes including those from their own brewery “Alexandra Arms Brewery”. I sampled the Quaffers Ale, a 3.8% quaffing beer. It is light but easy to drink. A bit steep I thought at £1.05 for a half seeing it was home brewed. The pub is what I would call a local. At first glance it appears to be one roomed, although hidden away at the back is a games room which also has a loud jukebox. It is a six times winner of Rugby CAMRA pub of the year, a title though it would struggle to win at the moment as there are two better bets in town in my opinion. The pub was pretty smoky on this visit (I have found it less so before) with a chap at the bar smoking a particularly strong cigar. It’s hard to avoid peoples’ smoke when they seat themselves at the servery.
Then it was time to walk to the Festival. This is held in an indoor bowling centre which in spite of Rugby CAMRA’s claim is a 20 minute walk from the station. This is my third visit and I found the beer quality and range to be better this year than on other visits. I had beers from the following breweries:
My Beer Of The Festival was Bushys Old Bushy Tail a lovely malty fruity beer with great bready flavours. Very nice. I sampled an excellent Chicken and Potato Curry which is the best curry I have ever had at a beer festival and cooked by an English lady. A word on the smoking. It was barred from the room where the seating area was but allowed in the bar area where the beers were. Customers don’t have to go to the seating area but they do need to buy beer so a bit arse about face really. Smoking has been banned from most festivals for a little while now.
After the Festival I went to The Victoria Inn which is owned by The Atomic Brewery. I sampled two of their beers Reactor and Bomb, both of which were lovely pale hoppy beers. The pub has a smoke free lounge and a bar/games room where smoking is allowed.
My final pub on my crawl was back in Northampton to The Malt Shovel. Here I had the new mild from Great Oakley Brewery brewed for May, and a Hambleton beer. The pub was busy as ever and there was a small proportion of people smoking but it wasn’t too bad.
I shall visit all of these pubs soon after the ban and will report on how they have changed. All in all a good night’s crawl with some very good beers at great pubs, and only a couple of duff experiences.
A few links:
Rugby CAMRA: http://www.rugbycamra.org.uk/
Alexandra Arms: http://www.alexandraarms.co.uk/
Atomic Brewery: http://www.atomicbrewery.com/
Malt Shovel: http://www.maltshoveltavern.com/
Great Oakley Brewery: http://www.greatoakleybrewery.co.uk/