Cambridge remains one of the UK’s top pub towns, with a good handful of characterful free houses providing beer quality only matched, to my taste, by central Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Newcastle-under-Lyme among major towns. The Cambridge pub “scene” has been improved in recent years by Milton Brewery’s 3 town openings and local legends Terri and Jethro’s conversion of under-performing pubs into self-styled “real ale paradises”. The Pint Shop has brought craft keg into the tourist centre, at a price.
The pub I’d recommend most strongly to a visitor at the moment isn’t in the traditional string of pubs in Mill Road though. In fact it’s a pub that has been highly inconsistent over the years, with only it’s honeypot location by the punts in it’s favour, and even that undermined by the plastic glasses outside rule.
Since changes introduced in 2012 by the David Bruce’s City Pub Company, the pub has acquired both a marvellous refurbishment and a top beer range, in cask, keg and shiny bottles. Importantly, the Mill gets a wide range of customers that buy the beer, and this rapid turnover helps maintain cask quality. My pint of Adnams Mosaic was in my top 3 beers of the year.
This isn’t a vast building (smaller than Greene King’s Anchor across the pond), but offers 3 distinct drinking areas and manages to look a bit like a smarter Sam Smiths house, though of course Sam wouldn’t allow the proper record (LP) player space.
Voted local CAMRA pub of the year this year, and much preferable to the sister Brew-Pub which feels more like a canteen.
FOOTNOTE: I paid a return visit today (Oct 15) and found it as good as ever. The Scotland-Australia rugby was showing unobtrusively, but elsewhere the pub had a really pleasing visitor mix, most just there to enjoy the beers.