I wrote yesterday about the death of a traditional Greene King village pub which focused on quality of it’s core range, contrasting this with their Local Hero pubs, which over the last four years have given selected tenants the right to stock an extended range of beers, which tend to be from local breweries of varying size.
There’s getting on for 40 of these now, with a quarter or so entering the Beer Guide in recent years. Most of them are larger buildings in small-to-medium sized Home Counties towns like Wokingham, Biggleswade and Baldock, with the famed Lass O’Gowrie in Manchester’s student area standing out a bit from the pack.
Although local CAMRA interest has surrounded the expanded beer range, the local Hero pubs undoubtedly rely on food to pay the bills, though generally of the pub grub variety in the dozen or so Heroes I’ve been to.
And now we have one in Cambridge. Hudson’s Ale House is a half-hour walk from the station in Trumpington village, effectively a posh suburb for Cambridge’s doctors and academics. Trumpington has lost it’s traditional pubs over the last 20 years, converting to Indian, Chinese and Gastro restaurants. The Tally Ho, from which Hudson’s has been expensively remodelled, was more of a local but itself served Thai food in recent years.
You can see from the photos above what sort of pub atmosphere Hudson’s is aiming for. It reminds me of the modern restyling favoured by Manchester’s family breweries (though not by me). I did find it hard to find seating to my liking that would have encouraged me to read my book and stay for lunch. I’d probably take my Mum there though.
The beer was pretty good. Three Blind Mice are an impressive newish brewery near Ely, and their pale was a good 3 on the NBSS scale, though not as good as my pint in the Cambridge Blue last month. I would have enjoyed it more in a busier pub though. Only one other customer followed me into the pub in the half-hour I was there on a Tuesday lunch-time. This pretty much mirrored my experiences in central Cambridge posted here. The Chinese buffet across the road was doing well – Cambridge folk like restaurants.
The Bedford in Tunbridge Wells is the best Local Hero I’ve been in so far, it’s one of the pubbiest places in the centre of a town that has much in common with Cambridge. Elsewhere I’ve sometimes found the beer disappointing, with eight handpumps looking impressive but it’s probably four too many.
It is surprising not to see a GK IPA pump too; perhaps it’s all been exported to China now.