Consistent beer quality in Cambridge has always been the city’s strength. I visit most of the pubs annually (less of them now than 2007 but they all serve real ale now, so that’s OK then) and only one pub this year had poor beer. There’s a lot of competition for the dozen or so places in the Beer Guide.
The Cambridge Blue has been in the Guide for decades, under three legendary guardians. It’s probably the pub that comes up most often in pub crawls of the legendary Mill Road circuit, and is close enough to the Abbey Stadium for visiting fans before they run the gauntlet of cows on the Common.
This is still the classic back street local it’s always been, balancing an ambitious real ale and keg range with a community atmosphere.
The location, easy for train travellers but with no parking, is a big factor in building a clientele spanning local postgraduates, beer tickers, drunks, visiting Carlisle fans and families. I’ll let you draw the Venn diagram for that.
The Blue still has the same feel it did when I first visited. Since Terri and Jethro took it on the conservatory has become even more of a shrine to beer memorabilia though.
There can be few pubs with a better choice of seating, with two bar areas, that conservatory and one of Cambridge’s best pub gardens, backing on to the wonderful cemetery.
Paul Bailey wrote about folk feeling a bit blasé about Wetherspoons festival beers this week, and you can feel the same about the Blue. I go in a lot less than I used to, though that’s partly due to rarely being in Cambridge these days.
I reckon Tuesday lunchtime is a good time to test a pub; the beer at the Blue was outstanding. This was some of the range yesterday (all cask from the cellar).
Terri and Jethro also own the Blue Moon round the corner, a pub majoring on interesting keg beer, but this Blue has plenty of continental choice, and an outstanding bottle fridge.
For the record, the Moonshine Mild scored NBSS 4, as did the Newby Wyke Yomata, one of the beers of the year, but unfortunately it’s 6%. Good to see some long-standing small breweries like Newby Wyke, Wolf and Dark Star given bar space. Their new sister pub The Royal Standard had Cloudwater on recently, so all bases are covered.
Even the food has upped its game recently. Among some more interesting options I picked the cheeseburger which was BrewDog standard, and there’s no higher compliment. No other takers for the food yesterday lunchtime, but that’s par for the course in Cambridge. Early evenings can be hectic.
One of the Top 10 pubs in the country, unless you like very plain pubs.
NB I had a chat with Jethro and another customer about pumpclip design. That range may be exciting but it can also be intimidating to the beer “novice”. At least the Darkstar clips are simple and tell you exactly what they are – hoppy, pale, wheat.