After that wonderful return trip to the Exeter Arms I walked through the Market Place towards the two new Beer Guide entries.

It always seems an under-utilised space, and I was disappointed that the stall selling proper pies wasn’t there.  QUAD was open, and the free art gallery there was worth my investment of 15 minutes, which is more than my average pub visit takes.

I quite like a mix of architectural styles, and Derby’s Visitor Centre comes from the Brutalist school of architecture. It was less busy than Leicester’s TIC though.

A few strides away from the Visitor Centre , down the ancient lane of Sadlergate, I came across one of those contrasts that characterise English towns;

Old Bell,Derby

This could be a  National Trust property, and reminds me of the King’s Head in Aylesbury (which is NT), and even Little Moreton Hall in places.

There are some wonderful historic pubs in Derby, notably the Dolphin, but I’d never been in the Old Bell before.  It’s elevation to the new Beer Guide comes from a new enthusiasm for an interesting range of cask beers.

You’ll know by now that I had to have the Bass though, served in its own glass with a decent tight head.  And it would have been enjoyed immensely in a proper pub with proper seating and proper service, except that the Bass wasn’t great (NBSS 2.5).  It wasn’t “take it back bad”, it was just tired. If this was your first pint of Bass you wouldn’t go back to it.

I would go back again, unless they’re still playing Coldplay.

The Bass was a real shame, as Derby has some of the best Bass anywhere, particularly in the Horse & Groom, Peacock and Station, which I really shouldn’t have walked past.

The True Way, Station Inn, Derby

My second Guide newbie promised Greene King Old Golden Hen as its permanent beer, but more positively it’s in my favourite area of Derby to the north-west of town.

Golden Eagle, Derby

This is another of those street corner boozers Derby does so well, and I loved it.

4pm can be a bad time to visit pubs if they’re quiet (which the Bell was), but the Eagle was pleasantly bustling.  I believe the original Beer Guide would have called it “a working man’s pub“. That accounted for about half the first Guide, to be honest.

Forty years ago, that would have meant basic and scruffy, but the Eagle is a thing of beauty, with some of the best pub seating arrangements I’ve seen (not necessarily the sofa).  Anyone would feel comfortable here, unless they weren’t happy with the impressive looking cobs for their lunch.

Simon Everitt speaks more languages than I do, and will be able to understand the rich local accent better than I did, but I think conversation centred on fire at t’mill, and disbelief at women on diets.

Titan Stout in the Golden Eagle

I’m often disappointed by tiny brewery beers, but the Titan Stout was wonderful, even in that horrific jug. Just to confuse you, Titanic Stout on keg and the ubiquitous Plum Porter on cask as well. A Porter, a Stout and a Dark Mild, must be May.

Two very different pubs; I don’t know how Derby keeps coming up with them.  The Golden Eagle is one of the very best.

5 thoughts on “DERBY’S BASS LOTTERY

  1. Derby is one of those peculiar places (Bristol is another) where the main shopping centre isn’t quite where you’d expect it to be from looking at the layout on a map. Some interesting pubs, though – must try to have a trip there some time this year.


  2. Went in here yesterday and my experience was much the same as yours – a very congenial drinking space, but the least good of four pints of Bass I had that day. Also the barman was giving a customer standing at the bar a steady stream of bullshit 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I didn’t know either of these had made he GBG in years gone by….old bell is gorgeous building but usually got too many beers on.
    Golden eagle is funny, proper local and always seems to have a quiz on🍻👍


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