I was pleased when Alan Winfield started a blog to record his impressive pub crawls,often in the lesser known towns around England. Not only is it an impressive photographic record of our pub stock, it’s also a reminder of the variety of drinking places folk enjoy.
You might think people like Simon Everitt and myself, who stick to Good Beer Guide pubs, have it easy. Not true, I had to visit a Marstons 2-for-1 pub yesterday (post embargoed till the 16th).
Alan recently did (I think it fair to say) St Neots, the small Huntingdonshire town I visit most Thursdays. Well, he did 19 of the town’s bars anyway, and I foolishly said I’d fill in the gap.
The Bull’s Head rang a bell with me, possibly because I popped in here before an FA Vase match against Letchworth (4-3, a.e.t), but that would have been before its latest makeover, converting it into a “typical sports bar with large outdoor smoking hut“(my description).
This is the sort of “suburban community local” (WhatPub) that gets no CAMRA attention, but collectively account for more real ale sales than micropubs will ever manage. There’s a couple of cracking examples in Bracknell, but the Bull’s Head is a bit too modern and (scarily) clean.
At 4.30 the trade came from tradesmen, and half a dozen Carlsberg drinkers made for a decent atmosphere which I disturbed by ordering an Abbot (the bargain IPA was keg). A brave choice, but it was superb (NBSS 3.5), paired with a packet of Black Country Snack’s finest. I know how to live.
Actually, the Abbot was so good I was tempted to compliment the barmaid but I thought better of it.
The interior is what you’d expect. Union Jack flag, MTV, Popeye fruit machine.
QUIZ TIME- What track is playing in the top photo ? Clue – West Ham fan (?), four words.
It does have proper furniture, but is as far in character from that pub in Braughing as is possible.
A large part of the building was taken up by a pool table where a Dad was roundly thrashing his J20 drinking daughter by the sound of it. At least I assumed it was his daughter, as he called her mate and stinkbag, which I found very touching. No NBSS score for the J20.
Is this pub in the new Beer Guide ? Find out on 15 September.
One pub that won’t be is the Jaz Yorks, a bar named after St Neots slang for a botch job. Surrounded by Wetherspoons and the Pig’n’Falcon, it clearly relies on the club trade, where it competes with the Oast Lounge and the Conservative Club.
It does have one original feature of note;
Inside it looks like the waiting area in a curry house, with a similar range of drinks.
I “enjoyed” a Moretti in an odd living room, to the accompaniment of deep house at low volumes.
So there you go Alan. You missed nothing. You missed everything.