Or, Luton gets the basics right

In February I gave (I hope) an affectionate account of Luton‘s unchanging appeal, never better captured than in the attractive Irish pubs, real ale or not.

Many of those along Hitchin Road are long gone, victims of repressive legislation in 2007 and the emergence of “home entertainment”.

A few survive, and The Great Northern is a rare new entry into the Beer Guide for Luton. Even rarer, it’s a one-beer Guide entry.  Hurrah for that.

Luton’s cultural quarter

I’ve never noticed the Great Northern before, which is odd since it’s the first pub out of the station, and I wouldn’t call the George II across the road attention-grabbing.

That said, I didn’t even know Luton had an embryonic cultural quarter, even if at the moment that is the odd metalwork above and some genuinely offensive graffiti

True basic greatness

Even if I had noticed it before, there’s nothing to prompt you in, which is part of it’s appeal.  Just Guinness and no-smoking stickers, and no signs of it’s promotion to Beer Guide glory.

English towns need cultural quarters, but they also need basic pubs like this where folk (OK, old blokes) can go and drink beer and eat Tayto crisps without needing to overhear conversations about condiments and dinosaur twizzlers.

Note authentic tear in seat

Yes, there’s some gorgeous green tiling, a long bench seat along the wall and even beermats, but this isn’t going in any pub museum anytime soon. Not when the regulars discuss the need to bring back hanging, drawing and quartering, anyway.

It’s just a basic pub, serving the best Tribute outside of Gweek (NBSS 3.5) for a bargain £2.80. Well done South Beds CAMRA for selecting on beer quality not range.

Use it or lose it, as someone once said.


  1. “to bring bang hanging, drawing and quartering”

    You’re deliberately misspelling now just to make me post again, aren’t you? (j/k) 🙂



  2. Good to hear that a pub like that has got into the Guide. Rather reminiscent in some ways of the Railway Tavern in Newtown. It probably caused some raised eyebrows amongst the handpump-counters.

    I wonder how they settled on Tribute as their sole cask beer – I doubt whether it would have been as favourably received serving that other well-known Cornish beer.


    1. That’s a very good question. You do see quite a bit of Tribute, particular in South London. Hard to see it as a beer that locals clamour for though.

      It’s a good comparison with the Railway. Luton doesn’t have a lot to offer the handpump counters mind you !


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