I knew I should have sneeked out of Download Festival in June to try a bit more of Castle Donington, but our nanny-state authorities take a dim view on child abandonment in muddy fields.
The main employment in the town remains the reclamation of bodies from the Download mud, of course, which is a useful adjunct to the lace-making trade. On Tuesday lunchtime the Co-Op serving the industrial park was busier than the town itself, which was surviving on “ladies who lunch” and beer tourists.
It’s pleasantly hilly, if a little unloved in places. The castle is one for fans of invisible castles, but the church is striking.
More striking is the volume of Indian restaurants, I counted one per adult population in the High Street alone. And twice as many cafes.
Among a clutch of attractive Victoriana, the Apiary looked worth a visit for its Bass mirror, glitter ball, and solitary unidentifiable handpump, so lets hope it’s next years GBG newbie.
On my previous visit the Chequered Flag had set the standard as the most typical micropub in the world. Its stay in the Guide has been a short one.
As you’ll know, pubs aren’t dropped from the Beer Guide *, they’re just replaced by micropubs with higher average NBSS scores (or more handpumps, depending on your level of scepticism).
Next years lucky recipient of the hordes of Biffy Clyro fans who will descend upon the town’s solitary Beer Guide tick is the Castle Inn . Clearly this isn’t because of wacky décor or a wood-burning pizza oven, though those to be honest are standout features. It really is a classy restaurant, the sort of place you expect in Twickenham, rather than the faded grandeur of Donnington.
Just as well the beer was unexpectedly good, the Titanic (them again) Stout being rich and gorgeous. The staff were in some debate about my selection, presumably the beer sommelier has been dismissed for failing to order Plum Porter.
A good food pub, though not quite good enough to excuse the large sign saying “THIS HOUSE IS BUILT ON LOVE, LAUGHTER AND PROSECCO”. It actually seemed to be built on sales of Rekorderlig, but never mind.
In Craftwatch news, I spotted Erdinger, Coors, Estrella and London Stout; any craft there ?
Micros and pizza pubs apart, there’s some lovely looking trad pubs left, like the Cross Keys, which even now I’m regretting walking past.
I always rated the Bass in the Jolly Potters, and there’s plenty of gorgeous Marstons signage, at least until they ruin it again.
QUIZ TIME – This is the spiritual home of Ozzy, but what’s the town’s connection with Gordon Sumner ? (Five points)
*This is rubbish