Type micropubs into Amazon and two titles pop up;
The first of those looks like an extended blogpost on the early flowering of the “Scene” in Herne, Hartlepool and Newark. If I invest the 99p I’ll let you know.
The second (published 31 March) is a weightier looking volume (220 pages) apparently packed with anecdotes from the micros around the country. I’ll reserve judgement, but if you want to know what middle aged blokes say in small pubs you can, of course, just read BRAPA for free. You don’t get characters like Judgey Jesus and Sam & Mick in micropubs.
As you’ll know, I care little for the Herne Guidelines; I like pubs to have real people of all ages who swear,
smoke and play snooker, as long as there’s decent real ale and bench seating as well.
It’s also a welcome replacement for a Batemans pubs that bounced in and out of the Beer Guide over the last decade. The previous incarnation always felt like a micropub, and I note WhatPub uses “in the style of a micro” to describe the Ale Taster.
It certainly has the feel of a proper , cosy pub, that you get from game tables, and a range of seating areas allow you to escape the banter at the bar in a way that some micros don’t.
Early micros seemed to stick to three or four quality beers at £3 or so to maintain quality, but I’ve seen double that recently in micros with limited hours. The Ale Taster is starting with three that won’t draw the tickers but include a couple the locals will have heard of (Rev James, Wherry). Lincoln Green from the barrel was cool and tasty (NBSS 3.5).
Because she’s my PubMan of the month, I bought an interesting bottle from their fridge for Mrs RM. Lots of bottles under £3 is a decent selling point.
The real selling point was the lovely couple in charge of their first place, who chatted transport and planning issues for 20 minutes with me and another local, rather than comparing notes on hops and other micros. The mark of a proper pub.
Tonight I’m staying in the centre of Middlesbrough*, where it’s now actually illegal NOT to be called a micropub, even if your offer is karaoke and a gastro burger menu. Several of them won’t be in that new book I mentioned, such is the pace of change on Teeside, and the world of micros.
*A parmo-free night, I fear