Eagle-eyed readers, normally called Tim, Peter or Dave*, may have noticed I ignored the looming presence of the colossus that is Sutton-in-Ashfield in the Tibshelf post..
No longer. This is Sutton’s day.
When we visited Mansfield 18 months ago, I was urged by Nick (here) to check out Sutton again. It’s taken this long to get a decent deal (£34) on Travelodge. What Travelodge lacks in free WiFi, fluffy pillows and a beer fridge, it makes up for in proximity to the two new Beer Guide pubs. And the hospital, just in case.
Sutton lacks the stand-out tourist attractions of Mansfield (post coming up), but it is very green and well maintained. It lost a bit of its advantage over its neighbour when Mansfield finally regained a railway station, though.
Four excellent pubs in the current Beer Guide puts it ahead of neighbours like Worksop and Ilkeston, though.
You’ll be able to see who owned the Speed the Plough before Admiral Taverns;
And you’ll be able to tell from the beer prices you’re not in Cambridge or Winchester.
This is the sort of proper pub I love visiting, even on a relatively quiet Thursday afternoon. The shaggy dogs, here enjoying their own play area, would have been company enough,
but the locals were as chatty, not to mention earthy, as you’d hope for in North Notts. A perfect antidote to the Brunning & Prices of recent months. Proper seating, cool beer in McEwans glasses, mats, laughter, no condiment fuss.
This would definitely be a BRAPA-accredited pub, when Simon completes his accreditation packs. The paint-splattered landlady was redecorating during a quiet hour, and between popping out for a fag the locals were debating who would pull a pint of Blue Monkey (NBSS 3.5).
“That’s the one thing that dog can’t do yet”
“I’ll pull it. I love you”
“That’s two of us, then”
That’s three of us, then.
At this point I’d like to share some local poetry with you;
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the money to decide either way“.
As I left they all said “Bye, see ya darling“. Not even Mrs RM calls me “darling”.
The walk along Outram Street into the town centre is a low-key affair, full of discount shops and the odd architectural gem.
Central Sutton is bigger than I remember, full of functional shops though lacking the independent businesses of Mansfield, the same sort of neighbour as Aldridge is to Walsall.
Not many central pubs, either, but the Picture House is a really impressive Spoons. The Brains SA to accompany the inevitable smashed avocado bagel had just gone, but the Rudgate Ruby was superb (NBSS 3.5). Beautifully presented in a smooth, spotless glass.
No queueing here, and a good mix of folk mid-afternoon, though perhaps not the quality of banter you get in the Speed the Plough.
I dawdled around the indoor shopping centre for a while, having forgotten that I never buy anything, before heading off through the industrial estates towards the Scruffy Dog.
No cask, but the Devonshire Arms is a beauty;
Sutton has a high proportion of keg outlets, and for a while most of its Beer Guide entries were the chain dining pubs. So the Scruffy Dog is a real boon to the town. This is the one that was the Cart & Horse last year, changed just to confuse me no doubt.
I wasn’t the only old bloke standing outside, handful of coins gripped tight, waiting for the 4pm opening. No Contactless issues here.
Despite indications, this is far from a micropub, thrilling beer range apart.
A classy set-up, with attractive rooms, fantastic bass boom from the HiFi, and some smartly dressed folk sharing a bottle of red.
Very homely, and a lovely place to catch up on CAMRA Amber Valley’s newsletter over an excellent dry Abbeydale (NBSS 3.5). Mrs RM would have loved it.
That just left the Masons Arms, the traditional star of the Sutton scene.
Again, a traditional but high quality place, the sort of pub you expect the lounge to still charge you 10p more for a pint than the public (and it’s only £2.60 there).
An old school landlord, two locals discussing pub fights in Charlie’s bar (?), and a cellar cool Welbeck (NBSS 3.5). I could have stayed all day, and one day I will.
So there you have Sutton. Four friendly Beer Guide pubs, all scoring NBSS 3.5 on a Thursday afternoon, four pints and great banter for £10.
Beat that, anywhere else.
*There’s the case for giving your child a proper name, right there.