Mansfield Travelodge is ideally located for the pubby joys of Sutton, though a pretty dull trudge along the A38 to Mansfield itself. I like dull urban trudges.
Saving the treasures of the town centre till last, I started at the Beer Guide newbie on Nottingham Road, pleasingly open at 11am for the benefit of tickers (and folk who couldn’t walk the half mile to the nearest Spoons for a morning pint of Smooth).
The Talbot takes over where last year’s GBG curio, Il Rosso, left off. The same white brick back walls, high table hell, smartish dining menu and Harvest Pale for people exhausted after a session at
Anytime Fitness Sainsbury’s.
And it has craft. It’s very clearly labelled craft, so it must be.
A smart Greene King place reminiscent of their Spirit pubs in places like Pontefract and Aylesbury, with a wider beer range than you get in a Hungry Horse.
With only a loved-up couple to provide my entertainment, I had to resort to this hilarious “Best of British” menu for fun. If anyone in Carlisle really does say “Have a deeks at this scran“, please own up. And £9.49 for Scouse seemed on the ambitious side of pricey.
Just as well the GBG is about beer then; the Dukeries Lovetot a cool, solid NBSS 3 first out of the pumps. Tellingly, the pleasant barman had to turn all the clips round to work out which one that was. Why don’t they write the beer name on the back of the pump clip ?
Having stared into each others eyes for an indecent time (about 20 seconds, probably), our couple approached the bar together (why ?), and met a series of questions from the barman, all of which received the answer “Peroni” or “still Peroni“. At least he wasn’t offering Perroni tasters here.
The wall mounted “help yourself” handpumps are an idea ahead of their time.
These pubs clearly have a market, perhaps a wider one than I’d see on a weekday lunchtime. I might have been more charitable if not subjected to the simultaneous rantings of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on Sky and C******y on the HiFi.
At least they said “Thank you” on the way out. Lovely folk in Mansfield.
Anyway, there’s more to life than pubs, and Mansfield looked as good as I’ve seen it.
That won’t stop me poking fun at Field Mill, though. The impressive main stand dominates the skyline; Bishop Street remains the scariest approach to a football ground in England, every other house with a housewife in nighty and rollers with a fag in her mouth. Or perhaps it’s an art installation; you never know.
Officially the coldest League ground I’ve ever stood at (Mansfield v Cambridge, Jan ’96), the executive sofas bought with the Liverpool cup money clearly have been written off.
A rumour about Cloudwater cask in the Sandy Pate Sports Bar proved unfounded.
There’s more impressive architecture in the old pubs, Beer Guide or not.
The last couple of years have been a boom time for the Mansfield pub scene. A Beer Guide cohort including 3 Spoons and a Hungry Horse among other chain dining pubs boosted by micros, bottle shops and Project Williams. Not that there’s anything wrong with chain dining pubs, they probably prop up real ale availability in a number of towns like Mansfield.
I was sorry to see the underground White Lion closed, and the Beer Shack in between ownership changes, but “Hops in a Bottle” was a new one on me.
“Two bottles of very strong local beer please” For Mrs RM, of course. A 9% Blue Monkey from a startling collection was exactly what Mrs RM wanted for her 25th wedding anniversary. I hope.
Just round the corner was the inevitable street art, commemorating the UFO sighting over Mansfield Woodhouse of March 1997.
For some industrial art, I headed down to Rock Valley, which is just weird.
But the real star of the day, and shamefully the first time I’ve been in, is the wonderful town museum, cunningly called Museum (rather than Yearn or Us or whatever).
I may, as a fan of the brewery (RIP) be a bit biased, but it’s a superb distillation of the social history of the town, on a par with Doncaster. The video shows classic beer adverts from the ’80s, what better way to spend an hour can you imagine ?
I finished in the Widow Frost, a classic Spoons with classic professional drinkers. The banter between staff and regulars is something you don’t get in St Neots.
“Only ‘alf a Blackthorns or I’ll drift off”
(It may have been his tenth half)
“Er indoors knows, yer know, if I have owt else”
This was the cask line-up;
£1.65 for a pint of Old Empire with my voucher. That was the only pint I saw pulled, but it was no less good a pint for that.
A great town. Still.