Regular readers will know how much I love Ember Inns and modernised gastropubs, so imagine my deep joy at finding a new GBG specimen of each just outside of “Wonderful Wrexham” . I’m saving that blogpost title for a visit to their next Guide newbie, probably something called Honky Tonks offering “live” Wrexham Lager.
Wrexham has great countryside, decent Spoons and Joules houses in the Beer Guide, and the thatched wonder that is the Horse & Jockey. Those stir the soul in a way that the Acton Park tower a mile north of town can’t quite match.
To be fair, it looked quite pleasant on a beautiful Summer Sunday, and very lively inside, with ladies dressed as Cher c.1977 taking over the dining area (normally that’s the whole pub). Several of the Acton Park Shaggers had clearly already arrived in town.
I couldn’t actually fault the pubby atmosphere here (minimal food trade), though some will no doubt bemoan the relaxation of Ember’s restrictions on children. I’m a fan of families in pubs, but children leaning on the bar with their hands on the pumps is a step too far.
A cutting-edge cask line-up to excite the most demanding of Wrexham’s beer hunters;
“Right who’s next ?” Cue an “I’m Spartacus” style clamour for the next serve.
To my right, an Old Boyo had been counting out the pennies for a pint of Worthington (Whoosh to you and me), and seemed genuinely perplexed to be to be told they didn’t have Worthy. In Wales !
So Brains it was, drunk through the straw in the Wetherspoons style (top).
In light of recent discussions on CAMRA Discourse (which was almost as funny as BRAPA last night), I’m ashamed to say I took the proffered 20p discount. It’s important to note that there is no correlation between CAMRA discounts and inclusion in the Beer Guide.
No discount can compensate for an adequate but dull pint of Brains Bitter (NBSS 2), still to be found at its best in under-threat Cardiff boozers rather than lager-drinking Wrexham estate pubs.
The B5445 takes you past the pub heritage of Gresford, and into those posh borderlands where lie Brunning & Price and lesser gastropubs.
The Nag’s Head at Lavister is the sort of smart dining pub I could take my Mum in (post-2007, anyway), now she’s outgrown Chef & Brewer. She’d have been as impressed as I was by the beer range (not the Hop House).
The barman was a cheery gem, and treated me to a decent accompaniment to “Starz In Their Eyes“. Sadly, perhaps, he then failed to singalong to “Foundations“.
On Wrexham’s annual Summer day, I had the pub to myself, enabling me to compose my usual art shot, which I hope you’ll enjoy.
You’ll no doubt enjoy it more than my Butcombe, which was well presented but above room temperature (NBSS 2).
The pub has a lovely plaque to record the fact that the first CAMRA members were signed up in May 1971. If the beer had been this warm then, they’d have saved their shillings and stuck to the Guinness.