Beer festivals aren’t killing pubs, Richard, it’s evil CAMRA members who do visit pubs but don’t put NBSS scores into What Pub (guilty), thereby devaluing the whole Beer Guide selection process and the promotion of quality over quantity.  That and beer festivals.

I’ve just submitted my score for the Tiny Rebel Beat Box at the King’s Head in Stamford.  While I like to tell you about opening hours disasters, it’s only fair to tell you when real ale is magnificent, the absolute height of the brewer’s art.

As at Hendon recently, I couldn’t fault this pint, but scoring a 4.5 rather than 5 means it won’t be discounted as the work of a madman.  “A seasoned drinker will award (a 5) very rarely.”

With all respect to Hendon, Stamford is a less surprising place to find near perfection.



Even before you get to the pubs,  it’s a close-to-perfect little town.  I reckon the best view in Cambridgeshire is the one you get driving south down the A1, just before the A43 junction.  I don’t advise stopping dead on the A1 to admire the view of the churches though.


I thought I must have been in all the Stamford pubs (even the scary estate one) over the years, but clearly not.

Stamford What Pub.PNG

Perhaps the King’s Head looked a bit too smart on previous crawls/karaoke sessions in town.



But a look through the venerable 1994 CAMRA Guide suggests I missed out on a corker way back when.


What I’d give for a pub with Bass, Pedi and Flowers Original in decent form now !

Nothing wrong with Tiny Rebel, Jaipur and Black Sheep though.  3 beers would have been more than enough, but of course we’ll never get those days of minimalism back.


No-one else around mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, but at least it was open.  Stamford has some of the best pub opening hours of any significant town, even though the tourists were in cafes and chocolate sellers masquerading as bookshops.


So on the face of it, a pint of Welsh beer in a Lincolnshire pub with no customers and too many beers on the bar.  Not very promising.


But as you know by now, it was nectar. I actually said “Ooh, that’s gorgeous” as I took a first sip. Cellar cool, silky and providing some of the year’s best lacing.


I was joined by a lady with a large 4pm glass of Chardonnay who would not have appreciated my purring over lacing, or the hooks on the bar to hang your GBG.  It felt an adult drinking house, cosy and sophisticated but not posh, a bit of a gem.


Now Tiny Rebel clearly make excellent beers, their bars in Newport and Cardiff proved that, but I’ve had dull samples too, often in rural pubs with far too many pumps.

So give the credit to the licensee at the King’s Head, for providing superb ale, a top soundtrack (King Creosote) and we’ll excuse the scatter cushions.


And if that’s not enough, there’s a Sam Smiths round the corner…

20 thoughts on “STAMFORD – ANOTHER NBSS 4.5 !!!!!

    1. That’s about it. Wouldn’t say better as I like imperfection in places and pubs. Stamford used for BBC costume dramas, very Georgian, though a thriving karaoke scene ! Should go on holiday there.


      1. Architecturally, Stamford is one of the finest market towns in the country, and well worth a visit for that alone. And I thnk it falls into the category of places in Lincolnshire that *do* have decent pubs, even if it can be a bit twee in places.

        TBH I rarely bother submitting NBSS scores for out-of-area pubs. Maybe I should, but what confidence do I have that branches are even using them?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Stamford has quite lively pubs, as well as the odd smart one.

        I’m guilty about submitting NBSS, but then I read in branch magazines that.they can’t use beer scores to select pubs as there’s so few, outside the usual suspects.


  1. Hooks on the bar to hang your GBG? Coat, surely? But always welcome, and could have done with some in the overtly up-market hotel bar we were in last night.

    They probably had a posh cloakroom, had we bothered to inquire!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Hooks on the bar to hang your GBG? Coat, surely? ”

      Pfft. As Martin said, this is sophisticated not posh, so the hooks would be for the ladies to hang their purse whilst sipping their Chardonnay. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw the title and thought “he’s gone to see Chelsea play”. 🙂

    And what’s with the Kitchen Hours on the King’s Head sign? After the hours posted for the Stagger Inn yesterday one could rightly assume that the kitchen is open from midnight till 3am, and then again from 6-9am. Sheesh


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to see I’m not the only 24 hour clock pedant.

      On Chelsea, did you hear the story about the Japanese tourist who asked a taxi driver at Heathrow for Stamford Bridge and ended up 4 hours later in east Yorkshire ?


  3. I always submit my NBSS scores! At least up until the sixth pint anyway!

    I’ve also got another developing theory, commensurate with the ‘Beer festivals are Killing Pubs’ one, in a way. In the photo there are four beers from (I’m familiar with three anyway) good independent brewers and then Black Sheep. I’ve nothing against Black Sheep, but given a choice I will always give it a miss. It’s presence plays into the hands of one of my Drinkatypes™ – the drinker who always takes the ‘safe’ option of choosing a cask beer they are familiar with, wherever they go (generally less likely to visit a beer festival).

    If the mainstream standard was not available they would have to choose something different. This would serve to increase the turnover of four, rather than five, beers and theoretically should improve quality across the board. It also serves to educate the drinker in different beers and brewers, which is a good thing and tends to promote pubs. Conversely, in this case, they have the Black Sheep and walk out saying. ‘it was only alright’ and never go back.

    NB there is a distinction between the Drinkatype™- always takes the ‘safe’ option of choosing a cask beer they are familiar with, wherever they go. AND the Drinkatype™ – always takes the ‘safe’ option of choosing a non-cask beer they are familiar with, wherever they go.

    Can you see the theme building?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem with never.picking Black Sheep, or 6X, or Pedi or Deuchars, is that you build an assumption that these beers are no longer any good. And they are. They’re just served in pubs with a quarter of the turnover they had 20 years ago. Black Sheep have been one of my breweries of the year, along with Tiny Rebel and Dark Star.


  4. I went to Stamford on a Nottingham Camra pub crawl on the 3rd December 1988.
    I had to do Stamfords only estate pub which was called The Hurdler and an Everards tied house.
    I do not find any estate pub scary.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I did all pubs in Bourne a couple of years ago.
    I quite liked the town and its pubs,not sure if its Samuel Smiths tied house is still closed or as it reopened,it was a very nice pub with a top drink of Old Brewery Bitter on the bar.

    After all this time i am still falling for your jokes,Martin,i should have realised that there are no scary pubs in Stamford and none in Bourne.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do understand that comment,Martin,after talking to my Brother who lives in Scum,he says that his workmates are prepared to go to the Nottingham beer festival because it is in the City Centre,but would not go to Goose Fair as it is in the suburbs that they think are rough.
    Both me and the Wife have never bothered what pub we go in or which area it is in,walk in with confidence and dont look at the floor,when locals realise that you are not intimidated by the pub,they are alright with you.
    It must run into the thousand or more what other would perceive as rough pubs that i have done on my own or with my wife.


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