Two backstreet boozers to start, both with a decent smattering of custom by 2019 standards, then onto the “Lunch Stop” aka “Anywhere But Spoons“.


The rest of our group doubted my navigational skills as I wove them past dustbins and through Balti kitchens and graveyards on the way to the Merchant’s.

Unpromising exterior

If I’d been asked to give these Rugby GBG pubs a mark before our trip they’d have all been in the 7-7.5 range, where 10 is Staggs and 1 is the Maidenhead Conservative Club.

I reckon they all went up a notch on our crawl, the Merchant’s Inn a real beneficiary of the return visit.  I remember this opening as the first real specialist ale house in the early 2000s, but I’d forgotten the “tat“, as Mrs RM would have it.

Love your hat Mr Coldwell

As always, see Mudgie and BeerLeeds for the truth; I was enjoying the banter about Bielsa and Bedworth so much I hardly took any notes.  But the Merchant’s is incredibly photogenic.

I got my half of NBSS 3.5 Oakham (as ubiquitous as Doom Bar these days), ordered a rugby-themed burger, and left the Famous Five (Mudgies, Coldwell and Pete) who seemed to want to actually read the menu before deciding on lunch.

Oooh, Plum Porter again
Famous Five

Despite my love of Bass I’m not quite as obsessed with breweriana as you might think, but the Merchants is right up there with the Cambridge Blue.

A stunning display across a rambling pub neatly divided into four or five different drinking areas.

That would look nice in…
Love those Watney signs
Ooh, there’s a mirror
Proper bench seating beer mats


I know, if this was a micro I’d be calling “cliché”.  There you go.

The Merchant’s had been quite busy with local lunch trade, but by 2pm was thinning out a bit. Still enough drinking trade to keep it honest, all jollied along by the ’96 soundtrack (“Common People”, “Wonderwall”) that defines Rugby.

All quite classy, I thought, with particularly cheery service and one of the best pub lunches I’d had since Toad in the Hole on Tuesday.

A balanced meal

Pub upgraded from a 7 to an 8, a result confirmed by the jokes in the Gents.

Mrs Beer Leeds refused to tell us what was on the Ladies wall.





  1. A proper modern public house providing a little of something for everyone (or in terms of cask selection quite a lot), all underlined with the recurring theme of Quality. If I had a pub I would like it to be something like this, bearing in mind the point of having a pub is to make money and not to run some sort of museum or shrine to what has gone before.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the point of having a pub is to make money and the Merchants rightly does so by NOT doing things ‘on the cheap’ or cutting corners.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. So Maidenhead Conservative Club on the day Theresa draws the annual raffle would be a -10?

    That much breweriana makes it look like one of the more extreme Belgian beer cafes.


  3. I love all that stuff on the walls -lots to look at -reminds me of pub in Stamford whos name escapes me at the moment (part of a small chain in the area -i’m sure you will know ! )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t usually read the comments so apologies if this has already been discussed:
    Many of the photos in your blog have taken on a rather unnatural HDR look, with over-saturated colours. Any accounting for this? The photos are otherwise very good but this is a distraction.


    1. Hi David. Thanks for reading.

      Before I upload the photos I try a filter, often Palma, to see if they aid definition. I’m no photographer though. I thought the extra definition helped a bit, but I’ll take feedback from all.

      Tempted to do a comparison of Natural/Auto/Palma and see what you make of the difference in an upcoming post.

      NB other people’s comments are often the best bit!


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