Well, I asked for requests…
“Aren’t Social Clubs in the Beer Guide great !” said no-one ever, remembering identikit rectangular halls and an odd, indefinable, absence of “cosiness”.
Well, here’s one that is great.
Wakefield‘s treasure has been serving good beer (well, no John Smiths Cask to be fair) since I first bought the Guide. It just shows you don’t need stained glass and ornate furnishings to be cosy. Must go back sometime.
I reckon there must be at least 200 Clubs in the Guide, I’ll get the intern to check later. Certainly, you’ll get at least a dozen new ones each year.
Because BeerMat requested my list, there’s quite a Midlands feel to my half dozen picks.
Open to all, there was an old boy on Fosters, a girl feeding her dog crisps, and a soccer Mum. It could have been a Spoons at 11am. The view to the hills was almost glorious, and the sound of thickset Dads shouting “Winners“, “Seconds” a perfect soundtrack.
But the highlight was the pie cabinet;
Kingsley Park Working Mens Club, Northampton had Old Boys drinking Tetley for £2.55 a pint to a soundtrack of Madonna, which sounds like 85% of Life After Football’s blog.
Rocklands Soc Club in Redditch had dominoes, cheery bar flies, Nigella Lawson on the telly and a reminder of the local musical heritage.
Most clubs gain a Guide place with support for undrinkable home brew from a young bar steward. This Devon Cons Club stuck on Doom Bar and Otter and watched in horror as all the old folk in shorts drank Carlsberg. But still I loved it.
The Knowl Club in Mirfield is one of 357 Clubs in West Yorkshire and seemed to exist to give old folk a cheap pint while they were watching Sky, though the map guiding the inebriated to the exit and Gents could have been produced just for BRAPA.
So, why the CAMRA fascination with clubs ? Well, the beer is cheap and sells fast enough to be decent quality, but that doesn’t help Sam Smiths or Craft Union much.
In some cases (east Brum) it’ll be your only bet for cask, in others it’ll be a place for local brews, but in nearly every case you’ll get folk of different ages enjoying a laugh over a pint.
And I can’t say fairer than that.