Thursday, 28 June 2012
Visited On 17 April 2012
So, from Free House to Tied House. Tenanted pubs used to get a bad press: complaints to breweries would be fobbed off (“we’ve no real control over them”), while anyone stepping out of line and getting caught nipping down the local Makro to buy spirits would find that the same brewery had enough control to boot them out in very short order.
Here's the photo ...
... and here's the map
But nowadays, after the horrors of some PubCos, like, oh I dunno, er, Punch Taverns (Hey, did I say Punch Taverns? I wonder why the first one that came to mind was Punch Taverns?), folks are beginning to realise that the old system has things going for it. For one, as I visit, the Crown is advertising for another tenant. The brewery steps in and makes sure it keeps running while they find one.
What doesn’t happen so much is the use of pubs as property chips to cash in for a fast buck. A brewery can look to turn round an underperforming pub, rather than flog the site to a property developer and not be bothered if it ends up getting demolished or turned into flats (examples of both can be seen a few hundred metres away along Earle Street).
So here I am at the north east corner of Town Square. The Crown is a Robinson’s pub: they’ve kept hold of their tied estate. So what’s new? Progress over the 30-odd years since I first encountered their ales has meant that Best Bitter is now [fx drum roll] Unicorn Best Bitter. With a fancy clip on the handpump. Yeah, right. Actually, it’s – still – a good pint.
The Crown is a perfectly decent boozer, although a bit quiet as I check out the rest of the offerings. Cask stout! What is it about cask stout? All of a sudden, everyone who can brew the stuff is offering it. The Robinson’s version is called Black Beauty. There would have been a third real ale on, but Dizzy Blonde (ooh, another not appearing in the House of Commons any time soon) was sold out.
What else is there to tell? You might not go out of your way to visit this pub, but it’s an OK watering hole with plenty of space and the beer is good. Standard Robinson’s Best Bitter warning applies: it’s a 4.2% ale, so stronger than your average session bitter. There’s a large TV screen. But don’t be put off, it’s not loud and you can hear yourself talk. Is that a good thing? Ah, talking points.
Two or three cask beer choices is more than acceptable. And, as a banner proclaiming “under new management” has appeared since my visit, there will have to be another one. Just to make a comparison, you understand. That they might still have Black Beauty on is totally incidental. Y’know, by this point in the evening I’m starting to enjoy this pub review malarkey. Er, we’ll soon put a stop to that. Next!