On the trail of some decent ale (part 1)

I worked from home this week. The combination of a short week and the need to have not one but two missing fillings replaced on Wednesday lunchtime made it sensible to do so. It also made it possible to have some leisure time in the evenings for a change and so we went out on both Tuesday and Thursday (I know, social whirl or what!)

One of the things I love about Nottingham is that there is always something to do and last week was the launch of the Nottingham Ale Trail. Now I like collecting things and I like trails and I like pubs so it would be churlish of me not to take part.

There are 41 licensed establishments on the ale trail and they are split into six categories: Animals (6 pubs), Caves (6 pubs), Industry (6 pubs), Legends (8 pubs), Music (8 pubs) and Performers (7 pubs). You order a half or a pint of real ale in each establishment and they give you a sticker for a map and collectors leaflet that you can get from the tourist information office. For each section you complete, you get a pin badge. Collect all sections and you get a t-shirt. I want the pin badges – all of them – Phill wants the t-shirt (and the beer).

So after work on Tuesday we headed into the city centre (all the venues are in or around the city centre) to make a start because we only have until May 19 to finish the lot.

Now before I start, I have to say I am not a beer drinker. My tipple of choice is gin (or tequila) and I generally refuse to drink alcohol that has bubbles in it. The mixer can have bubbles but the alcohol should not. So at each destination we ordered two halves of ale and I had a lemonade as a substitute if I really didn’t like it. But I tried them all (and even liked some of them).

 

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First stop was the Pit and Pendulum in Pelham Street. Now when I first came to Nottingham, I thought this place really quirky and fun. I have to confess I don’t enjoy it so much now. We sampled Barnsley Bitter and it was truly awful. This is no reflection on the ale, which I’m sure, if treated with care, is probably delicious. But even my ale-loving partner in crime didn’t enjoy this and swishing it about from one glass to another couldn’t put any life into it. So we left it and moved on to…

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Not a long walk – it’s directly opposite – but here we had a much warmer welcome and sampled a blonde beer called Ninja Shark. Now this one was lovely; light, fruity and refreshing. I liked the venue too. First time I had been here. Upstairs there was a band playing (plastic glasses only please) and in the bar downstairs it was quiz night – which I have noted for a future random Tuesday. The bar staff were friendly and the atmosphere good.

Up to the top of Pelham Street and the next stop was Faradays.

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Now I do believe that a pub is only as good as their bar staff and the barmaid in here was an absolute delight. She chatted about the ales on offer and told us how often they changed, took a genuine interest in where we were heading to next and sold the breakfast menu to the extent that I think we may well head there this weekend. (Note to Faradays – she probably deserves a pay rise).

Here we tried a ruby ale from Magpie Brewery called 3 For a Girl and (says the non-beer drinker) it was absolutely delicious. Phill was sad because he didn’t get to finish this one after I’d tasted it and decided it wasn’t for me. So that was a success. Oh, they have board games in the corner too for customers to play.

We must have walked about 50metres to the six destination – probably the longest distance between venues that we did all evening.

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Six Barrels Malthouse in Carlton Street was my favourite venue of the evening. It’s a little bit quirky, has the biggest and most comfortable high bar stools that I’ve ever sat in and it was also Tunesday – do you see what they’ve done there? Yep Tuesday night is open mic night. We saw three people sing and they were really good. Phill can sing. I’m now trying to persuade him to go and take part one evening (I’m not doing so well so far). I’d take part but no one should have to endure my howling.

Six Barrels takes its ales seriously too.

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The big screen displays not sport or music videos but information about beers. It also had board games, really friendly and welcoming bar staff and the beer was good too. We had an amber ale here called UBU. I liked it (but Phill still got to finish it off).

The final destination of the evening was The Curious Tavern on the corner of George Street that is housed in the Mercure Hotel. Now this hotel claims to be the oldest one in Nottingham and the information in reception says Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stayed there. Why? Why were Burton and Taylor in Nottingham? I wonder if I can find out.

Anyway, The Curious Tavern is actually quite lovely. It’s like an old gentlemen’s club with big cosy armchairs and a mishmash of furniture. There is also a glass panel in the floor where you can look down and see this (apologies for the worst picture in the world).

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This is looking straight down the hole in the floor to the caves underneath (probably why it features in the caves section of the ale trail). It’s pretty funky. Here we tried Shipstone’s Gold Star. It was ok but Phill got to drink most of it. The cocktail menu looked good though, and the afternoon tea menu (but it wasn’t afternoon).

From here we walked across the road, literally opposite, and jumped on a bus home.

So that’s five down on the ale trail and here’s what I’ve learned. 

  • Some beers are actually nice
  • Faradays seems like a good place for breakfast
  • There’s a quiz night at The Bodega on a Tuesday (don’t know if it’s every Tuesday)
  • I really like Six Barrels Malthouse and I hope one day to be blogging about Phill taking part Tunesday
  • I quite fancy trying afternoon tea at The Curious Tavern
  • I probably won’t go back to The Pit and Pendulum even if you do have to go through a bookcase to the toilets

So five down, 36 to go. This could be fun.

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Traveler, writer, photographer, seeker of knowledge

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