Matlock & Dales

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

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‘Follow the Ale, Discover the History’

Newark Trip Report 4th April by Rick Graham

So went the invitation from Newark Civic Council. And given that it was 370 years to the day that Parliamentary forces successfully took Newark Castle, Saturday 4th April seemed a particularly auspicious day for our trip.

First stop ( excluding a quick one at the Vat & Fiddle in Nottingham) was the Castle Barge. With close links to the civil war, because it has ‘castle’ in its name, this was an ideal opportunity to finalise our plans for our trip around town. ‘Full Mash Apparition’, and ‘Pheasantry Red Rye’ started the day. Everyone assumed that, because they were on a boat, that had to talk like Long John Silver, and they needed reminding that we were on a barge on the Trent, not a galleon off Plymouth Ho.

Off to The Vaults, home of the Death Onion (a type of onion, not beer). If only Prince Charlie had deployed the aforesaid onions instead of cannon balls. The death onion is certain death (or at least red eyes, burning orifices, coughing, spluttering, and inability to speak) to all that it touches. It took ‘Howling Hops Pale Ale’ and ‘Kelham Island Get Your Kicks’ to stop the burning.

Next we walked past The Poundpub. We did give it a chance: we sent Angie in, but she emerged very quickly muttering something about gassy beer, strip lights, big-screen football, and the clientele being a bit too select for us.

Walking on past the Castle we reached The Ram – recently done up after 13 years derelict – looked posh, but the beer was good and prices normal. Pints of ‘Kirby Longsdale Tiffin’, ‘Newark Brewery NPA’, ‘Five Point Five’, and ‘BLH 4’ were enjoyed. The pub did seem to attract particularly large pushchairs though.

On to the Flying Circus. Certainly my favourite pub of the day. The theme was Monty Python, the beer range included ‘Lagunitas IPA’, and ‘Punk IPA’ (I’m informed that it’s no longer a CAMRA capital offence to drink these). And last but not least, the pub has historical links – not only is it in a listed building, but it’s on the way to the ‘Queen’s Sconce’ (don’t ask). Wireless password? ‘holygrail’ of course.

Next – the ‘Just Beer’ bar – this was many people’s favourite. Think Stanley’s. Good points were nice pints of ‘Three Castles King Alfred’s Gold’ and ‘Trypa’. Bad points, the cheese wasn’t free, unlike in Stanley’s and, we nearly lost Rufus because he found a new friend. Next on to the Prince Rupert. Despite the fact that it was around in civil war days, it’s a historical fact that the parliamentary troops never ate or drank there due to the high prices. Indeed even now the cheapest beer was £3.80, and a mini sausage and chips was £8.50. On rapidly to the last pubs*, the Fox and Crown (at which was enjoyed ‘Piston Head’ and ‘Bee 17’), and the Oscar, notable for its 16” x 16” pizzas that the locals considered were each barely enough for one person.

* or so we thought. We missed the train by 2 minutes, necessitating another hour whistle stop tour of our favourite pubs of the day. On the way back, while one team braved the station coffee, the other had a quick half at the Canalhouse in Nottingham on our brief stop-over. Where else is there a canal with boats actually in the pub!

All in all a fine and, above all, educational trip.