Thursday, January 30, 2014

Drinking the 'Spoons!

The arrival of this year's bunch of Wetherspoons money off vouchers from CAMRA coincided nicely with my next planned excursion which was to visit all of Nottingham's 5 Wetherspoons venues on one rather cold and rainy Saturday afternoon. My decision to brave the weather may have been foolhardy but I was in the mood to see the state of the ale scene across the Nottingham Wetherspoons franchise.
My first stop on this trip was The Company Inn, which has been a previously visited location in this blog.
This pub is situated on the canal side, in a building that was once a warehouse owned and built by the Trent Navigation Company, hence the name. The bar, located at the back of the room contains 10 hand pulls. As well as the Spoons regulars of Abbot Ale and Ruddles, beers on offer were varied. One hand pull was not in use but the others contained Hobgoblin (twice), Adnams Broadside, Purity Mad Goose, Grafton Framboise, Stone Double IPA and Nottingham Centurion ND. I almost went for the Stone IPA until I saw the ABV (a whopping 8.5%) but instead opted for a significantly milder brew, the Grafton Framboise at 4.0%. This was an interesting beer that tasted different to what I expected, but only in a good way. It was pale and fruity with top notes of hops, a zesty aroma and a smooth finish. It went down very quickly indeed and soon it was time to move on to my next Spoons venue.
Situated on St. James' Street, just off of Market Square in the centre of town, sits The Roebuck Inn.
The Roebuck lies opposite the Malt Cross, formerly a music hall and yet another previous visitor to these pages. The Malt Cross sits on the site of a public house that was known as The Roebuck and the name has been continued on at the Wetherspoons venue. This is one of Nottingham's largest and probably the best Wetherspoons venue in the city. This is a large 2 storey building with a very long, curved central bar and lots of seating throughout a spacious interior. The 15 hand pulls include 2 each of Abbot Ale and Ruddles and a good mix of other beers. The selection includes Kelham Island Pale Rider, Milestone Rich Ruby, Mr. Grundy's Big Willie, Grafton Coco Loco and Framboise, Funfair Twister, Loddon Hullaballoo, Medieval Courtly Love, Conwy Infusion, Nottingham EPA, Flipside Random Toss and Magpie Flyer. I instantly went for Twister from Funfair brewery. This beer stacks up at 4.1%, is dark ruby in colour with a malty aroma and a slightly bitter taste. There are top notes of roasted malt and an overall chocolaty flavour with a bitter aftertaste.
Next, after walking to Victoria Centre with Jade, I decided to make my way to a Werherspoons that is a little tucked away, namely The Gooseberry Bush on Peel Street.

 Formerly the Varsity student bar, the original site was the location of the Nottingham Women's Hospital which itself had replaced a Victorian mansion called Smithfield House. The first patients arrived at the hospital in 1930, with the last baby being delivered here in November 1981. The site was then partly cleared for the building of a licensed premises. The Gooseberry Bush is named after this past and harks back to the place where babies were said to arrive in old wives' tales. The main entrance is elevated above the pavement and accessible up a set of steps. The bar is U shaped and located to the left of the entrance, with the seating being a mix of high and low tables. 10 hand pulls
grace the bar here, namely Abbot Ale (twice), Ruddles (twice), Bombardier, Deuchars IPA, Brains SA Bitter, Kelham Island Pale Rider, Doom Bar and Exmoor Beast. This time I decided to have a go with the Pale Rider. This pale beer carries a strong hop aroma, a very fruity flavour and a smooth, creamy aftertaste, all at a strength of 5.2%. I tend to be a big fan of Kelham Island beers and it had been a while since I'd had one so this made a nice change.
For my next location, I wandered back into the town centre to a large premises that sits facing across Market Square, The Joseph Else.
Names after a locally born sculptor, this large square building contains a bar that is roughly halfway down the main room. The seating is low throughout and arranged over a roughly split level layout. The bar includes 10 hand pulls: 2 each of Ruddles and Abbot Ale, Nottingham Legend, Burton Bridge Bitter, Oakleaf India Pale Ale, Stone Double IPA, Milestone Colonial and Gadds No. 3. Oakleaf Brewery is based in Gosport in Hampshire where my parents live so it would have been rude not too try it. Pale in colour with a fruity aroma and a nice balance of malt and hops, a smooth creamy flavour and a malty finish. With a strength of 5.5%, it packs a punch too.
I had one place left to go and I was uncertain whether it was a good idea. I eventually convinced myself to give it a try, on the grounds that otherwise I would never know. That destination, situated on the edge of Hockley was Lloyds Bar.

This art deco looking building boasts a roughly square internal layout with stairs to a smaller upstairs area and a roughly circular central bar. The 5 hand pulls include Ruddles, Abbot Ale, Nottingham EPA, Falstaff The Good, The Bad and The Drunk and a strawberry flavoured real cider. Limited on options, I selected EPA, only to be told that it had run out. I had no choice but to go for Ruddles which was at least in good condition. Other than that, Lloyds Bar was a disappointment, which isn't a surprise in as much that it is more a bar than a pub and isn't exactly designed to cater for ale connoisseurs.
Despite the disappointment of the last venue, overall I was impressed with the effort that Wetherspoons goes to too look after real ale drinkers. This is obviously reason that they have teamed up with CAMRA to provide the money off vouchers. In a world where big companies and corporate heavyweights have been responsible for the demise of many a small (and not so small) brewery, Wetherspoons really do have the drinkers in mind. They, at least, are amongst the few doing it right.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ale's Well in Chilwell

My most recent ale-based adventure saw me visiting somewhere a bit closer to home as I headed out, solo on a Saturday evening, to visit the pubs in the Nottingham suburb of Chilwell.
Chilwell was originally a hamlet on the road from Nottingham to Ashby-de-la-Zouch. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but along with Toton it became part of the parish of Attenborough. Suburban development spread gradually from Beeston along Chilwell High Road.
The area's population grew substantially during World War I when most of the area of level ground between Chilwell and Toton was occupied by the National Shell Filling Factory No. 6 and the original direct route between Chilwell and Toton became a gated military road, now known as Chetwynd Road.
On 1 July 1918, 134 people were killed in an explosion at the factory, with over 250 people injured in the explosion. This tragedy remains the largest number of deaths caused by a single explosion in Britain. The memorial to the dead can be found in nearby church yard of St Mary's, Attenborough.
The army continued to dominate the area with the factory becoming a major depot site for the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and more recently for the Royal Engineers. The Chilwell Bypass Road was constructed in the 1930s to take army traffic out of the village centre.
Chilwell has three pubs in its centre on Chilwell High Road. The Original Chequers Inn is on the border with Beeston and is a turn of the century pub that was once a coaching house, The Charlton Arms is named after a local landowning family who formerly lived in the now demolished Chilwell Hall. The Cadland is named after a locally trained racehorse that won The Derby in 1828. There is also a modern pub, The Cornmill, on Nottingham Road. There is a large retail park and hotel (The Village) on the Attenborough border.
Chilwell has had a long-standing non-conformist population. The Chilwell Methodist Church was founded in 1798 as the Methodist First Connection Chapel at Hallams Lane. Its Sunday School (provided jointly with local Baptists) provided the first free education for the poor of the area. The chapel moved to land provided by Squire Charlton in 1857.[1] Christ Church, Chilwell was built in 1903 to provide an Anglican church to serve the growing population, although it did not become a separate ecclesiastical parish from Attenborough until 1975.
The Inham Nook estate was built by Beeston and Stapleford Urban District Council on land to the west of Bramcote Lane from the 1950s and St Barnabas's Church was constructed in 1957 as a "mission church" to serve the new population. For many years, Inham Nook's council housing was in sharp contrast to the surrounding areas of middle class suburban owner-occupation. Since the 1980s right to buy legislation, tenure has been more mixed, but Inham Nook remains relatively deprived compared to other areas in the southern part of Broxtowe borough.
Chilwell Manor Golf Club was established in 1906 on land formerly belonging to the Manor. The Manor House and nearby Chilwell Green remained intact until 1965 when the bland Clarkes Lane development of large detached houses started construction.
Chilwell School is located off Queens Road West adjacent to the golf course. It shares a site and facilities with the Chilwell Olympia Sports Centre. Prior to construction of the school in the 1970s, this area was Kirk's Farm. It had remained undeveloped as the land has a high water table and poor drainage. A hectare of the school grounds was not drained for playing fields and is now the Chilwell Meadow nature reserve managed by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust as a rare example of a "wet meadow" of unimproved grassland.
Parts of the golf course are also sites of importance for nature conservation, and there has been some work in recent years to remove non-native species in the golf-course planting to improve bio-diversity.

The obvious advantage of visiting this particular suburb is that, not only are all of the pubs relatively close together but they are close enough to home to enable to walk once my exploration is done. This made the idea all the more attractive on this particular weekend. Not entirely sure what to expect from the establishments on this itinerary, my journey began at The Charlton Arms.
This John Barras-operated venue is named after a local 19th century farming family and the family crest is displayed on a sign at the roadside. The standard, manor house like exterior is complimented internally by a spacious arrangement with lots of seating, made up primarily of round tables and leather sofas. The main room is essentially split level with a small raised area containing a pool table and a lower section towards the back that is reserved for dining and accessible down a small flight of stairs. There is a dart board in one corner of the pub and the walls are decorated with photographs of local landmarks, both from Chilwell and the neighbouring settlements of Attenborough and Toton. The reverse J-shaped bar includes 3 hand pumps, one of which (supplying Black Sheep Bitter), is off. The other 2 options are Adnams Broadside and a beer from Hook Norton which, due to this particular area of the bar being busy I was unable to get close enough to identify in either name or ABV. I went for a pint of the Hook Norton beer anyway and it was a wise choice with which to begin the evening. Bronze in colour, the beer had a nutty aroma and a spicy hop flavour, supported by a rich, malty bitterness. It certainly went down nice and easily.
My next location stood conveniently close by, being literally across the road. Named after a locally trained racehorse that won the Derby back in 1828, and operated by Ember Inns, I next visited The Cadland.
I'm generally a big fan of Ember Inns and was a regular visitor to The Punchbowl in Mapperley when I lived that way. I did have one bad experience whilst dining there but I've taken that to be a one off. Anyway, The Cadland has a decidedly similar layout, despite the interesting blue and white exterior décor. Inside, the interior is large and plush with a U shaped central bar and lots of seating of both the velvet and leather variety and of varying heights. The main area is nicely divided into smaller individual alcoves by careful placement of pillars and one of these areas has a roaring coal fire which really keeps out the winter chill. The bar is stocked with 9 hand pulls, 6 of which are doubled up with Abbot Ale, Broadside again and Everard's Tiger. The remaining 3 include Frosted Jack from the Devon Brewing Company, 41 Degrees South from Roosters Brewery and an empty pump that is in the process of being cleaned an flushed. I decided that the Frosted Jack was worth a try and I was proven correct. At a refreshing 4.3%, this chestnut coloured beer packs a hoppy aroma with top notes of fruit zest. The flavour is smooth with a hoppy finish accompanied by undertones of malt. A winter warmer indeed.
The longest part of my journey, apart from the walk home, was next to come, a I ventured out of Chilwell proper and wandered back towards the main Nottingham road. My next destination sits by the roadside, although set back slightly from the pavement.
With the familiar orange and black frontage overlaying the grey and cream façade, it's no surprise to learn that The Bluebell is a Flaming Grill venue. Inside, the bar is central and has a large amount of plush seating arranged nicely around it. Only 2 hand pumps are present and they feature the kind of beers you would expect for such a food-oriented venue, namely Doom Bar and Harvest Pale. This is no bad thing as the pub boasts Cask Marque accreditation and the Harvest Pale is very well kept and in excellent condition. I sat and drank my pint at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the warmth and the comfort of the furnishings, spoiled only slightly when one of the Year 8 kids I teach realised he knew me and pointed in my direction. I did my best to be polite.
Chilwell is not a big place by any stretch of the imagination and I only had one place left on my list for the day. Making my way further down Nottingham Road and back in the direction of home brought me to The Corn Mill.
Run by Greene King under its Eating Inn brand, The Corn Mill lies directly opposite the local retail park and is named after a structure that is believed to have once stood nearby. The building is roughly square in layout and cream in colour with an oddly rectangular interior that makes it look narrower on the inside than it appears from without, like a reverse TARDIS. The black and white styled bar is central to the room which has separate designated entrances for drinkers and diners. There are 10 hand pulls on the bar, all of which are doubled up and the selection consists of Abbot Ale, GK IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Nottingham Brewery Centurion ND and Rock Bitter. The Rock Bitter was in excellent condition and thoroughly enjoyable. It wasn't enough to make me stay for a second though and soon it was time to wend my way back home, which from this point, is literally just down the road. My search and explore around Chilwell had been a mild success and I can honestly say that no pub disappointed me. They all had ale for one thing and that ale was in good condition al all venues. This, to me, just goes to show that places don't necessarily need any kind of preceding reputation in order to offer good things to the perceptive drinker.
During my travels around Chilwell, I came across a story that I had heard snippets of in the past and I decided that this particular tale needed further investigation. The story in question is that of the Chilwell ghost. As the story goes, back in the 19th century, a pedlar disappeared after telling one of his customers that he would be spending the night at a farmhouse in the Chilwell area. This house was a particularly lonely cottage and the family that lived there were regarded with suspicion by those that lived locally. Upon the pedlar's disappearance, this particular family suddenly experienced an inexplicable bout of prosperity, which led to rumours and theories amongst the folk of what was at the time a small village. After a few years, as one of the family lay dying, they confessed to the murder of the pedlar and rumours began to circulate the ghost of the unfortunate haunted the cottage in which he met his premature demise. It certainly seemed that many people had reported knocking sounds, screaming, thumping and dragging noises from what, by this point was a derelict property. The story of the Chilwell Ghost became so well known that people would regularly travel to the area in the hope of glimpsing the fearsome apparition of the murdered man. Over the years, as those who knew the truth died off, the story became somewhat garbled and twisted into the tale of a murdered wife beheaded by her husband. Eventually though, a thorough investigation was launched into the case and, in the 1990s, the story was finally uncovered in full and linked back to the pedlar through local records and folklore. Whether the story is true or not is up to you to decide but it is certainly known that a pedlar disappeared, a murder was confessed too and strange things were witnessed in the house where these events allegedly occurred. Events like this can leave an indelible mark on the community and the same is true in this case. The events in question are commemorated in a plaque on the outside wall of The Charlton Arms and, even more tellingly in the name of Ghost House Lane, a road in the area which apparently is very near the site that the story talks about. It seems that there is more afoot in Chilwell than decent beer! Although the original house no longer stands, a newer building stands on the site. Whether anything still lurks there remains to be seen but, legend or not, the Chilwell Ghost has certainly made its presence felt in this particular corner of Nottinghamshire. No wonder there are so many good pubs nearby!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Best Bridgford

Last weekend, safely ensconced back in the East Midlands, I recruited George to accompany me on an ale trip that I'd had planned for literally months, to one of the more upmarket areas of Nottingham, namely West Bridgford. West Bridgford is a town in its own right, situated in the borough of Rushcliffe, immediately south of the city of Nottingham, with the River Trent as a natural boundary between both settlements. It forms a continuous urban area with Nottingham, effectively making it a suburb of the city and meaning it was chosen as the administrative centre for Nottinghamshire County Council. The headquarters of the County Council moved to the town in 1959 from Nottingham, the traditional county town. West Bridgford is enclosed by the A52 and the A6011, which itself is the former A52.

Most of the main roads in central West Bridgford are named after wealthy families that dominated the town's early history. There are also, however, new developments that are, in effect, suburbs of the suburb named after different things. For example, the Gamston development has roads named after the Lake District, and Compton Acres has roads named after Dorset and the Purbeck Coast.
There are no 'Streets' in West Bridgford. When the town was planned in the Victorian period the roads were originally named as streets: for example, Musters Street and South Street. However, the planners eventually decided that the term 'Street' was too urban, so today the town has Musters Road and South Road.
West Bridgford is notably different from the other suburbs of Nottingham in a variety of ways. During the Victorian period, Nottingham was growing rapidly, but development in West Bridgford was restricted, as much of the land was owned by the Musters family.
At the end of the First World War the Musters family sold the Trent Bridge Inn and the Trent Bridge Cricket ground to the cricket club. The club only briefly owned the inn as they resold it to a brewery for a sum in excess of the money they had paid to the Musters.[1] After much pressure, the Musters sold land for building, but they applied strict planning regulations to the area then known as the West Bridgford Estate. This estate was planned over a grid of tree-lined streets. The main roads such as Musters Road had restrictions on the density of housing and house size. All houses were specified to contain a certain number of bedrooms. Smaller houses were permitted on side streets, and terraces were erected on roads such as Exchange Road for the servants of the wealthy Nottingham merchants who bought up property in West Bridgford.
What has resulted from these strict plans is a community that is still very separate from Nottingham. The town has no formal ties with Nottingham. In Nottingham itself, West Bridgford is often called "Bread and Lard Island" in the belief that its inhabitants spend most of their money on big houses and fur coats so they could only afford to eat bread and lard behind closed doors.
The northern boundary of West Bridgford is the River Trent, spanned by two road bridges, Trent Bridge and Lady Bay Bridge, and two pedestrianised bridges consisting of a suspension bridge and a toll bridge near the Ferry Inn linking nearby Wilford village with the Meadows area of Nottingham city. The pedestrianised bridges link particularly well with cycling routes to Nottingham, the railway station and the university areas, making several rapid, safe, car-free routes available.
Two spans of the original mediaeval bridge still remain, surrounded by a traffic island on the south side of the river, adjacent to Trent Bridge.

On a showery and chilly Saturday afternoon, George and I made a quick bus journey into West Bridgford from Nottingham city centre, the trip helped somewhat by decent traffic as both local football teams were playing away and the following day respectively. Our first destination was the local Wetherspoons, the legendary Trent Bridge Inn, which has featured in these pages before but never in photographic form.
On the day of our visit, the pub was busy but not rammed so getting to the bar for beer was relatively simple and quick. The choice, as usual for a Wetherspoons, was wide, with beers available from Purity, Funfair, Goddard's, Brewster's and a number of others. George and I were torn between both of the Funfair options, Teacups and Ski Jump, until we noticed that there was a beer on offer from Goddard's on the Isle of Wight, down in our neck of the woods! We obviously had to try some! Fuggle Dee Dum, as it was called, is 4.8% and dark chestnut in colour, with a creamy head, a slightly nutty flavour, malty top notes and a faint chocolaty aroma. It was certainly a very nice place to start and we took a seat by the side windows in a very large and encompassing booth. George was still hungover from the night before so was in need of food, opting for a bowl of pasta with garlic bread. I stuck to beer for the time being and was ready for a 2nd pint before George had finished his first. On the second run, I swung for one of the 3 Brewster's beers on offer. After much deliberation, I chose Molly Pitcher, part of their Wicked Women range of brews. Also at 4.8%, this was a pale, very hoppy affair with a fruity and zesty flavour and a crisp, dry finish. It also came in a glass that I wasn't expecting, a veritable carafe-sized chalice-shaped creation branded with the Brewster's name. It suited the beer very well and added a nice extra touch. It was also a reminder of the area that we were in for the afternoon. I don't think I would have got that in Nottingham, no offence meant!
Our next destination lay just around the corner, on the other side of Trent Bridge cricket ground. Larwood & Voce is an upmarket restaurant/bar that essentially makes up part of the cricket stand.
The pub is named after 1930s cricket legends Harold Larwood and Bill Voce and is owned by Moleface Pub Co., who also run The Wollaton in, er, Wollaton. The general feel is one of comfort and subtle style with a smart leather interior and a green and brown bar situated opposite the door. The lighting is low, dimmed for effect and the bar includes 5 handpulls, 1 of which is not in use. Of the other 4, 2 feature Harvest Pale, 1 features Tim Taylor Landlord and the other is the pub's own ale, Proper Moleface Ale, brewed especially for this venue by Magpie Brewery. One of the handpulls is stylishly designed in the form of a cricket stump. Whilst George went for the Landlord, I was feeling adventurous and opted for the Proper Moleface, which has a strength of 3.9%. I expected better things from this brew if I'm honest. Although pale, with a citrusy aroma and an underlying hop kick and bubbly finish, it was a touch too bland and watery for my taste. Whether this was an errant pint or simply my personal taste I'm unsure but the beer was unimpressive, even in the comfy surroundings.
Next on our list was a place that I knew would erase the bad taste from my mouth. One of 2 Castle Rock pubs on this trip, we next made our way to the Stratford Haven.
Opened in 1999 in the renovated shell of an old pet shop, this was the first new on-licence premises in the town for many years. Located on Stratford Road, the pub's name is a variation on the name of Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon, and there are many references to the Bard throughout. The bar is long and central and there is seating around the edge of the room. The 14 hand pumps display a variety of ales from locally and further afield. Amongst the selection are Mr. Grundy's Pip, Squeak and Wilfrid; Oldershaw Traleblazer; Rudgate Traditionale; Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Red Hart and Elsie Mo; Everard's Tiger; Bateman's XB; Adnams Broadside; Doctor Morton's Four Yorkshiremen from Abbeydale Brewery and Gwatkin Silly Ewe real cider. A couple of the handpulls were unused at the time of our visit. I made the unusual (for me) decision of choosing a mild, the Castle Rock Red Hart (5.0%), a chocolate and oatmeal stout, very dark and very chocolaty worth malty undertones. It was a tad heavier than I'd normally cope with but the interesting flavours made it more than drinkable and soon it was time to venture onwards.
Back onto the main high street now, our journey took us, via the Co-Op for a pasty, to the Monkey Tree.

Named after the Monkey Puzzle Tree (actually a species of pine), one of which takes up the front of the property, this is an upmarket bar renowned for high quality food and drink. The interior is relatively open plan with leather sofas and low seating and a bar to the right hand side of the room. 2 of the 5 handpulls are not in use but the 3 that are in use feature Flipside Franc In Stein, Navigation Golden and Bateman's XXXB. George bought the next round as I was outside eating a pasty, and he chose my beer for me, wisely selecting Franc In Stein. With a strength of 4.3%, this is a golden yellow beer with a nice fruit and malt balance and a hoppy aroma and a zesty flavour. The aftertaste is pleasantly crisp and refreshing. We unwisely decided to sit in view of a television meaning that it was hard to prevent my eyes drifting upwards now and again to keep an eye on the football scores. Thankfully, the beer was enough to distract me for the most part.
Our next location was slightly further away but worth it for the walk as it was the 2nd Castle Rock pub on the itinerary: the Poppy and Pint.
Having had a £600,000 makeover in recent years, this former British Legion building is now one of West Bridgford's best drinking establishments. The bar is roughly central, long and L-shaped and the interior is filled with lots of seating and a number of raised areas around the edge. The pub is probably one of the largest of those in Castle Rock's portfolio and the welcome is a good one, as you'd expect from this renowned brewery. There are 12 hand pumps here, featuring a wide variety of things such as, Oldershaw Traleblazer (again!); Flipside Russian Rouble; Navigation Stout; Mr. Grundy's 1914; Nutbrook Wreck the Halls; Funfair Ski Jump and lots from Castle Rock (obviously), including Blunder Buss, Black Gold, Harvest Pale, Walrus, Snowhite and Elsie Mo. I was flagging slightly by now so went for something slightly weaker in the form of Walrus (4.0%), a Movember ale that is still available in a few outlets. This is chestnut coloured with a fruity aroma and is very hoppy and tasty with nice bottom notes of leftover hops. The initial plan was to stay here for one but George was determined to the Russian Rouble, Flipside's 7.3% stout so we managed to force ourselves to stick around, although I was drinking slowly by now and could only manage a half of this beautiful but very heady concoction. Russian Rouble is a chocolate stout which is very tasty as well as being very strong. Despite the strength, the flavours still come through and it is certainly delicious.
Time was getting on by now, and we still had one more venue to visit, so we wandered back into the town centre proper to visit the Test Match.
This huge art deco building is now Grade II listed after starting its life as a coaching inn back in the day. Now operated by Greene King, this estate pub is very expansive throughout with hotel room above the central area which contains lots of low tables spread out across the interior. The bar occupies one side of the room and features amongst its selection Abbot Ale, Landlord, Nottingham Brewery Extra Pale Ale, Old Speckled Hen  and Ruddles. I decided that my last pint for the day would be the EPA, which was in excellent condition. By now, I was very tired and starting to noticeably flag. I was also, again, in visual range of a TV which admittedly got on George's nerves, as I kept drifting back to the football, completely accidentally though! Halfway through my pint, the time had come to call it a day and Jade was kind enough to come and pick us up.
Our day in the suburb of West Bridgford had certainly been worth it as we had explored the ale scene as thoroughly as we could with the time we had. The nature of the area does mean that prices are slightly higher but, more often than not, the extra few pennies are certainly worth shelling out for what is generally decent beer. One or two nearby venues didn't make the agenda but there's always an opportunity for a further visit, especially as one of those we missed out has the only known ghost story I've located in relation to the area. None of the venues we made it too have fessed up too any ghostly goings on so further investigation may be necessary. All in all now, West Bridgford is one of those rare real ale havens, especially now that craft beer shop Hopology has opened in the area. This is another place I've still yet to visit but I will certainly be making the effort to see what this shop has to offer at a later date. West Bridgford overall though, has earned a big thumbs up worthy of its upmarket reputation.