My first stop on this trip was The Company Inn, which has been a previously visited location in this blog.
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.