Friday, June 21, 2019

Ruddington Redux

I know what you're thinking. No entry for a few weeks and then 3 in quick succession? It's been a fortuitous month for time and money which has meant being able to post more regularly. We'll see how long this continues for! Last week marked the annual pilgrimage to Download Festival and this year saw Matt make his long awaited return after 3 years without attending. Matt would be staying with us and travelling to and from the festival with us and so he made the journey to Nottingham on the day before. With myself and Amy being off as well, this meant that we had a day to do whatever we fancied before the serious business of festival going. We'd decided that we would make a return visit to the nearby village of Ruddington and its excellent drinking establishments as it was close by, would be quiet and because Matt had never been and it only seemed fair to show him a few pubs in our neck of the woods. Amy would unfortunately not be able to attend as she was looking after her mum's still young puppy until her sister finished work, much to her own chagrin as I think she would rather have been with us.

So, twas the day before Download when Matt and I made our way, around mid-morning, to Ruddington, to see what it may have in store. The walk to Ruddington takes approximately 20-30 minutes and, apart from the weather being a tad unsettled, it was shaping up to be a relatively warm one. Our first destination for the day sits on the main road Wilford Lane that runs through the centre of the village. Stop number one was the Ruddington Arms.
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Originally known as the Jolly Farmers, this former Home Ales tied house was refurbished and renamed in 2014 and has been listed as an Asset of Community Value since 2017. The interior is modern and open plan with a central bar, comfortable seating, and a restaurant area located to the rear. There is a large enclosed courtyard space to the rear and a small table of tables and chairs placed out on the front pavement for outside drinking and smoking. The food here is also excellent. Amy and I came for Sunday lunch once and it was wonderful. Beer-wise, the bar holds 4 handpulls. The choice on the day of our visit consisted of Lancaster Bomber, the house beer Ruddy Good Ale, Castle Rock Harvest Pale and Blue Monkey BG Sips. Matt decided on the Harvest Pale on the basis that he hasn't had it for a while as it doesn't seem to get as far as Bristol. By contrast, I opted for the BG Sips. I hadn't had this for a while either but it was very well kept and started the day off very nicely indeed, even if I did spill some of it trying to sit down at one of the outside tables. Conversation quickly turned to the following day's Download Festival and which bands we were most looking forward to with Whitesnake and Def Leppard being amongst the frontrunners. They were both incredible by the way!

We'd arrived in the village so early that the next pub wasn't even open when we arrived so we were spent 15 minutes milling around outside before the welcoming site of the landlord opening the door. Located just a few doors down from the first pub, we had now reached the Victoria Tavern.
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This cream and black painted brick building is very much a traditional village local and tends to attract a more mature clientele with its quiet and cosy ambience. It's a traditional two bar layout with the main lounge area to the left which is carpeted, comfortable and music free and a smaller, separate public bar to the right. The Victoria Tavern has been listed as an Asset of Community Value since June 2017 and is now operated as a freehold under a subsidiary of the Ei Group. We are given a very warm welcome by the landlord as we enter and focus our gaze on the 4 handpumps that line the cosy bar. Our options here feature Salopian Lemon Dream, Adnams Southwold Bitter, St. Austell Tribute and Draught Bass. It's rare to see Salopian in this area from my experience so it would be rude to pass up an opportunity to have the Lemon Dream (4.5%). Cradling a pint each, we make our way through the comfortable surroundings to a no less comfortable garden area which features a number of tables and benches and a covered smoking shelter. The beer is cracking! It's a shimmering golden ale brewed using organic lemons for subtle zesty aromas and a fruity, citrus-filled finish. It's very good indeed and it's easy to see why the landlord confessed to having had a few pints of it the previous evening. It almost seems rude that we're only having the one!

However, move on we must and, luckily for us, our next destination is only a short walk away on the corner of Easthorpe Street. Our attention now turned to the Red Lion.
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The Red Lion was first recorded as a pub in 1855 under Mrs E. Smith and under William Smith in 1876. This is yet another pub that was successfully ACV listed in June of 2017. Inside, two rooms sit around a central bar. The lounge area is carpeted with low beams and wood panelling whilst the public bar (where we enter) is more basic and contains a dart board. The bar itself features 2 handpumps but only one of these is in use, offering Theakston's Best (3.8%). We again headed outside with our pints. A picnic style table is located in the upper corner of the pub's rear car park so we used this as a perch whilst we let the beers go down. The beer is rather good and quite well kept with the flavours coming through as a subtle mix of hoppy dryness balanced by sweetness from the malt. Overall, this is my least favourite of the pubs in Ruddington. There's nothing particularly wrong with it and it happens to be the busiest of those we visit in the village on the day so I don't really know how to explain why I don't like it more on what is now my third visit. I feel like further visits might help it to grow on me.

Our next stop happens to be almost next door to the Red Lion, also on Easthorpe Street. There are actually 3 pubs in close proximity on this road but we would be forced to miss out the third on this occasion as, with it being midweek, it doesn't open until 5pm. Still, this would not affect the pub to which we would now set our sights. Next up, the Red Heart.
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This is a former Shipstone's pub, the sign for which still hangs outside, that was originally recorded as a public house in 1832 under the name 'Red Hart' with William Widdinson as the proprietor. The first appearance of the current name is in 1855 when under the management of Mrs R. Widdinson before John Vincent is recorded as the publican in 1876. The pub is ACV listed and now operated by Patron Capital having formerly been under a subsidiary of Heineken. Inside, there is a distinct bar area to the front with tiled floors and basic furniture and a very large dog wandering about. A more comfortable lounge space is to the rear. TVs are located in the bar area meaning that it can get busy when football is televised. A pool table and dartboard are located in a room to one side as is the gents toilet. There is a substantial garden to the rear, over two levels, with lots of furniture, an outside bar, TV screen and marquee space for big events. On the bar there 3 handpulls, 2 of which are operating when we arrive. Our choice here would be between beers from Sharp's, namely Atlantic and Sea Fury. We both decided on the latter and once again we headed outside and located ourselves in a covered area to avoid the impending rain. Sea Fury (5%) is a strong, dark bitter with sweet and spicy flavours making it very well balanced and refreshing. It's a beer to be drunk deeply on unsettled days such as this one. We enjoyed our pints sat in the garden area and watching a cat explore the nearby bar space. It would soon be time to uproot ourselves and plod on again.

Ignoring the nearby Three Crowns (the aforementioned pub that opens later), we made our way back to the main thoroughfare and further along the road to where our next destination sits on the corner of High Street and the B680 Flawforth Lane. This is the Frame Breakers.
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The only current Good Beer Guide listed pub in the village, the Frame Breakers was originally known as the Bricklayers Arms and was a beerhouse in 1868 before becoming fully licenced in 1860. Inside there are low beams and lots of wood furniture, including a very solid bar. The flooring is a mix of tiles, wood and carpet with settles and chunky furniture occupying what is an open plan layout with the seating spread around the edge and to either side of the bar. Nottingham Brewery have operated the pub since October 2015 so their beers are centre stage. The pub name references both the nearby Framework Knitters Museum as well as the Luddite uprising. 7 handpumps line the bar, largely featuring Nottingham beers but with additional guests. Our options feature a doubled up Nottingham EPA as well as Legend, Frame Breaker, Cock & Hoop and Foundry Mild as well as a guest in the form of Maypole Mayfly Bitter. I opted for the Cock & Hoop (4.3%), brewed specially for the eponymous pub in Nottingham's Lace Market. This turned out to be a traditional pale bitter with citrus hop flavours and a crisp finish to create a rounded palate. This is great pub and it was certainly enjoyed by us and the other customers in attendance, including two Staffies, one of whom Matt spilled beer on and couldn't believe his luck!

Our next location was one that Amy and I never quite made it to when we first visited Ruddington for the blog a while ago. We'd managed to make it since and it was good to have a return visit to the White Horse.
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Located in the shadow of the village church, the White Horse has undergone a substantial transformation since it was acquired by the A&A Pub Company in late 2017. This is a large two-roomed pub with a single room for drinkers and the other set out mostly for diners. There is a spacious outside courtyard area which serves as space for beer festivals and barbecues as well as The Stables restaurant which is in a converted stable block in a separate building to the rear. Both rooms are served by a central with 6 handpumps divided into 2 banks of 3 that serve one side each. On the day in question, 4 of these are in use and appear to be doubled up between Magpie Best and White Horse, brewed by Magpie specially for the pub. I was hoping to get away from the beers I see on a daily basis at work but when in Rome and all that. The Magpie Best (4.2%) was in belting condition as it should be. This is a glowing copper bitter, nutty and crisp with gentle hop flavours. I don't know why I don't drink it more to be honest! The White Horse is another pub that I don't come to nearly enough and a situation I hope to hastily rectify.

We had time for one more pub before we decided to call it a day. This meant retracing our steps back out of Ruddington and visiting a pub in Clifton, not too far from home in fact. Our final destination was The Peacock.
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Located on the junction of Southchurch Drive and Green Lane, The Peacock is physically the closest pub to where we live. Despite that, we've only been a handful of times and I'm fairly sure Matt has only been on one previous occasion. It seemed only fair to squeeze this one in at the end of the trip and allow it to finally feature in these pages. A large, brick building not far from the shopping precinct, The Peacock was opened on April 28th 1961 to a design by architects Taylor, Son and Munday of 8 Clarendon Street for Hardy's of Kimberley. The interior was designed by G.D. Oates with Norman Potter Ltd and once featured a skittle alley alongside. The original licence was transferred from the former Lumley Castle Hotel on Radford Road which was demolished in the early 1960s as part of the Hyson Green Clearance Scheme. A square building on triangular plot, the Peacock is now operated by Greene King and has recently benefited from a sympathetic makeover both internally and in the large garden area to the rear. ACV registered since 2016, it boasts a U-shaped open-plan interior with a drinking area including a pool table and TVs to one side and a comfortable dining area to the other. The drinks and food are good quality and great value so I really don't know why we don't come here more. Speaking of drinks, 4 handpumps are prominent on the bar. Our choices are between Greene King IPA, Abbot Ale and Morland Old Speckled Hen. I went for Speckled Hen as I always enjoy it on draught and this was no exception with all the flavours in all the right places. We managed to procure a small table in the dining area as a base to peruse through the day's achievements before we wound our way back home just in time for The Chase.

It had been a fun day. The weather had held out for the most part and it was nice to return to some old favourites from previous visits here. For Matt, I can safely say he enjoyed the opportunity to visit some pubs that he'd never really been aware of when he lived in Nottingham and find that they were as good as and better than he'd hoped. Ruddington is thriving, benefiting from being both out of the way and easily accessible. Every time I visit, I am thrilled by the pubs and the beers and it makes me glad that, The Peacock included, there are so many great drinking establishments virtually on my doorstep. At any rate, it had certainly been a good warm up for the following 3 days of Download Festival. In many ways, over the course of 4 days last week, it wasn't just the music that rocked!