ALE Spring 1997 No. 287

Pub & Brewery News

Crown Topper

The Crown occupies a lovely old building in the centre of Littleport. For many years, the interior presented a shabby, uncared-for appearance, while the pub developed an unfortunate reputation as regards its clientele. Real ale was sporadically available but never a fixture.

Happily, the pub has now been rescued from mediocrity thanks to new licensees, Des and Lora Marchant who have moved here from Gosport, Hants. They have worked on the principle that beneath many a tat-ridden nonentity an attractive original interior is waiting to re-emerge. We see again the lathe and plaster ceiling and the huge crossbeams revealed during the major refurb.

Opposite the entrance is a bank of four handpumps; to the right, a bar-room style drinking area; to the left, a more comfortable lounge-type area. The two real ales selling now are Wadworths 6X and Hook Norton Bitter. As trade increases more beers will come on. The Crown is a genuine free house so anything could appear. Basic pub grub - sandwiches to steaks - at reasonable prices are available in the no-smoking dining room.

The Highlander

The latest bar to hit the Cambridge area lies within the Quy Mill Hotel at Stow-cum-Quy. The stereo-type hotel bar has completely gone as the hotel launches itself at the pub market. A decidedly Scottish theme is based around the tartan of the Blackwatch; decor is offset by swords and stagsheads. Beer is dispensed via swan-necks and tight sparklers, regrettably, since those beers include Adnams Bitter, London Pride and Speckled Hen. Beyond the bar, wholesale refurbishment has created a good choice of sitting areas, mostly candlelit and suitably discreet. The blackboard bar menu reads enticingly, or if food is desired in a more formal setting, the water wheel remains the central feature of a fresh new-look restaurant.

Hill no longer Green

Around Easter another ancient watering hole was closed, with hardly a murmur of protest! Greene King decided that The Green Hill at Linton is no longer viable; it will probably become a house with another built on the pub car park. The pubs position on a busy road junction on the outskirts of the village led it to be little used by villagers or motorists.

Brewery News

Cambridgeshire has a new brewery. The Fenland Brewery opened in a small industrial unit in Chatteris about three months ago. Brewer is Rob Thomas who comes via The Flagship Brewery in Kent from brewing Lambic beers in Belgium. It is a 5 barrel plant producing three main beers which go to about 20 outlets. The range is Fenland Brewery Bitter (4%), Doctors Orders (5%), and the dark Smokestack Lightning (4.2%).

An occasional brew - Sparkling Wit (4.5%) - is a wheat beer which has been shortlisted for the British Beer Challenge, a Beer Quality competition to be held at The White Horse, Parsons Green in May.

Congratulations to Adnams Brewery on winning the KPMG Enterprise Award for Management Leadership. The management conveyed its thanks to the workforce for responding so readily to the management style. Must be something in the beer.

Pub News

The Brookfield Tavern, Mill Road is the latest Greene King pub to undergo a massive refurbishment. The old screening which surrounded the dart runs has been retained and extended, and with the help of additional glass panels provides nice nooks and crannies for eating. This whole area has been raised and divided off with wooden railing. Blackboard menus and colourful shell light-shades complete the transformation. The kitchen will be ready for serious food in May.

The green ceiling and pink textured walls extend throughout the pub. In the sports side, along with the darts and pool is the big screen for the big sports occasions. This side is decorated with old Breweriana such as keg fonts, bottles and tankards. The real fire-place will unfortunately never have a f~re since the chimney has been taken away.

The splendid bar has been retained with the interior windows at each end. Behind this, in residence since last October are Wayne and Katie Howell, previously at pubs in Wisbech, Haverhill and Linton (Green Hill). Handpumps, in this previously top pressure pub, followed in November to dispense GK Mild, IPA and the seasonal beer, currently Demon Eyes (4.5%). Abbot was tried but didn't sell.

The number of real ale pubs in the Branch area has dropped into single figures with the installation of handpumps at The George and Dragon, Snailwell (near Newmarket). This is a most welcome conversion as it's a smashing village pub with the classic combination of comfortable lounge and no-nonsense public. The beers on handpull are GK Mild and IPA, the Abbot remaining on top pressure.

Anyone who had the misfortune to visit The Greyhound, Fordham in its dismal down-at-heel, keg-only days will hardly recognise it now. Reborn as The White Pheasant, it has become a stylish, upmarket inn/restaurant. The decor features lots of open brickwork and wood panelling topped up, (to quote the pub's own blurb) "with sumptuous rugs, armourments, books and paintings". To find out what armourments are, you'll have to visit. Real ales are from Scottish Courage and Greene King, such as Theakstons Best, Coura ge Directors and Rayments.

Welcome to David and Maria Thompson who took over The Portland Arms on Mitchams Corner about six months ago. One of their priorities is to bring the large back room into use as a venue for music, fringe theatre etc, otherwise physical changes will be minimal and the full range of GK beers including Mild will continue to be served.


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