Given that its own brewery is currently non-operational, you may have wondered where the cask beers on sale at the Fresher and Firkin, Mitchams Corner, are actually produced. They come from the Finnesko and Firkin in Norwich, once home of the Reindeer Brewery.
Although any pub closure is a matter of regret, the demise of the Red, White and Blue in Chief's Lane, Ely has probably resulted in few tears being shed. This characterless, estate-style ex-Watneys pub had been struggling for some years; the all-round excellence of the West End House nearby was no doubt a factor.
A real ale outlet previously unreported in ALE is the Royal Cambridge Hotel in Trumpington Street. Hobson's Choice from the City of Cambridge Brewery is the beer in question. The hotel bar is plush and upmarket with high ceilings and big windows - a pleasant if pricey place for a pint.
The Baron of Beef in Bridge Street has been much altered over the years but the front bar, separated from the rest of the pub by a screen, was a miraculous survival - one of the finest pub rooms in the county. "Was" is the operative word since recent refurbishment has seen the screen ripped out leaving one long thin room. Worse still, the decor belongs to the clutter-it-up-with-rubbish mentality familiar to anyone who has visited one of Greene King's Hungry Horse horrors. The ceiling is festooned with fishing nets, wicker baskets, pots and pans, while every square inch of wall space is covered with mirrors, prints, enamel adverts and anything else the Instant Period pub warehouse had to offer. A row of virulently red dinky light shades down one wall completes the nightmare. On the real ale front, IPA, Abbot and Rayments have been joined by a Guest Beer.
A recent gain for mild drinkers is the Royal Oak at Barrington which is serving Ansell's Mild alongside Courage Directors, Greene King IPA and a guest.
Marstons of Burton-upon-Trent have been buying up free houses in the Home Counties at a rate of knots this past year. Latest acquisitions are the Bell, Kennett and the Pemberton Arms, Harston, reopening with Noel Gibney at the helm.
How the mighty are fallen. The Prince Albert, Stow-cum-Quy, once a legendary outlet for unusual beers, is reported currently serving Worthington BB and Stones.