The White Horse Swavesey is one of my ALE delivery points and is the longest-established regular Deuchars outlets in the area. Landlord Warren put it on two years ago as an alternative to a somewhat more common IPA and the demand was such that it couldn't be removed. The White Horse is an excellent "proper" village local with a superb tiled and beamed public bar. It's become a regular in the Good Beer Guide for its well-kept and interesting real ales and also boasts a selection of around 60 malt whiskies.
Two of the other pubs on the list have been featured recently in ALE. The Mill in Mill Lane Cambridge offers Deuchars alongside Fullers London Pride, Greene King Morlands Old Speckled Hen, Theakston Old Peculier, Wychwood Hobgoblin and Westons Old Rosie cider. Beer quality here has been consistently good since Nancy McLaughlin took over about a year ago.
We mentioned the changes at The Fox Burwell in the last edition and Deuchars has become a regular there since that article was written. The Fox is that relative rarity, a genuine free house, and is also building a reputation for its Mexican food.
Anyway, onto my recent visits. First on the list was The Woolpack in Sawston, a Punch Taverns house in the village centre. (It always used to be that the pubs in Sawston got steadily worse as you went south though I've no idea if this is still the case). Anyway, The Woolpack is an entirely pleasant single-bar local where the Deuchars was the only real ale on sale (the other pump had a turned-round clip for Flowers IPA). The beer was absolutely fine, if a little bit warm, and at £2.40 a pint, the cheapest I was to encounter (which says a lot about local prices).
Next up, The Rose in Stapleford, a food-oriented pub but retaining a cosy little bar for drinkers. No Deuchars here but there was another Caledonian beer, 80 Shilling, which was in fine form and had a particularly gorgeous malty aroma. Fullers London Pride and Adnams Bitter were also on handpump. I was there on a Sunday lunchtime and they were fully booked for food, with people already booking for the following week.
Round the corner now to a pub with a deservedly high reputation for its real ales, The Longbow. Again no Deuchars but again another Caledonian beer, this time the seasonal offering Tattoo, with a taste mid-way between IPA and 80 Shilling. Fenland Babylon Banks, Titanic Triple Screw, Stonehenge Pigswill and Adnams Bitter completed the enticing line-up on the bar and several had to be tried, all in top nick.
The remaining pub on the list was back in Cambridge - The Burleigh Arms on Newmarket Road. Here I was served Deuchars in its own branded glass (as I was at The White Horse) and very good it was too. The Burleigh has recently expanded to three pumps, the others dispensing Shepherd Neame Spitfire and a changing guest (Lees Scorcher on my visits). The licensees have just been awarded Cask Marque recognition for the quality of their ales. The pub is also very popular for food, the menu being wide and the prices very good value. It also has that rarity for a relatively central pub - a car park.
So, a successful mission, with not a duff beer encountered. Let's hope more local pubs take advantage of the increased availability of this fine beer. And, incidentally, it's pronounced "Dook-ars", not "Duke-ars".