The Grapes
<- The Grapes

The pub was in a bit of a state when the Robbs took over but is now one of the best locals in town. Changes included transformations of both the interior and the clientele, introduction of meals and a beer garden and, especially important from the CAMRA viewpoint, a choice of beautifully kept real ales. Greene King IPA and Abbot are fixtures, complemented by two changing guests (on a recent visit, they were Tom Wood Bomber County and Greene King's brilliant seasonal beer, Ale Fresco).

However, there are gripes at the Grapes and the accusing finger points squarely at the pub's ultimate owners, Greene King. The following message appears in the front window "We apologise to all our friends and customers for the lack of floral display at front of house. This is due to Greene King breaking their agreement with us to paint the outside every 5 years. We in return pay top prices for beer, wine and spirits. Sadly they spend our money on expansion, ignoring bread and butter customers. Please ignore the scruffy appearance of the pub from the road. We have a nice beer garden that we paid for and are still waiting for reimbursement. Inside is very clean and comfortable - no thanks to Greedy King".

The Robbs are not the only Greene King tenants unhappy with their landlord. A group of 100 tenants in the Oxford area are considering legal action against Greene King about the wholesale prices they are charged for their beers. They say they can't compete with the brewer's own managed houses which can obtain the beer at far cheaper prices, as can the free trade; they reckon this breaks the Competition Act, especially as Greene King has such a high market share in the area. Greene King naturally refutes the claims and says that licensees enter into tenancy agreements with their eyes open and know they will have to pay more for their beer than free traders. At the time of writing it looked as if the legal case was about to collapse as the tenant group had been unable to raise enough cash to fight it.

Meanwhile, back in Cambridge, let's hope Greene King do the right thing by the Robbs. If they can afford to pay £46m for Ridleys they can surely run to a few pots of paint?