The Crown, a free house that appears in the 2006 Good Beer Guide. The real ale line up is Adnams Bitter, Greene King IPA and two quests which on this occasion were Archers Lost the Plot and Nethergate Stinger. I tried the latter and found it a typically excellent Nethergate beer, full of hop character. The Crown is a long, thin building with a nice variety of drinking compartments, an open fire, lots of beams and red-painted walls. The Watneys Red barrel hanging in one of the windows is a reminder of grim times on the beer front. At the back is a large brasserie-style restaurant which has a very good reputation locally; the pan-fried liver and bacon with onion gravy and red cabbage braised in port wine is apparently legendary. The Crown also offers accommodation.
The High Street heads down hill towards the river, besides which sits the thatched Dog and Duck. The main bar here has a low, heavily-beamed ceiling with a large open fire at one end. Behind it is the busy restaurant and there's also a separate small room to one side. By the time I got there it was already very busy, especially on the meals side. The pub reached the finals this year of The Publican's Catering Pub of the Year competition. Outside are a delightful patio and a garden adjacent to the river. On the real ale front I could choose between Greene King IPA, Abbot, Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles Orchard. I rather gingerly plumped for the last, which is Ruddles County with added apple flavours. The editor of CAMRA's own newspaper was scathing about this brew and my previous experiences of it had left me tending to agree with him. However, this example was excellent, the appley taste being kept in check and blending well with the hoppy bitterness of the parent beer. I suspect that this is an ale which needs to be given time to mature in the cellar before it achieves the desired balance.
The Waggon and Horses. This is very much a village local - no food, just drinking, chatting, games-playing and so on. The L-shaped bar is pleasantly plain with bare floorboards and a few tables; most of the customers were conversing round the bar. At the back is a small room dominated by a pool table. Greene King IPA, Abbot and Old Bob were the real ales and I tried the last. Old Bob was formerly brewed by Ridleys, recently bought by Greene King who quickly shut down the brewery. To their credit, GK have gone to great lengths to match the flavour of their own-brewed Old Bob with the Ridleys one and I reckon their version is just as good if not slightly better. Although losing any brewery is highly regrettable, it's what's in the glass that matters most and you can't fault GK on that score. The example here was as good as I've had, as might be expected in a pub which has gained the Cask Marque award.
So, three pubs all offering top-notch beer in very pleasant surroundings. Linton may no longer have the quantity but it certainly has the quality.
- -> ALE 318: Pub Review: Three Tuns, Great Abington
- -> What's Brewing Nov-2005: Ridley's head brewer has moved to Wickwar Brewery in Gloucestershire