Across the Market Place now to Bene’t Street. Four of the next five pubs are Greene King managed houses, beginning with the Bath House. Though the building itself is very old, the interior has been much changed, though the present incarnation is looking tired. In ALE 343 our Branch Chairman (whose lunchtime local this is) called on Greene King to give it a refurb and it looks like he’s got his wish – a planning application for internal and external alterations has recently been submitted. Let’s hope this also sees the end of the horrid corporate inn sign. Meanwhile IPA, Old Speckled Hen and a guest are on sale though the XX Mild has sadly been discontinued. Rumour has it that an enhanced beer range may be coming soon.
A few doors down is, arguably, the city’s most famous pub, the Eagle. Its main claims to fame are as the place where Crick and Watson first announced their discovery of the double helix, the ‘secret of life’, the Airmen’s Bar with its World War Two graffiti and the historic galleried courtyard. Closed in the late 1980s for several years it came bouncing back in 1992, significantly extended and with a new front entrance; the room on the right as you enter, with its light oak panelling and tall windows, is especially delightful. Seven handpumps dispense the usual Greene King suspects plus a selection of ales from their guest list.
On the corner with King’s Parade is the Cambridge Chop House, a relatively recent addition to the local real ale scene. Though primarily a (very good) restaurant the Chop House also welcomes folk who just want a beer - served direct from the barrel and usually comprising one or two offerings from Milton Brewery. In the street-level room, the huge windows give excellent views of Kings College and of the hordes of tourists staring at the Corpus Christi Clock.
Down Trumpington Street now and right into Silver Street where, by the river, the Anchor appears on the left. This large Greene King pub rambles over several levels with the food-oriented Riverview bar on top, a small lobby/lounge on the ground floor and the split-level Riverside Bar below (and which gives on to a patio). The last was once the Riverside Jazz Bar, frequented by one Roger Barratt who so admired one of the resident jazzy musicians, near-namesake Sid Barrett, that he changed his own name to Syd; he then went on to form little-known local band, Pink Floyd. The pub has Greene King IPA, OSH, St Edmunds and Abbot on tap along with a seasonal ale.
Over Silver Street Bridge, left at the traffic lights and we came to the Granta. This occupies an enviable position overlooking the mill pool and makes the most of it with big windows in the elevated single bar. The beer range is similar to that at the Anchor and food is important here as well.
If you’re feeling particularly energetic you could finish this crawl by continuing along Newnham Road and turning right into Barton Road for the Red Bull which always has an interesting selection of well kept ales.