29 May 2008

Things to do in Newark on a green and hazy night – Part 2

Following our mopping up fest session in the afternoon, on the Saturday night things were a little less frenetic – our time of departure was largely dictated by the rapid disappearance of the ales from the stillages, so we had more time and clearer heads with which to take in the evenings watering holes.

We started off with the Fox & Crown on Appletongate, a Castle Rock tied house highly regarded within the local area for its beer quality. Although it offers up to ten ales on handpull we found the selection limited to a handful of Castle Rock’s own brews and a couple of guests on our visit – perhaps something to do with the beer festival.

I won’t go in to too much detail on the interior of the pub; it’s an odd layout, open plan but with distinct and separate sections; the décor is a little grubby but the atmosphere is pleasant. Although we stayed for only two fairly swift halves the customers seemed nice enough and the staff proved both friendly and helpful.

We sampled both the Harvest Pale and Black Gold from Castle Rock, and found the condition to be acceptable although the mild was a little tired.

For further information you can find a Newark CAMRA review of the pub here.

Moving on from the Fox, our next port of call was The Vine Hotel, a pleasant back street boozer situated on Barnbygate.

Although fairly basic in terms of fixtures and fittings, this Springhead pub is held in high regard by the local real ale community. Comprising a large, L-shaped bar area with lounge to the rear, and offering up to five real ales on handpull (one of which is usually a micro guest) this traditional, ale-orientated establishment seems very pleasant – although as with the Fox it was very quiet thanks to the festival.

We sampled Springhead’s Roaring Meg and Leveller, both of which were found to be in decent condition, and I took the opportunity to chat with Ella the barmaid about the pub. She informed me that live music is a regular feature in the Vine, that they hold occasional beer festivals and regularly host meetings of the Newark CAMRA branch.

The pub also benefits from a large courtyard to the rear – ideal for those of us who still like to poison our lungs!

Although it does take a little bit of finding I would heartily recommend this place to anybody out for a day on the ale in Newark – be aware though, this is a drinking pub so perhaps not the best place for small kids or the easily offended!

Upon leaving the Vine we made our way to the Castle – probably Newark’s best kept secret and not at all what we were expecting!

From the outside this unassuming pub looks normal enough; a three story town house on Castlegate, virtually opposite the ruins of Newark castle. Step inside though and everything becomes ever so slightly odd…

The first thing that you’ll notice is the lurid pink décor; there’s more than a hint of the Moloko bar from Clockwork Orange here. The next things to catch the attention are the church pew type seats which can be found to the rear of the pub. It’s certainly an odd combination, but it works well and adds a quirky charm to the place.

Part of the Lancashire-based Yard Glass Pub Co, this small and cosy pub offers a selection of up to six real ales on handpull, with the focus on beers from the Archers range.

During our stay we sampled the Strong Dark Mild and Sir Nigel Gresey, both from Archers, along with Banks & Taylor Two Brewers Bitter; all were found to be in excellent condition and were easily the best kept ales of the night.

On our visit the bar was being manned by a very friendly and knowledgeable manager who knew his ale and was able to give us plenty of background information on the pub. We were surprised to learn that, although it looks old, the pub has in fact only been there for a few years!

The Castle also holds regular live jazz nights and has the world’s smallest beer garden / smoking space to the rear – it really has to be seen to be believed. It should be noted that an over 25’s policy is in place, though not rigorously enforced.

All in all it proved to be a very successful evening; all three pubs on our itinerary were well worth stopping by, and I will certainly make a point of revisiting them on my next trip to Newark.

I'll finish with a big thank you to Ella at the Vine - cheers for the beer tokens, much appreciated!


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