2 June 2008

The Grand(ish) Old Duke of York

As the lucky ones were enjoying their Dark Star brewery tour, I was travelling to Spalding for my brother in law's birthday. For the past 7 years I have driven past an intriguing looking place - a Bateman’s affiliated pub named the Duke of York in the village of Gosberton Reisgate near Spalding, Lincolnshire - and wondered if it was any good. I was about to find out…

The place had been given mixed reviews when had I enquired about it over the years. Some said the beer was fantastic, while others warned of the odd atmosphere. I would definitely agree with both of these observations. My wonderful wife kindly dropped us off (after first driving round the back to confirm it was definitely open) under instruction to pick us up an hour later. And we bravely stepped inside.

Two locals at the bar seemed to engage in conversation with us without appearing to have noticed we were there, which was a remarkable achievement in itself, although we couldn’t quite work out what they were on about. Welcome to Lincolnshire. As with all good village pubs there was a resident canine, albeit a rather sleepy poodle. This was going to be fun!

The beer choice was okay – Bateman’s XB (not a patch on XXXB but still nice), Black Sheep’s Best Bitter and Archers Roadhog. As I had not tried the latter before, we got ourselves a couple of pints and took them outside. The pint was well conditioned, and went down very well, so we popped back in for number two, this time discovering the games room. This room made the pub in my opinion. The pool table was only 40p which is something of a surprise these days. The landlord actually informs me it should have been 30p but the mechanism broke, and there were no more available in the region. I was happy to stump up the extra 10p on this occasion. The room was also home to a dart board, several very comfy leather seats, and perhaps the world’s oldest jukebox. Here we remained until picking up time (with the exception of a short excursion to the bar for pint number three). I could have happily stayed all day.

We got chatting to the landlord about the ales he keeps. He says he usually likes to have four or five available but business has been a bit slow of late, hence he was only serving the three. The number of posters around the pub informing us of how much tax the government takes per pint etc. shows this publican’s views on Brown and Darling. We were informed that his next barrel was Tydd Steam of Wisbech Mother In Law, with a pump clip paying homage to Reginald Perrin. Unfortunately this was not going to be on until later that night.

If any readers happen to be in or near Spalding soon, or perhaps find themselves thirsty on their way to Skegness/King’s Lynn, then I would definitely recommend stopping in for a pint or two. Pubs like this are increasingly rare these days and we should do everything in our power to help support these smaller places. I know where I’ll be going next time I’m in the region.


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