Pub/Bar of the Month March 2016: The Brunswick Inn, Derby, UK
The Brunswick Inn, Derby, UK
It’s depressing to think that one of the finest pubs in the country was so nearly demolished to make way for a new road.
Back in the late 1970s, a clutch of run-down railway cottages close to Derby’s main station was earmarked for clearance in a bid to improve the city’s traffic infrastructure.
Thankfully, local history groups took an interest and preserved these historic houses and their closed and derelict pub, the Brunswick Inn, which opened again in 1987.
The nation’s beer drinkers owe the preservationists a debt of gratitude, because the Brunswick is a shining example of how a community boozer with an emphasis on fine ale should be run.
A Good Place
The wedge-shaped pub sits at the end of a terrace, its red-brick, Georgian frontage somewhat uninspiring to the first-time visitor. But step through the door and you know you are in a good place.
To the right is a small ‘reading parlour’, with a central fireplace and padded seating upholstered in House of Commons green.
To the left, the pub extends back along the road, opening out into three distinct drinking areas. In this other place, the furnishings are more House of Lords red.
An area near the entrance houses a dartboard and, on my most recent visit, an additional stillage for cask ales. Next along is a carpeted snug, broken up into cosy corners by built-up settles, with floral wallpaper and display cabinets loaded with glasses and whisky canisters.
The main area around the bar is wood panelled and focused around another fireplace. Fans twirl in the ceiling and a collection of old bottles lines a high shelf. From here a flagstoned corridor leads to the pub’s pride and joy, its in-house brewery.
The ten-barrel brewery here opened in 1991. Today, it turns out six regular cask- and bottle-conditioned beers.
Taking advantage of some down time, I supped the extremely quaffable White Feather (3.6%), the fuller-bodied Triple Hop (4%) and the majestic Railway Porter (4.3%), all at bargain prices.
It’s quite some time since I’ve been able to buy a couple of pints for a fiver, unless you count the odd visit to a Wetherspoon pub.
But the centrally-located bar doesn’t just focus on the pub’s own beers. Here you will find ales from the likes of Everards (which owns the pub these days), plus guests, served through sixteen handpumps.
There are also eight keg taps at the back of the bar, bottled beers from around the world and a big selection of ciders.
With sensibly-priced food – including the house special chilli – monthly jazz evenings, a smart upstairs function room and a number of in-house games teams, the Brunswick seems to cover all bases. It’s no wonder it’s always busy.
The formula here is simple: provide a clean and pleasant environment, a friendly welcome and first-class affordable ale. Why other pubs can’t grasp this patently obvious plan for success is just beyond me.
The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby DE1 2RU.
Tel. (01332) 290677
Opening Hours: 11–11; 11–11.30 Friday and Saturday; 12–10.30 Sunday