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Pub/Bar of the Month

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The Butt & Oyster, Pin Mill, UK

It sounds rather obvious, but the character of a pub is so often dictated by its setting.

Butt & OysterThat’s definitely the case at the Butt & Oyster, the oldest building in the hamlet of Pin Mill, perched on the shore of the Orwell estuary, just outside Ipswich.

The marshy location here can be awesomely beautiful or grimly grimy, depending on the weather and, more crucially, whether the tide is in or out.

At times the sun sparkles on the water as boats bob jauntily around in the current; at other times the scene resembles a mud bath with hulking commercial vessels showing their grubby undersides and the slimy silt sticking to the boots who tend them.

Either way, though, this place has atmosphere and, whatever the weather, the Butt & Oyster – which has origins in the fifteenth century and smuggling connections – is always worth a visit.

Simple and Practical

Sensibly, for a pub that attracts a mix of estuary workers, dog walkers, bird watchers, fishermen and inquisitive tourists, the main bar is gloriously simple and practical.

Chipped old terracotta tiles on the floor can be easily swiped clean of muddy paws and there are few soft furnishings that may need regular refreshment.

A big old fireplace sits at one side of the room, housing a log-burning stove that is regularly topped up from a large basket. If you can grab a place on the adjacent high-back settle, you have a chance to dry out if you’ve been caught out by the tide or misjudged a puddle.
 
Butt & OysterBehind the hearth a dining room opens up, offering a fresher, brighter setting for the pub’s all-day food menu, with seafood to the fore.

There is a third room, too, on the other side of the entrance corridor, a cosy snug with just four tables and some interesting curios in cabinets.

Drinks are served back in the main room, which has a simple wooden counter running across one end, but there are no handpumps as the cask beers are dispensed by gravity from casks racked behind.

All four ales come from Adnams – on my most recent visit Southwold Bitter, Ghost Ship, Old Ale and Broadside – and they are kept well enough to earn a regular place in the Good Beer Guide.

As for entertainment, well a pint or two of Suffolk’s finest ale while watching the comings and goings of the boats, the birds and the tides through the large bay window is really all you need.

The Butt & Oyster, Pin Mill, Suffolk IP9 1JW
Tel. (01473) 780764
www.debeninns.co.uk/buttandoyster
Opening Hours: 9am–11pm; 9am–10.30pm Sunday


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