The signposting to this micropub is pretty comprehensive. Even then I walked straight past the top of the ginnel, despite the sign. For some reason I’d got it in my head it should’ve been on the other side of the road, I’ve no idea why?
Anyway, it’s at the end of a ginnel, which is something my spellchecker can’t understand? Just walk down Trinity Street from the Royal Oak, past Argos, before you get to the wonderful Plaza Cinema, but on the opposite side of the road. There’s a pleasant little collectables shop half way down the alley, keep going until you get to the end. You’ll see the tables and chairs outside in what, on my visit, was a veritable little sun trap. You might just have to keep dragging your chair around the yard as the sun moves behind the adjacent shops and offices.
So, the first thing that had to be done was ask about the name? At first it didn’t have one. But things started to take off and people started to gather there, for a chat, and obviously a few beers. The atmosphere became quite Convivial and all the people were Rabbitting, hence Convivial Rabbit.
‘If you’re failing to get it, you need to think about that Chas and Dave song’, explained Nicky Baker, who originally hails from West London. She runs the bar with her husband Nigel. They opened up their micro pub on 30th November 2016 following a move down to Dorset from the smoke. She told me they’d wanted a change of lifestyle so they found a nice house in a nearby village and here they are.
I keep getting hung up on the term micro pub, it’s got too many bad connotations for me, like cheap casks of Golden ales. If North Bar opened up now, it wouldn’t be a micro pub would it? Personally, I don’t think it is, but most new openings in ex-wallpaper shops, outside of the conurbations, are now instantly billed as micropubs?
Although The Convivial Rabbit conforms to the Micropub Association definition, it thankfully doesn’t specialise in random real ales from bargain basement sources. The three ales on were from Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout £3.60, Salopian Shropshire Gold £3.40 and Gloucester Brewery Cascade £3.50, I thought this was a decent selection, at a reasonable price, from well known brewers. The best deal on offer was a tasting selection, half of each for a fiver, saving a full 25p, so that’s what I had.
In terms of quality, my little book says, near on NBSS 4, then there’s a footnote, added later which says, best beer I had today. In fact so good I followed the taster selection up with a pint of the Gloucester Cascade and sat enjoying it in the sunshine in the little courtyard. To be fair, considering the beer is racked in the corner of the room, water cooled through external elements under insulated jackets, and dispensed from the cask by gravity, I was pretty impressed with the quality of my ale.
As well as the ale, there’s also an interesting bottle/can fridge, local ciders, wines, Gins, bits of snacks, but no music or wi-fi, which is a shame because mobile data connectivity was very poor on my network, which doesn’t seem to operate outside the opposite ends of the M1 and the M62 corridor, and how are you meant to submit NBSS scores or record your beers on Untappd without wi-fi or internet?
Inside, the little one room pub is the usual bare, minimalist, woody, bare floorboardy sort of affair one comes to expect. It’s all very pleasant though with some nicely thought out decorative touches, and the single, shared lavatory passed with flying colours.
The only thing that disappointed was the lack of punters. There were others, besides ourselves, but they were visitors too. I asked Nikky what trade was like? She told me there were plenty of after work, tea time drinkers and weekends were busy, but if I wanted to find a bit of a buzz on a weekday afternoon the day to come was market day, Wednesday. That sort of figures with my findings in Dorset over the years. Sadly it’s not just Dorset neither. And we wonder why pubs are closed until tea time, even shutting down? Is the trade really having to subsist on Thursday evening to Sunday lunch session, or are there a lot of lazy bastards out there?
Verdict – cracking little microboozer selling decent ales run by nice lady (I didn’t meet Nigel, Nikky’s husband, but I’m sure he’s a decent bloke, he’s a bloody good beer picker anyway).
Bet it gets in GBG2018 (and no, I haven’t got one yet, I wrote this ages ago and this is pure prediction – Royal Oak dropped Convivial Bunny Rabbit in?)