I got quite excited when I was told this was a Dorset Brewing Company tap house. I’ve had their beers before in Weymouth and enjoyed them.
After the impeccably well kept The Blue Raddle, it was a case of going from the traditional Yin, to the sort of bare floor board, shabby chic, minimalist, modern with old vinyl discs and album covers on the ceiling Yang of Tom Brown’s.
A group of three guys sat at a table in the window, the only other customers were two single ladies sat at separate tables drinking coffees. Turns out one of them wasn’t a customer at all, because she jumped up from her seat as soon as she saw me, and rushed behind the bar to serve.
If it were my pub she would have been behind the bar, eagerly waiting to serve the next customer, or at least performing some useful routine function whilst she was getting paid. In any case, it says so much about her expectations, and if she doesn’t think there’ll be a steady stream of customers to be served then why should I want to go in. First impressions often get you off on the wrong footing, don’t they?
There were four DBC ales on the bar; Jurassic, Tom Brown’s, Yachtsman and Pumping Ink. I went for the latter at £1.90 a half. There were also several keg lines on, including two from Magic Rock; Rapture and Common Grounds plus one apiece from Lost & Grounded and Jurassic Brewhouse.
As I sat supping my Pumping Ink, I noticed some numbers chalked on the back of the pumps; 12/8 & 13/8. I reckon they must have been the date the cask went on? Unless someone can give me a better answer? That meant the two I could clearly see had been on sale for 4 (since Monday) and 5 (Since Sunday) days respectively, which isn’t a great turnover for a town centre tap house?
I rated the beer as pretty decent though, Good going towards Very Good, but not quite. If I’m going to be honest, had I been staying in the pub I would have gone for Huddersfield’s finest next and then plugged away at the other keg beers.
Regular live music seemed to feature. It might even have been held in ‘The Barn’, but I couldn’t investigate further without disturbing the decorators painting the corridor. When I left there were six people in, not counting the lady who had left saying the latte was, ‘as nice as she’d ever had.’
Two of the punters sported hipster beards, so maybe there’s a bit of a craft scene going on in Dorchester, and it all kicks off mid Thursday afternoon? Seriously, the pub’s okay, but the atmosphere is proper deadly. Have I come to some hot bed of ultra Methodism, and all drinking has been banned in these parts on pain of death, by order of Judge Jeffries all those years ago? Better than still having a Wicker Man ritual I suppose. No ..?
Is it me, or are my expectations of the town just too ambitious? It’s not the pub’s fault, it’s not the town’s fault, but who’s fault is it? There’s no shortage of shoppers, diners, tourists, there’s plenty people dashing about that are obviously gainfully employed; the lunchtime pint almost a thing of the past these days. It all leaves you wondering about the future of the Great British Boozer and the ‘place’ it occupies in modern day Britain?
If that place, essentially ‘time and place’, as my travels seem to confirm, is evening opening with the majority of the trade coming in a peak at the weekend, how does that fit in with licensees being able to keep and supply a decent pint of cask beer? There’s no wonder that diners in food led pubs stick to ‘safe’ well known standards and lagers, if indeed they drink alcoholic beverages at all at lunchtime.
Although this isn’t restricted to Dorchester, and is replicated across the UK, it’s clear that, Wetherspoon’s apart, the town’s pubs aren’t providing a lot of people with what they want during the opening to, at this stage, mid-afternoon period.
So, are many pubs solely providing a service to a very small handful of older blokes during the day, or are they just loss leaders, so to speak?