Beer Blog

The Red Lion, Southwold

The Red Lion-5

The pretty exterior promises so much, surrounded by some of the finest houses in the town, looking out over South Green, and the harbour in the distance. On entering the cabin style, pine clad bar it doesn’t disappoint neither.

It’s only when you start to investigate, you discover it’s just another food led venue. It doesn’t matter which side of the bar you go, both lead you through a small maze of rooms full of people dining and eventually back to where you started. Whichever way you circuit, you have to go outside at some point where there’s a nice little yard, some seating and the toilets which easily pass muster, recently cleaned and very fresh smelling.

I look at my watch, 1.00pm, and then round the pub. There’s only us drinking, yet the pub is quite busy and all the outside, and best inside tables, are taken. No wonder the barman said, ‘Is that all Sir?’ In a puzzled voice and an inclination of his head in the direction of the menus, when I ordered the drinks. £8.15 for a pint and a half of Adnam’s Mosaic, and half of cider, if you’re wondering.

The pub wasn’t bad, so long as you sat around the bar, you didn’t have to experience the cafeteria style dining areas at all. And it was very well kept, nicely maintained and spotlessly clean and tidy. There were even some nice old photos of local nautical characters around the bar area. To be fair, there was nothing wrong with the pub itself, it was the beer that disappointed.

Barring the instantly changed half of Regatta, in The Bell, this was easily the worst pint of cask Adnam’s I tasted in the little town, in terms of quality. Thing is, it wasn’t ‘send it back’ bad, nowhere near. It just wasn’t up to the quality of everything we’d had all week. At very best Average (2 on NBSS) and I won’t be coming in here again.

What I couldn’t understand was, it was Mosaic, and the only other place I saw it on was The Nelson who seemed to be changing barrels frequently. Or maybe it’s the same old story; the barrel always runs off when I go in? Or maybe it’s only me, and a small cohort of punters, that likes Mosaic? Noticeably, my daughter complained about her Aspull’s Harry Sparrow keg cider which lacked the carbonation she enjoys; again, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t at it’s best.


Apart from the situation and the view, you start to wonder why people come in? There was a bit of a specials board going on, but the main fare was from the ubiquitous British Pub Grub menu. I could recite it in my sleep. Sometimes I wake up having nightmares about it;

Our Father who art in a Brakes van

Beer Battered Cod is thy name

Thy 8oz Sirloin will come

in this pub as it does in any other

I think you get the drift?

I make no comment on the quality of the food here, it may well have been exceptional for all I know. But some time ago, I reached the conclusion that a significant section of British society are quite willing to put up with a standard of food that is fair to middlin’, so long as it isn’t terrible, and within, to them, acceptable price parameters. The thing is, the upper limits of both quality and price are not particularly high, and the accompanying drinks only need to scrape under this very low bar. When I say accompanying drinks, that is all they require, a damp accompaniment to wash down their meal, whether the individual’s tastes are for beer, wine or whatever.

Yeah, maybe you can rightly call me a food snob, and definitely a beer snob. The thing that gets me though, is why don’t Adnam’s do something about the beer quality? The pub may be raking the money in, but surely they want to make sure that all their houses are selling their excellent beers in top form? They’ve only got to send someone down once a week to check things out, it’s literally two minutes walk from the brewery offices?

Verdict – Probably the best situated pub in Southwold, with a stunning outlook. It’s totally ‘Pub Grub’ led though, and on my visit, to the obvious detriment of the ale – I’ll never return until I see it feature in the GBG.

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