On the front of the premises, and their web site, it says Leicester’s Original Brew Pub? But, it only opened in March 2016? Surely Leicester had a brew pub before then? Everywhere else had one donkey’s years ago?
We had to wait until 5pm before it opened. I get that. No point being open all day Tuesday paying bar staff to wait on no-one to a couple of punters, at most, which was par for the course in several of the places we visited on our collaborative blogging session. As a new Good Beer Guide entry, it was a ‘must do’, so that Martin Taylor could ‘tick’ it off his list.
It felt like West End Brewery was in the edgeland between city centre and suburbia, beloved of students and the more bohemian, where the smart and the scruffy briefly rub shoulders. West End Brewery being one of the smarter establishments (there are others) on Braunstone Gate with its’ green ceramic tiled front.
It’s nicely done inside too, in that, what you would expect a trendy modern Brewpub to look like style; bare floors, a la Brewdog timber off-cut clad walls, factory lights, random kitsch and some interesting Breweriana. I didn’t take an image of the impressive Bass mirror on purpose, just because the others did. Anyhow, what would you do with a picture of a mirror from a now defunct brewer?
If I’m going to be honest, I thought the barman a little surly. I don’t think ordering two rounds together and then paying separately pleased him? He should have been pleased, because apart from the four of us, there was only a lone drinker in before us at 5.10pm. He’s hardly going to have them queuing at the door waiting for opening time with a demeanour like that? The lad who sat at the bar with his hood up came in later.
They had four of their own cask beers on Stout, Copper, Pale and IPA, plus some guests, keg lines, bottles & cans, which I failed to note down. You can visit the in-house brewery and see it being brewed, but there didn’t seem to be much activity when we visited. I had West End Brewery IPA, nicely fresh and in very good condition, with nothing to dislike about it. I think I was expecting something a little extra though, from what I saw around me, something, well at least from what I had seen from my snapshot of Leicester, a bit edgier?
Maybe something a bit Magic Rock? Possibly a touch Northern Monk? A North Brewing taste would have done. No. It was not to be, as well brewed and presented as the beer was, it sadly didn’t over challenge my palate. I felt a bit short changed actually. I can only describe it as going into North Bar and finding Marston’s Pedigree or Abbot Ale OTB – see you, my taxi’s here!
As an aside, the others didn’t seem to like Taxis, from discussions I formulated the opinion they believed, on a pub crawl at least, it was wasteful, and possibly cheating? On the upside, you do get round a lot more pubs.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw two blokes with beards humping what looked like a cider press into the bar. They set it up front of house, and I just had to ask? The guy in the photo, Rob, told me they were going to do a demonstration later, making cider from a large bag of mixed windfalls from peoples gardens. The cider will be ready next spring and it will be in the bar.
Interestingly, Rob Clough’s Charnwood Cider has been ‘on tour’ in various pubs and bars around the Leicestershire area with the same routine; getting punters to bring in apples (not cookers – too sharp), pressing the juice then taking it back to their Cropston based cider house to ferment. A proper cider cooperative!
Verdict: smart, modern brewpub on fringes of Leicester city centre. Nothing to dislike about it all.