The last Black Country Ales pub I went into didn’t impress me much. That was also on a Pub tickers day out, but in Leicester. The Lych Gate though was, I thought, quite excellent.
Early evening and there wasn’t anywhere to sit in the heart of the cosy ground floor bar area, so we had to go upstairs into a very pleasant olde worlde, half timbered overspill room. It was empty when we got up there but we were soon accompanied by other drinkers.
Dave Buck (pictured) has run the pub for the last two years with partner Haley Hall (pictured) and told me the pub was in part of the oldest building in Wolverhampton. The half of the ground floor where the bar is dates to around 1550, the front half of the ground floor is a bit younger, by about 120 years.
As he sent us up stairs to find a seat he told me the upstairs room was the oldest Tudor room in the city. I don’t know whether it was the history, or the fact that it was nicely busy with a decent bunch of customers that made it feel more like a village pub than a city centre boozer. There’s a flash back here to the Combermere Arms, which had a similar feel. There wasn’t anything growing through the toilets in The Lych Gate though, and they were of excellent quality, just like the rest of the house.
To be fair this is what a town centre pub should be like early doors, even mid week, sadly that’s not always the case these days. So what was it? The pub itself? The beer? Or the presence of a friendly landlord sat at the bar?
I had the Black Country Ales BFG. I haven’t scored it in my little book, apart from entering ‘Brilliant’ at the side of it, so that means north of NBSS 3.5, maybe close on a 4. A nice drop of beer. I could have had any one of nine different cask ales. Although prices weren’t as cheap as some of the other pubs we’d been in , they were still reasonable. I paid £3.30 for my pint.
And anyway, who cares about prices? So long as they aren’t extortionate. I mean, this place was full, and if beer pricing really is key to everything, then why isn’t every Sam Smith’s pub packed to the rafters day in, day out?
The presence of the management is another big for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. A ship needs a Captain and that Captain needs to be on deck, making sure everything is properly ship shape. It helps when they are nice people like Dave and Haley too. I reckon there’s a lot of slack, unsupervised bar staff ruined many a good pub and I like to see licensees behind their own bar.
I couldn’t find fault with this pub at all, even down to the disabled access lift to aid those less well able getting down the steps into the pub or up the stairs to the 2nd floor and toilets.
The Lych Gate is right in the middle of the more impressive ‘civic’ part of Wolverhampton, with the parish Church taking centre stage and well worth a visit, which is more than I can say about the Heritage Kebab house which insisted on my Doner meat going on top of a plate of chips instead of a pitta or nan bread. Presumably it’s called Heritage because the Doner meat had been hanging about drying out for so long?