Beer Blog

The Pomfret Arms, Northampton and notes on Middle England

The Pomfret-1

Unsurprisingly, numbers on the Beer & Pubs Forum tour of Northampton had dwindled a bit by the tenth pub. The reality being that there was only myself, Mrs C (you can just see the back of her disappearing into the pub), Retired Martin and the veritable ‘Other Mudgie’ aka Mr Paul Mudge, who staggered into The Pomfret Arms.

My notes are a little scant and read no more than; GBG, Brewpub, Wedding and Decent ale.

I’ll start with the wedding party who had taken over the whole of the very pleasant beer garden and were enjoying the lovely early evening sun.

There’s far too many folk end up spending fortunes on overblown weddings and there’s nothing wrong with a proper do in a pub? Not only did the Bride and her guests look splendid, the pub did too, all decked out in colourful bunting. Whoever ‘J & M’ are, I wish them all the best for the future and I’m glad they got the very best of the spring sunshine for their big day.

The Pomfret-2

The cleverly designed garden is one of the pub’s USP’s and a wonderful place for a celebration. I wished I could have explored it further and I’m no shrinking violet, but I didn’t want to intrude. It also houses the barn function room and Cotton End Brewery whose beers are featured on the pubs six cask lines.

I’ve no idea which beer I tried, but if I’ve written down that it was ‘decent’ then it was decent. And of course I received the obligatory Northamptonshire CAMRA discount, 10% here.

Inside the pub is well decorated in a modern style with a traditional grounding. There’s a sort of front room and a back room which are served by two sides of the same bar. Obviously with the wedding in full swing they were quite busy and apart from ourselves and a couple of RU fans there didn’t seem to be any other non – wedding customers. And even then the two Rugger blokes seemed to know everybody anyway.

The Pomfret-5

All in all, Northampton was a very good day out. We thoroughly enjoyed the good company and I quite understand why there were only those staying overnight who, for obvious reasons, made it to the last pub. Mind you I did manage another one in The Olde England after a quick pit stop at our hotel.

Key points from Northampton: There’s an awful lot of CAMRA discounts going on. The beer quality is decent, but the local taste, to my mind, fairly uninspiring. Even the craft bar had Marston’s Tommy the Tank Engine, or whatever it’s called, on and I don’t think you’re going to see the likes of Weird Beard, Northern Monk, or Cloudwater on any time soon.

Maybe,  in light of all the discounting going on, price is a real issue here and the pubs just can’t (won’t?) afford to pay for good gear, sticking with the cheaper, boring stuff. Having said that, Northampton wasn’t particularly cheap on the whole. I do note that Marks & Sparks have just earmarked the local branch as one of the first nationally, to get the chop, which probably says so much more about the local economy than any of my little hints could ever do.

Maybe I’m spoiled being in easy reach of Leeds, York, Harrogate and Huddersfield. Maybe our tastes are just a bit more progressive up here (and in London and Manchester, and Bristol and their ilk (but not Doncaster)), or perhaps we don’t tolerate the same old, same old and like something a bit new. Either way, nice as Northampton and some of the other places I’ve visited recently are, I won’t be flitting to Middle England in a hurry.

18 replies »

  1. Yes, indeed, there’s nothing wrong with a proper wedding do in a pub and a Hanson’s pub in Dudley was just right for us 26 years ago, that’s several months after getting engaged in the Beacon at Sedgley.
    Maybe that I didn’t notice the bride and her guests looking splendid was because it was my eleventh pub of the day but I do remember enjoying the home brewed Coffee Porter that Tom Stainer had recommended to me.
    I actually believe that the vast majority of beer drinkers are perfectly content with “uninspiring” beers, “the cheaper, boring stuff”, and that it’s a small minority, maybe a very small minority in Northampton, that actually want anything “more progressive”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are quite right about many drinkers not being interested in “more progressive” beers. Personally, I do quite like something a bit ‘crafty’ now and again but I can’t afford to do much of my drinking at the kind of prices that are common in some bars. Fortunately there are plenty of good traditional beers to be had at affordable prices, and sometimes even something more ‘progressive’; I was pleasantly surprised to find a very decent gose at £3.20 a pint in my village local. Sadly, it didn’t sell particularly well though.

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      • Sean,
        Yes, for me decent drinking beer is just part of everyday life and not some special occasion where my taste buds are going to be challenged as is my wallet at £4.50 rather than £3 a pint.

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      • It’s a funny thing ‘the price of a pint’. I understand some folk have to watch the pennies. What I don’t understand are all the moaners – for instance a very good friend of long standing who I meet several times a week refuses to drink anywhere but our local Sam’s pub at £2 a pint, wailing cries of anguish when the ale goes up by 5p a pint. I won’t tell you what he does when I tell him I’ve paid the equivalent per pint of £8 or £12 for a third of something unbelievable. Despite pleading poverty he spends untold and significant amounts on coin collecting and Koi carp. I’ve no problem with that, but can someone just stop him, and many others, moaning and banging on abut the price of a pint!

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      • Richard,
        With “for me decent drinking beer is just part of everyday life” I of course meant “for me drinking decent beer is just part of everyday life”.
        I am probably more curmudgeonly than the proper Pub Curmudgeon, the other Mudgie, but I try my best not to moan all the time.
        I know that beer in pubs has doubled in price since I started out in 1971 but I readily accept that £3 to £3.20 is what I usually have to pay, tend to avoid anywhere nearing £4 a pint and welcome Humphrey’s £2 as a bonus.
        I am though fortunate in neither collecting coins, though I once did, nor in being interested in Koi carp.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Marks & Spencer in Stockport has already closed! Maybe that says more about the fortunes of town centres in general, and that particular company, than any specific towns.

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    • I think it’s a complex relationship between town centres generally, the economies and tastes of specific town centres, where M & S have positioned themselves in the market and the emergence of budget outlets like Primark.

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  3. A good town with some nice beer and pubs, personally I need my tastebuds challenging, I can’t exist on BBB, but thats down to personal preferance.

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