Man walks into a pub in a small North Yorkshire village. Nice village, nice little pub, but beyond being in GBG2018 it doesn’t offer much hope. Maybe a York Brewery beer if he’s lucky, it’s near enough to the historic city.
Walking through the door the pub looked like many other village boozers, pleasant enough, but nothing special. And then he sees the bar. Wow? And then he learns about the ‘Five Beers Three Ways’ beer festival at the end of August. Double Wow!
Folks, I kid you not, village boozers do not get better; Wilde Child, Brew York, Brass Castle, Wild Beer and Roosters. And that was just the cask beers. And we’re ten miles North of York, in deepest rural North Yorks.
I just love the opportunity to explore tastes and the effects of what many take for granted – what the beer is contained in, on taste. My own recent tasting experience at Woodfest 2018 demonstrating the effect of wooden casks on the ale inside them, almost like the effect of the tide on sharp pebbles, smoothing them and rounding off the edges.
Licensee and manager Ricki Brown was keen to tell me all about his beers and the forthcoming Drum Fest in August (26th) which entails closing off the car park at the rear and features beer, music and street food. I was mightily impressed with Ricki’s ‘Five Beers Three Ways’ theme and the opportunity to sample the same beer in aluminium/placcy cask, wooden cask and keg.
The five brewers were impressive too; Wilde Child with Hedonistic Existence, Half Moon and their Dark Masquerade, which will be going into keg for the first time. Bone Machine’s latest brew and an as yet unconfirmed beer from Newcastle’s Box Social. Oh, and not forgetting Brass Castle with Hazelnut Mild.
Brass Castle are a permanent feature on the bar with a rotating beer from their range. I tried my favourite, Sunshine which was in excellent condition (NBSS 3.5). Ricki told me their next beer on would be Hazelnut Mild from a wooden cask.
The mention of wooden casks made my ears pick up a bit, turns out Ricki gets York SPBW’s casks on loan and sends them out to local brewers for filling. A bit of canny cooperation from York SPBW chair, Marcus Hodgson, and his branch members, that should be applauded. A second woodie was currently on it’s way to Pocklington’s Bone Machine Brew Co. whose beers I have been enjoying recently.
I’m not going to bang on about the beers, just look at the photo of the pump clips on the ‘what’s on next’ board. What I will say is that Ricki is proper serious about his beers. Although he didn’t have any on, the house Drum Beer (3.7%) is Ricki’s own recipe that is being brewed by Bone Machine. He told me the Golden Bitter is his take on what Tetley Bitter should be like.
The customer service is second to none. The pub had only been open for 15 minutes on the afternoon I visited, and in between serving, I watched Ricki going from pump to pump, drawing some beer off and giving it a QC check. He wouldn’t let me have the Wilde Child Hedonistic Existence saying that he thought it had gone past it’s best. I tried some, to be fair I got what he meant, there was a slight, very slight acidity that shouldn’t have been there, but I would have happily drunk the Toffee Crisp in a glass and I reckon 9 out of 10 drinkers wouldn’t have detected it. Instead I had an Almasty Citra DDH which had just gone on and was awesome, an easy NBSS 4 and very moreish. Ricki told me his customers were quite happy with murky beers, even the traditionalists, so long as he informed them it was correct for the style, they were happy.
A quick description of the pub would say, ‘walking in from the car park (and small beer garden) at the rear, the single room pub wraps itself around the bar before disappearing into a small and pleasant restaurant area’. No worries about the food, they only serve meals from Thursday till Sunday, evenings only on Thu & Fri. During the week you have to be content with playing pool or listening to the excellent play list, or maybe just chatting and having a pint, the decent handful of tea time drinkers were very friendly. The toilets (both) were of a high standard and cleanliness too.
If you want to learn more about the Mended Drum, which is owned by the same people who have the Artful Dodger in York centre, you need to go on their website which details the recent developments of the pub, it’s Terry Pratchett connection, and the fact it was called the Star until 2009. Mind you, you could have had a look at the interesting old black and white photos of the village around the wall and found that out.
What started as, I’ll pop in here for a look on the way back from somewhere else, quickly turned into an interesting chat and some quality beer with Ricki and partner, and co-manager, Lisa, which turned into, ‘I’m definitely coming back here’.
I’d love to go for the unique ‘Five Beers Three Ways’ themed festival in August, shame I’ll be in Dorset.