Beer Blog

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Fighting Cock's-3

Would St Albanians be disappointed if I said Ye Olde Fighting Cocks was like Olde Englande meets Disco pub; because that’s what it felt like. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, the real fires were particularly welcoming. And isn’t there just something about a real fire that is at the very heart of an English Inn.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people comment on a pub fire as soon as they walk in on a chilly winters eve, almost as if they’ve never seen one before. Maybe a lot of folk haven’t, I remember one of my son’s mates visiting and asking how you turned the fire off? It’ll always be a real fire for me, like my Grandad said when they fitted him a gas fire, ‘It’s alreyt lad, but tha can’t spit on it.’

The walk from the Six bells through a pleasant park, alongside the trickle that is the Verr was memorable. There’s something about twilight time and water that’s just magical and a straight fit with a real fire.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is one of er … depending on who you listen to, roughly eight pubs vying for the title of Oldest Inn in England. To be fair to them they have a newspaper article on the wall describing the main contenders.

My heart would say it’s got to be the Bingley Arms, just down the road from me, at Bardsey. If asked, I would say prove it, something that may be evidentially problematical with many of the pubs claims. Whatever, the Fighting Cock is pretty old and I believe the existing building, a former pigeon cote, dates back to the eleventh century.

I mentioned Disco pub, and the incongruous array of coloured lights around the bar top is more reminiscent of the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise than a Cockpit. The rest of the pub is more like what you’d imagine it to be, including a small area down a few stairs I was told was the old cock pit. Overall, I was quite surprised how big it was inside and the dining area cum darts room was not what I was expecting.

Seven cask ales on, I went for Oakham Citra as a safe bet, decent enough NBSS 3- , roughly commensurate with it’s GBG standing. I’m not sure why none of the others didn’t tempt me; Rudgate – coals to Newcastle, Black Sheep – ditto, Farr Brew (2) a Locale and the one I really should have gone for, plus a Cotleigh brew and one from Purity.

For a big pub it was pretty quiet for a Monday tea time, even though they do food, something conspicuously absent from the Proper Day Out agenda. I quite liked the comment at the end of the menu … and our nuts contain nuts.

Sort of got me thinking when did people start to get nut allergies and why? No one at our school was allergic to nuts and the 2,000 odd pupils ate and threw peanuts at each other at will. Whereas, on a flight a couple of years back there was a kiddie on board with a nut allergy, and even mention of nuts was prohibited. Trust me to have taken a bag of cashews as my in-flight snack.

Although I enjoyed Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, something just quite wasn’t right, and like Oliver Cromwell, I would only have stayed one night, or hoped the fabled tunnels led back to The Mermaid.

8 replies »

  1. Spot on. Oldest isn’t best, or even cosiest.

    I reverted to soda as I’d had enough and those beers just didn’t appeal, oddly.

    As you wrote, the walk thru the park was magical, the highlight of the day for me. Just a shame we had no arguments about Marston’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I couldn’t agree more about a proper fire.
    In the Dorbiere pub a ten minute walk from me for the last several months I’ve used the bar and watched all the traffic and people going by but for the next few months I’ll use the lounge and watch the log fire in the 1934 inglenook fireplace.

    “Just a shame we had no arguments about Marston’s” – so we’ll have to put that on the agenda for 2nd January in Manchester !

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  3. The Oakham Citra would normally be a default choice for me, but having already had some earlier in the day I went for the Black Sheep, I wouldn’t go near the bog standard bitter but the Chocolate Orange Stout piqued my interest, it was nice enough without blowing me away. The pub itself I found ok , my second visit, but obviously tourist driven.

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  4. has it changed alot to what it looks like now over along period I mean ?, as I maybe getting my St Albans pub mixed up, but I thought in the mid 90s when I first visited it, it was the kind of pub that had sawdust/wood shavings on old wooden floors and you stood around barrels for tables instead and sort of resembled the closest experience Id had to a beer festival in a pub atmosphere, proper twigs in beer kind of pub. Ive been a few times in the past few years and yeah it looks as it does now, though the bar downlights are new I think, which feels like almost what youd expect to find as a olde style pub in the Harry Potter theme park down the road, definitely aimed squarely at the tourist in its appeal, similar to some pubs in York or Bristol Ive found, and fair enough if thats where the money is for them, as long as the beer and food are still good and its not just trading on age, its certainly more homely than the inside of a brick container with pipes and aluminum cable tracks on show.

    But I thought they had a local brewer making Ye Olde fighting cock beers for them, so Im surprised none of you tried that one assuming it was on, though maybe it then feels a novelty too far when it already feels a bit out of synch and odd

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was no Olde Cocke beers on when we visited. Don’t know what it was like previously as it’s the only time I’ve ever visited, but you’re bang on the mark when you say it could be in a Harry Potter theme park. More of a pub for people who don’t frequent pubs on a regular basis, certainly not just for a couple of pints anyway.

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      • “It could be in a Harry Potter theme park”. Yes, and “Ye Olde” rather than “The” should have been a bit of a clue.
        The Rose and Crown two miles from me has been just about the worst pub in town since being converted a few years ago to Ye Olde Rose and Crown.

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