This is a re-incarnation of Bar Sport, and some of my prior comments apply, but this time we were looking to watch the Grand national, for which it was perfect. Didn’t see ale, but my pint of Peroni was fine- and to be honest, it’s nice to see actual decent lager available for a change.
The Crown has been refurbished. Ouside is smartened up, with new plants and seating with sheilding from the A5 (which, even on a cold February night, we used), because….
…It’s even more of a restaurant and less of a pub. In doing that, the canteen like feel has been reduced, but this is very much not a pub, but a family feedbag type restaurant, part of the Martsons empire. If that’s what you’re after, it’s an improvement and not unpleasant. It’s fresh and clean, and very popular, but the beer is pricey and there’s no pub atmosphere. Staff were pleasant, and there’s some real ale, as well as actual decent lager, an increasingly rare thing these days, but we found ourselves missing the small, traditional pub-like area at one end which used to be there.
The Fountain always was a nice pub, so it was sad when it closed in August 2011, due to the pubco owners pricing the landlady out. Just after that, the lovely building next door caught fire.
The good point of this is that those nice people at the Backyard Brewhouse have bought it, and it’s now been open a week.
It’s lovely. As nice as The Swan, which is nice. A traditional, backstreet pub just on the edge of the town centre with Backyard’s fine selection of beer (four or five ales when I visited, and their own lager, plus others), and friendly staff and a nice atmosphere, Just the thing after Christmas shopping. It’s been tidied up and refurbed, but not stripped out.
Since it’s not a huge pubco’s pub, the prices are very reasonable too- you’ll see respectable change from 3 quid for a pint, which is good going these days. There was music, but it was quiet enough for conversation.
No food at present, but I’m told it’s on it’s way.
This is very much a backstreet drinkers pub: it’s very close to the town centre but you’re unlikely to find it unless you know it’s there. By the looks of the place it’s an old building, and is rumoured to be haunted.
The drinkers had been hard at it when we visited, but were friendly enough: rowdy, but friendly. Music was loud (but, to be fair, not shit) beer was acceptable, but no better (no ale, Stella was that 4% rubbish). Allegedly the place was refurbed in 2006, though I’d say “what with” to that. It reminded me of the Duke of Rutland or Shoulder of Mutton in several ways: old, traditional boozers with a local crowd, loud but OK music, and limited drinks range. Very much rough and ready…
Long overdue for a blogged visit, we hadn’t been here in a long time, so a visit in the company of Andy seemed appropriate.
The Pretty Bricks has always been known as such, but it’s official name was The Tap and Spile, with The Pretty Bricks being a nickname from the unusual glazed bricks on the frontage. For some years it’s been noted for real ale.
It’s a traditional 2 room pub, now owned by Black Country Taverns, a small but growing chain in and around the Black Country, who specialise in traditional pubs, and they’ve adopted the name as it’s official one.
It’s a great place: 5 or 6 well-kept real ales, food (both a menu and cobs/pork pie), no music or gaming machines, and a friendly welcome.
I pass this pub practically every weekday, but rarely go in. It’s a traditional pub that’s now part of the Sizzling chain. This essentially means cheap but unremarkable food and beer, and a standardised chain experience. This isn’t a bad thing, if that’s what you’re after: the food isn’t bad at all, the beer is drinkable (but no real ale), and it’s a fairly comfortable place to sit.
Park Hall, Walsall:
I don’t think we caught this on a good day, but by god, it was grim. We had high hopes, this being a Good Beer Guide featured pub, and, to be honest, the beer was very good indeed. But beyond that? It’s a 1960s pub with 1980s decor in the middle of Park Hall, a 1960s housing estate. It was packed, and packed with loud football supporters watching the very loud TV. Dark to the point of pitch black inside, and generally not somewhere I’d go back to. Shame.
I’ve always liked the Swan. It’s a traditional community pub in Brownhills, and as I posted here it’s just re-opened. It’s now a free house, so hopefully the new owners will be able to make a decent living and keep the prices realistic.
The new owners have done a cracking job: the interior has been redecorated and looks fresh, but still traditional. There’s cobs (yay!), a good welcome, and a good selection of beer at decent prices, including 2 well-kept cask ales. A very nice pub.
The Hussey Arms has had another refurb. As commented both in my original post and here by Brownhills Bob, it’s had many ups and downs, which is a shame.
Anyway, it’s latest incarnation is Greene King’s Hungry Horse brand, according to the site:
Hungry Horse pubs and restaurants can be found throughout the UK. All of our pubs have an enviable reputation for great value food, a friendly warm welcome (especially for families and kids), and many have facilities such as pool tables and large-screen TVs. So whether you want to watch the football, have a family meal or just enjoy a pint of IPA, Old Speckled Hen, lager or Abbot, choose a Hungry Horse – you’ll always be welcome.
Which is already sounding like mixed blessings to me. It’s not my thing, really.
My take? It’s a large, modern-decorated, Moe’s Family Feedbag type pub. There’s lots of standard pub-food type stuff at very good prices (and it was OK), and a selection of Greene King ales (based on my smaple, well kept). The staff were pleasant enough too.
It’s ‘family freindly’, which set of alarm bells, but there’s a play area to keep kids quiet(er). It was, really, OK. It’s churlish to complain about things that you should be prepared for, and the place has it’s good points. I personally reckon this incarnation might just be successful.
Just up the road, this was once a William Roberts pub. It could be great, but was ruined by no cask ale, and loud music in a pub mostly full of people 40-50 wanting to talk. Shame really. A bit stripped-out as well.