The trial run for this jaunt took place in November 1995, hence the topicality may now be somewhat lost. However in the traditional HASSRALE style it would seem appropriate to merely take any revisions on spec and if necessary continue on to,a more suitable establishment if needs be. Notwithstanding, Cambridge is a marvellous venue and has been host to two previous HASSRALE visits and considering that there are over one hundred pubs serving Real Ale, no doubt there will be subsequent excursions there. Trains run from Kings Cross or Liverpool Street. From the former the service is (depart/arrive): 10.45/11.34, 10.51/11.53, 11.15/12.04. The first port of call is to be reached via the local bus service travelling to Emmanuel Street. From here walk over the bridge to make your way to the first establishment. (Note approximate leaving times are in [ ] brackets).
1. Mitre - 17 Bridge St [13.00]
Royal Oak, Ansells Mild, Tetleys.
This is a Grade II listed building with a 19th Century frontage incorporating a large clear front window, while the interior stretches back a long way and is finished in dark wood. This is an Allied "Festival Ale House" with some guest beers too. There is a food bar at the back, serving amongst other items, chunky sandwiches. There were candles dotted around in mounds of candle wax. Stone floor at back of pub. It was noted that people were playing chess, is this an academic affectation? ¶As the next pub is adjacent, in theory it should be possible to leave by the side entrance, cross the narrow road and go straight in by the opposite side door. However you may have to leave by the front then cut down the side road (or enter by the front anyway).
2. Baron of Beef - 19 Bridge St [13.45]
Greene King IPA, Abbot + seasonal beer (Triumph?).
This is a long narrow pub, specialising in food. The first sight to greet us was the landlord carving up beef, which was fairly appropriate especially as the topic of BSE was front page news at the time in 1995! Apparently in January 1998 planning authorities allowe the front and back bars to be knocked into one (the front was mainly for seated food consumers anyway). The resulting long bar counter can make it difficult to obtain service though. As with the last pub a predominantly young clientele. There was a notable display of odd (i.e. mainly foreign bank notes behind the bar). It has a very small patio courtyard that is permanently shaded.¶ We were due to move on to The Cow & Calf, arguably one of the best pubs in Cambridge, but it was so good that it has now closed down! Instead we shall attempt to visit one that was not on the trial run (shouldn't make much difference by now and anyway the updated information from the local web-sites provides an insight). Continue along Magdalene Bridge St then on into Castle St. Up on the left is ...
3. The County Arms - 43 Castle Street [14.30]
Everards Tiger; Adnams; Courage Directors; Old Speckled Hen.
On the trial run we were intent on getting to the next pub before te advertised closing time (3.30 pm then). In the event it stayed open, but we never went back to this one so courtesy of the Internet here is a description. Pleasant looking Everard's pub (may have more than just Tiger I suspect). Fairly compact inside and busy most times, but seats usually available. Youthful, but not very "studenty" atmosphere"! Mad dog and bonkers landlord (who needs students?). Good food, but the Old Speckled Hen varies in quality. ¶Across the road opposite and a little farther down (i.e. we must have passed it already) there is ...
4. Castle Inn - 38 Castle Street [15.45]
Adnams bitter & Mild, Broadside, Bass, Marstons Pedigree, Fullers Chiswick.
Multi-level bar, with a no-smoking area upstairs. Large seating area in the front near the clear glass windows. Fairly bright and modern fee, but it is 17th Century apparently (although refurbished in 1995 to becoe Adnam's first Cambridge pub. Has an entry in the 1999 Good Beer Guide and has been known to have up to 9 beers at one time.The landlord is the drummer with the Rutles according to the website blurb. Outside there is a two-level beer garden. ¶Continue on down Castle St and continue into Magdalene Bridge St where down on the right is ...
5. Pickerel Inn - 30 Magdalene Bridge Street [16.30]
Theakstons Best & XB, Courage Directors.
Originally I did not feel inclined to include this old and busy pub, but as it is the oldest one in Cambridge I have relented. Typical Cambridge bizarre interior with some low arches.Old and busy, various bars and seating areas very much a haunt of college students rather than tourists. In fact overall I suspect tourists do not figure much in Cambridge pubs' clientèle. One Internet reviewer seemed suprised that it was the unofficial Magdalene College bar, but as it is slap bang opposite the place I find his opinion rather odd! As with many of the colleges the tradition for rowing (that's boating not aguing, oh I don' know though) results in some rowdy drunken behaviour (sounds familiar?). Lowered wooden floors and a low ceiling. Beer in 4 pint jugs, but no reduction in cost pro rata.¶ Cross back over the road (remembering you are as likely to be mown down by a bicycle as by a car) then turn left by the theatre into Park St. Somewhere near the car park (it was 3 years ago!) is ...
6. Maypole - Park Street [17.15]
Wadworth 6X; Tetleys; Castle Eden.
Two bar pub, another haunt of students, according to their sign they have world famous mulled wine. Opposite a busy multi-storey car park. (The remainder of the information is gleaned from recent attendees' reviews). One fact that hasn't changed and is endorsed by the Cambridge beer guide is that the landlord (Mario Castiglione) is a prize-winning creator/maker of cocktails. The upstairs bar may be quieter and there is also an outside area. Pub grub available and even a bar-billiards table. ¶Emerge from Park St and left onto Jesus Lane, right into Malcolm St then left into King St. Along here you should find ...
7. Bun Shop - 1 King Street [18.00]
Initially perceived to be a one-bar pub attached to a Tapas Bar and restaurant. Tables lit by candles. Classical musak. In fact there were actually two bars as we only found out when we left this pub, the second (right-hand side) bar was bigger and noisier with less class, this is the Finnigan's Irish-theme bar. The wine (left-hand side) bar still serves beer. Before 1992 this was called the Kings Arms and prior to redevelopment in the 1970's it was The Royal Arms. Originally it was the "famous" Corner House café. ¶Further along Kings St is ...
8. Champion of the Thames - 68 King St [18.45]
Greene King IPA, XX Dark Mild (and maybe, Abbot).
This establishment figured on the May 1990 HASSRALE jaunt. It also featured as the local used by the porter Scallion in Tom Sharpe's novel Porterhouse Blue. The beer is served on gravity from barrels behind the bar. Compact, wood-panelled and has a number of alcoves. Beware the low ceilings and sloping floors (yes, really!). Friendly pub, also has doorstep sandwiches and apparently serves soup during the summer for some perverse reason. Note the etched windows with a rowing theme. ¶Continue along the street, passing the Kings Street Run (didn't venture in even if it was open on the trial run) to encounter on the left at the top of the road ...
9. St Radegund - 127 King St [19.30]
Fullers London Pride; Adnams Bitter; Shepherd Neame Spitfire. (range likely to vary anyway).
Very small single bar pub, but very friendly. The landlord was somewhat suspicious of us apparently reviewing the place, but when he realised that Edmund was actually asleep and that I was too drunk to write he decided that we presented no threat! The ceilings were covered in graffiti (apparently produced using candle flames), but even the local students seem at a loss to fathom the reason for the content. No food, probably since there is very little room to either produce or eat it. ¶From here we kept on round the roundabout (anti-clockwise) then using a route I have long forgotten, but possibly via New Square, at the corner of Fair St is situated ...
10. Hopbine and Barley Ear - 11-12 Fair St [20.15 or whenever]
Greene King IPA & Abbot
Large L-shaped bar, not very busy, pool table at one end. Even the students whose comments were posted on the web-sites described this as "a young people's boozer". However they concede that it has a good juke-box, played at the right volume (presumably not too loud). After stumbling around the backstreets for a while we chose this for no particular reason, so by now any change of plan could occur. ¶Have to admit that from here the prospect of a taxi seemed tempting so we made our way back to Parker St/Parkside where there were a number of them. Return trains are at 27 mins past the hour to Kings Cross (taking 61 mins) or at 54 mins past (1hr 21m). Have a safe journey.
Trial details: Edmund Featherstone, Paul Tiffany and John Wright on Saturday 11th November 1995