I posted some Cambridge Pub News the other week and I’m pleased to say that one of the pubs mentioned has now opened.
The Cambridge Brew House is located on King St and has undergone a massive refit, which has included the installation of a micro brewery on the site. I’m not going to go into any details about the history of the place, as Adam over at Pints and Pubs has already produced a fantastic blog on the subject.
I managed to visit at lunchtime on their opening day last week and enjoyed a few halves of the beer on offer (they had two of their own on, Adnams Broadside, Black Bar Standing Talking Bitter, Lord Conrad’s Pheasants Rise and Nethergate Growler Bitter). I wandered around and took a few photos, which you can see below. I’m not the biggest fan of going to the pub on my own, even though I seem to do it quite a lot and since it was a flying visit, I think I’ll reserve judgement on the place until I’ve been in the evening with some friends. Having said that, there are a few things that I think they could improve on, but given that this was their opening day, this might sound a bit on the harsh side.
Of the six hand pumps mounted on the bar, three of them were dispensing bitter, two dispensing premium bitter / best bitter / ESB (call it what you like) and just the one pump dispensing anything remotely pale and hoppy, which from my personal perspective, doesn’t bode well. I’d liked to have seen a larger selection of beer styles on offer and while they are obviously keeping it local, which is all well and good, if the local produce on offer is all a bit samey and average, then maybe you need to look a bit further afield. Instead of a couple of those bitters, I’d rather have seen one or two beers from a few of the UK’s more progressive and new wave breweries (Thornbridge, DarkStar, MagicRock, Summer Wine to name but a few).
Of their in house brews (currently being brewed in Henley until their brew house is up and running next week) the King’s Parade was nice and balanced, but tending to the maltier side of things and in my view inferior to the Black Bar Standing Talking; mainly as the later had more bitterness. The Misty River was similarly nicely balanced, but this time slightly to the bitter side of things with a pleasant bitter tickle lingering in to after taste, it also had that smoothness you get from a bit of wheat in the grist and I would happily have another. While both were good solid beers, neither of them would get a beer geeks juice salivating though, but then I don’t think either are aimed at the beer geek, so will probably do very well for the kind of clientèle that the place seems designed to attract.
They do have plans for other beers though, with a US Pale ale already having been brewed. So hopefully with the micro brewery on site, we can only hope that there will be a range of more esoteric and interesting brews to go along with the core range.
Hops about to go in for bittering. Lots of bittering! pic.twitter.com/FNwkRtEf
— Mark the Brewer (@CambridgeBrewCo) February 7, 2013
— Mark the Brewer (@CambridgeBrewCo) February 7, 2013
I must admit to not paying too much attention to what was was available on keg, as there was nothing that instantly stood out as being different for the norm. I think they could easily give over a couple of keg lines to something interesting from the Bacchanalia or Beautiful Beers like some De Molen, Rogue or anything kegged from the afore mentioned progressive UK brewers; it appears to be working for Benson Blakes in Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge is crying out for somewhere to do some decent craft keg properly. It was a similar story with the bottles, I stopped looking when I saw they were stocking the triumph of marketing over taste, that is Innis & Gunn.
I can’t comment on the food, as I didn’t eat any while I was there, but it sounds positive from blogs like The Moving Foodie and what folks have been saying on twitter.
— Adam Reynolds (@jodrell) February 10, 2013
I’ve not really enjoyed trying to write this bolg, as I feel I’ve been ridiculously over critical for somewhere that had only been open for only for 30 minutes when I walked through the door. I wasn’t expecting a Cask Pub & Kitchen, or Craft Beer Co type place, even though Cambridge desperately needs one. It’s just frustrating walking into a new place and being uninspired by the beer choices on offer, especially when there are plenty of pubs opening around the country with impressive cask, keg and bottle ranges on the bar. I also realise that I’m probably not the target market for this place, there’s too much herbage on the tables for my liking for a start, but I just feel like it could have been so much more beer wise.
I’ll be going back though, I can’t say how often as I’m not the biggest pub visitor, but it certainly another option along with The Mitre and The Maypole, for a quick half on the way back to the office after a lunch break in town. I’m also looking forward seeing brewing return to the City for the first time in a few years and will definitely be paying a visit to try the new US Pale Ale when it hits the bar in a few weeks time.
— Mark the Brewer (@CambridgeBrewCo) February 13, 2013
The guys behind the venture obviously know what they are doing, as they’ve built a pub company before and then sold it to Greene King. This begs the question, are they in this because they love beer, or are they only in it for the money, what ever the answer to that question is, The Cambridge Brew House is certainly a welcome addition to the Cambridge pub scene and I look forward to seeing how it’s evolves over the next few months.