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Brews at The Brunswick...

A second report from Derby, focussing mainly on just one pub. But what a pub it is....

I was up quite early, and so decided to go for a walk and find the Britannia cafe that the couple in the Exeter Arms had mentioned last night and get some breakfast. I found it easily enough, it was down a narrow street near the bus station. I walked in to a bustling scene, most tables were occupied by a mix of workmen, office types, families, and the odd tourist, always a good sign that the food will be pretty decent. Full English and a pot of tea was just over the £6 mark, and it made a good start to the day. Thanks to the couple from the Exeter in the unlikely event you get to read this!

Derby Cathedral

I then went for a wander. Derby is a mix of old and new, some lovely historic buildings and modern monstrosities, but overall it has quite a pleasant city centre with some attractive areas, especially around the cathedral, which overlooks one of the many green spaces that occupy the centre of what is one of the greenest cities in the country. Indeed, the Derby Arboretum opened in 1840 as the first publicly-owned park in the country. I walked down from the cathedral, passing the Silk Mill pub I had been in the night before, Nearby, covered in scaffolding whilst it is being renovated, is the Derby Silk Mill, which is on the site of the first water-powered silk mill in Britain opened by John Lombe and George Sorocold in 1717. This marks the southern end of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, which covers a 15-mile stretch of the valley taking in places like Cromford and Belper before ending up at Matlock Bath. The area contains an amazing 838 listed buildings, reflecting the significance Derby and the surrounding areas played as the so-called 'Cradle of the Industrial Revolution'. The Mill, which has been used as a museum before being closed for a number of years, is due to re-open in 2020.

Derby Silk Mill: Still impressive even with scaffolding

I walked back to the hotel, collected my stuff, and checked out. I had decided I would take advantage of the Brunswick Inn opening at 11 and get a train early afternoon, stopping maybe at Sheffield for a pint. Crossing over the busy main road was a dream compared to yesterday, with the traffic lights firmly in my favour. I passed the Alexandra, not due to open until 12. The Brunswick was waiting just around the corner, situated in the historic Railway Village, reflecting another important part of Derby's industrial heritage.

Welcome to the Brunswick....

The Brunswick is a narrow, flat iron-shaped brick structure, built as part of the village in the 19th century. It just shows how times have changed, how many housing developments over the past few decades have included a school or retail space, let alone a pub? The Brunswick has always been one and absolutely oozes history despite being renovated in recent years. Wood-panelled throughout, it sprawls over a number of rooms with its own brewery at the back. I made my way to the bar, and was greeted by a bank of hand pumps, including 6 of the Brunswick's own beers. There were also several other beers from other breweries, including Everards, who now own the pub, but I decided I would try a couple of the house beers before going for the train....

Timeless scene at the Brunswick....

I opted for a half of the White Feather, a delicious, refreshing session citrussy pale, which was better than anything I had tried the day before where there had been a pretty consistent standard. I awarded this a NBSS 4. Next up, the 4% Triple Hop, pale straw in colour, more bitter than the White Feather, but almost as good, I gave it a 3.5. The helpful guy behind the bar recommended I drank in strength order. So, up next was the Usual, a 4.2% malty bitter, but another quality beer which I rated as a 3.5. Having decided I would go for the set, I had a half of the Railway Porter, at 4.3% a classic of the style with plenty of chocolate flavours, a NBSS 3 in my book, so well up to the standard in Derby. Next was a beer style much more up my street, the 4.7% Rocket, a New World IPA with plenty of citrus and tropical fruit flavours, well worth the score of 4 I gave it. Delicious. And then on pump number 6 was Black Sabbath, a beautiful, well-balanced stout with liquorice, coffee, and chocolate notes, one to savour and which I scored 3.5.

By this time, the departure time had been moved back to mid-afternoon. The beers at the Brunswick all passed muster, with the pub itself an absolute gem which in my book is a must-visit. I took a few pictures of the pub before I left, including the brewery....


And an attractive corridor....


The Brunswick, which has an excellent sister pub, the Dead Poets, situated a few miles north of Derby in the village of Holbrook, is one of those timeless places that you only come across once every so often, and is only a few minutes walk from the station. A visit to this iconic place will not disappoint.

I had a quick half of Castle Rock round the corner at the Alexandra with the house rabbit before I walked back to the station, passing several of the interesting red-brick buildings and streets that make 
up this part of the Railway Village.


As the train pulled out of Derby Midland Station, I reflected on a couple of excellent days. Not perhaps an obvious choice for a stopover, the city nonetheless has much of interest. And in pubs like the Brunswick, the Smithfield, and the Exeter, the quality of the beer sets the bar for the rest to follow. And all the ones I visited made a good attempt at doing so....

Sheffield could wait....

Twitter:  @realalemusic

Comments

  1. Not sure how I missed this lovely post at the time, Chris.

    The Brunswick, like the Alexandra and Flowerpot and Falstaff etc. is one of those Derby pubs that us Beer Guide tickers do in 2001 and then rarely return to, watching wistfully as we drop the odd whippersnapper like BRAPA at the station and thinking "I really must go back".

    I never realised the Dead Poets at Holbrook, one of my Top 5 pubs (Bass in the jug !) was its sister pub.

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