Reluctant Scooping: Leicester

Leicester is afforded special status in the Reluctant Scooping scheme of topering. It's where I drank my first doppelbock. My first Dogfish Head. It always offered a heady mix of ye olde traditional pubs and somewhat-leftfield bars. But it's been a couple of years since I was last in town. Does Leicester still love its beer? There was only one way to find out...

The Pub

Casks on offer: 12-ish
Potential scoops: 6-ish
Keg beer on offer: 12-ish?
Potential scoops: 2
Scoops drank: 0
Favourites drank: 1 (Brewdog 77, two pints)

Yes. It really is called The Pub. Before the owners moved across New Walk, their former bar (Out Of The Vaults / Vin IV) often served two beauties by Beowulf - Finn's Hall Porter and Dragon Smoke Stout. They're the beers I'd have plumped for if my eye had been on cask. But I didn't even look at the handpulls. Instead, I fancied something cool and just-so-carbonated as a thirst slaker on this sunny Sunday. Brewdog 77 lager hit the spot. So much so that when alcofrolicchap turned up, I had another pint of it.

The Pub is one of those long, narrow bars that looks and feels cool in an almost-trying-too-hard kind of way. I was content to go sit out in the sun, drink lager and watch the world amble by. I'll revisit their cask offering one day.

The Globe

Casks on offer: 4. Possibly.
Potential scoops: 1
Actual scoops: 0
Favorites drank: 1 (Everards Sunchaser, one pint)

I've always enjoyed visiting this multi-room, often-bustling pub in the heart of the city. Then again, I've always enjoyed picking lint out of my navel and flicking it at people on the bus. I don't come here for the banter by the 'characters' at the bar (read: shouting Sex Pistols lyrics with the emphasis firmly on the last syllable of "Pretty Vacant". I don't come here for a mediocre guest beer (lots of pumpclips of interesting ones on the wall, never seen them on when I've visited). I come here for a damn fine pint of Everards.

Sunchaser was the right side of cool - maybe it was the 'extra cold' version? It certainly felt more-than-just-cellar cold. Great condition, in its branded glass. Good beer, well presented. Whereas alcofrolicchap's Burton Bridge Spring Ale seemed to have sprung itself flat somewhat.


Casks on offer: difficult to tell
Potential scoops: ?!?
Keg on offer: six-ish
Actual scoops: 0
Favorites drank: 2: (Punk IPA, one pint; Augustiner Edelstoff, 500ml bottle)

The problem with the Criterion? It's like bumping into an ex-girlfriend; you both drifted apart, you both met someone new, now she's no longer the bubbly bundle of fun you once loved but slightly jaded and world-weary. You want to put your arm round her and chat about the old times but you both know it won't cheer either of you up.

This used to be my favourite pub in the city; interesting casks well kept, odd keg offerings at a time when there wasn't so much variety knocking around as there is today, a chunky bottle menu that became the syllabus for my Belgian beer education (intermediate level). Now the place seems to be quieter, the casks more predictable, the bottles scarcer. Alcofrolic and I enjoyed the last pints of the kegged Punk and some bottled Edelstoff outside by the giddy vista of the ring road. And I felt wistfully bitter...

The Font

Casks on offer: four
Potential scoops: none
Keg on offer: some-ish
Actual scoops: 1 (Stella Black)
Favorites drank: 1 (Stella Artois)

There's only two reasons we visited this bright and breezy student-centric bar. Hand-cut chips. And Stella Black.

The chips were chunky, hot and really potatoey. The Stella Black was a car-crash in a chalice. Worse thing I've had in my mouth since I chewed a verruca. I had to have a pint of, er, 'normal' Stella to get the syrupy gloop taste out of my mouth.

(Now is not the time nor place to discuss why Black is so execrable or why I'm still drinking Stella Artois. That time will be after I've had six pints of the latter one afternoon and feel like mouthing off ).

Swan and Rushes

Casks on offer: about eight
Potential scoops: some
Keg on offer: probably
Actual scoops: 1 (Dupont Monk's Stout)
Favorites drank: 2 (Orval, Cantillon Vigneronne)

One fine day, I will make the Swan and Rushes my first port of call when in Leicester. I will have a game of bar billiards, chew the fat with the bar staff and sip an Orval at a leisurely pace. Today, however, it was the usual last-pub-mad-dash.

An Orval slipped down quicker than a Manchester United striker in the penalty area. I think I asked alcofrolicchap how quick he could drink gueuze. A bottle of Cantillon Vigneronne was procured and drained in short order. That's all the beer I was here for. And well tasty they were, too. Though I did then find the time for a Monk's Stout by Dupont; it seemed a fairly plain-Jane brew, though to be fair my tastebuds had just been wrapped round the back of my ears by the Cantillon.

So here's another pub that seen some better days. It's been on and off the market for years and would really benefit from a period of stability. Having said that, it's got a well-worn-slipper feel about it, comfy and inviting. And the staff are great - knowledgeable, interested, amiable. The barmaid that night, Erica, was keen to try the Vigneronne and happy to chat about geuze. You just don't get that in many other places.


Scoops: 2
Favourites: 7
Verdict: Really Very Reluctant Scooping.
Beer of the day: Orval. Obviously.

There's still plenty of good beer to be found in Leicester. It's just a rather subdued scene. Someone needs to give the place a swift kick up the victuals.

Perhaps a Leicester Tap, anyone...?


  1. ah...was wondering about those Stella Black tweets....!

  2. I finally got around to posting my comment...

    A good session that day.
    I reckon the pubs in Leicester (and a lot of other cities) that rely on the wet trade struggle on Sunday when a lot of drinkers like to head to pubs that serve a roast dinner.
    One might think these pubs have seen better days when there's only a handful of customers there.

    The Criterion is probably more popular now than it ever was; busy most evenings and rammed at weekends. My problem with this pub is I don't think the quality of the cask ale is up to much. It was a good thing for us that kegged Punk was on.

    The Pub has the best draught selection in the city with around 14 beer taps and around the same number of handpulls. I tend to head there more in the summer for their lagers or Anchor Steam but the cask ale there is pretty darn good.

    The trap at the Swan & Rushes is the bottle selection but they do a good Bishop's Farewell and fresh pizza. Shame they don't do pizza on a Sunday. Who eats pizza on a Sunday? I would.

    Simon, you must come over the next time the Swan have their annual German beer festival.