- Roundhouse Revelry -
Friday 21st February thereby saw Nick and myself bound for the East Midlands eager to savour what was now the National Winter Ales Festival, Derby having taken on the national mantle from Manchester. The venue was still the glorious Roundhouse with over 300 ales (including many stouts and porters) crammed into the turntable and carriage rooms. Our sampling got off to an excellent start with Hammerpot's Oyster Pond Stout, which definitely lived up to its billing of having a 'long duration'.
- Old Freddy Walker -
We took up residence in the entertainment marquee where Nick got most excited about the idea of the Leatherbritches Brewery (thankfully his own trousers were restrained by comparison). Working our way through the programme, we tasted tantalising thirds of Smokehouse Porter (evocative of Cromer smokeries), Rabbie's Porter (essence of gingerbread, chocolate and currants), Green Jack Ripper Trippel (a hefty barley wine) and Rum and Raisin (said to be redolent with eponymous overtones). However, the ale that truly won us over was the liquid Christmas pudding that is Old Freddy Walker - one sip of this will ensure you have your eyeballs out on stalks and a big grin on your face.
- The Litter Chester Ale House -
As the roundhouse became increasingly crowded, we took our leave to see what treats Derby had to offer us pub-wise this year. The free bus into the City Centre was again very much appreciated, then a stroll along Mansfield Road brought us to Chester Green, home to the Little Chester Ale house. This establishment is Derby's first micropub and its compact size makes it feel really intimate, while the Wentwell Brewery adds even further to the appeal - cue for some Justice for Gingers. A cracking little discovery!
- Chester Green -
I rather liked Chester Green as an area actually, especially the open patch of green with its avenue of trees just across from the parish church. As well as the Little Chester Ale House we also located the Coach and Horses where the barmaid scribbles down our CAMRA membership numbers and serves us up a rugby-related Belhaven brew.
- The Peacock -
A jink down to the Old Nottingham Road reveals the Peacock, nominally a Marston's house but offering a wide range of beers including the Peacock Pale Ale. The rear snug is a relaxing spot to peruse the Good Beer Guide and read up on Derby's many ale attractions.
- Games in the Golden Eagle -
The backdrop to our afternoon adventures is the speed skating at the Winter Olympics, where I felt our British skater was harshly treated when disqualified in her semi-final. The Seven Stars and the Five Lamps are both noted out towards Duffield Road, then we receive the warmest of welcomes at the Golden Eagle on Agard Street, spoiling ourselves with gourmet scotch eggs and a game of darts.
- New Zealand Arms -
Two brewery taps feature during the tail-end of our itinerary. The New Zealand Arms is Dancing Duck's contribution, the backstreet location adding to the sense of unearthing a hidden gem, while Mr Grundy's Tavern is housed as part of an impressive Georgian Hotel - the bar here matches the beer in terms of having a First World War theme. The Greyhound roof terrace is a Dashingly Dark place to have one for the road, and even a lengthy detour on the train ride home could not detract from a brilliant day. Cheers!