By Soo (@Soo_Jane)
Hoping to try and capture a few snapshots of what is going on in some of the smaller cities and towns across the UK Craft Beer wise, our first ‘A night out in’ post comes from a trip to Northampton!
We are certainly spoilt for choice of where to go in Manchester- often having a favourite bar, bottle shop, tap room and pub in every corner of town. What was great about the plans here was that there was a definitive route we were going to take, and I was going to sample some of the best Craft Beer haunts in Northants.
Stop 1: Beer Guerilla
I knew as soon as we walked into this place our night out was starting strong, although initially we were a little put off by the fact it advertised it was showing the Rugby. As a general rule I would avoid anywhere with loud sports commentary whilst I’m out and about- i’m no sports fan. However there were just a couple of TV’s and a few good people in to watch it, it was not invasive at all.
They have 4 keg lines, 1 cask and a few local ciders on draught. Sara went with the house lager- Czech style ‘Guerrilla Pilsner’ which was a great starter, clean and crisp. I’d had the others on keg so I took to the fridges and predictably went for the Cloudwater ‘Make Apple Pie great Again’- which I seem to have missed back in Manchester so I couldn’t resist the chance to try it. The colour was a bit strange but the spiced apple notes, sweet and savoury with just a light bitterness were bob on.
For our second beer we shared a can of the Northern Monk Patrons Project 4.01 Passion Fruit Lassi IPA. Again, one I seem to have just missed when I’ve been out and about so was keen to try. A winner for both of us, very smooth, juicy and drinkable, not being overly sweet as I was a bit worried it may have been! Loved the atmosphere, the staff and the sheer range of beer on offer here. It was fab to see people running in to get a growler fill and / or a basket of bottles for the evening and it seems to have a lot to offer the beer fans of Northampton!
Stop 2: Princess Alexandra
On arrival I quickly glanced at the bar and presumed I’d be looking at a big ‘craft style’ beer, core range or similar. That was, until I glanced at the ‘beer wall’ where you could see your Big Wave and Sam Adams next to a terrific To ol Gose!
I had a try of one of the cask ales they had on, but opted for what I knew I would end up with anyway, a half of the ‘Don’t Gose Towards the Light’, with Sara checking out the extensive bottle and can range (in a tall fridge next to the bar so you could really look at what you might want!) and went with the To ol theme with ‘Blossom’ Wheat beer.
Both were great, the Gose was fabulously fruity, tart and full of flavour whilst Blossom was a well hopped flowery Wheat beer- perfectly summing up the milder temperature in its nod to spring. I definitely could have stayed longer here, it really was a lovely bar, good music, friendly staff and a great range of beer- from local and European craft beers to overall crowd pleasers !
Stop 3: St Giles Ale House
Cask orientated traditional Ale House in the centre of town. It had a sense of community in here, a few regulars and an incredible dog called Stella.
The person behind the bar was keen to offer something I would like, I didn’t dare ask for a bottle range, nor did I want a pilsner. I do like well kept cask, but I tend to favour Porters and Stouts if they are on offer! Straight from the Leicester beer festival, we both opted for the Framework Belgian Witbier which definitely had some fruity notes in there but was quite sweet and very easy to drink!
It’s a lovely local, and I can’t stress how great the dog really is but as it was quiet when we went in I did miss a little bit of background music so as to keep some of our conversation to ourselves! Would definitely want to stop by again!
Stop 4: Beer intermission – Eat Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, Haycock & Tailbar Associates, Foodies Rocks
The ‘beer intermission’ saw us have a bite to eat and take a quick break from beers! We managed to get seated in a great value Vietnamese restaurant, Eat Saigon. It was a no frills kind of place, with the service and the food speaking for itself. I had the pork summer rolls and the crispy tofu noodles- both of which were fab! Next was a wonderful pick-me-up Espresso Martini (their version had a fancier name) from the ‘speakeasy style’ Haycock and Tailbar and followed by an underwhelming bottle of beer in Foodies. We were ready for more good beer!
Stop 4 The Lamplighter
Having been here before I knew I was in for a treat. A cracking pub, which has a lively Saturday night crowd of all ages and a great drinks selection. It was really busy with a band on as we went in so as we got to the bar we both went for a couple of ‘go to’ beers, mine being Lupuloid and Sara’s being a bottle of Fruli. We sat in a cosy snug bit at the back of the pub and carried on with our chats, listening to the (actually really good) music and there was still a buzz around. We had one last beer before heading home, and with a decent cask selection as well as bottle I decided to go for a half of the Drystone Stout from Hawkshead- a great ender!
Had we been going ‘out out’ there was also a 60’s night ‘Revolver’ on upstairs at the Lamplighter as well as a night on at the Garibaldi, which I know from last time also has a great range of Craft beer too. I guess we have to save some things for next time…
SUNDAY MORNING STOP: Magee St Bakery
A small mention for amazing coffee and pastries for the morning after the night before… just need to get there early!
Sara tells me it is all about the Scotch Eggs, which we had unfortunately missed. In fact, by the time we arrived (midday) they were sold out of a lot! We still managed to get a great flat white and I opted for a flaky, buttery, sweet almond croissant. It didn’t even last the wait on the coffee!
Overall it was a great night of good beer, great company (huge thanks to Sara @what_a_midden for taking me everywhere), good food and a nice Saturday night atmosphere. There is certainly a growing scene in Northampton, and one which I hope continues to grow for future visits!