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The Sun rises in the west
GAVIN AITCHISON visits a classic local pub doing a great job.
DRINKERS in the west of York have taken something of a battering in the past couple of years.
While the city as a whole continues to ride out the storm better than most, those in the Acomb, Holgate and Dringhouses area have suffered more than their fair share of casualties.
The Turf Tavern, The Locomotive and The White Rose have all been lost, the Volunteer Arms only narrowly escaped the same fate (thank goodness it did), and despite some promising talk of a refurbishment, the Britannia remains closed and boarded up.
So it is particularly important to recognise and support those that are not only surviving in these parts, but upholding high standards and flying the flag for good beer.
The Sun Inn, beside Acomb Green, is a prime example of a classic local pub, providing a tireless and fantastic service to its community.
I won’t pretend to be a regular here, living and working in the city centre as I do, but having heard repeated praise from friends and fellow drinkers, I felt compelled to pay it a couple of visits, and I was glad I did.
It is, in many ways, the quintessential English pub, with all the classic arrangements and ingredients that make a local a local.
There’s a lounge room off to the left as you enter, a spacious and convivial bar area dead ahead, and a further seating area towards the back. In the bar room itself, there is a smattering of random paraphernalia, an array of vaguely-vintage pictures, two TVs, a dart-board and – opposite that – a couple of bulging cabinets, packed proudly full of well-earned pub-sports trophies.
It was all very welcoming and endearing, but it was friends’ praise for the beer that had drawn me here more than anything else.
Many suburban pubs, inevitably relying on a loyal but unchanging clientele, play safe when it comes to real ale, stocking some reliable old favourites. Not this place though.
Alongside the usual suspects on the bar (John Smith’s, Carlsberg, Guinness, Foster’s and Kronenbourg), there were three real ales: Marston’s English Pale Ale, Otter Bitter and Adnam’s Bitter, none exceptional in its own right, but a more varied and unpredictable range than you’d find in many pubs away from the city centre.
By all accounts the selection changes often, which is heartening to hear, and the quality was also impressive. My EPA and Adnam’s were both in excellent condition, and had I not had to catch the last bus home, I’d have also tried the Otter, a lovely, light refreshing beer.
Alan and Judy Williams have been landlord and landlady here for 11 years now and clearly run the place tremendously well.
Times are tough, with increases in rents, business rates and beer prices, but they are putting in a lot more effort than many, deserve the trade that comes their way and – therefore – deserve also a bit of extra footfall from York drinkers keen to try somewhere new.
There’s good food at lunch times, country and western music on a Wednesday night and a quiz on Sunday evenings if you want to time your visit accordingly, but whenever you go, you can be confident of a good welcome and some great beer.
• Follow Gav at twitter.com/pintsofview for beery news, views and chat throughout the week.
There are a number of mouth-watering pub events happening in and around York this weekend and next:
• The Captain Cook Inn in Staithes has a St George’s Day beer festival running until Monday, from 11am to midnight daily. There will be 25 ales, ciders and perries with an English Heritage and St George theme, as well as English food available.
• The George and Dragon in West Haddlesey, near Selby, also has a St George’s Festival, finishing on Sunday.
• The Barnes Wallis in Howden has a St George’s festival from Monday to Friday next week, with more than 20 beers.
• The Slip Inn in Clementhorpe, York, has a festival that began last night and runs until tomorrow, with at least 25 beers, not food and music.
• Suddaby’s in Malton has a beer and folk festival today, with 14 beers and music.
• The Waggon and Horses in Lawrence Street has a battle of the breweries between The Brew Co and Great Heck, tomorrow afternoon and evening.
• Hull Camra’s big festival in Holy Trinity Church, Hull, concludes today.
• Next Friday and Saturday, the second Poppleton Beer Festival is taking place in the Community Sports Pavilion in Millfield Lane, with a focus on Yorkshire microbreweries.
• The Fulford Arms has a 16-beer festival from April 27 to 29.