RUGBY is a town with so many good pubs, which makes the Camra Good Beer Guide 2012 an invaluable tool for visitors and residents alike.
Voted for by Rugby Camra’s 300 members over a year, the guide lists the best real ale pubs in the town.
Steve Heighton, from Rugby Camra said: “I take the Good Beer Guide with me anywhere I go. It brings people into the town too, Camra groups have come from as far as Liverpool to sample our real ale pubs. Rugby has a good reputation within Camra for having so many quality pubs relative to the town’s size.”
In the guide is one of Rugby’s oldest pubs, The Three Horseshoes Hotel in Sheep Street. Built in the 1600s and managed by husband and wife team, Steve and Shan Jones, it is a cosy place that claims to offer something for everyone.
Shan took me into the bowels of the Three Horseshoes to show me how they store and process their ale. Injected with some extra yeast on arrival and kept at a cool and constant 12 degrees centigrade, the barrels are laid on their side and are gradually tilted as they empty to ensure the sediment doesn’t make its way to the glass. Real ale is a living product unlike many commercial beers chich have chemicals added to stop the fermenting process to extend their ‘shelf life’.
Shan said: “Keeping and serving real ale is a skill - and that’s why, when someone puts down an empty glass on our bar and says they’ve had a good pint, it’s a big compliment.”
On the other side of the town centre the Good Beer Guide directs us to The Victoria Inn which boasts 14 hand pumps at its bar. The Victoria Inn is owned by the Atomic Brewery which operates behind the Alexandra Arms.
The ‘Vic’ was built in the 1860s and has retained it’s Victorian feel. Co-owner, Keith Abbis has a copy of an original newspaper advert for the pub when it first opened which lists “stables for your horses” as one of its services.
Although Rugby Camra is finding it difficult to recruit young members into its ranks, there isn’t a shortage of younger drinkers choosing real ale, according to Keith. “We’re a proper real ale pub and we’ve got several sports teams linked with us”, he said. When they come here they’re always trying all our different beers.
“We’re also able to rotate our selection around regularly because we can swap some of the Atomic Brewery beer with others to bring increased variety to the people that come to the Vic. Micro breweries are springing up everywhere and it means there’s much more choice for drinkers now.”
Named as Rugby Camra’s pub of the year for the last three years, The Raglan Arms in Dunchurch Road is a popular stop for Camra members. It’s a pub where the people on both sides of the bar are always willing to talk real ale, as many of them are Camra members.
Landlord David Hine, said: “Real ale is getting more and more popular. You cannot get a drink of this quality and in so many varieties from a supermarket and that’s what is bringing people to places like this.
“A pub isn’t just as good as it’s beer though - it’s also only as good as the people who use it.”
The Good Beer Guide 2012 is on sale now. For more information on real ale and Rugby Camra visit www.rugby camra.org.uk