Fenman and Sons in Derbyshire
Fenman and his two sons recently spent a weekend exploring the delights of the pubs and beers in Derby and also Matlock.
After booking in to the Hallmark Inn, handily situated across from the Derby railway station, their first mission, which they chose to accept, was to visit two of the nearby situated Brunswick Inn and the Alexandra Hotel. Peering in through the Brunswick’s windows it was obvious that due to the packed rooms obtaining a pint there would be a jostle, well after all it was Friday evening. On then to the Alexandra, with its emphasis on railway memorabilia. More room here and even seats were found, beer was selected from the array of handpumps (8 on this bar), including Brains Dark, SPA, Gold Medal Ale Ides PA, Bad Seed High Rise, and IRIS. The couple sat next had just returned from Burton beer festival and insisted on giving their recommendations of best pubs in the area, illustrating the point by doodling a route on the map of pubs in the Derby Winter BF programme.
After a few more rounds of ale, and fortified with ham baps and pork pie the trio made their excuses and popped along to the Brunswick, which by now had a little more space. The in-house beers of Railway Porter, White Feather and Triple Hop were enjoyed sat out in the beer “garden”.
The next morning a brisk walk through Derby to the Standing Order, one of two ‘Spoons in the City. A grand building with a large horseshoe shaped bar and multiple banks of handpumps. However the boys were not here to drink, even though there was a beer festival on, but to breakfast.
Back then to the station to take the train to Matlock. Being a sunny day and a popular destination the train was packed. On arrival after consulting map and phone the trio walked through the pleasant park and busy town to find the Red Lion, situated in a quiet spot. A most friendly landlord and pub which houses the Moot Oak Brewery. The local Phil er Up and the Matlock Blonde were in top form and ideal after the exercise of the morning, and the pub / beer mascot posed patiently for the photo. The pooch’s name is not known but the beer Phil er Up is named after the landlord.
Next stop was the Remarkable Hare with its big bar area and bank of 8 handpumps and another large room at the rear which housed a grand piano as well as an upright. Back to the beer; Little Critters, Arkwright’s Pale, Moonshine, Super Frank IPA, Baby Ghost IPA (all fairly local brews) and Henrietta. After a couple of rounds it was time to move on – well almost next door really - to MoCa Cafe Bar, a small welcoming emporium with yet another impressive set of handpumps and an equally impressive set of framed photos of rock groups through the ages. Aztec Smile, Lucaria, and Vanilla Gruffilla obviously a Blue Monkey, were all sampled. Excellent baguettes and wraps were just as eagerly consumed by the hungry trio.
Back to the train and return to Derby where the Old Bell beckoned and its range of Dancing Duck beers. Jorrocks (formerly George, Lafferty’s, Mr Jorrock’s, Globe Vaults) played a bit part in Bonnie Prince Charlie's Rebellion of 1745. 61 Deep was the ale worthy of mention in this noisy, betting frenzy. Staying in the Cathedral Centre the boys turned to the oldest pub in Derby, Ye Olde Dolphin Inne, with its many small rooms and snug. Betty Stoggs and Monty Python’s Holy Grail were welcome ale chums. A walk along the River Derwent and past the statue of the Bonnie Prince found Smithfield, an award winning pub recommended by (insisted on, even) regulars in the Alexandra, that did not disappoint. Midtown, Stay Puft, Mosaic and a Citra were amongst the excellent ales.
The Tap, formerly known as Brewery Tap - Derby's Royal Standard, was a must for the tourists as the home of Derby Brewing beers such as Business As Usual, Dashingly Dark, and Golden Touch.
Time for a meal the trio crammed into the intimate rooms and bar of the Exeter Arms of Dancing Duck fame with Ay Up and Dancing Drake to wash down tasty fish and chips and mushy.
An excellent weekend all round. Well recommended for those in search of pubs of character and ales aplenty.