Friday, 21 September 2012

38 Carriages Bar at Crewe Arms Hotel

Visited On 3 July 2012
Here's the photo ...

... and here's the map

This was a difficult one to call: was this bar a pub? Well, it had to be open to the public, it had to keep regular hours, including opening during the week, and it had to offer the kind of things you’d expect from a pub. The Crewe Arms Hotel’s Carriages Bar does all of these. It even has a regular quiz night, so it’s definitely a pub.

Some railway companies built their own hotels. The Midland Railway did lots of this, including the one at their St Pancras terminus in London. But the London and North Western Railway (LNW), who along with their predecessors effectively built the town of Crewe from very little, did not. The Crewe Arms just happens to be across the road from the Station (as does the Royal, of Corner Bar fame).

Carriages Bar is on your right after you pass through the hotel’s main entrance. And this evening there are not many punters, but there is a handpump dispensing Shepherd Neame Spitfire, another beer that has been trunked a long way from its brewery (Faversham in Kent), and another recent arrival to the cask beer scene (Shepherd Neame used to do nothing stronger in cask than their Best Bitter).

The barmaid is a little nervous about my request for a pint – “It’s my first evening” – but after giving it her best shot, and with a little encouragement to take it gently with the pump to get a full measure, we’re just about there. And it was worth waiting a little bit longer, as this is one excellent pint of Spitfire, a big mouthful of hops and very characteristic of the brewer’s style.

Is there a drawback? One mild criticism is that someone has put the screen (and its very obvious sound) onto Gordon Expletive Deleteding Ramsay’s latest demonstration of culinary expertise, which, coming from within a prison, features people who do not hesitate to mix expletives with him. There is an awful lot of Paul Dacre Editorial Meeting going on in that show.

Oh, and one other nit-pick: there is nothing about the railway connection. That’s a pity. I would have at least expected something about the occasion when the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, successors to the LNW, claimed the UK rail speed record in 1937 – a claim made at the Crewe Arms Hotel. It was a questionable claim, and came after a distinctly hairy arrival from London.

So before the next review, I’ll post something about the press trip of the all-new Coronation Scot, and the disbelief of the men with the stop-watches. Nice pint of Spitfire, that. Unexpected bonus to the evening.

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