Solihull and District

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Crawl around Northampton

Friday 14 January 2022

The Plan

Our first venture out since before Covid is planned for Friday January 14, 2022. Our crawl will be of Northampton, taking in some great pubs. We shall start at the Malt Shovel, a superb selection of beers awaits us at this pub which sits under the towering fermenters of Carlsberg Brewery cocking a snoop to it. Then onto the Albion, Phipps Brewery tap. We'll then wander round to the Cordwainer [Wetherspoons] for lunch. Then we pop round the corner to the St Giles Ale House [micropub], then onto the Black Prince and Lamplighter to round off the day. The train leaves Birmingham New Street at 11.14 and departs Birmingham International at 11.25, arriving at Northampton at 12.20 This gives option as to where you may wish to join it. Bear in mind that if you have a concessionary pass you only need to book from Coventry. I shall join it in Birmingham where there is more chance of getting a seat. It can be busy.

The Report

At long last we have been able to restart our midweek crawls. However, to call them midweek is a misnomer. I have found since lockdown that many pubs are closed in the afternoon Monday to Thursday. Afternoon opening is confined to Friday and the weekend. Furthermore, most pubs have reduced the number of beers they have due to a decrease in footfall. Our crawl took place on Friday and will do so from now on. Enough, let’s get a drink in! Arriving in Northampton 10 of us headed for our first stop, the Malt Shovel in Bridge Street. A constant GBG entry, it is nestled under Carlsberg’s towering fermenters cocking a snoop at the keg plant opposite and is arguably the best pub in Northampton. 2 Oakham’s, 2 Phipps’s, Leighton Buzzard Bavarian Dragon, Woodfords Volt, Roosters Three French Hens and three ciders complimented the bar… what a start to the day. Bishops Farewell went down well with me. Can it get any better?

From here we passed the Phipps brewery tap which did not open till 4pm unfortunately and so we headed to the Weatherspoon’s Cordwainer for a bite to eat. Not a bad range of beers having 11 beers on 8 of which were true guests. I enjoyed Oakham JHB.

A short walk took us to the Saint Giles Ale House on St Giles Street, the only micro in Northampton. We just about squeezed into the small bar! Part of the same chain as our own Ale Rooms in Knowle the barman knew his beer and was serving Potbelly’s Piggin Saint and Pigs Do Fly, Salopian Kashmir, Framework’s Semper and Five Leaves and Thornbridge Market Porter and real ciders. I was impressed with the Semper despite it being a cloudy beer.

Moving on we next hit the Black Prince in Abingdon Square.. When I first visited this large pub some 3 years ago it had 19 handpumps with a fantastic range of beers. Not as good now as all the beers except 1 from Phipps come from the Marston’s range and the number of handpumps have been reduced. There is however, a good range of ciders. It is a pub worth visiting though for its rich diversity of folk there including the staff. The garden is unbelievable but I will not spoil it for you… go and see for yourself.

The furthest pub on our itinerary, the Lamplighter a traditional street corner local in Overstone Road is another GBG entry but is some way out of town. Nene Valley Big Bang Theory, Simple Pleasures and Plumptiousness were accompanied by 4 ciders from Saxby’s. Nene valley beers are all gluten free and quite frankly I could not tell.

Our last port of call was the Phipps Brewery tap, The Albion Brewery Bar in Kingswell Street where 7 beers from their range and Nene Valley’s Celebrated Stout were on tap. Phipps is an old Northampton brewery which was resurrected in 2014 and has been in the GBG for sometime. It is one large open space where there is plenty of room but alas we could not stay longer as we had a train to catch. Indeed it was time to go home after a fine afternoon imbibing.

Steve Dyson