Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Prince and Pauper

I mentioned yesterday about The Prince of Wales, a fantastic brew pub with fantastic owners. I said I'd write a little more about them and so, here it is.

I called in yesterday after a trip to Furness College to renew my Food Safety qualification. I believe I will have done reasonably well, so ensuring I can carry on my art of fulfilling people's gastronomic desires without inflicting gastroenteritis.

When travelling through Foxfield on the way back and seeing as I had been very good not to succumb to Claire's* burgers and surly, brusque welcome in the morning I felt the need for a pint.

This pub is not the poshest of places. It's almost like someone's living room inside. No plastic razzmatazz here. Linda and Stuart seem to be able to make anybody feel at home and Linda's mother-knows-best ways of gentle persuasion are endearing and hard to argue against - yes, even for me.

But the best thing about the place is the complete array of non standard draft products. A request for "lager" is often met with the response along the lines "We don't serve lager in here, we don't encourage that type of custom" A little bit Little Britain maybe, but it might just help to make the place as good as it is.

They DO serve lagered beers of course. SAS Pilsner is popular if you have 10 minutes or so to wait while they pull it. Next week it's likely to be something else "dispensed under great pressure" They will probably have a fruit beer on draft as well as perhaps a wheat beer on the gassy tap things.

The food Linda cooks is good and wholesome; nothing gastro here. Good honest pasties and giant home made yorkie puds fuelled with various fillings. A notice on the food board declares, as most good food places do, that the food may take a while. It also warns that if you all order together it will take a little longer. It also goes on to advise that the impending danger of your train departure will not enable the cooking time to be reduced. You might get your pasty served with salad or mushy peas or various other accompaniments - the "good luck" suggesting that you will not get a choice of which. Mother-knows-best and if you don't eat it all up you might not get a pudding (but if you ask nicely, I assure you that you will)

Then there is the cask ale; 6 on yesterday. Unfortunately, none of Stuarts own. As I was driving I only had a mouthful of the Grinddleton Ribble Reaper 4.2% which was too sweet and caramel for me and then a proper taster (FULL 20oz) of the Little Ale Cart Rob Roy at 4% which was a lovely light beer with the right amount of bittering, loads of nice aromas and a dry lingering finish.

The pub has a great appeal for tickers. I have rarely been in there and seen a beer I've ever seen before (except when they've blagged one off me) and this pub may just be what is responsible for me being a closet ticker. It was perhaps surprising on one evening when a mild complaint from a regular was that he really enjoyed what he was drinking, but you had to search out what you like and once you found it, it would run out.

Foxfield brewery is of course in the same building. Stuart often doesn't know what he's going to brew when he gets up in the morning, or even isn't sure what hops he's going to use until after he's mashed in and had breakfast and the ABV might be different than expected but it'll be good beer. His beers often have adjuncts in them like nettles, cornflakes, cherries or damsons and rarely does he repeat a brew. The brewery is a mishmash of various bits of second hand equipment held together by a wing and a prayer and a good deal of Stuart's ingenuity and Linda's support and faith.

I may be biased by my love of this place because without Stuart and Linda's encouragement, advice and being let loose one day on their brewery, we would probably have moved on by now. We certainly wouldn't be brewing without their help. It's a regular pilgrimage for us for inspiration, confirmation and general good crack.

It would be so nice to prove that this style of pub could work more often. I fear though that Linda and Stuart are a unique pair that will become extinct when they leave their little treasure. There are very few who would work so hard, for so long, with such dedication and conviction for so little reward other than the grateful thanks of the customer base.

*Claire runs a very interesting burger van in the lay by to the south of Broughton in Furness. It takes some time to become accustomed to the service there. The burgers are simple and good. Prices are very reasonable. Do not be surprised though when you hear an abrupt "Yes please" on approaching the van, in a way that suggests any request might result in a risk to your life and then an "Oh F*<&" which is a response to the fridge door not shutting, rather than your request for a simple cheese burger.
I love to stop there, even if only for the entertainment value. The burgers are good too.

1 comment:

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

I don't think you're biased. I came to this pub as a foreigner with a foreigners untainted point of view, and have been to an enormous number of pubs, purely for research purposes,of course. The P of W is definitely in my short list, and the next time in Cumbria I'll certainly make it a point to visit as often as possible. I, as well, was welcomed into the brewery, all three floors of it, to learn the art and was treated with genuine friendliness on each subsequent visit.

The influence of the P of W and the Woolpack bear heavily on my training for what it means to run a good pub. I printed this one out and have been showing it to the staff and locals. Now they're seeing where I got some of my "peculiarities" about the nature of a pub, because there is really no category for it over here. In most peoples' minds I am either a bar or a restaurant.

Especially liked is the part about the length of time required to poor a gas tap, and my feelings about the food board and the time required to prepare the food right. And also why I have six beer engines and a cellar.

If the economy over here collapses and we all go under, I think I'd have to apply for an apprentice brewer and all around dogsbody job at the P of W.