The pub in question is the Duke William, which stands proud overlooking the mother towns main square. The Duke was one of my favourite haunts many years ago before becoming vacant for several years and almost falling derelict.
The current owners took the place on and worked absolute magic to restore it to former glory whilst keeping the original character features, also making a few improvements too along the way. These including a fabulous restaurant area serving top quality food made fresh in-house. The food area doubling up as a conference suite, party/band venue and as with now an extended bar for the beer fest.
What I like about The Duke is their willingness to embrace beers of some of the newer breweries, bringing the likes of Magic Rock, Red Willow, Buxton and Mallinsons into the area which I have to say is quite rare. Also giving some smaller local micros a chance too. Indirectly following my own personal philosophy of “put them on and people will come”, they have done just that largely thanks to bar manager Jason and seen the benefits as the new beers turn over quickly and increases the repeat demand from visiting punters.
- Magic Rock – Curious and High Wire
- Hawkshead – USPA and Windermere Pale
- Oakham – Water of Forgetfulness, Green Devil IPA and Citra (regular bar beer)
- Mallinsons – Chinook
- Abbeydale – Demon Drink, Vespers, Cask Paint and Old Stock
- Fyne – Vital Spark
- Potbelly – Crazy Daze
- O’Hanlons Port Stout
- Marble – Chocolate
- Burton Bridge – Damson Porter
- Ironbridge – Citra
- Leek Brewing – Rudyard Ruby
- Pictish – Alchemists Ale
- Sharps – Doombar (regular bar beer)
- Thornbridge – Kipling (regular bar beer)
- Joules – Slumbering Monk (regular bar beer)
- Slaters – Golden Glory
- Great Oakley – Gobble
- Rat – King Rat IPA
*Note some of these beers may have changed due to availability, most though as I recall are correct.
So how were the beers?
As you can no doubt imagine I tried one or two, some old favourites some new. Hawkshead’s USPA is absolute stunner (I went back for seconds), with Magic Rock’s High Wire and Curious needing no introduction. Other favourites on the night were Oakham’s Green Devil, Mallinsons Chinook (big marzipan flavours) and Abbeydale’s Cask Paint. All in cracking condition with the only minor flaw being those not cellared seemed slightly warm. Hopefully another night on the cooler will sort that out though.
This is no ordinary pie and peas supper either, with a selection of absolutely stunning home-made pies.
- Snake and Pygmy – Steak and Kidney
- A Bit Of All Right – Meat and Potato
- Summer Fayre – Spring Minted Lamb and Root Vegetables
- Tasty Tilt – Beef, Stilton and Stout
- Pickled Porky – Pork in Cider
- Drunken Duck -Duck, Rosemary and Merlot Wine
- Early Christmas – Turkey, Stuffing and Cranberry
- Cock-a-Leeki – Chicken, Leek and Potato
- Ale to the Beef – Steak and Ale
- Curry in a Hurry – Beef Madras
- Roosters Revenge – Chicken and Wild Mushroom
- Sunburnt Cow – Beef in Merlot Wine
- The Romping Donkey – Beef, Guinness and Port
- Billy The Kid – Goats Cheese, Caramelised Red Onion and Cherry Tomato
- Desperate Dan – Peppered Steak
All sounded delicious but we only tried the two, Roosters Revenge and Romping Donkey, both were really tasty and packed to the lid with lean meat and veggies etc.
* I‘d be interested in hearing some beer and pie pairing suggestions from you guys out there, stick them in the comments and I will try to amend for future visitors.
The festival is running from 7th to 10th of June, so you still have a few more sessions if you fancy going along to drink some good beer and get well fed. Don’t forgot you’d be also supporting the events two charities, Help For Heroes and The Rainbow Trust.