Video: Dan Hancocks discusses the rising popularity of micro-pubs
The emergence of micro-pubs as an alternative place to enjoy a drink in 2016 has created further competition in a city already spoilt for choice. Ed Henderson takes a closer look at a few of Nottingham’s pint-sized watering holes.
The origins of the micro-pub lie in Herne, Kent, where Martyn Hillier opened The Butchers Arms, the first of its kind back in 2005.
Since then they’ve been popping up all over the country, priding themselves on their intimacy and quality beer.
Just Beer was the first to arrive in Notts, opening in 2010 on Castle Gate in Newark. The business has gone on to win the town’s pub of the year award four times.
Nottingham then embraced the micro-movement and the city now also boasts a fine selection to choose from for those who fancy a tipple.
Pottle of Blues, Beeston
Jen and Ralph Glover have transformed this candle shop in the heart of Beeston and its been open for business since April 2016.
“I used to be an English teacher and wanted to look for a different career,” said Jen.
“Last year my father opened his own micro-pub in Kent and to begin with it was just something to keep him busy but then it started doing really well so he suggested I open my own here in Nottingham.
“I loved the idea and after some research I managed to convince Ralph it was something that could really work.”
The name of the pub is a combination of Jen’s maiden name, Pottle, which is a half-gallon container, and Ralph’s love for blues music.
The Barrel Drop, Hurts Yard
Tucked away down this city centre alleyway is The Barrel Drop, owned by 25 year-old Chris Farman.
The micro-pub celebrated its second birthday on December 12.
“We serve five key keg taps which are real ales served at a slightly colder temperature alongside six real ciders, no fizz, as well as up to eight cask ales served directly by gravity from behind the bar,” Chris says.
Chris has worked in pubs since he was eighteen and although he says starting his own business was daunting he saw an opportunity that was too good to miss.
He added: “There was a gap in the market in the city centre for people passing through town who may want a different atmosphere.
“Some people don’t want to eat food or watch the football, they just want a decent drink with their friends.
“In the city centre you can’t always find that so that’s why I opened the pub here.”
Doctor’s Orders, Mansfield Road
Nottingham’s first micro-pub opened almost four years ago and was transformed from a pharmacy by three friends.
General manager Dan Hancocks explains: “The friends had retired and wanted to open their own micro-pub.
“To begin with all the beer came from the barrel as there wasn’t a cellar but as the popularity grew the owners realised they weren’t really retired any more so they approached Magpie Brewery and asked if they wanted to buy it.”
Doctor’s Orders, like Pottle of Blues, is an example of how existing redundant buildings can be brought back to life.
Dan says: “All the old pubs are closing down, the big chains bought all the independent ones and either closed them or sold them off.
“The old pub buildings aren’t there any more so your only choice is to reuse a building that already exists and it is easier to start a small business than a bigger business so the micro-pub is very appealing,” Dan explains.
A Room With a Brew, Derby Road
Three lifelong friends opened this micro-pub, located just a few minutes walk from the city centre, in February 2016.
Steve Mayes, Richard Nettleton and Roger Frost are directors of Scribblers Ales, based in Stapleford, and wanted somewhere they could sell their beer directly to the public.
Steve said: “We’ve all been friends for a long time and Richard and Roger had established Scribblers Ales and started brewing their own beer from home.
“I worked for many years selling software to the TV industry and they rang me up and asked me if I wanted to come and sell their beer for them.
“I was selling the beer quite successfully to pubs in Notts and Derbyshire, including Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.
“It got us thinking, why don’t we sell it directly to the public so we looked around for suitable places to rent and found this one here on Derby Road, it needed a lot of work doing but we thought the location was really good.”
The three friends, all in their early sixties, decided they wouldn’t just sell beers from Scribblers Ales but also showcase produce from other breweries.
“We have three of our beers and five guest beers on at any one time.
“Most of the guest beers are what we call swaps; we swap a barrel of our beer with other local brewers.
“We are very determined that what you should get in here is quality beer.”