Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Red Lion in Aldborough, Norfolk

Dating from 1836, on Aldborough Village Green, one finds:

The Old Red Lion Public House and Tea Rooms

Lovely Country Setting, Good Food, Gravity Ales, Traditional Beers, Live Music, Bed and Breakfast, Log Fires, Sunday Roast.

Address: The Green, Aldborough, Norfolk. NR11 7AA
Telephone : 01263 761451
Opening times: Mon-Fri: 3pm-11pm (1am Fri), Sat/Sun: 12pm-1am/10pm
Restaurant times: Mon-Fri 7-9pm, Sat/Sun lunchtimes only (except by prior arrangement). Sunday carvery.

Went in here yesterday evening, and I have to say I am ashamed that I hadn't been in sooner! The Red Lion is *the* finest ale pub in the whole area. Allan Davidson, the landlord, shows a real love of ale, as demonstrated by the beer mats, jugs and other ale memorabilia adorning the walls; the whole place oozes charm and character.

I'm always a little nervous when going into quiet rural pubs - would the beer be stale or worse? Confusingly, when I asked for a pint of Wherry, Allan walked off to the back rather than pouring from the pumps. What was going on? A sip of the perfectly conditioned pint he returned with confirmed that there were no issues with the beer, though Allan apologised and said the barrel was only delivered the same morning, and wasn't quite ready yet. The beer came straight from the barrel, and at the perfect temperature, as per CAMRA guidelines (and he conducts regular tests to make sure it's right!).

The interior has been lovingly restored after the previous owner ran the place into the ground, is now full of character, cosy seats and a roaring fire, and testimony to this is that the sports teams who compete on the green have all made this their local rather than the "other" pub on the green (which is closing in June). The locals are a friendly inviting bunch who always make the effort to include and welcome a stranger, it being the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, Allan knows what everyone drinks and has it on the bar waiting before you've taken your seat, and often customers will have a brace of pheasants or some rabbits under arm, to be plucked or skinned after a pint or two.

The food he serves is home-made and excellent value, at about 6-7 quid for a meal, with local fresh meat and produce. Credit cards are not accepted, so bring enough cash for the evening which you'll inevitably end up spending the entirety of here! If you're around before 8pm then the Spar shop across the Green does cash-back. On Sunday Allan does a carvery, which is very popular, with meat and vegetables all bought from local farms.

In terms of beers, when I was in there Monday evening) he only had Wherry on, as a sports team had drunk him dry the evening before. Generally he has Adnams Best, Woodford's Wherry and a ever-changing guest ale or three. He's also a big fan of Winter's ales from Norwich and gets them in when he can. Other ales on at the moment include Grain Beer from Harleston, Buffy Brewery beers - Allan seeks out local micro-brewery beers, though of course has the staple Guinness, Kronenberg, Cider etc.

Allan and Trudy also offer B&B, though it's probably worth checking whether this means Bed and Breakfast or Bed and Beer, hehe! Very reasonable prices too.

Come in the summer to enjoy the cricket on the green with a nice pint!

A marvellous painting of Aldborough Cricket by Brian Lewis


Anonymous said...

Mmm, I think one of us is dreaming then. I visited this pub on a Sunday lunchtime and found the place to be a dump. The guy behind the bar was sarcastic, the 'locals' took up all the space by the bar and didn't make any effort to move, the guy in the camo gear was a bit unnerving, especially when he left the bar and stood at the door, just staring, the toilets were disgusting - the ceiling was falling down, there was no soap and only a filthy handtowel to dry hands, the bar good we had was OK, the inside of the pub was a real mish-mash of old furniture and the round table looked as if a seance would be held that evening. All in all, I did not enjoy this pub. Considering it was signposted from the main road and quite a way to get to it, I would have there would have been a warmer, friendlier welcome. I definitely wouldn't recommend this to friends and more likely to contact environmental health!!

Sam Crawley said...

Sadly things have changed and the Red Lion is not the pub it was a couple of years ago. Alan leaving was no doubt the catalyst, as his love of beer and the brewing industry was what gave the place its charm. Now the beer mats have gone from the ceiling, and whilst I can't vouch for the other suggestions in your post, I would not recommend it as a destination pub any more.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anonymous on this one!
This is by far one of the worst pubs in Norfolk ever since Allan left.
I was disgusted by who rude and unfriendly the barman was and all of the ''Barhangers'' were!
The Barman was the worst man i'd ever met and was disgusted when 2 elderly people asked for him to stop swearing loudly, and when he replied, 'If you don't like it you can F**K off'.
The pub fell silent, but then later got told this wasn't a shock, and that the Barman often behaves in said manner.
The toilets? I'm not even going to go into it, they speak for themselves.
Also the signs on the A140 are terrible, they really don't help the place!
Put it this way, if i was an Environmental health officer, that pub would no longer have an 'Open' sign on its door.
I can no longer say anything good about the pub anymore, The best thing to do would be to sell it to someone who knows what they are doing.
The only good thing about the pub is the fact it has an exit.

Anonymous said...

now closed and for sale