CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 2 Pubs in Barrow upon Soar

Previous Pint Pleasures - September 24, 2011

guinness eileen

The Soar Bridge Inn, 29 Bridge Street, Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire

guinness eileen

The Navigation Inn, Mill Lane, Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire

Although I still have quite a number of newly discovered Sheffield pubs about which to write, I've decided to take a break for one month and write about a couple of village pubs in north Leicestershire. On a recent Saturday we took a drive down to the quaintly named village of Quorn. Located just outside the university town of Loughborough, Quorn was called Quernendon back in the 13th century when millstones (known as cweorn in Old English) were quarried in the area, and the name evolved through several variations, eventually shortening to Quorn. With a population of around 5,000, Quorn features the Grade I-listed Church of St Bartholomew and Farnham Chapel. In Victorian times the village was the kennelling location for the famous Quorn Hunt. Although one would expect the village to be the home of the popular mycoprotein meat substitute by the same name, Marlow Foods -- located in Stokesley, North Yorkshire -- claims to have coined the name simply because they liked the sound of it.

So no Quorn sausages were served with my vegetarian breakfast at the Quorn Exchange. After breakfast the 4 of us decided to take a scenic walk. Crossing the A6 (on a pedestrian bridge) we continued along the River Soar to the village of Barrow. Famous for the "Barrow Kipper", a plesiosaur that was excavated there in 1851, this village originally served as a centre for sorting rock delivered by train from the nearby quarries. When the River Soar, a tributary of the Trent, was made navigable to boats in the late 1700s, industry started to develop along the canal banks. Eventually railways and roads proved too much competition for the canals, and today pleasure boats have replaced the barges.

As we walked along the riverside, Calder was steering us toward a canalside pub he admitted didn't have very good beer. When Andrew and I simultaneously spotted the "cask ales" sign on a different pub across the road, we insisted on stopping there instead. The Soar Bridge Inn is an Everards pub offering several well-kept real ales. I had a taste of Calder's pint of Equinox (4.0% ABV, Everards Brewery, Leicester, Leicestershire), which is a pleasant autumnal wind of a beer. Andrew and I decided on pints of Sunchaser (4.2% ABV, Everards). With the pump clip promising this to be "brewed in the style of European lagers", I found it to be a nice light squincher of a pint. I don't know how that word popped into my head -- most likely from the pleasingly popping sensations on my tongue -- but it certainly describes Sunchaser completely.

Although the front room of the pub seems quite cosy, there is a spacious dining room in the back and a roomy deck on the side, making the pub seem like a bit of a tardis. We sat on the deck talking about French rivers, with Andrew demonstrating the pronunciations in a swaggeringly français manner.

Walking on further we found a pub that was directly on the river, the Navigation Inn, located next to a pleasantly curving bridge over the canal. The pub was quite lively on this Saturday afternoon. A Theakstons pub, they were offering 4 Theakstons selections plus Abbot Ale. I had a taste of Paradise (4.2% ABV, TR Theakstons & Co, Ripon, North Yorkshire ). Named after Paradise Fields, the land on which the Theakstons brewery was built, this was first brewed in 2004 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of CAMRA. It appeared to be a well-balanced blend of bitter and malt. I could handle a half of this easily, but I was afraid I'd be a bit tired of it by the second half. The three of us cask ale drinkers went for Lightfoot (4.1% ABV, Theakstons). This is a very pale brew, very light on the foot, with a mild hoppiness. It's a bit innocuous but it's decently kept. The landlady very graciously an apologetically replaced my not-quite-right pint (it was the last one out of the previous barrel) with a fresh pint. It's always a good sign when the staff care about the quality of their beer and the satisfaction of their customers.

We took our drinks outside by the River Soar, watching ducks and longboats sail by. I kept expecting to see a couple of recently retired acquaintances go by in their longboat, but I knew they could be anywhere in the UK right now. We saw people drinking champagne on a passing longboat and a young man playing his guitar on the one moored just across the way, as Lizzie and I kept sticking our fingers in blobs of black pitch on the bench. I was reminded of my childhood summers at the beaches around Long Beach, because our sandy feet would always pick up bits of black tar from the ocean. I always assumed tar was a natural consistent of the sea; but then I thought having achy lungs from the smog was normal as well. But I won't wax on about the old days...