CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 4 Bridlington Pubs
The Coachman, 89-91 Hilderthorpe Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire
The Albion Hotel, 35 Hilderthorpe Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire
The George, 21 Prince Street, Bridlington, East Yorkshire
The Brunswick Hotel, 13 Manor Street, Bridlington, East Yorkshire
Recently, driven by the desire to smell some sea air combined with the desperate need for a short break, we spent a couple of days in the popular seaside resort of Bridlington. Located on the east coast of Yorkshire along the North Sea, this town first emerged around the abbey of Bridlington Priory and spread seaward to the small harbor of Bridlington Quay. The first hotel opened in 1805, and its Spa was once a nationally famous dance venue.
As it was cheaper and more centrally located than the available B&Bs, our home for the night was a pub called the Coachman. When we arrived early on a Thursday afternoon, there was a very welcoming atmosphere, with several cask ales advertised outside and a plate of cheese and crackers on the bar for peckish customers. When we checked into our room we were surprised to find it very clean, spacious, and modern, with complementary toiletries in the bathroom. It was definitely the nicest pub accommodation in which I've stayed -- and it was £5 cheaper than the cheapest B&Bs.
We didn't sample the beer until we came back from our afternoon explorations. As we were technically on holiday we decided to go for the gusto of a pint of Bishops Finger (5.0% ABV, Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent), a familiar friend from when I lived in Kent. I'd forgotten how nutty this beer tastes. And it's not as whoppingly strong as it used to be, which meant we could easily have one, go out and enjoy the evening, and come back late for another pint or two -- which is exactly what we did. It was Pool Night for the Bridlington league, and as Andrew used to play in several pool leagues (and I was the occasional sub), we decided to watch some of the action. We sat in the back room and watched the Coachman's team, currently the highest in the league, play their match. The Bishops Finger became more and more inspiring, and when we climbed the nearby stairs to our room we felt appropriately blessed.
Earlier in the day when we were walking back from the harbor area a pub just down the road from the Coachman intrigued us. As cask ales were advertised on the sandwich board out front, we simply had to pop into the Albion for one. And what a pleasant surprise: inside we found a cosy pub with friendly locals all sitting around the bar chatting with the friendly barman who definitely likes his cask ales.
We seated ourselves at the bar and ordered pints of Lightfoot (4.1% ABV, TR Theakston Ltd, Ripon, North Yorkshire), which is an interesting pale ale in good nick with a smooth bitterness and an almost vanilla creaminess, as suggested by Andrew. It was tamer than the hopmonsters we're used to but very friendly as a result. As we sipped we chatted with the barman, Gary, who told us the pub's owner is a boxer. A customer introduced us to the pub's African Grey parrot, Henry, whose cussing regularly causes trouble in this no-swearing pub. Another customer played a quick game of Ring the Bull, where one tries to swing a ring at the end of a chain onto a hook on an actual bull's head mounted on the wall. I haven't seen one of these in a pub for years. There is also a badger's head on the wall, and a giant compass is painted on the ceiling.
Amid talk about angiograms I tried to recall what the Albion was, other than the original name of the Fat Cat pub in Sheffield. Although it's been the name of several ships, the most famous was the 74-gun HMS Albion under command of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. The Albion pub itself has an interesting place in history. During the Great Gale of 1871, when a severe storm on the North Sea struck the northeast coast of England, wrecking 28 ships and killing over 50 people, the pub was used as a temporary morgue.
The Albion is also in the local pool league, so we returned in the evening to watch their match. This is when we discovered what a tardis of a pub it is, with a pool room, darts, a front lounge with an invitingly plush sofa, a back garden with table and barbecue, and a life-sized mannequin wearing a diver's outfit and wielding a large hammer. At one point in the match between the Albion and the George, a player donned the diving helmet. Fortunately he didn't try to pot any balls that way.
When we first arrived in town we took a long stroll around the harbor area, browsing through souvenir shops in search of some Bridlington rock for a couple of friends. The first pub we found with cask ale was the aforementioned George, so we stopped in for a pint of Bombardier (4.3% ABV, Charles Wells Brewery, Bedford, Bedfordshire). The pub is very large, leading back to a pool room and then a rear darts room from which there is a great view down onto the harbor promenade, and there are outdoor tables down some reportedly treacherous steps. We sat inside at the window and watched the seagulls and the tourists, all eating fish and chips, sausage and chips, and chips. Most of the seagulls waited patiently for tourist contributions, but we watched one aggressive gull attack a woman, scattering her chips everywhere. That's not exactly a way to make friends...
Meanwhile our pints took a long time to clear and ended up not being very exciting at all. To be fair, I doubt they turn over much cask ale in a tourist-haven setting like this.
From the George we walked back in the direction of our accommodation, stopping first in the Brunswick which advertised three Wold Top Ales. Established in the 1800s, this pub features accommodation, a restaurant, and regular sing-alongs with the organist -- a wonderfully kitschy seaside tradition. We sat at the bar and ordered pints of 52-12 (4.2% ABV, Wold Top Brewery, Wold Newton, Driffield, E Yorkshire) because it was described as a "sparkling" beer on the clip. But it was the cloudiest pint I've ever had. The barmaid seemed confident that this was the way the beer was supposed to be -- in fact it was always cloudy when she poured it. Hmmm...she even gave us a third pint that she had poured off. We sat and stared at these three glasses of golden mud. The beer had a pleasant enough taste, but that opacity was unnerving.
We went outside for a bit to give the pints a chance to clear. After 20 minutes none of the pints had cleared at all. So we left them on the bar and continued on our way. Obviously the barmaid hadn't a clue about cask ale.