Cambridge : The Cambridge Brew House, Hopbine, Maypole, and some arts and culture

Two city breaks the wife and I went on last year had real ale as a key element. There was a couple of days in Norwich, which featured three pubs, some Belgian grub, and folk band Blowzabella. Then there was a couple of nights in Bury St. Edmunds, which featured no less than 2 brewpubs, 2 GK Pubs, and The Unthanks, another folk band.

This time it was a night in Cambridge. With clever planning based around a close read of CAMRA’s WhatPub.com, the route from the Premier Inn on Newmarket Road, into town, took in no less than three pubs.

Hopbine Cambridge

First up was The Hopbine, on Fair Street. With five regularly changing ales, the pub was gearing up for their fourth rum festival, which will feature 40 rums. The pub grub looked tempting, and the bare-floorboarded put was welcoming, but it was just a cheeky half we were after and a Cottage Brewery Conquest ESB was quickly sunk.

A short walk along the gorgeous Willow Walk, we skirted the top of Christ’s Pieces (a park!) to get onto King Street, and to find The Cambridge Brewhouse. A big, open plan pub, similar in presentation to The Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester, this pub had the benefit of it’s own brewery – with the brewing vessels at one end of the long building, and a wide range of beers. Two rooms upstairs for functions and for watching a big telly box, and the food was absolutely cracking, especially when accompanied by their own Night Porter brew, which was in cracking form (albeit served in a dimpled glass). Here’s a lot of pix :

That got us into town, and an afternoon wandering around the colleges, taking a tour around Queen’s College, and listening to some music in the chapel at Christ’s. Later that evening, en route to see the new film based on J.G. Ballard’s ‘High Rise’ (every bit as challenging as the book!), we sought out The Maypole, which is something I would recommend you do. A huge range of beers on cask, and a Buntingford Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout was the choice (eschewing a 7% abv stout, as the film didn’t start until 9pm and I needed to stay awake!). Couple of pix :

Maypole Cambridge (1)

Maypole Cambridge (2)

So, three pubs sampled in as quick a time as possible without indecent haste, and the latter two being ones we will seek out on future visits.

[UPDATE : On an overnight stay in March 2017 we did indeed revisit the latter two pubs, as they are so close to the town centre, and also had a great meal and craft beer at excellent The Pint Shop just off the market square.]