The Cock and Bottle – 2011

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Night reviewed: Thursday

Whilst the name of this pub may sound like a method of medieval torture (or one of the ‘services’ which were once apparently available to navvies building the canal in the upstairs rooms….), it is in fact very much to do with alcohol. We’ll let the pub themselves explain, from their own informative website:

“The name ‘Cock & Bottle’ was once quite a common name for public houses and is believed to refer to the availability of liquor in draught or bottled form; the “cock” being the name for the tap in the front of a barrel.”

As you’ll read on their website, the building dates back to the 17th century, and this one-room pub is located very close to the centre of town opposite the Co-op on Swadford Street.

A message on a beam above the entrance to the pub reads “No hawking or begging”. Safe in the knowledge we planned to do neither of these things (well, not on this particular visit anyway), we entered and made our way to the bar.

It’s certainly another historic pub and the interior has low ceilings and exposed wooden beams – anyone approaching 6 feet in height will find themselves ducking, just to be on the safe side. I know we both did.

Other than a collision with the beams, the only thing likely to give you a sore head here is the excellent selection of guest ales. As well as the usual suspects (hand-pulled Tetleys and easy pour Boddingtons), there was also a choice of Lancaster Brewery’s ‘Lancaster Blonde’ (4.1%), Salamander Brewing Company’s ‘Golden Salamander’ (4.5%) and Cottage Brewing Company’s ‘Howling Ale’ (4.6%). We tried the Salamander and the Lancaster, and both were excellent pints of beer. The beer is well kept and is pumped through to the bar from an adjacent room – a window lets you peer through to have a look at what goes on.

The service here is always quick and pleasant. The beer was a touch on the expensive side – the Salamander was £3 a pint, but this didn’t seem to be deterring those who’d ventured out for a Thursday night drink. The pub had a nice buzz to it, with a good variety of music playing at a bearable background volume as people chatted. There were several quiz machines dotted along the length of the room – the only person seemingly using them though was the barman. I suppose in the quieter times it beats staring into space, and at least he can take his money back out again…..

There is a small outdoor area to the side of the pub, but it’s not large enough for anyone but the smokers to make any sort of use of really. Inside it was a little cold and it’s probably time to stoke up the nice little open fire which sits close to the front of the pub. The seating is mostly made up of free standing
tables and chairs, though there’s a comfortable section of padded seating around the bay window at the front of the pub.

The toilets are fairly basic, but a blackboard running along the length of the wall above the urinals for chalk graffiti, is quite a nice touch – provided you’re able to draw one handed and have drunk enough to keep you standing there for long enough without looking suspicious.

The pub serves food at lunchtimes to cater for workers and the day tourist market and it also runs an excellent and well attended quiz on a Wednesday evening.

Overall this is a great little pub with a regularly changing selection of guest ales. It’s probably one of the more expensive pubs in the town, but as the saying goes – you get what you pay for.

Scores

Beer Choice (1 – 5): 4
Beer Quality (1 – 10): 8.5
Service (1 – 10): 7
Atmosphere (1 – 5): 4
Décor (1 – 5): 3.5
Toilets (1 – 5): 2.5

TOTAL: 29.5 (out of 40)
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