Saturday 6th January 2018
The Last Heretic is the third and latest micro-pub to open in the brewing capital of Burton-upon-Trent. It is near to the railway station and is to be found in a terrace of shops and cafés between two excellent traditional pubs, the Roebuck and the Devonshire Arms. Also, the iconic Cooper’s Arms is just around the corner. The Last Heretic faces the former Ind Coope brewery which although still producing beer for Molson-Coors, it is all of the keg and bottled variety, following their disposal of the cask filling line in the middle 2000s.
I do like a pub with a history or in this case an unusual historical name. The name refers to Edward Wightman who was a resident of Burton for most of his life. He was born in Burbage, near Hinckley (Leicestershire) around 1566. He was a very verbal opponent of the church and when he failed to repent he was tried, found guilty and was burned at the stake outside Lichfield Cathedral on 11th April 1612. He was the last heretic to be executed this way. There is a plaque at the spot that recalls the event.
It’s a very good name that could well have appeared on a traditional pub. It is the idea of Peter Spittles who instigated the pub. He left the job he had been doing for 21 years which was as a member of an airline cabin crew. The pub opened its doors in May 2016 and has been very busy since. Especially on days when Burton Albion are playing at home when, no doubt because of its proximity to the station, it is heavily patronised by visiting away supporters.
It was a pretty cold day when I approached the pub. Luckily I had only walked a few hundred metres from the Devonshire Arms. Although it has a small frontage the pub is not difficult to miss as it is very blue. I must say that the lights inside looked very welcoming as I crossed the road.
The interior layout is more or less standard micro-pub. The entrance door is on the right and in the window alcove there is a high round table with four industrial-style stools.
Down the left side of the room are several wooden table with loose chairs or benches. On the right side there is a shelf near the door and further down there is a similar arrangement of tables as the other side. The bar faces up the room and is partly constructed of brick with one half being made of wood. The counter itself is light varnished wood.
Beers are served direct from the cool room which can be seen through glass. Access is via a wooden door also with windows. On the left wall opposite the counter is a shelf with stools and this was where I settled. A good move as the main part of the pub got very busy.
A corridor continues beyond the shelf and leads to a toilet and the garden. Yes, garden! Obviously not open at the time of year, photographs of it show it to be quite large. A few micro-pubs have small outside spaces but nothing as big as this. On all the walls are many beer-related signs and historic photographs.
Cask beers were: Milestone (Cromwell, Nottinghamshire) Rich Ruby (4.5%); Titanic (Burslem, Staffordshire) White Star (4.5%), Wantsum (St Nicholas-at-Wade, Kent) Dynamo (4.3%) and finally a genuine whopper, Abbeydale (Sheffield) Lost Souls 2017 Russian Imperial Stout (10.0%). I had a pint of White Star and then I couldn’t resist a half of the Imperial Russian Stout. It was absolutely superb and tasted exactly as it should do.
There were four still ciders: Broadoak (Clutton, Somerset) KB (7.4%); Lilley’s (Frome, Somerset) Mango cider (4.0%); Snail’s Bank (Bishop’s Frome, Herefordshire) Rhubarb cider (4.0%) and Thistly Cross (South Belton, East Lothian, Scotland) Jaggy Cross Dry cider (7.4%).
They sell wine including Prosecco and have a range of spirits and mixers. In the winter they offer mulled wine and Port. Soft drinks are available. Food comes in the form of crusty cobs of Cheese & Onion and Ham & Pickle. Their pork pies come as plain or with toppings. They are organic and are made by Smith Hall Organics of Hulland Ward, Derbyshire.
This pub is right by Burton-upon-Trent railway station so it is possible to break ones journey for a quick pint, or naturally, make a visit in its own right. It’s well worth going to whatever the reason.
The Last Heretic, 94 Station St, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire. DE14 1BX. Tel: 07715 097797.
Hours: Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Wednesday: 17.00-22.00; Thursday: 17.00-22.30; Friday: 16.00-23.00;
Saturday: 12.00*-23.00; Sunday: 13.00-22.00.
* 11.00 when Burton Albion play at home.
From Burton station turn left out of the approach into Station Street. The pub is just around the first corner. There is a train twice an hour from Birmingham to Nottingham via Derby. Journey time is 30 minutes or less. Every two hours a train from the West Country to Scotland stops.
All trains operated by Cross Country Trains.