Monday 23rd November 2015
The problem with writing about micropubs is that there is not a lot of history. As a result there is less to impart about them than the average established pub. So, my apologies for there not being a lot of text in this article. As a genre they are very much a growth industry with a large amount of new ventures opened their doors during 2015 with many more set to do the same in 2016 and subsequent years.
The Pestle & Mortar was the first micropub in Hinckley (and already there are two!). It served its first customer on Friday 28th August 2015. The licensee is Sue Williams who had previously, to 2008, been the Landlady of the Greyhound pub in town. She had said that she would return to the trade if she could run a free house on her own terms and so the Pestle & Mortar came about.
The name almost chose itself as for a long time, the premises was a chemist’s shop, Halsteads, yet not in more recent years. There are some framed examples of their advertising in the pub.
The pub has a good location, being at the top end of Castle Street, the main shopping thoroughfare of the town, which is pedestrian only further along.
Once through the door I noticed the long wooden bar counter on the left with its varnished top. On the right there are some tall seats facing shelf-like tables that are fixed to the wall. Then there is a small alcove that has a table and seating for four customers.
Up a step at the rear is a second part that contains three tables with loose chairs along with a bench against the wooden wall that contains the “cellar”. It also has a table football game!
In the rear part of the pub the walls are white-painted wood panelling with no adornments. The middle section by the alcove has a dark purple wall and the front is white painted plastering with framed photographs and paintings hanging.
There are also two fitted bookcases either side of the alcove. On the wall behind the counter there are square-shaped shelves that hold the various bottles.
The pump clips of the cask beers are displayed on ceramic tiling that is numbered 1 to 9. I am guessing but I think this must have come from the old chemist’s shop, possibly for showing the pharmacist the order the next prescriptions had to be filled. Confusingly it also shows, in Wetherspoon’s style, the “coming soon” beers, and even some that have recently finished!
The actual beers are dispensed from hand pumps further along the bar. The ones available for me to choose were: Nene Valley Brewery (Oundle, Northamptonshire) Jim’s Little Brother (3.8%); Greene King (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk) Fireside Ale (4.5%); Charnwood (Loughborough, Leicestershire) Vixen (4.0%) and Otter (Honiton, Devon) Poppy Otter (4.0%).
Below the pump clip display there a wooden cabinet containing nine different 20l cider boxes. To choose from there was: Henney’s (Bishop’s Frome, Herefordshire) Still Dry Cider (6.0%); Sandford Orchards (Crediton, Devon) Bumbleberry Cider (4.0%); Broad Oak (Clutton, Somerset) Moonshine Cider (7.5%) and two from Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, Glamorgan, South Wales) Welsh Warrior Cider (6.0%) and Two Trees Perry (6.5%).
Then, there were a further four all from one county, Dorset. There was Culeaze Lodge (Bere Regis) Lulworth Skipper Cider (6.5%) and their Dorset Twilight Chilli Cider (6.5%). There were a further two from Purbeck Cider (Wareham): Muddy Scamp Cider (6.9%) and Devil’s Leaf Cider (6.0%). They also had Lyme Bay (Axminster, Devon) English Garden Mead (14.0%).
There are many other drinks options here including a good selection of wines including Prosecco, by the bottle or glass. There national brand spirits, keg lagers and Woodbridge Brown Ale and Stout. These are keg products brewed by Marston’s for the Russian market. I wonder how they get round the sanctions against that country? Maybe that’s the reason they’re to be found in Hinckley!
Tea and Coffee are served and they also have the usual snacks in packs as well as pickled eggs. This pub is well worth visiting for its beers and cider selection, which is very good.
Of additional interest (maybe) is the Gentleman’s Toilet (there are separate facilities for ladies, quite unusual for micropubs) where the urinals are made of old metal casks and the sink is a metal bucket! Please see photo above. Dogs are welcome in this pub.
Pestle & Mortar, 89 Castle Street, Hinckley LE10 1DA. Tel: 07715 106876
Hours: Monday-Thursday 14.00-23.00; Friday-Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-22.00
It’s an easy walk of about fifteen minutes from the station. Exit the station off the Leicester-bound platform. Go up the station approach road. Pass the Railway Hotel on your left and walk up Station Road. After a while you will see the Elbow Room micropub on the left. Soon you will be in the Market Place. Here turn right and go up pedestrianised Castle Street. Eventually this reverts to a road with pavements. Just beyond this point you will find the Pestle & Mortar on the right.
Hinckley station is served by an hourly service of trains running between Birmingham New Street and Leicester via Nuneaton. The service is provided by Cross Country and operates from Monday to Sunday.