Camping – Day 2 (Castleton – Swiss Tap Free House)

Our initial plan after walking Kinder was to pop into a Good Beer Guide listed pub in Castleton, but unfortunately, the centre of the town was so busy that we couldn’t park and there were queues coming out of the pubs. So, we thought we’d move on until Steve handily noted this little outlet as were driving out of the town, it’s an extension of the Swiss House B&B. All that I can say about this is that the bar opened in late 2019 and if this doesn’t appear in the next issue of the Good Beer Guide, then something has gone wrong.

Most of the real ale range is from Jolly Boys’ Brewery, but this pleased me as it meant that there was a porter available. Refreshing and well-kept, this was a credit to the brewery which is based in Barnsley. Also pleasing was that the owners have thought about the beer selection and have a range of different styles, rather than that damn habit some places have of offering four IPAs.

I have a habit of not holding back from effusive praise when I find a pub where customer service just flows. It would be unfair to expect every pub to manage to match the Hop & Vine in Hull, but just getting close excites me. And the service here was excellent, absolutely faultless. They had the disadvantage that we were in a group of four and went into a separate room, so perhaps they would have engaged even more if I was on my own, but the welcome seemed genuine and authentic. There was also a relaxed atmosphere in the pub, I like that element of calmness.

We weren’t quite ready for food, as I hadn’t long forced my way through a family-sized pork-pie, but this looked like a very moderately priced menu for hot food. I suspect they’re doing the thing of offering food at low prices to encourage people to visit for drinks, or at least to stay longer for another drink. Also, there was an attempt to offer some different bar snacks, and Richard took quite a fancy to the Snyder’s Pretzel Pieces. So much so that about an hour later he ordered a large boxful of the things to arrive with him when he got home.

Whatpub aren’t over-selling the location at the moment, the description of “a family run B&B with a bar open to non-residents offering a range of four real ales” doesn’t really inspire and delight. This place is much better than this text suggests, but perhaps it’ll get lengthened in time. I might be entirely wrong about this, but I got the impression that the B&B set up this bar because someone there likes beer, they didn’t just do it to try and be on-trend. The reviews for the B&B are also high, I got the impression that the owners want to do things properly, that was certainly evident with their bar.

So, along with Hoppiness in Warsaw, Pułapka in Gdansk and the George & Dragon in Acton, I now have my fourth entrant into my entirely pointless and self-serving pub of the year award for 2020…. Very lovely.