GeoGuessr 2 – Rugeley (Rusty Barrel)

I’m a big advocate of micro-pubs and I think they can in the future be a key driver in the increase in pub numbers in the UK, which for the first time in a decade actually increased last year. This pub is located within a row of shops, or what would be called a strip mall in the US, where it wouldn’t be unusual to see a bar, but it’s much rarer in the UK.

All of the micro-pubs which I’ve been in over the last couple of years have a similar theme to them, which is a modern style of serving, blackboards or screens giving clear information about the beers, no seating at the bar, credit cards preferred and engaging staff.

Firstly, with regards to the bar staff, that was great, a friendly acknowledgement when at the bar, engaging service and a farewell as we left the pub, so I felt we received a genuine welcome.

Other than that, I found the set-up slightly disappointing. The pub has seating at the bar which makes it difficult to see what the beer options are, with no obvious blackboard to be able to see the choices before arriving at the bar. Whilst writing this, I’ve found that the pub does actually put the options on their web-site, which is a marvellous idea and one I wish other pubs would do.

There were also no dark beer options at all, which is unusual and especially so at this time of year, but there were three choices from the Backyard Brewhouse, a local brewery from Walsall. I’ve since discovered that this brewery makes some fantastic dark beers, so it’s even more disappointing that the choices offered were a bit narrow. There are also no cans and bottles in fridges to cater for more tastes, something else which is unusual in a micro-pub set-up.

I aborted my plans to have a pint when I saw the options, cutting to half a pint of Bad Santa from the Backyard Brewhouse. This was adequate, tasted well-kept, was at the appropriate temperature, but it didn’t feel like it was 6.8% and didn’t have any strong flavours or even subtle tastes that I could discern.

The pub also doesn’t take cards, a situation which is now rare, although there’s a cash machine nearby.

Some of the beers which the pub has previously sold.

There may have been a beer blackboard that I didn’t see, but all I could see was the gin list and the rum list.

I like the rustic look, although for me, the interior design looked more like a garage with furniture rather than a pub which had a quirky feel. And to me, this also felt more like a small pub, rather than an on-trend micro-pub.

Having written all that, it’s a marvellous enterprise to have set up, they’ve got in the Good Beer Guide despite only being open since late 2016. The welcome seemed authentic and it seemed to have a community feel to it, somewhere welcoming to all. Their reviews are also uniformly excellent, so they clearly know what they’re doing.