I’ve visited nearly all of the Good Beer Guide pubs in Hull in the past, with just two remaining in Hull. One was the Taphouse, which I tried before one evening last year but it was full, and I thought I’d visit this week, but this time the bar was shut with a sign saying “closed today for maintenance”. It’s not an ideal situation, as I had checked their Facebook page in advance and they could have perhaps mentioned that. Anyway, I’ll try them again another day, but that gave me the chance to go straight to the Whalebone. This is an unusual pub in an industrial part of Hull and is in a building that I would have almost certainly have overlooked if it wasn’t listed in the Good Beer Guide (and also to be fair separately recommended to me).
My first impressions were hugely positive, this was a mix of a traditional pub with the modern delights of Untappd screens. The atmosphere was friendly, the member of bar staff was personable and engaging, with the entire set-up being my sort of place.
This has been a licensed premises since 1791, with CAMRA noting that the current building dates to 1791. A pub company would never have sustained this pub, it requires something exceptional given its location, so it’s no huge surprise that it’s been free trade since 2002. It’d be impossible to create this sort of atmosphere either, the heritage is evident with the old photos and dated design (but I’d add that it’s spotlessly clean), but it’s also rare to see such a well presented bar full of tempting options (and I mainly mean beers, but I was pleased to see three different types of Peperami….)
The range of beers was exceptional, with a wide selection of styles and some interesting keg and cask options. The list at Untappd was also up-to-date, making it much easier to see what was available, although the traditional blackboards were still there as well. I started with the Kaya from Brew York and this was a delight, with the crisps complementing it beautifully.
But, let me just focus on the Cherry Tonkoko from Brew York, a beautiful beer that was 9.5% ABV, but it was smooth, rich and had a decadent aftertaste. That this was available at a back street pub in Hull is an indication to me of just how well run the pub was.
This pub obviously deserves to be in the Good Beer Guide and it’s one of the most authentic places that I’ve been to this year. It is slightly awkward for me to have my Pub of the Year just down the road from the Hop and Vine (what I consider to be one of the best pubs in the country) but that is looking like a distinct possibility here for 2021…. I have to say that this was really all quite lovely.