Leicester – The Ale Wagon

Continuing the meander around the Good Beer Guide pubs of Leicester, this is the Ale Wagon on Rutland Street which has been listed in the book for several years. I’ll use the history from CAMRA as they’re an authoritative source:

“As part of the scheme to widen Charles Street, this corner pub was built in 1931 to replace a Victorian hotel on the adjacent corner. It has drainpipes with hop decoration. From the 1950s, it was owned by Ansells, then after several years of neglect and deterioration, was acquired by Hoskins & Oldfield as their first tied house, opening as the Ale Wagon in September 1999.”

The widening of Charles Street is more evident in this 100 year map against a recent one from OpenStreetMap, they’ve doubled the width of the road.

I accept that this isn’t the most glorious photo of a pub interior, but the bar was busy and so this will have to do. This has the feel of a pub that no-one ever quite modernised, but now it would be a shame to break the character by trying to renovate it. I quite like the whole arrangement, although it feels tired in places, especially the toilets.

The service at the bar was prompt and I felt genuinely friendly, with the staff member telling me that there were two dark beers on. She was happy to explain the options, although I decided that I’d just get a half pint of each rather than just pick one.

The Darkroom oatmeal stout from Anstey Ale Brewery, which was very drinkable.

It’s this one that I was most confused about, the Smoked Porter from Hoskins Brothers brewery. This is the first beer that I’ve had which I haven’t been able to add on Untappd, and it seems reading some of the other ratings at https://untappd.com/w/hoskins-brothers-ales/9223 that others are having difficulties. There’s a message that:

“Hoskins Brothers Ales do not brew. All beers are brewed by Tower Brewery. The brothers own the Ale Wagon pub in Leicester and this is the base for a brewery that is brewing both Hoskins ales and ales from the former Oldfield Brewery.”

But I don’t really understand this, the pump clip is named as Hoskins Brothers Ales and so I don’t much care whether it’s brewed at the pub or off-site. Anyway, the beer was excellent, one of the best examples of a smoked porter that I’ve had. It might be though that this situation has arisen as one of the Hoskins brothers who ran the pub died last year.

This was a traditional pub with some interesting beers and I’m glad that it’s in the Good Beer Guide, as it would perhaps be easy to miss. I got the impression that nearly every other customer was a local, but it wasn’t any less friendly for that.