Next on our list of pubs to visit was the Belle Vue and I’ve already written something about how the licence of this venue came about in my post about the Alexandra Tavern. It received its licence in 1878 and has gone through a number of owners, including S&P, Bullards, Watney Mann, the Norwich Brewery and now Enterprise Inns have it so it might well be doomed. Certainly the last few years have been troubled, it has faced a series of temporary closures and it’s on the back foot given that the nearby Good Beer Guide listed Alexandra Tavern is free of tie. This venue reopened in 2022 and the management posted on-line that “we are now open, new owners and new team. Food led, wood fired pizza oven, craft ales, wines and cocktails”.
There’s plenty going on here, I admire the effort being put in by the publicans. As a first impression, this gives a proper community feel to the whole arrangement.
There were four real ales, the Dizzy Blonde from Robinsons (now removed of females on its pump clips after a series of complaints), Black Wolf from Wolf Brewery, Golden Jackal from Wolf Brewery and Ghost Ship from Adnams. For what I’m assuming is a tied selection, this seemed quite reasonable and a perfectly acceptable range. They accept cards and cash, with the whole transaction being efficient and prompt.
I went for the Black Wolf from Wolf Brewery which wasn’t at its best. Served slightly too warm for my preference, which is likely just through sitting in the line, it wasn’t crisp or refreshing. I wasn’t entirely confident that this beer had been pulled through recently, but either which way, it wasn’t quite the quality I hoped for, but it remained drinkable.
I can’t say that I find the interior particularly cosy, there are a range of decors which are in places quite dark and it doesn’t feel light and inviting. It was clean throughout though, the publicans have made an effort to ensure that surfaces were dry and not sticky, with no empty glasses left on tables.
A view from the other end of the pub, this feels like it needs something of a makeover. There was some promotional material around the venue which was out of date which was hardly important in the scale of things, but felt a little sub-optimal. However, it would be wrong not to mention that the service was timely, friendly and conversational. We were greeted on entry and thanked on departure, so there was no absence of welcome. I felt comfortable during the visit and it felt like a pub that someone new to the area would find welcoming if they wanted to meet new people.
I noted the owner’s comments last year about bringing in craft ales (although I’m not sure what that phrase means here, I assume craft beer), but I didn’t see any during our visit and I can’t see any evidence of that judging from entries on Untappd over the last year. I’m struggling to add much more here as the pub’s web-site has disappeared and they stopped updated social media, so other than the board outside the pub it’s not entirely evident what they’re got going on. There is food served, but the hours are minimal for what they claimed last year is a food led pub, so I’m not easily able to write about the venue’s USP. I suspect from the signage that the karaoke, quiz night and free pool evenings are key drivers for the venue, so a visit on one of those evenings might be recommended for those who want to see the pub at its best.
However, I accept that a lack of web-site and the like might be fine as I will add my normal caveat that it is entirely possible that the venue is performing very well and they don’t need any more trade, which is a perfectly acceptable position. It remains very positive that the pub is still open serving the local community and it deserves plenty of praise for remaining open during these challenging times.