On walking into the Marble Beerhouse a few weeks ago, my first impression was that it reminded me of Arcadia in Leeds. Actually, to be completely accurate, that was the second thought that crossed my mind; the very first thing I focused on when I walked through the door, before I had a chance to take in the surroundings, was an old boy sat at the end of the bar, pint in hand, talking to a member of bar staff. The way they were interacting just screamed ‘regular’, and that’s one of the things I loved most about this pub… But, more on that later. Taking in the warm, earthy colours, bare floorboards, and brickwork, it brought back memories of my second year at university, sitting in Arcadia, enjoying a pint of local beer and some chilli olives. Of course, both of those places feel very much like some of the bars I spent time in while I was in Brussels and Antwerp, but having whiled away so many hours in Arcadia, it’s my immediate point of recall for pubs that feel a bit continental. Despite the Kwak coaster holders, the Beerhouse still manages to be very British; there were a number of tall pub stools, the type with wooden legs and a padded seat, and tables with fancy metalwork underneath them… I may just be homesick for traditional, ‘proper’ pubs after working in a city centre bar for so long, but it felt very warm and comforting.
At half three on a Wednesday afternoon, it was subdued, but not by any means dead. Regulars supped pints and chatted to the bartender (rather an American way to put it, but the ‘barmaid’ thing feels like an archaism, and ‘member of staff’ seems a little cold), a couple enjoyed a quiet beer in the corner, and a pub cat napped on one of the benches. Plumping for a half of Marble Pint (3.9%), a lovely sessionable beer which I don’t get the opportunity to drink nearly as often as I’d like, I settled down in the corner with my book, and took in the important details. Five Marble pumps, plus two guests (a Hand Drawn Monkey IPA and a Halloween beer by Abbeydale). Widely available keg such as Krombacher, Carlsberg, and Erdinger was present, alongside Addlestones cider, a cheeky keg of Red Willow Wreckless, and Mort Subite Kriek. There was also a range of bottles: a good selection of Marble stuff, of course, but also things like Chimay, Duvel, Saison Dupont, Paulaner, and Dom Kolsch, and, as per, a selection of wines, spirits, and all that jazz. The TV on the wall was not on, and there was no music playing, which was absolutely fine by me!
Of course, it didn’t take me long to finish my half of Pint, and on my next trip up to the bar to give a half of the Hand Drawn Monkey IPA a go (I’m afraid I don’t remember the name or strength, but it was nice), I ended up in conversation with one of the regulars. Although I had an hour or so to wait for my friend who decided to join me there, I spent that time chatting away over a couple of pints of – well – Pint, and didn’t feel awkward or out of place at all. In my short time there, I got a real feel for the sense of community that exists in that pub, which is always lovely, and as more and more people filtered in from five o’clock onwards, almost everyone was greeted as someone who was obviously familiar. That’s something that you don’t seem to get nearly as much in city centre bars – although of course we do have a few wonderful regulars over at BrewDog Mancs – and it made me miss being back home out in the suburbs, where the pub really is the centre of our little community, and where I can’t walk through the door without the majority of the customers saying hello.
It goes without saying that I’ll be visiting this charming little pub again. Good, local (very reasonably priced, too!) beer, and a lovely atmosphere. I’ve seen on their Twitter that they’ve had Buxton and Magic Rock on keg relatively recently, and Saltaire and Blackjack in cask… Bloody lovely.