The Robert Peel is in the centre of Bury, Lancashire. Bury is in the Northwest of England and use to be famous for cotton and paper mills. Now it's famous for its black puddings and the outdoor market, although the local football team-the Shakers, still hold the FA Cup record for the highest scoring final. Robert Peel is a famous son of the town and this JDW (www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/index.php) pub is named after him. I'm not sure he would be impressed. Unlike some of their more elegant conversions, this was neither a bank or a theatre. At one time it was a ladies toilet, and some would say, it still has the ambience of one.
In days of old, the better half of the pub was given over to the nicotine addicts, bizarrely giving them the choice window seat views. Mondays were particularly bad with Monday Club deadbeats huddled over their cheap Guiness and Fosters, lost in a seafog of smoke. However, since the smoking ban, things have improved and families are now to be found in this once forbidden zone. As a pub, it suffers from many of the ills that seem to befall the Northern half od the JDW empire. Service is slow, choice is usually limited, staff training seems non-existant and tables are slow to be cleared. Why then go in? Well, just occasionally, a good beer materialises as from the ether, only to then tantalisingly disappear. Hence, we continue to chase the dream of that great pint of JHB at £1.49.
So it is I find myself once more living out the words of Robert Louis Stevenson-"to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive", as I survey the bar. At first, choice seems reasonable, but closer inspection soons reveals the truth. Two beers are from Old Bear Brewery (www.oldbearbrewery.co.uk/index.htm), Bruin and Original. These beers aren't great at the best of times, and in the hands of the Peel's expert team, they are definitely below par. Never mind, Bank Top beers(www.banktopbrewery.com/) are a safe bet. Unfortunately, the Gold Digger was more like mud than gold. That left one beer-Northern (www.norbrew.co.uk/) Dreamcatcher. Now I can't say there was anything actually wrong with this beer in terms of serving quality. However, it seemed that this 3.9% beer fell between two stools. Neither a Mild or a Bitter, but with some of the roast associated with stronger beers. Without the added alcohol to give it body, this left a one dimensional beer, with an unpleasant gritty taste. Maybe just another case of a micro failing to deliver, but yet another strike-out at the Robert Peel.
Maybe one day. Maybe...