Saturday, 9 February 2013

Steamin' Billy Pubs, Leicestershire

The Leicestershire based Steamin' Billy Brewery Co are a small but highly regarded pub company, with a steadily growing estate of traditional pubs. They take pubs which have often been neglected by their previous owners, spruce them up, greatly improve the beer and food offering, and then return them to their communities as true local assets. A Steamin' Billy pub is a proper pub, free from bolted-on themes or gastro affectations, and allowed to grow and develop naturally through use rather than given the twice yearly makeover common in the trade.

The latest pub to get the 'Billy treatment will be the Railway in Hinckley, a pub in a great location opposite the station, and in a town with a greater need for beer variety than most given the longstanding stranglehold Marstons have over the area. Skittles has been played at the Railway for many years, and it is hoped that this feature will be retained during the forthcoming refurbishment of the pub.

The Horse & Trumpet (above and below) in Sileby has sadly lost its Skittle Alley, but retains this dedicated Darts 'alley', and the licensee is keen to develop other games at the pub such as Poker evenings and Cribbage.

The north Leicestershire village of Syston has recently gained a Steamin' Billy pub, the Dog & Gun (below), a traditional two bar local located in the heart of the old village close to the River Soar at Brookside. Both bars come equipped with warming real fires making this the ideal Winter bolt-hole, but if you can drag yourself away from the cosy comfort of the bars you'll also find a fine selection of traditional pub games in the function room.

League Darts is played at the pub, but it's also great to find both a Leicester Skittles Table and Devil Amongst The Tailors available for play in the function room. Change of ownership and the inevitable refurbishment which follows often spells the death-knell for games like these, so it's to the company's credit that space has been found to retain one of the areas rarer pub games. The skittles are the slender hardwood variety favoured in the Leicester games, considerably more difficult to knock down than the plumper Northants pins in my experience.

The Western in Leicester is a substantial former Everards pub which has been leased to the Steamin' Billy Brewing Co since 2007. The pub was always very traditional in appearance, but has since received the full Steamin' Billy makeover, including plenty of items from Barry Lount's breweriana collection on the walls, and a beefed-up beer range. It's a good pub in a predominantly residential area close to the bright lights of Braunstone Gate, and features a Darts Board in the larger of the two bar areas.

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