Pub 20. Artisan Tap, Hartshill. 11/04/18
In attendance – DJT, Po, Pete Cotton, Bram
I was reading somewhere that in the UK, pubs are closing at a rate of 27a week. Certainly, although we’ve been to 20 pubs to date, I’ve had to remove 7 from the list which is actually a big shame. However, there has been a trend over the last few years for the “Micropub” or Craft Ale establishment to open, providing a different experience than your local boozer. I’m not adverse to this kind of drinking venue overall, who knows how long it’s going to continue or whether it’s a fad or not but it gives us a bit of variety along the way, and there’s usually a pretty decent choice of beers on offer.
I remember when Artisan Tap used to be a guitar shop, with a café next door. The guitar shop has been turned into a craft ale venue, which I have frequented on a number of occasions before. It sits on the main road from Newcastle to Stoke, in an area where there are quite a few different type of pubs within walking distance (including current Favourite – The Red Lion). Pretty good news if you fancy a Hartshill based pub crawl at any point. At the front, there is a courtyard style beer garden/outdoor/smoking area with a few benches and some seating. There aren’t any heaters, but there is some interesting décor which gives you an insight into what it’s like inside. When you enter, the small bar is to the right and I can say from experience that it does get pretty busy on a Friday or Saturday night. There is a board that shows you what beers are on offer, and I’m pleased to say that the beer choice is as good as you’d expect, with various different types available which are mainly craft beers. If you are after a Carling or Coors Light, you’ll be disappointed. The only lager is Staropramen. Beer is available in three quarter of a pint, or pint format and generally retails between £3.50 and £4 for the smaller of the two which is not on the cheap side. For a pint, you’re not going to get much change out of a fiver, which is one of the drawbacks with this kind of place; they do tend to charge a bit more. However, I suppose that you get what you pay for. The beer choice is good, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad pint here. £9.60 for two pints is verging on London prices! I would also like to see a nice fruit based beer available, maybe a Fruli wouldn’t go amiss.
The main room is fairly large and open-plan, although it does look a bit like someone has put a bar, some tables and a number chairs in their garage. This isn’t a criticism, as the general vibe is pretty cool, it’s always seems to be a friendly place to have a drink and the customers are usually in good spirits. We initially sat up on the stage, but got moved after a few minutes due to there being entertainment having to set up. I was quite excited, as a bit of mid-week live music would have gone done quite well, but it turned out to just be a guy talking about his new album. Saying this, there are regular gigs and bands playing so I can let them off. Through a door at the end of this room, and to the left, there is a relatively recently opened second room which reminded me a lot like someone’s dining room, with various random seating and settees, and (maybe too many) mirrors on the wall which made it feel like we’d shrank and were sat in a dolls house. Yes, the décor in this area is quite interesting, with corrugated iron on the roof and one of the walls, and this does add to the eclectic, dare I say “hipster” vibe of the place. Again, this is not a criticism, as I quite like the place. I think that makes me a hipster, then? I do have a beard so I’m half way there. Despite being a mid-week night, the whole place was pretty busy.
So, the downsides of this kind of place have to be mentioned. If you are after a “local” type pub, with pool, dart board, pork scratchings etc, you won’t find any of these things here. Pork pies are available, as are crisps and the like, but it’s not the same. Beer and swine are the best combination, as we all know. There are a range of board games, if you wanted to play something whilst drinking. Another area that it differs from a normal pub is in regards to the toilets. They are a unisex style job, with a small toilet downstairs that reminds me of someone’s downstairs loo. However, it was clean and didn’t smell too bad, there’s a small sink and hand towels to dry your paws on. There is another toilet upstairs, which is a bit bigger and more like someone’s main bathroom. Again, expect a queue if you visit at the weekend.
There’s not a great deal more to say, I do like a craft beer and therefore I do like a craft beer slash micropub type establishment. What it loses in facilities, it makes up in being a decent place to go and socialise, you can’t argue with the quality of the ales available although they are on the expensive side. If you don’t mind queuing to go to the toilet, and haven’t got a fear of mirrors I’d say you’d enjoy yourself and ultimately isn’t that what we’re all after?
Beer choice/range – 5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Facilities – 2/5
Location – 3/5
Pork scratchings – 0/5
Fruli – 0/1
Toilets – 2/5
Other – 3/5
Overall – 24.5/41
Random Attendee Comments –
“This place has inspired me to open up my garden shed as a bar, fill it with questionable décor and charge £5 for a beer. Still quite like it though.” – Po
“Like drinking insde a dolls house, plus why so many mirrors??? Beer good though” – Pete Cotton
“You know how I feel about AT. Can’t fault it” – Bram