Friday, 25 February 2011


The Independent ran an article on Micropubs last week. The Licensing Act of 2003 made it much easier to open a pub than was the case previously when big brewers or pubcos would object as a matter of routine. Now if you prove compliance with health & safety, law and order, protection of children and are a fit and proper person you get your license.

Buying and existing pub is expensive and so are the running costs. These new Micropubs are small and basic and occupy premises that have been converted from other use. They concentrate on beer and won't have room for fruit machines or food. Now that's all very good but if we're making the effort to go out for the evening why go to something no bigger than your average living room? After all it's cheaper to buy some decent bottled beers and drink at home.
I've been to the Rat Race, a micropub based in a room at Hartlepool Railway Station that was previously a  waiting room, a taxi company office and a newsagent. Now it sells an excellent range of cask beer and is in the current Good Beer Guide but I found it unappealing and gloomy. In essence it was a plain rectangular room with no visible bar. What appeared to be a store room in one corner included a stable door from which the beer was provided. The lack of a bar as a focal point was probably the thing that detracted most from the experience. No pumpclips, spirits or staff to look at. No toilets either, customers have to use the facilities in the railway station. I wish the venture good luck but I prefer something a bit more atmospheric.


  1. Phil, British West Hartlepool13 March 2012 at 19:43

    The Rat Race is small but perfectly formed. It maximises the space well and you are served by the landlord in person. He appears as if by magic like the shopkeeper in Mr. Ben. There's always a great selection of beers, cider and perry as well as freshly brewed coffee and tea and even a selection of real soft drinks and wine. There's crisps, pork scratchings and pickled eggs. One of the best thing is that you can get a three and a half pint carry out to take home or even on the train! No I'm not the the landlord but a very satisfied customer who enjoys the a real pint and a chat. "It's all about the beer!"

  2. The things the author find "unappealing & gloomy" are the very things which make this pub stand out! There is no room for a bar. Why do you want to look at the staff & spirits? There are hundreds of pumpclips on the walls. A lack of toilets in the bar is better than one smelly one. A welcome change from identikit pubs.