Micropubs boom is injecting new life into Hucknall

The award-winning Beer Shack, which was the first micropub to open in Hucknall and one of the first in the country.
The award-winning Beer Shack, which was the first micropub to open in Hucknall and one of the first in the country.

Go back five or six years, and the word didn’t even exist. Not in the Oxford English Dictionary. Not even allowed in Scrabble.

But now, micropubs are everywhere, springing up in disused, empty shops and helping to bring high streets back to life.

Members of Nottingham CAMRA, including secretary Andrew Ludlow (centre), toast the successful Hucknall Beer Festival.

Members of Nottingham CAMRA, including secretary Andrew Ludlow (centre), toast the successful Hucknall Beer Festival.

Hundreds of new, no-frills, pint-sized venues that have become a nationwide phenomenon.

While mainstream pubs, attached to big breweries but unable to cope with cheap supermarket booze and lifestyle changes, go to the wall, the independent micropubs are riding to the rescue of the industry.

According to CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), nowhere in Nottinghamshire has their presence been more markedly felt than Hucknall and Eastwood.

“These two towns are now fantastic for micropub crawls, “ said Andrew Ludlow, of Nottingham CAMRA.

The Tap And Growler, which was the first micropub to open in Eastwood, according to CAMRA records.

The Tap And Growler, which was the first micropub to open in Eastwood, according to CAMRA records.

“Whereas in the past, locals used to go into Nottingham for a night out, people are now coming from Nottingham into Hucknall and Eastwood because the micropubs sell real ales of a good quality at a very good price, and there is a great atmosphere.”

The trend was started in Nottinghamshire by Beer Shack, which opened in Hucknall in 2013 when there were fewer than 100 micropubs in the whole country. Soon the town will have as many as eight.

The first to open in Eastwood was the Tap And Growler at Hilltop. Now, including Giltbrook and Kimberley, there are seven.

“These are the pubs of the 60s and 70s that people went to in order to socialise,” Andrew said. “They are filling a gap in the current market.

“People have got fed-up with being told they have to go to large gastro-style pubs with music banging and giant TV screens showing sport.

“Just occasionally, you want somewhere that is not identikit. Micropubs are places where you can actually chat to your mates. You can never get lonely in a micropub. They are a great experience.”

Brian Willows, a veteran of the industry who has run social clubs in both towns, has just opened his own micropub, Door 57 in Hucknall.

He said: “For me, they are low-risk businesses with small overheads. For customers, it’s like going into your living room for a drink.”​​