Last night I was back in my home town of Loughborough and I checked out a recently re-opened pub. It is over twenty years since I visited The Old Pack Horse, a small street-corner town centre pub tied to local Nottingham brewer Hardy & Hansons. Since then, Hardy & Hansons has been swallowed up by Greene King (2006) and The Old Pack Horse was sold and it re-opened eleven weeks ago by new Nottingham brewer Blue Monkey. The new name, the Organ Grinder, is the same as their brewery tap, their one other pub, in Nottingham.
Finding a genuine town centre pub dedicated to having a fine selection of real ale is getting harder. It is therefore always a delight to find one that has recently opened up, albeit one that is replacing an existing pub. Loughborough still has a good selection of excellent pubs and the Organ Grinder certainly adds to this list.
Entering the pub you immediately notice the bare floorboards, sparse decor and the sound of many locals chattering away. No other noises and distractions here. Off to the left there was a small seating area with bookshelves offering excellent reading material for the solo drinker. To the right was a similar seating area with the bar at the back serving the entire pub. It is not a large pub at all although it does have an upstairs function room. The array of handpumps is certainly impressive. The full range of Blue Monkey beers are here including the imaginatively named BG Sips, 99 Red Baboons, Ape Ale and Guerilla. The guest beer was Batemans Vintage, a 7.5% ABV seasonal beer I would love to have tried. However, as I was driving, I had to sample something that wasn't going to render me unconscious and I did want to sample my first Blue Monkey beer so I chose the 99 Red Baboons (4.2% ABV). Described as being either a porter or a mild I found it to be definitely leaning on the porter side of the beer spectrum. Dark, malty, slightly sweet but with a subtle bitterness I found it to be a delightful beer.
Blue Monkey have opened up an excellent pub and it is one I will be coming back to when visiting my home town. My sister's boyfriend did point out that the animal adorning the logo and the large central picture in the bar is a chimpanzee but the name actually comes from a nickname for the blue flames that used to rise from the chimneys of the nearby Stanton Ironworks. The chimp is probably more photogenic than the monkey so I can forgive them this. Hopefully, others will too and the pub will become a great success. It will certainly educate the local students as to what a real pub is all about.