The Swan has been a constant in my life for nearly 20 years. It was somewhere we never went as students as it wasn’t appealing to students back in the early 1990s. When you could get a pint for a pound in the student union, venturing to town for proper ale was not something on our radar.
That all changed when I started my second job, and met new work colleagues who had more than a passing interest in ale. It was they who introduced me to the delights of The Swan, and would regularly keep inviting me to sample their produce. We all fondly recall the heady days of sitting at the tables in the car park, eating nachos with whole roasted chillis. I’m drooling at the memory…
A lot has changed since then. The “beer patio” upstairs, on the side of the old function room, which is now “The Hop Loft”. The “dining room” was extended and changed a couple of times. And even the area behind the bar has changed a bit, with a more extensive fridge full of bottled ales.
Ah, the ale. This was the main reason we all came to The Swan for so many years. They have always had the best selection of ales in town. They were for so long an oasis in a desert of Carling and Fosters. The picture has improved vastly over the years, and there are now at least 4 other pubs where you can get a good few pints of ale, including one pub owned by a former Swan landlord.
The ale selection remains undiminished. As well as the regular selection of Castle Rock beers (they own the pub) there are always 5 or 6 guest ales, plus a new craft range and then loads of bottles to choose from. There are also several “proper” ciders and perries always on, and a great selection of very good single malts.
Today it was a pint of Silver Shadow from Ossett brewery. A lovely blonde ale, hoppy and bitter. Just what I’m looking for in a blonde ale.
So, to the food. This is where things have fluctuated so much over the years. A procession of cooks came and went at various times. Today, things have stabilised and settled down. They serve the full range of Pieminister pies, starting from £4.50, with various optional extras. You can also have “the mothership” which includes pie, mash, peas, gravy and crispy onions.
There are also cold cobs (rolls if you’re not from round these parts) with a selection of traditional fillings, such as ham, cheese, etc. And finally, to my choice, from the selection of panini. I went for chicken and pesto, and a bowl of chips. Always nice to have a toasty sandwich on a cold day, very tasty stuff.
The Swan is back to what it does best. Great ales and a simple selection of good pub grub. It also appears on the MOFAD map…