A Derbyshire beer lover is on a mission to give Belper’s thirsty ale drinkers somewhere - and something - new to drink.
Steve Cresswell, from Ripley, has been in the pub game for many years but - when he decided to lease out his previous pub - wanted to try something a bit different. The Angels micropub on Belper’s Market Place is the result and - since opening its doors in May - it has attracted a small, but loyal following.
“People have been really nice and supportive so far, says Steve.
“We have lots of repeat customers already and the mayor told us he thought we had brought back a bit of life to this part of town, which was nice.
“We are also attracting people from all over - people are prepared to travel quite a distance for a good pint of beer.”
All the beers are a refreshing £3 a pint and for that you get ‘the best three beers in the country’ - Thornbridge’s Jaipur, Oakham’s Citra and Titanic’s Plum Porter - poured straight from the barrel.
Before coming to Belper, Steve ran the Beehive pub and its Honey Pot micropub on Peasehill in Ripley.
“The Honey Pot is where we got the idea from,” he says.
“After giving up the Beehive, I spent a while going round different pubs to see what I wanted to do and what worked and what didn’t.”
“For the inside we have gone back in time a bit - we are trying to use recycled stuff a lot as it gives it that bit of authenticity - the chairs we got from a chapel.”
One customer remarks it has the feel of an old schoolroom - and educating people about the joys of proper beer is certainly a big part of what Steve wants to do here.
“We want to encourage more people to drink real ale, explains Steve.
“Most people drink stuff like Fosters or Carling, but if they tried this they would find it is so much better.”
As well as the beer, the pub is also blessed with interesting artwork on its walls as well as a fascinating history.
A lovely mural of Strutt’s Mill adorns one wall and another based on the cover of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell album takes pride of place above the bar.
At various points in its life, the building - which is one of the oldest in Belper - has been a stables, a television repair shop, offices and a bungalow, and it was due to become flats again until Steve came along with his micropub plan.
“Some people have said we are a hidden gem - I like that.”
Real ale trumps ‘craft rubbish’
Steve’s customers are in no doubt as to why real ale is currently so popular.
“It’s because of the rubbish we have had to put up with for years and years,” says one.
“This is still working when you’re drinking it - it’s not dead and pasteurised like everything else.”
Steve agrees: “The big breweries have been trying to get on the bandwagon with ‘craft’ beers but this is the proper stuff.
“It matters how it is looked after and it will be different everywhere you drink it.
“More people now are prepared to try something different - increasingly young people and ladies as well.
“The amount of girls that come in asking for a Plum Porter is amazing and anything that promotes proper beer is a good thing as far as I am concerned.”
The Angels micropub can be found at No. 29 the Market Place and is open from Thursday to Sunday between noon and 10pm, as well as bank holidays.