Beer Background
Greene King (Our Heritage, Our Passion. Your IPA)
Review

Ye Old Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Added: Thursday, July 1st 2004

Last month my wife and I took two Italian friends, after the obligatory trip round the abbey cathedral, for lunch in one of St Albans' best-known pubs, the Old Fighting Cocks. It's famous because it dates from 1600, and has a wealth of beams and inglenooks, plus the grisly cock-fighting pit that gives it its name.

It's not a pub that graces the pages of the Good Beer Guide because it's too much of a tourist-and-lager haunt, and cask beer quality has been known to be less than brilliant. But, in the hands of Mitchells & Butlers, someone is making an effort to improve the beer side. The pub had staged a beer festival and I was delighted to find that some Marston's Old Empire was still available. The Italians were equally impressed by the superb hoppy character of the beer, and fascinated by the history of India Pale Ale.

Old Empire is widely available in bottle and I would hope that Marstons might consider going the extra step by turning it into a bottle-conditioned ale, in the true style of Victorian IPAs.

The food in the Old Fighting Cocks wasn't bad so we all enjoyed our visit - but for one thing. Half way through our lunch a young man sporting a back-to-front baseball cap arrived to empty the fruit machines. The racket was appalling and made conversation difficult.

What on earth are fruit machines doing in such a venerable old inn? Wake up, M&B!

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans 16 Abbey Mill Lane ST ALBANS AL3 4HE Tel. +44 (0)1727 869152