No Dying Embers For Hollybrook As Littleover Boozer Is Hot Stuff

13A - The Hollybrook Littleover

I know this will irritate great swathes of the PUB (Pub Union of Bloggers) but I can’t see the problem with Ember Inns?

Granted, if you are ticking off some classic GBG pubs or quirky new Micropubs then the sometimes formulaic nature of these chain pubs can be less than appealing.

Also, and this is an Ember Inns classic, they will often appear to have a stack of cask ales on but many of the pumps will either be advertising CAMRA discounts, promoting the ‘coming soon’ range or have two or three identical pumps serving the same ale.  However, is that really a problem?  If a boozer has on one or two ales on that are well kept then surely that is better than great swathes of poorly kept ale?

Hollybrook 23.09.17 (8)

To be fair to Derby, it has got plenty of free houses and gems that mean Ember Inns are just another welcome addition but if you look at some of the Solihull suburbs then the presence of an Ember Inn is most definitely a good thing

Also, I like the fact both Ember Inn boozers I have been in since I began blogging (Red Lion, Knowle pub 12) and 70 The Hollybrook – DE23 3TZ both have definite drinking areas.

This one, on the outskirts of Littleover is busy now but with about 400+ homes being built within a mile on a whopping new housing estate then it is clearly going to become far busier.

Hollybrook 23.09.17 (6)

I came in here with both of my kids on a Sunday afternoon and it was full.  In fact, on the other occasions I have been in here too it has been full plus, like all pubs in Littleover, it has a good mix of society

Yes, you can eat anywhere you want in an Ember Inns pub but this one has almost defined itself as right hand side is food and left hand side is drinking.  Yes, there were plenty of families in here having food and a pint but there were also plenty of groups of men and women also indulging in a Sunday afternoon session and there was a cracking atmosphere.

I suppose you can argue you know what you are going to get in an Ember Inns pub but this one was different, aside from the plethora of handpumps on the bar, to the boozer at Knowle.  This also feels like a pub as they don’t have soft play areas as opposed to the Farmhouse Inns cakeaway in Willington, which was a place for families to get more stressed whilst their kids load up on E numbers.

Hollybrook 23.09.17 (10)

I also know I am in esteemed company here as Alan Winfield has posted that he likes this pub and that surely cements the fact this is a no nonsense boozer that, since it opened in the early nineties, has served its ever growing community well.

It was an easy hour as the food was sensibly priced and good whilst the Pedigree (Marston’s) was sound. When I returned for a refill they had taken it off as it had reached the end of the barrel.  It didn’t taste like it was on the turn so they obviously have someone here who knows their stuff (decent beermats too!)

I like this place and would recommend it.  Ember Inns are clearly trying (see partnership with Black Sheep) and whilst they don’t always get it quite right, they are clearly filling a void for this urban sprawl on the edge of Littleover.

Ember Inns…are they the future?

12B - The Hollybrook Littleover.jpg

17 thoughts on “No Dying Embers For Hollybrook As Littleover Boozer Is Hot Stuff

  1. They’re not my future !

    Actually, you make a decent case. If Alan likes that one, it must be good. I also like your point about less beers is more. I suspect the Embers near you are better than the ones in the South that actually get in the Beer Guide !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed! To be fair they’re not up there with Cooper’s tavern or rock and roll brewhouse….but the ones in Solihull would be replaced with nothing or far worse I reckon…the hollybrook is decent as walkable to.loads of houses and shops nearby so generally full and open all day to boot

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The saminess is only really a problem for people who get round a lot of different pubs, which most folks don’t. I don’t think I’ve knowingly been in one for about five years.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If they are then the future is bleak! I’ve nothing against them but would steer clear in preference of somewhere (anywhere) else.

    Having said that, they do occupy a niche that a great many people inhabit, and different isn’t wrong. Maybe, if there was one near to me and my children were young, then I would go to it. Allowing children and dogs in is a prerequisite of a modern pub.

    Fully agree with the shortened range, I’d rather have one good beer on than five mediocre ones. Sadly I’d be giving the one in the picture a miss as I’m on a self imposed Marston’s ban (includes all other brands they have gobbled up like the greedy sharks they are).

    Mind you, people were probably saying the same about what we now consider to be ‘heritage Pubs’, back in the day when they first opened, so what do I know?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have been in the Hollybrook a few times and have always enjoyed my visits to it.
    It is a smart and comfortable pub that does have a proper drinkers area,and the food side of it does not take over the pub.
    So i think it is a proper pub that serves the local estate,i would be pleased if it was my local.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, I will remain open minded til such time as I (need to) visit 😉

    I agree some are better than others, almost enjoyed the Edenthorpe one near Donny, but they are too formulaic for me, and not in a cheap n cheerful Wetherspoons way but what feels a slightly dishonest snooty way, like they think they are offering something better than they actually are.

    Good write up though, always nice to get other perspectives.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have sympathy for all of the above comments…good and less so. I must declare an interest in that the three pub quizzes I present each week are all in Ember Inns as is my (semi)regular watering hole.
    Birmingham was home to the first Ember Inns and I’ve experienced them from the original conception to what they are now. Originally, they took fairly standard boozers in nice areas and tried to move them up market with a more wine bar type ambience. They offered food, good value wine (as I remember), but were still very welcoming for drinkers.
    Over the years, they’ve morphed into a more restaurant style pubs and, personally I think, they’ve fallen a bit between two stools in that they’re not as cheap as Wetherspoons nor quite as reasturanty as the newer Marston’s establishments. However, they do seem to fill a niche and are usually quite busy and, here in Brum at least, they are still frequented by a good number of regulars who are just drinkers.
    There will always be more individualistic pubs around, but you always know what you’re going to get from an Ember Inn, which many people do seem to like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have to agree with you Pete. I’m from Solihull originally and I reckon the Ember Inns there are still full of drinkers as there isn’t much else choice wise around them. They are also offerign ale in areas where it isn’t necessarily available so a bit of choice too. They are much better than the new build Marston’s restaurants whcih are just eateries. Regional differences I reckon and whilst they try to be all things to all men a bit too much (if that makes any sense) they are a good option in the Solihull/Birmingham side of town.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. From what I’ve read, they do at least make some effort to be pubs with an all-round appeal, unlike the new Marston’s and Greene King family dining pubs.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. From a Canadian perspective (especially in a place that does not have that many “true” pubs) while it may not be for everyone it must be doing something right if it’s that busy. Catering to a housing estate is different than a pub on a canal or in downtown London (or other touristy spot). And yes, being part of a “chain” can be a put off but then every “chain” (i.e. McDonald’s etc.) have some good places and some crap ones.

    Personally, I like the look from the photo of the outside. And having a side that gives a nod to drinking (with food allowed of course) is at least making an attempt. Besides:

    “Ember Inns are clearly trying (see partnership with Black Sheep)”

    And place that partners with a brewery that makes Monty Python’s Holy Ale, and whose owner used to be with the brewery that makes Old Peculiar (fond memories of that beer one afternoon at Urquhart Castle – where after six bottles I swore I saw Nessie), can’t be all bad. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are talking sesne Russ…whilst I like a lot of the listed buildings and historical pubs quite often people wax lyrical about them for those reasons alone. Ideally, I would go into a fantastic building with a cracking atmosphere and a range of beers….however, I would much rather go into a pub that looks like a pub with a bit of atmosphere, looks like the landlord cares, and is full of people more often than not. SIx Theakston’s and Nessie hallucinations!!! Good man Cheers Russ


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