A Saturday night in Castle Donington to celebrate my birthday…I know how to party! As befits a fortysomething I shunned the bright lights of dance/trance clubs and took in a bloke playing an accordion.
However, not wishing to do Lil’ Jim a disservice as his live show with guitarist Cain Paisley is absolutely top drawer. I’ve noted them before in this blog (15 – The Dragon) and they appear to be a staple on the East Midlands scene and therefore packed them in at 107 – The Apiary Café Bar DE74 2LA.
To be fair to the Apiary I reckon it would have been rammed irrespective of who was top of the bill as it is a place that is covering all bases.
Upstairs offers food and there wasn’t a table free whilst downstairs is split into two with tables – that were full of people drinking as opposed to dining – and then a front bar where people were ‘lively’ to say the least!
I like the mix inside The Apiary as it was by no means a middle class Micropub. Mudgie recently penned an excellent post recently noting the dangers of middle class left leaning drinkers dismissing out of hand ‘mainstream’ ales and the knock on effect that has had on working class pubs and their ale choice.
http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/meanwhile-back-in-real-world.html. I can’t argue with Mudgie (although I’m sure he’d like me to!) and that is why pubs like The Apiary are worth their weight in gold.
It’s been open five years and I suspect started out more food based but it has clearly morphed into a bar that has sussed out its market. It clearly attracts all and sundry as there was the usual solemn looking doorman (is that a pre-requisite on their CV?) whilst I saw plenty of Stone Island tops, heavy metal roadie style outfits alongside the bourgeoisie of Castle Donington which made for a fantastic melting pot of atmosphere.
Add in the aforementioned duo Lil Jim’ and Cain Paisley and you are onto a winner. I was out with Mrs BB and another couple and the fact they had a rollicking good time proved it caters for all…a humongous gin menu helped Mrs BB with her ‘enjoyment.’
We had versions of Purple Haze, Caroline, Paranoid, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Johnny B Goode and my personal favourite of the evening, Ace Of Spades (can you name all the original artists…) and the feelgood factor was out in considerable force.
Martin posted recently about the joys of attending a live gig and whilst this was, ostensibly, a covers band, you really can’t beat an evening with music, good company and decent beer.
That was provided by Infinity IPA (Blue Monkey) which was spot on whilst my pal was on the Pilsner Urquell and Mrs BB and pal’s partner were working their way through the gin menu (how expensive is gin by the way???!!!!)
Following on from my last post it is worth noting that we started in the Micropub next door The Chequered Flag (pub 59), which had arguably the best beermat of 2017…
and a decent pint of Cascade (Stockport Brewing Company). It was full but most definitely a ‘starting point’ on a Saturday night as we left at just gone 9pm and were the last customers.
It was choc a block for the best part of two hours but then, in the blink of an eye, the place was empty and the gaffer, Bert, who is a top bloke confirmed he would give it half an hour before heading out himself!
Nevertheless both businesses appear to be more than ticking over and Castle Donington, a bit like Melbourne and Ashby De La Zouch in close proximity, appears to have a bustling nightlife of a weekend when all the locals come out to play!
As off the cuff birthday bashes go, this was top class and The Apiary is a gem of a place and I also recommend you check out Lil’ Jim and Cain Paisley for a ‘live lounge’ version of Heavy Metal hits!