Ember Inns Fan Club in Allestree

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So what exactly is a Free House?  According to online sources it is a British pub that is owned independently of the breweries that supply it. Apparently the terminology started in the 18th Century after the London Porter breweries began to grow and the trend started for pubs to become tied houses selling beer from only one brewery (a bit like Marston’s eh Rich!)

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So, even though Ember Inns boozers are owned by Mitchells & Butlers, the fact that M&B no longer brew must mean they are allowed to call their pubs Free Houses…

I know that Ember Inns is absolute anathema to many pub bloggers and I reckon calling them Free Houses is certainly stretching it in my book, but I am putting my head above the parapet and saying I like them.

Derby has such a good selection of boozers selling ale then it doesn’t really have the same impact they do in somewhere like Solihull or East Birmingham for example, but they serve a different purpose.

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196 – The Markeaton DE22 2TF is in Allestree and a huge 1930’s built hotel that is now serving the good folk of Allestree as a bona fide boozer.

As is the norm it is open all day every day but there was one noticeable difference between this Ember Inn and others.

It was around 2.30 on a Thursday afternoon and there wasn’t a soul eating.  There was quite a healthy amount of people in this pub and it was so big you could find a quiet corner if you needed it but it was full of some real professional drinkers and people who had clearly popped in just for a drink as opposed to food and a pint.

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Obviously it sells food and no doubt will have a decent turnover but it was good to see that The Markeaton is primarily used as a ‘local pub.’

Martin spoke about The Olton Tavern on his travels through Olton, a suburb of Solihull, and he relished the fact that an Ember Inn was used as a pub that sold food as opposed to the other way round.

The bar staff were really friendly and I had a decent half pint of Ember Pale Ale (Black Sheep) with a good atmosphere in the pub with plenty of chatter.

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No surprise really as there are an abundance of chimney pots within walking distance and clearly, this pub is providing the role of a pub for people to walk to and have a drink and is filling a gap in the market.

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It was well kept (there was a bloke undertaking DIY on the door whilst I was there) and smart inside so the gaffer clearly cares and I’ve yet to go to an Ember Inn I haven’t liked (really).

I’m coming out – I’m a fan!

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11 thoughts on “Ember Inns Fan Club in Allestree

  1. “as there an abundance of chimney pots within walking distance”*

    I like that description. 🙂

    “and he relished the fact that an Ember Inn was used as a pub that sold food as opposed to the other way round.”


    Basically I’m on the side that a pub should be beer lead (and, a “local”, even if it’s in a touristy spot). If you want a meal, go to a restaurant. Cater to those who will come in more than once a week, even if it’s just for a pint (or at the very least have an area set aside for drinking as opposed to eating).


    PS – * “as there an abundance of chimney pots”

    Missing an ‘are’ before ‘an’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ember inns and Nicholson’s pubs are all owned by m&b and, for me, are still proper pubs..they have lots of food but you never feel out of place drinking in them…plus imho they all have their own nuances so are definitely led by the gaffers…spelling point for you Russ it should be beer led and not beer lead I think 😀😉👍


  3. M&B made a very innovative decision back in the early 2000’s when they split away from the old Bass plc as a purely pub managing company. They divided their stock of pubs into various brands and you’d be surprised just how many pub chains are part of M&B. Here goes: –
    Ember Inns
    Sizzling Pubs
    Vintage Inns
    Toby Carvery
    Crown Carveries
    All Bar One
    Miller & Carter
    There are some more, but these are the main ones.
    Generally, I don’t like chains of anything; I much prefer the quirky individuality of the solo run enterprise to the corporate identity that is usually imposed onto chains. However, what M&B have done is a stroke of genius in that they can cater to pretty much all of the market with their different brands and, in pretty much all of them, you can just go in for a drink.
    So, count me as a fan as well, with the proviso that I’d still prefer a quirky non-chain pub any day.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know of any others who do so many. Having lived in M&B’s heartland for so long I started to notice lots of the pubs being rebranded and so took a bit more interest than I would have with any other companies. I still think that it was a stroke of genius by a company that had a good understanding of pubs and how to run them.

        Enterprise and Punch had the opportunity to do something similar, but I’m not sure if they really wanted to run pubs or just to have a large property portfolio with a consistent rental income.

        Marston’s do something similar (see the Pubs section of their website) but it isn’t as extensive nor as defined as the M&B range.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Great info there Pete, thanks.

      “and, in pretty much all of them, you can just go in for a drink.”

      That’s good marketing right there. 🙂

      But I agree first choice would be a quirky non-chain pub.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. I also like Ember Inns pubs, they are always comfortable and the service always friendly and you do not feel out of place if just having a drink.

    Liked by 2 people

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