Along with Wetherspoons; Micropubs and tap houses have been responsible for ensuring there is still some pub stock left as older boozers come under the cosh.
But, at what stage do the Micropubs just become pubs? Duncan was pondering what a traditional micro is in his excellent blog as the GBG is now recording ‘traditional micros.’
However, the boozer I visited in Aldridge on a Saturday afternoon is anything but traditional and all the better for it I reckon.
316 – The Turtles Head WS9 8LY can be found on a 1960’s Brutalist designed shopping parade in a suburb of Walsall and if that doesn’t sell it, I don’t know what will.
(Turtles Head not yet famous enough to make it onto the Aldridge Shopping Centre Wall Of Fame)
Aldridge was always regarded as one of the leafier suburbs of Walsall but the shopping centre is looking a little tired these days.
The Aldridge Shopping Centre couldn’t look more 1960s if it tried but, situated in a former hairdresser’s shop, The Turtles Head, has got the balance and ambience just right for a Micro in the middle of a shopping precinct in a Walsall suburb.
The excellent blog from The Stymaster,which covers a multitude of Black Country boozers, has given this place the thumbs up and I am pretty sure Black Country beer guru Paul will be factoring a trip into Aldridge soon, if he hasn’t already.
Whilst the shopping centre looks like it is ripe for a bit of regen there doesn’t appear to be many boozers either. With only a Carvery style place in the centre, so the arrival of The Turtle’s Head has clearly filled a niche in the market.
OK, to be fair to Aldridge I did have a decent haircut and there are gold post boxes so it’s not all gloomy sixties architecture, but the biggest plus was this boozer and the punters.
There was a big debate at the bar about a soon to be opening bakery that was only going to be open Micropub style hours – three days a week – and the punters were concerned about is survival chances.
No such worries with this place though as there was a bloke with his kids playing board games, another group of punters drinking bottled beer and a couple in the corner guarding their dog feverishly whilst necking drinks with equal enthusiasm.
It felt like a local where people knew each other and the sort of place you might pop into for a quick jar before shopping in Iceland or some other major tourist attraction on Croft Parade. There was a reasonable turnover too with people comng in and out at regular intervals.
I had the pleasure of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham and Europe in the background as the barmaid chatted away to me and confirmed “this is our era,” I reckon she had ten years on me!!!
The fact people were drinking ale (like me and the dog couple) and lots of other people weren’t means this is a proper boozer despite only having a unisex loo.
(Turtles Head pub dog – in need of some beer enthusiasm!)
The SPA (A.J’s Ales) was excellent and alongside a cheese and onion cob this is almost beer porn.
Definitely a non-trad Micro (a new phrase I have invented) in terms of opening hours, clientele and style of drinks sold. It was much more of a pub where people weren’t talking about the strength and taste of their beer…more about bakers, dog food and eighties music.
It’s even got a Leeds United beer mat on the wall for good measure…you can’t get much less beer snob than that.
A cracking boozer, a warm welcome, a good atmosphere and good beer to boot…that’s a proper pub in my book.
NB – A whole post about Turtles Heads without any toilet gags – impressive eh!