After Hours: Be a local at Lakenheath pub
May 9, 2007
LAKENHEATH — Some places just give you that “what are you doing here?” vibe. It can happen in the States or here in England. You walk into an alien pub and chance upon some red-eyed locals who look aggravated that you’ve stepped into the midst of them tying one on at noon on a weekday. You’ve got some nerve, mister.
But sit long enough, eat some pub grub and the facade starts to recede and lose its edge. Suddenly, you’re just another group of folks sitting at the local watering hole.
The Brewers Tap in the village of Lakenheath exudes that kind of feel. Comfortable and well worn like a good pair of shoes, this little pub starts out stiff and ends smoothly.
And it’s good to have a “local,” as the Brits call their regular pub. If you’re living in the village or have someone who can drive you from one of the nearby bases, it’s worth checking out.
The staff is friendly and relaxed, so relaxed with the job that the cook will amble up from a table near the door and hit the kitchen when she’s good and ready to cook an order. And while such lackadaisical motions may be off-putting to some, it’s another testament to the laidback atmosphere of the joint.
More importantly, The Brewers Tap is the only pub in Lakenheath to serve cask ale standards such as Wessex Spring and Old Speckled Hen.
While ale taps might just look like old-timey novelties to American drinkers, owner Ron Cowper said that ale brews are made the traditional way, meaning the delicious contents aren’t heated up and pasteurized like all of today’s modern brews.
“All the bits and pieces aren’t killed,” Cowper said of the traditional cask ales, adding that their flavor also evolves over time. “If kept well, it’s brilliant.”
The Brewers Tap offers ample seating and all the chipped-paint-on-the-wall aspects that make a place feel physically welcoming.
And if you become a regular, you can sign up for Cowper’s weekly gallon beer draw. Numbers are drawn and folks can win a gallon of beer, served out in eight pints throughout the night, or many nights. And if a winner isn’t picked one week, the stakes get higher.
“There will probably be three gallons next week,” Cowper said.
The Brewers Tap building has been around since at least the beginning of the 20th century, Cowper said. And as far as he knows, it used to be supplied by an old brewery down the street.
Then again, he’s not sure. And you know what? That’s OK at The Brewers Tap. Such trivialities, facts and pomp become unimportant here, as long as the pints keep flowing and the company remains amiable.
See previous After Hours reviews here.
The Brewers Tap
Location: 54 High St. in Lakenheath.
Phone: 01842 862238.
Food: A modest bar menu, featuring burgers and sandwiches. Huge baskets of chips go for only a pound, enough for at least two people.
Drink: The standard variety of lagers and ciders are on tap, and owner Ron Cowper said his pub is the only one in town with authentic cask ales.
Clientele: A bevy of Lakenheath locals, but Americans are also said to frequent the joint.
Dress: Shirts, shoes and pants.