The Bull & Royal atop Church Street wears its past – as a coaching house – more obviously than any Preston pub I can readily name.
Through the old arch one still must gallop to access refreshment, past Dickens on the tunnel wall – he stayed here, in the early 1850s – into an old courtyard where horses once clopped about and smokers now congregate in some comfort.
A pleasant place to be it was too, this Tuesday evening just past, a spacious softly illuminated pub with smiling staff, amiable clientele and two fine casks on offer for the discerning palate.
Blond Witch and White Witch, both out of Burnley’s Moorhouse Brewery and both well-established favourites hereabouts.
The Blond would be my pick, packing a 4.5% wallop alongside lager-coloured hazy drop with pineapple and orange fruit sweetness and a bitter finish. Drinks easy as mother’s milk too, this witch’s brew.
A White Witch chaser went down okay, but it was hard to escape the notion this was just a slightly weaker (3.9%) session version of its Blond sibling. A further half of Blond Witch did little to convince me otherwise.
Dickens, incidentally, left The Old Bull, as the hotel was then known, not overly impressed.
“An old grubby, smoky, mean, intensely formal red brick house,” he opined.
Not any more. How times, even hard ones, change.
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