Cambridge Pubs – Castle Inn

The pub dates back to the 1740s when it was known as the (Three) Horseshoes, becoming the Old Castle and eventually the Castle Inn (not to be confused with the Castle on St. Andrews Street). A pub guide from the 1970s describes it as a two room pub, “the blackened beams festooned with antiquated copper, brass and pewter utensils”. It was purchased by Adnams in 1994 from Allied Breweries and was renovated, extending into the neighbouring building, opening the upper storey to enlarge the area for drinking and dining, and adding a patio area at the rear against the Castle Bank. There are now about five different drinking areas downstairs and three more upstairs, plus the two-level patio.

Castle Inn

In 1990 it was described as “an unpretentious, easygoing pub”, its CD jukebox considered to be one of the best in town, “loud in the evening”, and with a good collection of rock posters, including “the celebrated indictment of Jim Morrison”. It still felt unpretentious and easygoing on this visit, the music playing softly, as befits a Sunday afternoon, an eclectic mix of jazz, Sam Cooke, and the El Michels Affair. The pub these days has more illustrious musical connections; incumbent landlords the Halsey family include John Halsey, a drummer perhaps best known as Barry Wom from The Rutles.

I’ve always found the Timothy Taylor Landlord to be a very enjoyable beer here (I’m struggling to think of anywhere* else in Cambridge that has it regularly), and I thought I was just unlucky on the last few occasions I’ve visited and it’s not been on. Again on this visit there was no sign of it, so I asked when it would be back on, only to be told it was no longer being served here.

It was a bombshell. I was shocked. And stunned.

Unfortunately, it seems it proved to be a troublesome beer that didn’t keep well. I should add, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this said just recently – I know another Cambridge pub that’s found TT beers “don’t travel well”.

In the absence of Landlord, I had a very enjoyable pint of Adnams Nordic Red Ale ‘Longboat’. Other beers included Adnams Ghost Ship, Southwold Bitter and Lighthouse, with Blackshore, Ease Up IPA and Mosaic on keg – a line up one might expect with the Castle Inn being an Adnams owned pub, the only one in Cambridge, and the brewery’s westernmost until they took on the Bridge House in London c.2002.

A pub for over 270 years, having outlived so many other beerhouses and inns that existed in Castle End, the Castle Inn has proved to be a living legend that will live long after other living legends have died.

Castle Inn

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3 responses to “Cambridge Pubs – Castle Inn

  1. Nice piece. Much as I love the Castle (not just for the cheap burger that costs less than some of the pints), the cask has been less great on recent visits, clearly selling a lot less than the lagers and wines. I wonder if “troublesome” is a euphemism for “hard to shift”, and a five day old Landlord not a thing of beauty !

  2. I still don’t get why you would go to the only Adnams pub in Cambridge and drink anything other than Adnams. Its like going to a curry house and ordering chips.

    If you’re desperate for a hit, Landlord is quite often on in the Swan on Mill Road and the pint I had there recently was excellent.

  3. *And as it’s been pointed out elsewhere, TT Landlord is of course permanent at the Kingston Arms. I’ll be visiting the Swan soon so hopefully find it there too…

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