credit for the inspiration for this post must go to former Sheffield drinker Steve C, AKA the beer-meister. He had mused, as had I, on pubs that did not sell keg beers, (or even lager), when the Mailtro published a story about the Queens Arms in Cowden Pound, Kent, doing precisely that.
Steve asked readers for suggestions of other kegless pubs and instead of helping him out like a good mate, purely, you understand because it would take up too much space in the comments box, I have decided to cobble together a list based on fuzzy memories and guess work. Much like more or less everything I write then...
First up, and am confident about this, would certainly be the Three Stags Heads, Wardlow Mires. The famous "do not ask for lager as a smack in the mouth often offends" sign has long been undermined by bottles of the same, but am convinced in the last 18 years they haven't sold anything on keg.
Next up, and a bit of a cheat I suppose, but the Cider House, Defford, only sold cider, and possibly only from the barrel or bottle. I say sold - I really hope the place is still going, but its future has been in the balance for a few years since the landlord passed away. Its a bit of a trek to pop down on the off chance that they're open.
Meanwhile, the redoubtable Luppitt Inn, at Luppitt near Honiton in Devon almost certainly didn't, not least because beer comes from a polypin (from the Otter brewery up the road) and cider came out of the same, or possibly even a bottle.
The Barley Mow at Kirk Ireton in Derbyshire used to have lager on gravity, I swear. Probably. It, indeed any font, would have looked fairly out of place on the bar if it had been. Likewise, but this is much more guesswork based on a single visit in 2001, the Tuckers Grave Inn at Faulkland in Somerset, with it's unusual bay window bar surely didn't have keg beer. And on a similar note, the Red Lion at Ampney St Peter likely had little room, or time for, fonts to dispense keg.
More recent contenders may include the new breed of Micro Pubs. I may only have been in a week ago, but I'm not convinced the Little Chester Ale House sold any keg beers, its likely not part of the ethos. And the Bedlam Bar at the Black Bulls Head Openwoodgate definitely doesn't. A final roll call of maybe's includes the threatened (with substantial aesthetic change at least) New Inn at Hadlow Down, Sussex, the Bridge inn at Topsham, Devon, the Harrow at Steep in Hampshire, and the Sun Inn, Leintwardine, Herefordshire.
One thing that stands out in this list, even if it transpires that I am wrong on a few of them, is that it comprises almost exclusively pubs on the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. This reinforces to some degree, the idea that the least altered beer houses consider keg to be a modern and unwelcome development. However, some of the finest unspoilt pubs not on that list only sell keg beer. So its clearly not that black and white.
The thread that does seem to link the venues is that the further south one travels the more examples there are. Perhaps simply indicative of the lack of real ale history in Scotland, and to an extent Wales, but nevertheless, I reckon Yorkshire is probably the cut off point for keg free establishments That some of them just so happen to also be the best pubs in the UK is pleasingly co-incidental.
I'll see you in the Barley Mow, Steve, followed by Halcyon on Keykeg in The Bath Hotel.