New Cheltenham Alehouse opens on St George's Day
AS traditions go, real ale drinking is as quintessentially as English as a game of cricket on a village green.
So for beer lover Grant Cook, the idea of opening his new pub, The Sandford Park Alehouse, today on St George's Day was a perfect fit.
Based at the site of former gay club EXS, in the High Street, the 53-year-old said it would be dedicated to sourcing the finest real ales from across the UK, including many from local breweries.
Grant, from Fairview, said he had a lifelong passion for real ale and was looking forward to introducing varied and interesting tipples to fellow beer aficionados in Cheltenham.
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He said: "By opening a real ale pub, we're doing our bit to support a wonderful English tradition, so we thought St George's Day would be a great day for us to open on.
"We'll have 10 hand pumps altogether, offering nine real ales and one cider.
"I'll be stocking ales from Gloucestershire and all over the country, including ones from breweries in the Midlands and Scotland.
"We'll also have a good range of Belgian beers which I'm hoping will be popular.
"I'm delighted to be opening a pub here in Cheltenham and am looking forward to welcoming customers."
The venue's arrival means there will be four real ale pubs within a 30-metre radius including the Strand, the Swan and the Restoration.
The building itself has undergone a major refurbishment with a six-figure sum spent on revamping the interior.
A number of alterations have been made to the premises, including the installation of a timber staircase and the removal of many of the flashy modern fittings of the former nightclub.
Employing 10 people, it will have light snacks on offer initially with plans to bring in a more substantial menu in the future.
Grant, who has previously run pubs in Leicester, added: "Real ale is something I have always been passionate about and I think it is on an upward curve.
"It is becoming more popular among young people and many ladies enjoy drinking it now too.
"It's my aim to bring in as much variety as possible so there is something to cater for all tastes."
The opening of the venue comes as the Echo is running a Save Our Pubs campaign, urging people to support their local watering holes.
It is also aimed at lobbying the Government to lend a hand to struggling landlords by relaxing the pub tie – the contracts between large pub companies and their licensees.