I’m just going to get this out there: Southampton is not top of my list for quirky nights out or original foodie ideas, but – slowly – I think this is changing. Places like Tap Room (which I am yet to visit) and No. 4 Coffee and Wine Bar, coupled with the impending regeneration of the city centre*, are surely a step in the right direction.
But city centres are one thing; small satellite neighbourhoods are quite another. This is just one of the reasons that The Butcher’s Hook micropub, in the otherwise fairly generic suburb/village of Bitterne, is so remarkable. Set in a tiny sliver of ceramic-tiled room, squeezed somewhere in between the local Indian and the Coop convenience store, is a small slice of craft beer heaven – the kind that would be right at home in East London. Who’d have guessed that humble Southampton would be home to one of only 100 micropubs in the UK? It’s really rather exciting.
As soon as you walk in you know this is the real deal; those lucky enough to have nabbed a seat sit
side-by-side with strangers on trestle tables, while others perch wherever they can against the wall or propped up by the constantly opening front door. At the back of the room is a very busy young gentleman in an appropriately natty outfit and ‘tash working his rack of beer kegs to keep the punters happy, and that’s it (apart from the remarkably nice toilet – a small detail but I do think a loo says a lot about a place, and this one is unusual and surprisingly clean. Anyway, enough about that).
The list of beers and ales (and ciders) is extensive and, although when we went many had sold out, staff were happy to advise on suitable alternatives. It’s very easy to hunker down with half a pint, only to find that an hour (and two more halves) have flown by, such is the welcoming atmosphere within. And it’s not just filled with beardy beer-geeks in Star Wars T-Shirts either. Perhaps it’s because we went over Christmas, but among the clientele were older families, couples, groups of lads in their twenties and a lady in a fur coat – not many places can boast such a harmonious environment given such an eclectic mix of people, especially in Southampton…
The snacks are not extensive and there is high probability that you’ll have to stand holding your coat, dodging the queue for beer, but I really hope that this is the first of many similar places in Hampshire, let alone Southampton – it certainly seems as though there is appetite for one or two more.
At a glance:
- Micropub in Southampton
- Craft beers, ales and ciders
- Small but perfectly formed
- Check their Facebook or Twitter page for the latest beers (and opening hours)
- 7 Manor Farm Road, Bitterne Triangle, Southampton
- 07912 092928