Pubs may be shut – but here's how you can still get ale in Doncaster this weekend

The pub may be off limits – but that has not stopped Doncaster landlords getting traditional pints to their customers.
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With restrictions on people’s movement currently leaving people confined to their homes, a night out is out of the questions.

But some of Doncaster’s enterprising publicans have set up home delivery services which at least mean they don’t miss their beers.

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Among those who have created a way to keep real ale lovers happy, so they don’t have to rely on supermarket cans and bottles, is Justin Clark, at the Hall Cross, in the town centre.

Russ Thompson, and son Luke, show one of the containers they are using for deliveriesRuss Thompson, and son Luke, show one of the containers they are using for deliveries
Russ Thompson, and son Luke, show one of the containers they are using for deliveries

The venue commissions its own beer, Stocks, from the Welbeck Abbey brewery, near Worksop, using the recipe that the old Doncaster Stocks brewery used to use.

Before the ban on pubs opening came into force, it had only recently taken a delivery of around 40 barrels of the ale.

And they’re not likely to go to waste. The pub is offering deliveries on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with orders coming in over the firm’s Facebook page, with the pub phoning up to take payment by card over the phone.

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Justin said: “You can’t get real ale at the supermarket like you can most other drinks. So we’re now filling take away boxes and delivering them to people, leaving them outside the house. We’re selling our own range, with drinks like Old Horizontal and Select.

The Draughtsman Alehouse, DoncasterThe Draughtsman Alehouse, Doncaster
The Draughtsman Alehouse, Doncaster

“It was a bit hectic last week, but we have managed to put something together, so that is what we’re doing now. We had to change our card machine to one that allows us to take phone payments.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s been OK. We’d been doing beer in a box for some time as a take away. The beer keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

“We’d got 40 barrels last time we got delivery, and we’ve still got about 36 left. I wouldn’t say it is keeping things ticking, but I’m pleased that there is something that we can still do in these desperate times.”

The Hall Cross is not the only pub with the idea.

Ian Blaylock in the Doncaster BreweryIan Blaylock in the Doncaster Brewery
Ian Blaylock in the Doncaster Brewery
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Russell Thompson, who runs the Draughtsman Alehouse at Doncaster Station is also now running deliveries, of his real ales, as well as bottles and pub snacks.

He said the current coronavirus crisis had just sped up a plan that he was already looking into as part of his business.

“It was something that we planned on doing last year,” he said. “What has happened now has sort of forced our hand. At the moment we can do it, but we are keeping an eye on what the Government is saying on a day to day basis.

"Payment is taken up front by card, and we drop the delivery at the end of the drive. It is the same as the big internet companies do. It means there is something to keep the business ticking over.

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“For the real ales, we put them in four-pint carry out pouches. It is a strange situation we are in, but it seems to work. At least we’re still trading.”

Not all the real ale pubs are following the same example.

Alison Blaylock, who runs the Doncaster Brewery Tap, on Young Street, with husband Ian, said they were taking a break during the current crisis.

They brew their own beers and already have large stocks, which they plan to open when the crisis ends.

She said: “We’ve decided not to do deliveries. We have decided to take a break and take it as an opportunity to catch our breath. The Government has put measures in place to enable us to get through it. We’ve been working flat out for eight years, so we’re just going to stop for a bit.”

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One potential customer is Ian Round, an official at the Doncaster branch of the pubs pressure group CAMRA.

He is pleased to see pubs finding a way to serve beer in some form.

He said: “I’ve already got a couple of boxes of beer from Julian. I’ve not quite finished the second box yet that I got at a beer festival.

“We don’t know how the current situation is going to affect pubs in the long run. It is obviously a difficult time for pubs.”