Two-tailed lions must be the tame, sociable type, if Leicester’s new free house is anything to go by. Just down the road from Blue Boar, another heraldic joint has opened its doors, and very hospitable it is too. With pretty green walls, fresh plants and skylights giving a light, airy feel to the historic building, this is a craft beer pub that provides a welcome haven for those not necessarily CAMRA affiliated.
There are three cask beers and six kegs from around the UK on offer, and plenty of interesting canned and bottled beers to try, from light IPAs to strong, flavoured porters. There’s no music to drown out the sound of your companions, which demonstrates a perfect understanding of why people come out to pubs in the first place. But then, the place is run by Leicester’s only ‘Certified Cicerones’ (beer sommeliers), Matt Baker and Alice Hubbard. They have worked hard to produce a modern take on the old-school landlord/landlady boozer, which “celebrates the traditions of British pub culture and recognises the importance of the pub in our communities as a social institution”.
Little touches, such as modern lightshades styled to look like hop heads and subtle grain designs on the table tops show how thoroughly this venture has been thought out. Matt and Alice explain that they have “been very fortunate to work with some incredible craftspeople from Leicester like M and G Joinery & Tanti Design, Jamie Stenson, Rhod Thomas and Bulb Studios.” It all comes together in “a beautiful space that encapsulates the timeless quality of the British boozer, but is still clearly operating in 2018”.
As well as the wide selection of lagers, ales and stouts that you would expect from these two (who used to run the Tap on the Square and have been involved with plenty of other public houses in the city), there’s a well curated spirits selection, along with wines and ciders to complete the offering. Matt and Alice are incredibly approachable and happy to share their knowledge, gladly giving advice on which nectar to fill your glass with. Although the lack of music was, apparently, accidental, it actually means there’s space not only for patrons to chat, but also for Alice and Matt to really connect with their clients and that’s what makes the place really special and accessible.
Of course, they have included plenty of local breweries in their selection and plans for the near future include beer and food flights, where you can pair your locally-sourced charcuterie, cheese or Indian snack platter with an appropriate selection of their keg and cask beers.
While you might not yet be ready for their monthly Home Brewers club, you can easily while away a few hours in this calm, quiet place, improving your understanding of all things hop/barley/wheat related. Encouraging people to widen their horizons further, they also plan to host Tap Takeovers, where selected breweries will introduce the public to their beers, and even spirits. Matt and Alice clearly have a modern image of craft beer enjoyment, which they’re expertly bringing to life at the Two-Tailed Lion.
Visit the Two-Tailed Lion at 22 Millstone Lane.
Photography by David Wilson Clarke