Having read back our blogs of the past year I realised how many times we’ve blogged about CBAS. I thought, “can they possibly muster another rant about how amazing the beer club I help run is”, and figured the answer is no. I don’t want to keep banging on about CBAS and shamelessly pimp it at every given opportunity (even though I do) so instead of another report on a successful get-together of the beery folk in Chester I decided to review the Commonhall Social (incidentally where CBAS met yesterday).
You may remember the venue as The Weighing Room or Got Wine. The good news is, it’s nothing like either of those anymore. Gone are the clinically boring colours and decor, and enter a warm coloured, wood-clad, quirky furniture establishment. They use travel trunks for lamp-tables, they have a random bike at reception and the bar looks like it’s been made with wooden boxes stacked up on top of each other. No, it’s not an eyesore, it’s actually pretty funky. I know it sounds like those things don’t and never should match but damnit, they work.
They also have an enormous smoking area at the back with a little covered nook where you can find cushions and blankets and the sort to keep you warm. I know we’re slowly killing ourselves with tar and nicotine but we don’t intend to die of hypothermia. It’s a neat little place with heaters so in case you fancy a smoke with your drink you can just sit there all night – it’s warm enough.
Then the most important thing: beer. The first time I visited I thought they only have lagers and a kegged IPA on the bar – which was really disappointing because I liked the look and feel of the place but there is no way I would keep coming back to drink fizzy water that someone shook hops at. Luckily on my next visit I actually went to the bar myself instead of sending someone else over and found an actual treasure trove of bottles, cans and three keg guest ales on the wall behind the bar. These can be easily missed as the pumps only stick slightly off the wall but keep your eyes peeled, they are there. The house ale, apparently, is Big Hand Brewery’s Seren and the other two rotate. They aren’t tied to any brewery so these could be anything… and most often are!
The cans and bottles are a completely different matter, for they are plentiful and beautiful. On a quick glance I spy Beavertowns Smogrocket and Delirium. There’s plenty of choice between these two as well. Not too badly priced either, a Smogrocket sets you back about £4.50 which is very reasonable for a beer of that quality and ABV. If you’re unsure, ask the lovely staff, who are always happy to advice and help. Nothing has ever been too much trouble here.
And finally, the food. I know I was going to keep CBAS out of this but as we had tasters from their game menu as part of the CBAS package, I have to say that everyone enjoyed their grub. We had rabbit pie, pheasant and smoked bacon kievs, deep fried haggis, pigeon-sausage rolls… and the only vegetarian of the group had her own goodies, roasted beetroot parcels, goats cheese pies, homemade minty pea soup and other things that had no meat in them, so I wasn’t that observant. The point is, it was all amazing and the portions are not small! Even their “sharing meat board” is so enormous that me and the mascot could not conquer it between us. If you’re hungry and in town, this is the place to be.
How can I then sum up Commonhall? The atmosphere is always good. It’s a homey place with a good vibe but it also holds its own as a going-out destination. You can as easily roll up in jeans and t-shirts as in a ballgown and fit right in. I suppose it’s the people that make it so. That, and all the other great attributes it’s acquired in its relatively short lifecycle. No Goldilocks dilemma here, this place has it just right. I will be back.