Everards Brewery, has been brewing in Narborough, Leicestershire, since 1849, are quite dominant in the city and though not a great fan does make the excellent Tiger. However, some small independents have started to gain a foothold in recent years, and beers from Oakham Ales (Peterborough), Grainstore Brewery, (which is at Oakham whereas oddly the Oakham brewery isn't), Belvoir Brewery (Old Dalby) and the quaintly named Steamin' Billy Brewing Company, (based in Oadby but presently brewing under contract at the Tower Brewery, Burton upon Trent), are amongst a number worth seeking out.
We are recommending the two we're aiming for but a selection near enough to the stadium if your desperate and the coach gets in early enough you might be able to get back and forth, or if you just want to fall out of the station and get a pint as quickly as poss, especially with a 2.30 kick-off!
However, in order of walking to the ground from the centre of town. BUT, If you only have time for one, the Criterion, and two, add the Swan and Rushes.
Ale Wagon: In the heart of the city around twenty minutes walk from the stadium.
Normally brews its own beers on the premises, but is currently contracting this out to the Tower Brewery in Burton upon Trent whilst a new plant is built at the pub. Beers are mostly their own range, with the odd guest. Hoskins Hob, Best Mild, Brigadier and EXS are regulars, with more occasional seasonals from their range available too. Run by the same family for three generations it is little changed from the 1930s. 27, Rutland Street.
THE TLG CHOICE: Criterion: In the central city district and therefore about twenty minutes walk from the stadium. Probably the best real ale pub in Leicester, CAMRA Pub of the Year winner in the city for the last three years.
Oakham Inferno and Bishops Farewell are the house beers and there are up to ten guests on as well. There's usually a real cider on. There are regular beer festivals when the range expands to twenty-four, many served on gravity. Also around 100 continental bottled beers are stocked. Match day food is home made pizzas lunchtimes and evenings. There's a designated smoking area within the premises, avoiding the dive for the street. Please note: No children - over 18 only. 44, Millstone Lane.
Out Of The Vaults: Eight minutes walk from the railway station and a mile from the Walkers Stadium, and a drinkers pub, no food.
Has five house beers: Oakham Jeffrey Hudson Bitter and Bishops Farewell; Leatherbritches Doctor Johnson and Hairy Helmet, (oh yes!); and one out of Dragon Smoke Stout, Finns Hall Porter or Dark Raven from the Beowulf Brewery. The other seven handpumps are given over to an ever rotating series of guests, also generally from small breweries, with over two thousand beers showcased over the years. One is often reserved for a cider. More a rugby than a football pub, with the owners keen Tigers fans, but away supporters from both codes are welcomed. Also the home of the Leicester Morris Dancers if that attracts. 24, King Street.
Swan & Rushes: On the inner ring road between the Infirmary and De Montfort University and 15 minutes walk from the football ground.
The regular draught beers are Bateman XB, Bateman XXXB, Oakham Jeffrey Hudson Bitter (JBH), Oakham Bishops Farewell, Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles (Belgian white beer) and Lefebvre Barbar (Belgian honey beer). There's Heineken, Amstel, Guinness and Strongbow for those that like keg. Additionally there will be several guest ales, usually from small Midlands breweries, and one or two farmhouse style real ciders. The pub also specialises in bottled beers, including rare and seasonal ones, with generally over 100 in stock.
The '60 Challenge' runs each year from September to August, with 60 nominated bottled beers having to be consumed to win a personally customised Swan & Rushes T-shirt! You may be pushed to do the 60 on the day. There's the usual sort of pub food at lunchtimes and from 5.30 after the game. Glasses are lined, and there's an outdoor area and place for smokers. Our other recommended choice despite them selfishly holding their Cider & Cheese Festival back in August and not in early-December. 19, Infirmary Square.
(Many thanks to the hardened drinkers at www.ciderspace.co.uk for their help with this article).