Exeter residents, upon seeing two rather overgrown elves rolling a pub-load of beer into Santa’s grotto, could have been forgiven for thinking that Father Christmas had become somewhat disillusioned with the season. In fact, Exe Valley Brewery has this weekend taken advantage of Father Christmas’s absence and turned his usual home into something of a grown-up’s grotto.
James Fryer & Heather Sheppard showing off the stillage
In concordance with Exeter Street Food Market, Exe Valley Brewery commandeered Father Christmas’s hut, and made it into a warm, dry Beer Grotto. With tables and chairs out of the rain, and even room on the stillage for a couple of casks of Venton’s cyder (for those heathens who don’t drink beer), this wooden-walled pop-up-pub proved a popular choice for tired weekend shoppers in need of refreshment!
Old favourite Dobs Best Bitter sold out quickly, with Autumn Glory not far behind. New brew Silverton Ruby (5.4% ABV) went down extremely well, with many people ordering a carryout of it to take home and share with their friends. Customers had a comfortable drinking atmosphere, either sitting inside, or utilising tables and benches in the mediaeval environs of St Pancras Church. Sofas on the verandah provided space for several happy customers (and their chihuahua) to enjoy Sunday’s spectacular thunderstorm, while keeping their outsides dry and their insides nicely beery-wet. The occasional customer expressed disappointment that they were not allowed to drink their beer from a seat on Father Christmas’s lap, but most customers seemed to agree that a pop-up-pub was a much better addition to a shopping centre than a Santa’s Grotto. Some even urged the brewery to claim squatter’s rights! However, Exe Valley Brewery is not in the business of destroying children’s dreams, so the space will soon be nobly surrendered to the man with the reindeer. For the moment, anyway…”