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Updated: Apr 8

The Druid at Gorsedd opens it doors - a photo special

Following an Easter beer sojourn to the North-East of England we are catching up here with the opening of the new look Druid Inn in the small village of Gorsedd, near Holywell, Flintshire - launched in mid March by the burgeoning Pubs Ltd group, led by pubs guru Jerry Brunning.

Druid magic is back in Gorsedd

The Druid is the first pub in the Principality for the now five strong Pubs Ltd group and follows a major but highly sympathetic renovation and refurbishment of this once popular village pub. Formerly owned by the Thwaites, it sits conveniently just across from the Victorian built St Paul's parish church. This opening flies in the face of the pub closures throughout Wales last year; in 2023 more than 60 pubs closed with the loss of several hundred jobs and much business for local suppliers, including breweries. Not the most encouraging of environments for a new launch.

However, the Cheshire based company has done a fine job on this centuries old building - said be the oldest in the village - nurturing fundamental features while adding their own idiosyncractic touches, with nooks and crannies for drinking and dining and open fires and wood burners burning brightly.

The Druid welcomes drinkers
Cosy beamed bars

A bigger space for groups.

Food will play a big part in life at the Druid. The dining spaces offer smaller alcoves for a bit of privacy or larger areas to accommodate groups. There is a very lively and comprehensive menu with traditional pub classics including pies and steaks and offering innovative dishes like crispy pork belly with black pudding and roasted duck breast or a lentil and cannellini bean 'cottage pie' with red cabbage. Check out the bar nibbles too: how about a trout and mussel pakora? On our visit we favoured the pork which matched nicely with a pint of Facer's Don't Worry Be Happy ale - newish one we think.

Unusual pctures decorate the plain walls.
A fine whisky selection supplements the ales.
What's up on the board then?

Which, of course, brings us to the beer. It is looking very good. There's a big support for cask ale - as you would expect from the man who opened the Old Harkers Arms in Chester under his previous incarnation as the founder of the Brunning & Price pub company (now owned by the Restaurant Group); 'Harkers' became - and remains after 30 years - a cask ale destination for the city. *

Getting the beers in at the Druid

The locally recruited young Druid team is being headed up by Ray Faulder-Jones, who worked in the pub previously. Ray is very committed to cask and has liaised with independent brewers in North East Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire to source some of the very best ales for the early weeks of opening. These include Stonehouse, from just across the border in Shropshire, Big Hand Brewery in Wrexham, Magic Dragon at Eyton, Facer's in Flint, Conway Brewery, Hafod of Mold, Purple Moose of Porthmadog and Weetwood Ales, at Kelsall, Chester. I understand there are plenty more to come. All this alongside the house JPA (3.6%abv), an easy drinking house beer brewed exclusively for the group pubs by Big Hand.

JPA on the way - named for the big man it is exclusively brewed for Pubs Ltd at the Big Hand brewery in Wrexham. At a low 3.6%abv it aims to be an easy drinking house beer throughout the estate. And Jerry likes it of course.

Ray tells me: " We've been open just under three weeks now and the response has been amazing, with customers enjoying the refurbished pub and our food and drink.

"With Pubs Ltd I have a lot of autonomy when it comes to selecting our beers, wines and spirits and we have had a lot of postive feed back about our cask ale selection."

Well, long may it remain so; local beer is an essential ingredient for a good cask ale pub - as we will describe later in our report from our beer trip Northwards.

Further local support sees the popular Wrexham Lager on the bar along with 'craft' Turncoat IPA from Weetwood. There's also Stowford Press cider and Freedamm alcohol free lager for the driver.

The ebullient Jerry tries a pint of the JPA house beer. Cheers Jerry to a smashing new pub for the Principality.

Purple Moose up from Porthmadog. Two very different pales. The Elderflower is quite a masterpiece in this style of pale ale, quite perfectly balanced.
The fires burn brightly at the Druid - perfect for enjoying a pint or two of Weetwood Bitter.

A rich variety of ales: Facer's offers a deep well balanced golden beer while Weetwood Best is a fine modest strength Cheshire bitter.

The Druid is looking like a cracking addition to the pub landscape of this particular corner of the north-east Wales. However, in a pre-opening blog piece Welsh born Jerry expressed a little trepidation for the Druid, voicing his concerns for the industry on the rapidly rising costs for pubs in recent times, tax issues and the very tough economic and social climate as many people spurn the pleasures of the pub in favour of home dining and drinking.

With this very substantial investment in Pubs Ltd's fifth pub renewal in just six years we speculate that Jerry might now be secretly hoping for a little of that mythical Druid sourcery to touch Gorsedd and help out Ray and the team. If so, let's hope it does the trick. Cheers Jerry.

Pictured: Some of the Pubs Ltd and Druid team - centre (the big chap) is Jerry Brunning with manager Ray fourth from the right.

*A footnote for history: At Beer Tours UK we have longevity in the pub landscape of Cheshire and North Wales and we can well recall Jerry Brunning opening Harker's in Chester, where the very splendid Boddington's Bitter and Flowers Original were served - making a huge impact for beer lovers in a city then dominated by the bland pubs and beer of Greenall's of Warrington; Chester was very ready to welcome a change. Since then we have followed Jerry's activities with a close interest, nay fascination even. His new company Pubs Ltd first relaunched the Swan in Marbury in 2018 and since then has seen The Hare at Farndon, the Black Bear in Whitchurch and Chester's Henry Potts - formerly the Big Hand Ale House and one time Fat Cat - join the fold.

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