Plau, four years in the making…
When Blog Preston announced in 2014 that a former tattoo parlour was to become the city’s first micropub, there was great excitement. @ABeerInPreston‘s Simon Gooch headed down on opening night for a few pints and a snoop around.
Those of us who had seen Preston fall behind the likes of Chorley and Leyland’s small scale, free of tie ale houses and pubs whilst our town centre suffered from closures and pubcos cracking the whip over what ale venues could sell knew what a bar like Plau could mean.
‘Plau’ would be brought to us by the owners of The Continental, home of Preston’s legendary beer festival, and was described as a Victorian gin bar serving a couple of craft ales in homage to its previous existence as The Plough Inn in the early 1900s. History and great beer? We couldn’t wait!
Unbeknown to us, wait was exactlywhat we had to do. Before we could enjoy any of the fruits of owner Jeremy Rowland’s labours, the site’s history would cause no end of problems and delays. Curious crowbars revealed the full size of Plau’s cellar, as well as a hidden passageway, remnants of a 19th Century gin still and most excitingly of all, a 600 year old well. However, as the discoveries increased so did the wait, as weeks became months and the only people having any fun in the pub were the local university’s archaeology department.
As the jokes about Plau ever opening increased, thoughts turned to what market it would cater for. Touted as Preston’s first micropub, by early 2018, three had opened before it. On top of this, virtually every licensed premises was selling a plethora of gin and mixers and Preston was now, happily but surprisingly, awash with places to enjoy a good beer. Would Plau, now a three level “Gin & Beer House” ever come to being? And if so, would it survive?
In the summer of 2018, Jeremy announced Plau would be opening that autumn and that the home stretch had been entered. As the doubters scoffed, an advert for staff soon followed and pictures emerged suggesting the wait was nearly over. Whilst “autumn” became November, the day Preston had waited four long years for arrived: Plau would now open on the 16th November 2018. Would it be worth the wait?
In one word, Yes.
As we entered the front bar the gasps were probably heard on all three levels. A stunning array of art deco lighting and fittings, William Morris patterned furniture and an unearthed sign from the original Plough Inn greeted us, and it was a good few minutes before we would come to ordering drinks.
Eventually, our thoughts turned to drinks and more specifically, mine to beer. Approaching the bar I was confronted by four cask pumps and eight keg taps with cask from Blackjack, Arbor, Hopcraft and Cromarty and keg from Wild Beer, Fyne, Grateful Deaf, Woodman Wild Ale alongside German Lowenbrau Pils and Franziskaner Weißbier. Before I could choose I was directed to the fridges behind the bar which only proved to make my decision harder, as bottles and cans from Cloudwater, Vibrant Forest, Brew by Numbers, 8 Wired Brewing, Mondo Brewing, Redchurch and a whole host of sours, farmhouses, impy stouts and DIPAs added to my choice. I eventually settled for Wild Beer’s ‘Not Now Cato’, a refreshing farmhouse keg with perfect amount of tartness for my palate.
After collecting the wife’s “Plau Martini” we took the tour, and it left us mentally exhausted from the gasps, wows, finger pointing and exclamations. From the cellar bar and its restored well to the stunning dining area (complete with curtained off snug) and corridors in-between, Plau delivered everything we’d waited for, justifying itself against every scoff, doubt and statement that it would never happen.
Aside from the cellar bar’s sights and smells was a second selection of keg ales with Buxton, Brew by Numbers and Marble featuring. BBNo’s DDH Pale Number Four was my second beer of the evening and Buxton’s ‘Long Way From Baja’ my third with both hitting four plus on Untappd.
It was whilst sat in the cellar bar’s dark, relaxing gloom, Buxton ale in hand and a Brian Eno instrumental on the record player that the wonder of Plau hit me. It is so much more than an ale house. It is like drinking your favourite beer in a museum or art gallery, the beer entertaining your taste buds and the décor and atmosphere capturing your eyes and ears.
I tend to get excited about any new beer development in Preston, probably a tad too much in some cases, but with Plau I can safely say it is fully justified. People will travel to visit it and rightly so; it is worth the journey in the same way travelling to Leeds or Manchester for a beer festival, taproom or brewery open day is.
A complete beer experience.
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