I’m standing perpendicular, drinking horizontal, feeling un-peculiar.
Leather décor, dark wood paneling and a confronting portrait of Lemmy is what awaits you at the Hallcross in Central Doncaster. As I wait to meet one of the owners and his faithful bar manager, Claire, I sense that this pub has a real sentimentality for it’s past.
The building was originally the home of Cooplands Bakery until they relocated in the late 1970’s. Re-opening as a pub in 1979 the owners started brewing their own beer under the name Stocks Brewing Co. In the 1980’s they created their most iconic beer “Old Horizontal” that was inspired by the legendary Theakstons Old Peculiar. During this time most other pubs in the area were still brewing traditional English bitters and Stocks became one of the first to experiment with brewing a range of other beers.
In 1995 Stocks was sold to Century Inns. The brewery shut down and the production of Old Horizontal ceased.
In May 2018 the pub was taken over by its current owners. They made the decision to revive the iconic Old Horizontal and set out to find a brewer to help them.
The owner explains “We really wanted to reinstate the iconic Old Horizontal from the 1980’s. We wanted it to be as authentic as possible so we did some research and found the original recipe.”
“Then I thought, who do I know that could bring Old Horizontal back to its former glory. I had met Claire Monk from Welbeck Abbey Brewery before and I knew she was the sort of person who would understand the ethos of the original beer. She got it, she understood that we wanted to stick to the original recipe and traditional methods.”
“It’s been a huge success and we are so proud to say we are the only pub in the world to serve Old Horizontal”
Alongside the infamous Old Horizontal the Hallcross have three further custom beers, brewed by the team Welbeck Abbey Brewery.
St Ledger Gold is a 4.1% light, easy drinking golden ale named after the horse race which takes place every September at Doncaster. Established in 1776, the St Leger is the oldest of Britain’s five Classics.
Stocks Select is a 4.3% mid-brown best-bitter with well balanced sweetness, bitter and raisin fruit characteristics. It takes inspiration from another original ale brewed by Stocks Brewery back in the 1980’s
Stocks 26 is a 4.3% honey coloured ale. Understated with a little trick, a subtle kick and a crisp finish, ‘26’ pays homage to Doncaster Rovers legend, James Coppinger. If you’re not a diehard supporter Coppinger wears squad number 26 and is in his sixteenth season at the club. He is the only player to reach 500 total appearances for his beloved Doncaster.
The Hallcross is renowned for being at the epicentre of the Doncaster live music scene. The venue has a dedicated gig room which is decked out with the latest sound and lighting equipment. It is equipped to show major sporting events throughout the year and opens its door to many other community events.
To the rear of the pub you’ll find a cosy beer garden, which acts as an idyllic sun trap in the summer months. For a more intimate setting you can retreat to the Old Brewery room which was the fermentation room from the old brewing days.
The Hallcross is passionate about real ale. Every January they hold a beer festival to rival all beer festivals! Letting us in on a bit of a scoop Claire reveals their plans for 2020.
“Next year our festival will be called ‘Now That’s What I Call… A Beer Festival’ Taking inspiration from the iconic albums our festival will be based on the same philosophy. It will be a line up of all the best beers in the country. No fillers.”
Some of the fantastic beers they have lined up for this year include; Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby, Acorn Old Moor Porter, Surrey Hills Shere Drop and Phoenix Brewery Wobbly Bob.
Selected for next years Good Beer Guide, the Hallcross is well worth a visit. A mainstay of the Doncaster real ale and music scene and home of the infamous Old Horizontal, we may have introduced you to your new favourite ‘local’.