FROM the outside it looks like a bit like a pub that’s trying too hard to be trendy and attract the student crowd – eager to blow their loans on beers and a few flutters on the quiz machine.

Its muddy-grey exterior with gold painted trimmings certainly stands out as I struggle up Queen’s Park Road, thirsty for a pint after a long day of ale-based espionage.

The Islingword Inn in Hanover might not be everyone’s cup of tea from the outside, but once you step over the threshold it’s a different story.

The warm and cosy interior was not at all what I had been expecting.

It’s all wooden panels, dark-red paintwork and open fires, which give it the feel of a traditional country pub.

But the range of beers on offer was bang up to date, with a decent selection of IPAs and more unusual brews to choose from.

I’ve always admired a good suit of armour – and the Islingword boasts a real beauty beside the hearth, looking down solemnly on the punters in the bar area.

From the outside, I was half expecting the place to be packed with hipster types, sipping craft ales from a jam jar at £6 a pop – all neatly trimmed beards, checked shirts and full-sleeve tattoos.

How wrong I was.

The bar was packed all right – but it was full of football fans rather than avocado enthusiasts with funky moustaches.

And a lovely bunch they were too.

It was Spurs against Man City in the Champion’s League


Not the insane second leg which saw four goals in the first 12 minutes and went down as one of the craziest matches in the competition’s history.

No, this was the more subdued first leg, which Spurs edged 1-0.

I got the impression there were not many City fans in that night.

The bar was rammed with friendly fans – most of who seemed to be locals rather than students.

They were all glued to the slightly-too-small screen above the fireplace, cheering Tottenham on.

It was time for a drop to calm the nerves.

PubSpying doesn’t pay as well as you might think these days, so I was looking for a tipple at the cheaper end of the scale.

I was amazed to find a decent pint of ale for the princely sum of £3.35.

No, that is not a typo.

Breaker, I was told, is a guest ale, so is not always available.

But I was in luck as it has to be one of the best value pints I’ve had in Brighton.

It’s also brewed in Sussex by Laine Brew Co.

At 4.1 per cent it’s a decent session ale and goes down a treat – perhaps a little too easily considering it was a school night.

Its creators describe it as a “juicy, powerfully hopped pale ale that delivers fresh fruit flavours of melon, pineapple and citrus” and perhaps even more ridiculously “superbly refreshing, like diving into a breaking wave in mid-summer”.

I thought it was just a decent beer at an exceptionally decent price, but whatever floats your boat.

Some say the success of a pub depends entirely on the quality of the staff.

If that’s the case, then the Islingword has nothing to fear.

I only clocked one barmaid on duty during my visit, but she was a real grafter and took everything in her stride.

She didn’t bat an eyelid when one rowdy punter took a tumble off her bar stool and exchanged a few choice words with her other half.

Add to that a decent-sized beer garden for the smokers, a free pool table in the back and bog-standard bogs and you’re on to a winner.

In short, a good, old-fashioned boozer with plenty of character and a good section of beers.

Popular with the locals as well as students, they must be doing something right.

The Islingword Inn, Queen’s Park Road Hanover


Decor: Four stars

Traditional yet quirky, old school with a modern twist

Drink: Three stars

Solid selection of ales (and lager if you prefer)

Price: Three stars

Breaker is a real bargain, other beers less so

Atmosphere: Four stars

A friendly bunch – but then again Spurs did win

Staff: Four stars

Busy, bright and happy to help

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