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Published June 20th 2015
From Slumbering Monk to Pale Rider - ales galore in Tamworth
This little gem of a pub is almost synonymous with the history of drinking in the market town of Tamworth in Staffordshire. The Market Vaults probably originated as a wine and spirit vaults and may well date back to the 14th century. It also owes its name in part to the weekly market that has been operating in the centre of Tamworth since Anglo-Saxon times.
The pub, which has probably been trading as the Market Vaults since the 19th century, can be found in Market Street, next door to the old Town Hall where the business of the town was conducted. It was once one of half a dozen drinking establishments scattered around the main market place and remains a popular town centre pub today.
It can almost be regarded as a hidden gem, nestled as it is amidst a row of shops, but it was easier to spot on the day I visited due to the seasonal couple of tables and chairs outside. As soon as you walk inside there is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere in what is known as the lower bar at the front.
And there was a helpful list of the day's guest ales to complement the two regular beers - Joule's Pale Ale and Joule's Slumbering Monk. On the day I visited, the enticing guest ales included Titanic Nautical Mild, Gloucester Mosaic, and the intriguingly titled Kelham Island 'Pale Rider'. Both the front bar and the raised lounge at the rear have a traditional feel, assisted in winter by wood-burning stoves.
But on a summer visit like mine the picturesque garden at the back provided an equally welcoming sanctuary to drink in. If you're feeling peckish hot food is served until 6pm on most days, from pies to sandwiches, and all of it very reasonably priced.
The pub, which is currently owned by Joule's Brewery, also provides live entertainment as an added bonus, although you may have to move from your seat in the upper lounge otherwise you could find yourself in the band.