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Blacksmiths Arms, St Albans

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user reviews of the Blacksmiths Arms, St Albans

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Gone massively downhill under new management. There are rarely enough bar staff on busy nights, and the place is generally untidy and dirty. They also have a habit of cancelling bands at the last minute, and they treat them particularly badly. Most of the best local bands no longer play there. It has gone from my No. 1 choice for local music to a place where I only go if there's nothing else on.
GaryB007 - 8 May 2018 22:25
I do not understand how the beer quality can go from very good to very poor under the same management, been poor for well over a year now. Shame was a good pub.
Henners - 21 Jun 2016 12:27
Seems to be going downhill. Beer choice not as good as it used to be and my pint of Rooster(4.5%ABV) cost £4.05 which is taking the piss. Have now decamped to the White Hart Tap which has cheaper beer and is a much nicer pub with no f***ing TVs
baxterfish - 16 May 2016 16:27
I have visited here before as an away rugby fans, Worthing Raiders, and had to head back as the beer was excellent before. It's still excellent, 20 pumps on, light to dark, local to national. Red Squirrel Porter is superb.

Very polite bar staff too, keep up the good work guys!
Ade.The.Raider - 2 Apr 2016 12:42
Very busy pub with a mixed age clientele. Perhaps a little downmarket compared with some of the other pubs in the vicinity, but none the worse for that. A live band was playing, which had attracted a few geriatric rockers. Good selection of real ales, although my pint of Ringwood Best was a little stale and lifeless. Nice garden with plenty of tables.
Number11 - 9 Aug 2015 13:10
Busy pub in the town centre which nonetheless left us hunting for tell tale signs of 'Wetherspoonage', so akin to that chain did it seem to be. A burger with smoked mozzarella and bacon was excellent and the beer selection good - there is a good craft selection and my partner opted for Brew Dog Dead Pony Pale Ale while I went more trad with my Bishop's Farewell from Oakham.
BoehmBawerk - 11 Jan 2015 12:06
Good pub - but a couple of pricks as bouncers on Friday 1st August.
hertsboy - 3 Aug 2014 17:19
I like this place a lot. Not sure what it is exactly but its a good size with an excellent beer garden. Service level does depend on who you get and deteriorates the less busy the place is as the bar staff go on to standby mode. Beer selection is good, seasonal and caters for light and dark ale drinkers.
CityAlbion - 24 Jul 2014 16:55
Decent pub with a good choice of real ales. Enjoyed a McDonnels Stout and a Doom Bar - both in very good nick. 9/10.

wobblybob - 14 Jul 2014 23:17
Beer quality has been going downhill recently, had one the other day which was off and got a replacement that was mostly foam for quite a while and wasn't to my taste. The service is indifferent, depends who you get, when I got the bad pint previously meat there was no apology. Plus they seem to be getting a lot of citrus flavoured beer in.
Can get very hot and packed when the more popular bands are on.
IMG1975 - 30 Oct 2013 21:51
I had my card declined but complained via e-mail to the pub company and was informed there had been a 'miscomminication' and offered not only the free pint but a free meal also. Can't complain at the response.
baxterfish - 31 Aug 2013 13:20
Yes, my card was also denied yesterday depite being told last Wednesday it would be honoured. Detect a changing attitude to customer service.
webstercraft - 12 Aug 2013 14:56
No longer doing the loyalty cards (8th pint free), but what very bad is they won't honour the existing ones which is dishonest. Won't be going back. .
whimbreltits - 12 Aug 2013 14:22
A dreadfully overpriced pub , ridiculous really (r they in central London), God paid less for a beer in the Savoy bar! Awful ripoff of a place.
stevenr - 15 Jul 2013 01:11
Probably the best selection of beers in St Albans - I had a few nice pints of Oakhams Inferno this weekend. The beer garden is good, it has a lot of tables squeezed into it but it has clearly been thoughtfully designed and there is even a TV screen outside if you want to follow the sport. I thought the food was reasonably priced and the seafood platter I had was pretty good.
It is not the most atmospheric or historic looking pub in St Albans but it certainly seems well run and the staff are happy to talk to you about the beers and give a little taster if you are undecided.
a_cheeky_half - 4 Jun 2013 20:57
I've been there a few times recently to see some of the local bands (Co Jones being the best). Nice crowd and atmosphere and a decent selection of beers. Also popped in on the odd Sunday afternoon to watch the football. Haven't tried the food, but it looks and smells good.
GaryB007 - 14 Apr 2013 20:59
Nice array of handpumps on the bar dispensing beers ranging from light to dark and 3.5% to 6% this weekend from breweries such as Acorn, Thornbridge, Red Squirrel and Dark Star. Staff were friendly. The nacho sharing platter was definitely not worth the almost £7 price tag though, so perhaps avoid the food.
littledrummerboy - 3 Mar 2013 19:08
Offered a loyalty card.... But you have too many pubs in st albans to buy my loyalty. Looks like an identikit chain pub from the decor, but appears to offer a bit more.
Mappiman - 26 Feb 2013 20:40
Had an excellent value 3 course Christmas dinner for £16 with beers from thornbridge, red squirrel and arbor ales all in great form as usual, the staff are attentive and very helpful . Still st.albans most reliable choice of quality ales.
THUNFAN007 - 12 Dec 2012 23:21
Cracking range of beers on today 3.6 - 6.5% and pale to stout ,best kept range i have tried in this town, had the fishermans platter for lunch very good indeed.
THUNFAN007 - 22 Nov 2012 23:37
The newish manager does seem to think the world revolves around him. First he joins one of the bands as a drummer for a few songs then he has a 'lock in' for himself and his mates. The BlackSmiths' Arms is a PUBLIC HOUSE not a private party! There are licensing laws that even Managers should stick too!
hertsboy - 14 Oct 2012 12:55
This is a great pub now. I was there last couple of Saturday nights when "Scam 69" a punk covers band was playing. Good atmosphere.

Nice beer garden too. I've also tried the food here on a Saturday afternoon - quite good.

The fly in the ointment are the toilets - tiny and not that well looked after.
hertsboy - 7 Oct 2012 13:34
2nd best in St Albans (after Farmers Boy) for variety and number of well hopped ales. Loyalty cards not as generous as a couple of years ago but still worthwhile for a regular. Service generally alert & friendly. Often good bands Fri / Sat. Plenty to offer.
Hopsucker - 11 Sep 2012 12:10
The pub itself is clean and tidy but nothing extraordinarily special, but a good range of beers on offer and excellent service makes it well worth a visit. Didn't eat here but food looked good, too!
ecksact - 1 Aug 2012 01:34
Much improved pub. Good beer and nice atmosphere.
hertsboy - 21 Jul 2012 20:59
I still like the Blackies. It's still a bit pubco-crap but one can forgive much for the ever-changing range of well-kept ales and the cheerful staff.

Playing "chase the sun round the garden tables" of an evening is an amusing pastime.
soodly - 20 Jul 2012 11:35
saturdays beer range went from oakham citra very light 3.6% through 8 other ales to the mighty death or glory at 7.2%. loyalties cards still in use .new menu looks good and large garden very well planted.
THUNFAN007 - 17 Jun 2012 21:20
Still the best pub for beer in St Albans. Not the most characterful place and the TVs are annoying but worth it for the beer.
baxterfish - 8 Jun 2012 19:57
Excellent pub among the many in St Albans, but one of the few I try and go back in each time I visit. 6 ales always changing and well kept. Food is excellent too. Sport on and a weird but nice decor. Always worth going up the top of St Peters street for.
busker999 - 6 Jun 2012 20:28
Great pub, great real ales - the best selection and some of the cheapest in St Albans, great live music, great staff, lovely sheltered rear garden, 4 TV screens (one in the garden), good CD music, big selection of food all day, every day with roasts on a Sunday at brilliant prices. There is always something interesting happening at The Blackies - regular Real Ale festivals throughout the spring and summer.

Don't pay any attention to reviews written over 3 years ago - those days have long since gone. The Blacksmiths Arms rocks!
lemonrocker - 26 Apr 2012 18:55
Reasonably busy at lunchtime, and offered a decent enough two meals for 8.95 menu which we chose from.

More exciting was the range of 10 ales on offer, ranging from 3.6 per cent Brynhild Golden Ale from the Valkyrie Brewing Company to a 6.5 per cent dark beer. Tried the former, also two Buntingford and Kelham Island ales which were also in decent nick and just over 3 a pint.

Both guys behind the bar were happy to answer questions and offer tasters of the various ales, which is also appreciated.

Two large screens showing Sky Sports News and even a helpful badly dressed transvestite opening the door for us when we arrived.

Various different special offers on food (curry and steak nights) each day as well as pitchers and cocktails on a Friday.
duchyjim - 13 Feb 2012 17:54
Busy pub showing sports but had a decent range of ale when I visited. The staff were quick to serve and knowledgeable in terms of the ale they offered.
BlueMoon - 20 Dec 2011 15:58
Beer always excellent especially the Red Squirrel London Porter.
whimbreltits - 2 Dec 2011 22:14
Had another good curry night here on Wednesday. Excellent beer(best in St Albans) with a Halloween/Autumn theme. Shame about the annoying TVs.
baxterfish - 28 Oct 2011 20:02
Best head over the road to The Cock...
weezel - 26 Oct 2011 02:17
Have not visited this pub for nearly a year and was dissapointed with the so called live band advertised.What they lacked in talent they certainly made up for in decibels and would much rather have watched the widescreen but this proved impossible as the racket was so bad.We did not stay long.Ruined my Thursday night out but the beer was ok.
Danno22 - 19 Oct 2011 19:47
Excellent pub.

Good service, really good choice of ales which were on form. Friendly locals.

Will definitely be back, probably to have a go at the good priced menu.
willesden_seadog - 23 Sep 2011 08:01
excellent days drinking here today,beer fest at end of month. comments amuse me;if beer is great and service is great how can a pub be just ok ,those are the 2 main factors for a good pub(lack of salad in a pub is a plus point surely)
THUNFAN007 - 18 Sep 2011 00:07
Okay for what it is - a town centre circuit pub with a chain feel to it. If it wasn't for the quality of the ale - Salopian Twister a very nice pint (and the offerings of live musical entertainment in the evenings) one would think one was in a Wetherspoons.
anonymous - 8 Sep 2011 21:19
Pub No.6

Ok pub
Excellent beer
Good service.

Recommended: 8/10
whimbreltits - 4 Sep 2011 11:39
Excellent beer - best in Snorbans. So-so pub, but friendly.
webstercraft - 26 Aug 2011 00:25
Disappointed that they have changed their menu again & have got rid of the nice salads they had - the ones on their now don't appeal. It was one of the few pubs in st Albans where you could go for lunch & get decent beer and a good salad. The decent beer is still there but not the salads. Oh well, will just have to eat somewhere else & just go for the beer.
MagnustheMandrill - 2 Aug 2011 11:56
As one of the fortysomethings murdering an Elvis Costello song back in February 2011 in the opinion of an earlier poster, I just thought it was my humanitarian duty to defend the pubs fortnightly Thursday bandaoke night from the perspective of those who do and those who might enjoy it!
Tuning might well have been a bit off for Olivers Army, but I think its a little unfortunate to have based an entire review of a pub around it. I constantly play paid gigs with numerous bands, and problems with monitoring & other momentary factors (mechanical and human) often prevent things from sounding exactly spot on.
Thats part of the danger of live music (as opposed to listening to an MP3 or CD) and of course, potentially its downside.
Ive learnt that you can never be all things to all men (& women), and that theres no point in trying to convert everybody, but the evening has proved to be very popular with many customers since beginning in November 2010.
For those that dont know what bandaoke is, think along the lines of a sensible karaoke, but backed by a live band. It gives keen amateur singers (NOT stag or hen night guests!) a chance to have a go at a song of their choice in front of a live audience, sometimes with pre-arranged live backings, but very often with spur-of-the-moment suggestions that the musicians do their very best to back (often with great success).
Most of the members of the house band (myself included) play with other acts with more pre-planned and consistent arrangements (that have less to go wrong as such), but weve discovered some truly entertaining vocal performers in our 8 months so far and many of our growing regular audiences enjoy the slightly unpredictable nature of the evening. For me too, its a highly enjoyable contrast from the more predictable musical gig evenings I involve myself in too.
Whether or not the original poster has been reassured by my points above, I hope its explained what the evening is all about. I hope it also urges some people (the original poster included naturally!) to reassess more positively the impression they have about this, either first-hand or from what theyve previously read here.
pbd - 27 Jul 2011 16:26
Still providing the best beer in St Albans. Not the most atmospheric of pubs and they should get rid of the TVs. Nonetheless, highly recommended.
baxterfish - 26 Jul 2011 21:30
Continues to be excellent for both beer & food. Staff extremely friendly & helpful. Still the best real ale pub in St Albans (at the moment).
MagnustheMandrill - 20 Jun 2011 12:30
hi,more beers than i can drink today and big plates of food passing by, highly recommended
THUNFAN007 - 11 May 2011 20:13
in early today 10 beers on mainly light but tasty oakham/brewsters/bombadier/dr.mortons . 5.95 pie and pint deal. continually great beer and service;still 7th pint free.
THUNFAN007 - 11 Mar 2011 22:58
Oh dear, oh dear. Havent been out this way for a bit so dropped in on Thursday night. Football on the TV, and a decent pint of Bauhaus (wherever that is from) and then an absolutely awful band start playing forty somethings who are incapable of tuning guitars (you can get a little gadget that does this if your ears are not up to it), and then they start murdering Costellos Olivers Army, with the most atrocious out of tune singing. That along with a very ropey pint of Taylor Landlord meant that a swift exit was in order. Why put on a crappy band like that in a place like this; why not allow people to sup their pints, watch the footie and hold a conversation? Odd.
alebarry - 25 Feb 2011 14:47
hi, great selection of beers again this week from brewdog 3.2% to oakham 5.5% light/ dark/nutty/malty/bitter/fruity they have al sorts. beer fest at the end of the month.
THUNFAN007 - 12 Feb 2011 18:43
HI,SEASONS GREETINGS, fantastic selection of ales on christmas eve both light and dark ,weak and strong. had the turkey roast for 7 quid very nice. good atmosphere plenty of laughter ,friendly landlord and staff.
THUNFAN007 - 28 Dec 2010 20:03
Still good - came in here after having lunch at The Portland Arms - no comparison, The Blacksmiths wins hands down. Far better choice of beer, food far superior & infinitely cheaper, far more atmosphere & much better all round experience. Will definitely be coming back here, won't return to the Portland Arms.
MagnustheMandrill - 13 Dec 2010 07:49
Now easily the best choice of beer in St Albans. 8 or 9 beers on, 5 of them porters!!! Despite Lookmother's comment below, the food, although not award-winning, is pretty good for the money(8.95 for two meals). The TVs are annoying though.
baxterfish - 29 Nov 2010 23:48
It's more like drinking in Comet than a pub in here. TV screens all over the walls, generally with Sky Sports News on a loop.

I understand putting sports on, but only when there's actually sports on. How's about keeping the TVs off when there's no reason for them to be on? Ruins atmosphere and conversations.

Also, the food is uniformally shocking. Microwaved at best.

Shame as they've got a really really good beer selection.
lookmother - 22 Nov 2010 13:20
This pub has improved so much recently - excellent beer, good food, friendly staff. Don't go anywhere else in St Albans now. Worth a try if you haven't visited recently - you'll be pleasantly surprised.
MagnustheMandrill - 9 Nov 2010 14:19
impressive selection of ever changing real ales,loyalty card scheme(buy six get one free)sky sports,live bands friday&sat and great crisps! pub in stalebuns
thebuzzard - 24 Oct 2010 21:23
Excellent selection of real ales plus a real cider. My only doubt here is with the decor. It is a little too modern for my liking, with its gaudy wallpaper. It was fairly quiet during our early Friday afternoon visit, with a few couples and a family tucking into late lunches. The curry smelt particularly good. Sky Sports News was showing on the TV. Beers available were Darkstar American Pale Ale, Wells Bombardier, Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, Cairngorm Sheepshaggers Gold, Rebellion Double Dip, Fraoch Heather Ale, Greenroom IPA, Oakham JHB and Buntingford Porter. The cider was Thatchers Cheddar Valley. Altogether, a fairly nice pub that despite the decor is recommended.
blue_scrumpy - 16 Oct 2010 10:31
Now laying claim to be a must visit when in St. Albans pub. Serving a selection of real ales usually including a draught cider it is a haven for the real ale drinker. Microbreweries are well represented here and are continually changing due to demand. I had a pint of Brewdog 5 AM Saint here....what a hop bomb that was!
drinkingdad - 10 Oct 2010 12:04
Popped in for the Wednesday night curry - excellent value and a pretty impressive beef vindaloo. Beer choice was superb and now easily the best pub in town for real ale. The Red Squirrel London Porter and Thornbridge Jaipur IPA were paticularly tasty.
baxterfish - 8 Oct 2010 22:28
Visited towards the end of the Beer Festival on Saturday. Crowded, noisy, lively, superb beer and good, reasonably priced food. Staff were very friendly and helpful.
thefirkintaster - 4 Oct 2010 18:15
They just understand the needs of the customers and realise who the customers are (unlike so many other pubs). Generally lots of real beer available, very helpful polite staff and even offer 7th pint free of charge. They just do everything right, have recommended this pub to lots of people and they all say the same thing, which is mostly how impressed they are with the customer service and choice of beers. It's such a simple formula which so many pubs get so wrong but Im pleased to say not this one
kingandrew - 4 Oct 2010 11:08
Popped in with my mate Bob prior to the St Albans Beer Festival. Very Impressed. Excellent selection of beers and a what looked a good menu all reasonably priced. Well worth a visit.
Huey - 30 Sep 2010 12:34
yet again great food and large choice of ales with polite staff.
THUNFAN007 - 18 Sep 2010 19:25
This pub is much improved. They have bands playing Friday/saturday nights.
hertsboy - 18 Sep 2010 12:07
Have dropped in 3 times in last week or so. Each time the ale was in top condition. Best choice of well kept beer in St Albans at the moment.
alebarry - 21 Aug 2010 20:00
Hehehehe My mum and dad had this pub also but not for long in the 80's.
sophiep - 4 Aug 2010 00:58
hi,i drink regularly in the blacksmiths and some of the comments here are confusing 1-the landlord is not a very young man ;but is a very experienced landlord. 2-beer choice of at least 8 ales usually from 3.6 to 5.7 percent ,sometimes upto 7.5 . 3-light beers only ;often a dark beer available but sales of these in summer will not be that high so who would overly stock them;on a similar note their beer is always the right temperature . 4- if you want to suggest a beer or beer style then just write a note or use a "pump action ticket" and they will see what they can do. 5- the 7th pint free card to use anytime is great making the average abv about 2.45 which is great. the food is always good and hot and served all day ,draught real ciders are now being introduced. i think this pub fills a great need in st.albans between the historic overpriced/under quality pubs and the cheap but unreliable wetherspoon waterend barn.
THUNFAN007 - 14 Jul 2010 13:14
The Blackies is still a bit of a standard pubco dump, but somehow they do manage to keep hitting the spot with the beer. I agree that they seem to offer a majority of light, brisk ales, but I see that as no bad thing in the summer. Plus, the ales on offer rotate with amazing frequency.

The current manager seems one of the better ones in recent years, despite being barely out of short trousers (as is generally the way with pubcos). He's polite and knowledgeable. We even overheard him give honest and accurate advice to a pair of chavettes who enquired how much of that ghastly bottled cider muck they could drink while still being legal to drive. Not his fault that the airheads ignored his advice and left rattling their car keys several bottles later.
soodly - 28 Jun 2010 09:11
This is without doubt the champion of Real Ale pubs in the whole St Albans area. Since the refurb a year ago, the quality of the ale here has been consistently high. It is true that you are often more likely to find lighter coloured, very hoppy ales here, usually around the 4 - 4.5% mark. The loyalty scheme is a stroke of genius (buy 6 Ales and get the 7th free, no time limits) and regular beer festivals ensure that all tastes are catered for over a period of time. Food here is exceptionally good for the price and you get a free drink (from a range) with several of the meals, making the Blacksmiths a good choice for a weekend lunch or evening meal. In addition, there is now regular live music here at the weekends, mainly rock covers bands of high quality, plus the occasional original act.

The staff are extremely helpful and friendly, which is a breath of fresh air with so many other pubs offering little more than a blank stare - shame on them!

As this pub/restaurant's reputation continues to blossom, you need to be fast off the mark to enjoy your favourite beers, as popular ones run out fast! 10/10.
lemonrocker - 31 May 2010 20:26
This pub is so much improved that it seems almost unfair to criticise. But in one area - the mix of real ales - I don't think it's got the balace right at all. Generally there is a lack of darker beers and a surplus of light, hoppy ones. The programme for the current "Best of the best" beer festival has 15 pale/golden ales and only 4 darker ones (which have already sold out).
At the moment the only way for customers to complain is to stay away altogether. It would be more constructive if the management actively sought our feedback.
historyloony - 31 May 2010 15:33
As the recent reviews state - this is a much changed place

Great selection of real ales, interior re-furbished and a nice garden. Food is basic but Ok

Fine if you are looking for a pint in the city centre - shows sport as well
tozerplan - 17 May 2010 14:35
Agree - the 5.2 rating is far out and relates to before this place changed. Shame ratings can't be reset when places change hands.

They're really trying hard with the real ale and always an interesting mix.

As a football fan is hard to find somwhere to watch a game that also serves decent beer and this place does that.
the_dragon - 5 May 2010 18:48
Oh wow, so much better than it used to be! The marking of 5.2 is way out of date.
dulldolly - 16 Apr 2010 11:10
A place i always walked past until a few weeks back.

I don't any more because the staff and the beer choice is spot on. The foods good to in the pub-grub sort of way.

One gripe - they never have a decent cider on even though they claim to.

ZapuTheSnake - 8 Jan 2010 16:14
I had to visit the UK on several occasions during 2008 and stayed with a relative who had recently taken up residency in St. Albans.
I had driven straight from Dover and had not drawn any funds so only had Euros.
We decided to look for somewhere to eat. We walked St Catherines street and espied the Blacksmith Arms.
It looked inviting, so we ventured in. I went to the bar and explained I had only Euros to one of the Bar staff, who turned out to be Spanish. He immediately put us at ease and suggested I open a tab for our food and drink using my debit card. This done he then showed us to a table, took our order and brought us our pints.
We devoured our great mixed grills and were visited by another member of staff who asked if every thing was OK and did we require any other service.
Just another two Becks please. Another smiling member of staff served us and told us a live band would be performing soon.
We watched and listened to Bridge Street, a talented band.
Downed a few more pints and made our way home after a most enjoyable evening.
Since that time I have visited the Blacksmith Arms, several times, for breakfast, lunch and evening meals, drinks and entertainment.
Please note: all the staff are wonderful, attentive, cheerful and caring. A credit to the Blacksmith arms.
Even the Security door staff, in fact the lady steward is so attractive, I contemplated causing an affray, so that I would be chucked out by her!
My luck I would have got the fellow.
Seriously though, the Blacksmith Arms is a pleasure to visit.
The staff are amazing.
Probably the Best Pub in the UK.
Kind regards.
Gordon E Stewart.

GordonE - 8 Jan 2010 15:37
Went to the Blacksmiths a few times over Christmas and New Year, the beer was consistently good & reasonably priced. Service was both efficient and friendly. Had lunch in there on one occasion, food was excellent (a great pie & pint deal - with a proper home baked pie !). No hesitation in recommending this pub to any of my friends & colleagues.
tomsk2 - 5 Jan 2010 12:05
Tried the food this time - was pretty good and ver good value at 7.95 for two meals.Beer still good. TVs still annoying.
baxterfish - 5 Jan 2010 11:23
Recently refurb, decent beer selection, more than one beer festival held on site recently. The beer choices were good, worth another visit.
RedHarvest - 18 Dec 2009 11:57
Payed a second visit on Saturday. Beer still good (Dark Star Hophead). Main complaint is still the TVs, although I think there may be one less now.
baxterfish - 7 Dec 2009 11:52
On a point of detail, the staff check the pub's toilets on the hour, every hour. Do other pubs check theirs once a week?! The new people at this place are working very hard and it has improved almost beyond recognition.
enterbluebottle - 4 Dec 2009 12:43
Haven't been in here for many years & only really went in to escape the rain but was pleasantly surprised. My partner reckons the beer choice was good & although we didn't eat, the food looked good & was reasonably priced. Only drawback really was the TV screens which were huge & seemed to be on every wall. Agree with previous coments that the staff were friendly & would suggest that the current 4.7 rating should be higher. Would definitely go back.
MagnustheMandrill - 3 Dec 2009 08:59
Dropped in on a wet and windy evening. Haven't been in this pub for many years as it has never been the place to come for a decent pint. I agree with recent comments below about the welcoming staff and the quality of the beer, although on the night I visited the range was rather unexciting - still very well kept though. Can't comment on the food, but don't see the point of going to a pub for food anyway. The decor/ ambience is a bit off-putting - a mishmash of styles, seemingly trying to cater for the sports fan (with unsubtle bit screens), the pub heritage fans (old photos and the like), the lager lads and those who want to eat in a pub that looks like a generic hotel restaurant. Maybe it's trying to be too many things. Doesn't feel like a place to linger.
alebarry - 16 Nov 2009 10:16
Popped in over the weekend for the first time and was pretty impressed. A little too Wetherspoons..ish for my liking, but the beer range and quality was excellent(especially liked the Oakham Atila) and the staff were welcoming.On the down side the several TVs were a bit distracting.Noted the comments about the food below, but didn't try.However, what others were eating looked pretty good so may have a go next time. Beer and food is all reasonably priced. Understand it used to be a bit rough, but doesn't seem that way now and certainly deserves more than it's current score of 4.4 The landlord is clearly trying hard so give it a go.
baxterfish - 15 Nov 2009 14:26
The staffs were quite welcoming and the premises appeared to be clean and presentable. However, the food was of a low standard. It took what seemed an eternity for the burger/lasagne to arrive and when it did it the burger was served very undercooked (almost raw!!). They managed to get the order wrong twice for the lasagne and when it came out after 30 mins it tasted like rubber!!

Overall we do not rate this Pub highly and unless it improves, we would recommend that you go elsewhere.

andy9988 - 6 Nov 2009 14:59
I would agree with all the recent comments - the landlord deserves top marks for all the efforts with real ale and has put on some very good ales. A festival a month is incredible and deserves full support. My only reservation is the internal side of the pub where the abundance of screens make it noisier than I would like, and the misfortune one night of having to witness a drunken slag performing a virtual lap dance with a lager drinker made an uncomfortable half hour- but otherwise I have nothing but praise and the pub is the 1st on my list for a n evening in St A
randyadlettquaffer2 - 4 Oct 2009 19:35
Well, it seems that you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear. On my previous visit in June this pub was on its last legs but its clearly been taken over by someone else and what a transformation theres been. The layout is essentially the same but the dcor and furnishings are much improved. Whoever owns/runs it now has clearly understood St Albans link to real ale and got some in. Not just some but 7 hand pumps, 6 of which were in operation. Although they were mostly at the top end, 4.6% plus, there was enough variety to make force a decision. Great idea about the loyalty scheme, they also have tasting notes for the current months beers and you can sign up to get an e-mail about upcoming beers. Theres a large beer garden with 20 plus tables with pleasant views of the church. At present they have a small marquee with 8 ales on stillage, including the excellent Exmoor Beast, all at 2.40 a pint (which played havoc with my performance on the quiz machine!). There are at least three plasma TVs showing live sport or Sky Sports News. Opens at 10am for breakfast with food served up until 10pm. Youve got to be a bit special to be considered a great real ale pub in St Albans but I reckon if this one keeps up its standards itll be in next years GBG.

Millay - 2 Oct 2009 08:18
Always had one of the best pub gardens in Snorbans, shame the pub WAS one of the worst. Big improvement recently. Been a few times including going to their beer festival. Nice range of real ales. had one dodgy pint but was happily exchanged for a fresh one. LOVING the real ale loyalty card. KEEP IT UP!
olly77 - 3 Sep 2009 20:16
Have popped in here a couple of times since the reviews started to show an improvement, including twice this weekend for their beer festival! The beer choice and quality was excellent with all beers in the festival priced at 2.40. With the free beer from the loyality card it made for an unusually cheap Snorbens night out!!
TheWhiteHare - 3 Aug 2009 12:37
Yes - a very welcome improvement here. Keep it up!
historyloony - 26 Jul 2009 17:52
The new management are really making an effort. Five real ales, generally well kept, at reasonable prices, and the loyalty cards (1 pint = 1 stamp, 6 stamps = next pint free) bring the effective price down to 2.15-2.35 per pint. Drinking in the garden is lovely, and the toilets are clean.
jandl - 20 Jul 2009 13:19
New effort being made in this pub - went in yesterday Monday about 4pm and is now offering 5 handpumps (Landlord and Bombardier regular with the guests on - Whitstable, Morrisey Fox? and Tripple fff. seems very clean and tidy with lovely big beer garden where the car park used to be. Loyalty card now offered for Ale drinkers.
Chunkyetti - 14 Jul 2009 13:20
This really is a pub that serves little purpose and looks to be struggling to survive. Cheap food deals, and no doubt cheap food, Fosters and John Smiths Smooth was on offer at 2.35, no cask beer and the Guinness I had was pretty poor. All rather depressing really.

Millay - 28 Jun 2009 09:29
Judging by the reviews this pub seem to have got worse!
hertsboy - 20 May 2009 12:04
Worst dropout pub of St Albans - really letting the town down.
Hertsgal24 - 29 Mar 2009 04:00
I had a wonderful experience here when I was halfway through my meal of simple bangers and mash.I discovered one of the sausages was not cooked and pink inside,so I complained.The female chef stormed from the kitchen not even to acknowlede me.she could have given me bad food poisoning.So she slapped the refund into the barmans hands and stormed back into the kitchen.I would steer well clear of this pub if you value your health,as the chef doesnt care.
columbo77 - 20 Jul 2008 19:50
It's just a bit sh*t really.
sludge - 17 Jun 2008 12:01
Depends what you are in to, good place for watching sports Ive found but that would probably be my only reason to go there. I would say the service was ok although they seem to finish serving food at random times even after you ask when they are serving until
anonymous - 31 May 2008 12:10
Turd hole.
matt_k - 21 May 2008 15:47
Chav pub that is souless and stinks of puke.

Awful decor, not a nice atmosphere. Avoid.
mustaine - 24 Apr 2008 12:08
This is a terrible pub. I went here recently and the female bar staff were to busy watching sport on ther screen behind the bar to notice I was waiting to be served.

Good points: beer garden, cheap beer

bad points: Poor service, Frequented by Chavs

Best to avoid really.

hertsboy - 7 Apr 2008 12:03
the first hog'shead that i have ever seen with it's own name, decent pint of deuchars ipa and cute barmaids and reasonable too, 7/10
fat_beer_badger - 27 Mar 2008 19:59
i agree with the comments but for the age group it attratcs its the meeting point in the town due to other pubs refubing and closing down, the staff there are rude espically the girls, if you are a girl try showing your nipples you might get served quicker!!!!also they give you attitude as sson as you walk in...bouncer are friendly. alot of chavs do come here but then where else can they go??mc dondalds not there any more...
natacus - 17 Mar 2008 11:10
My God!

This place is only going to appeal to you if you have the mental capacity of a goldfish.

Avoid like the plague!
A_full_time_musician - 9 Jan 2008 20:44
My God!

This place is only going to appeal to you if you have the mental capacity of a goldfish.

Avoid like the plague!
A_full_time_musician - 9 Jan 2008 20:44
As recently as 18 months ago, this place was actually pretty cool, not that you'd guess as much if you went in there now.

These days the place is full of pissed up chavs drinking vodka red-bull mixers. The staff look like they have better things to do than actually serve you a drink, which they do badly. The beer is cheap, for a good reason - it's shite.

Yeah it has a beer garden, but so does the White Hart Tap. And the Goat.

matt_k - 29 Nov 2007 15:59
I agree with previous comments, this is an awful pub. the only reddeming feature is a sizeable beer garden.
hertsboy - 1 Nov 2007 09:23
No ale ! Say no more...
RichGordonUK - 3 Oct 2007 12:34
Was there tonight. Terrible pub. There is an air of menace hanging over the place, seems to be full of people from London Colney, Park Street and Hemel.
Sherminator - 23 Jun 2007 22:57
Awful. Staff obviously hate the place too.
seasiderMM - 2 May 2007 18:48
Great reasons to drink here:
Karaoke Thursdays, early start for market on wed & Sats, Bombardier, john smiths, Deauchars IPA, massive beer garden, great selection of spirits, and Alfie the barman, Nick the Karaoke Man very sexy people!!!

Poor aspects of the pub:
other staff are lazy and not that great! managers are clueless as to what the pub needs, clientle occasionally shakey!

overall great place to have a meal with your better half, or a few quiet drinks with the lads more of a meeting place then a venue!
anonymous - 27 Apr 2007 10:56
If you are a working class male who wears a baseball hat, drinks Stella and reads the Sun you will like this place (not that you will ever read this). Nice beer garden (where you can hide from the clientele).
RashersOKane - 2 Feb 2007 16:08
Not the place it used to be. Empty and no atmosphere. Used to be a top place but whilst beer is ok its now a place to have one to start off from and then move on quickly. Put it back as it was.
mockingbird - 28 Aug 2006 18:02
Is the nightmare manangeress still there? the one who kicked out all the quality trade and replaced it with the chavs from the Bell, et al???
anonymous - 15 Aug 2006 14:07
Karaoke very good on a thursday GORGEOUS host!! Quite quiet on the weekends though.
s_xyt1ts - 6 Aug 2006 18:13
Finally this pub is starting to take off again. A much needed decor change gives this pub a fresh modern feel. A lively atmosphere with a large beer garden makes for an enjoyable visit. A very enjoyable weekly Karaoke on Thursday nights too!! Check it out.
sir_nigel - 29 May 2006 14:14
Yes it's changed and the barstaff have improved. But for beer there's only John Smiths now, whereas a month ago there was Bombardier and Youngs Special. Harumph - I'm not impressed!
Better news: the Blacksmiths has started opening at 8am on Saturday and Wednesday (market days) to serve breakfast, either a full English or vegetarian. Prices at around 2.95/3.95 seem reasonable.
So it could be worth a few visits for breakfast, but for a drinker's pub I still give the Blacksmiths a thumbs-down.

timkholman - 25 Mar 2006 09:06
Out with the old and in with the new, new boss trying to intice theyounger scene, once u get past the regulars its sexy barstaff and a great atmosphere
anonymous - 22 Mar 2006 03:09
Going downhill. Chavs predominate, slurping lager and gawping at the sport on TV. Hogshead pubs tend to be either very good or lamentable. I'm afraid this one is now one of the latter. Its only attractions are the food and, to an extent, the bright and spacious decor.
anonymous - 2 Feb 2006 12:18
The Blacksmiths used to be an excellent pub but sadly it is now deafening music, poor beer and tacky neon signs and lights everywhere. Tragic loss of the nicest town centre pub.
twangothan - 15 Jan 2006 18:27
The Cock is always worth a visit for a meal, or just a quick drinky. The beers are nothing special, currently IPA and Abbots, but there are over 80 wines available, service is good and the pub is clean and well laid-out. Given its central location and proximity to the railway station, it seems to attract more 'passing trade' than regulars, so the atmosphere is businesslike rather than welcoming. Never mind. Chavs tend to keep away, preferring the pub over the road and all points north.
anonymous - 28 Dec 2005 09:41
'Functional' is the word, I feel. Several lagers, only one beer (currently Bombardier), and lunches served from 11-2. Good central location.
anonymous - 23 Aug 2005 21:35
When I was last in here the Stella on tap was a reasonable price (by English standards. The cellar is well kept. Good lively pub. ALthough I have been told that since I emigrated it been taken over by Chavs....haven't been home to confrim the rumours yet though.....
10poundpom - 1 Jun 2005 04:41

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