Review – The all new Dog and Gun pub, Keswick

dog and gun keswick lake district
The shiny new Dog and Gun pub in Keswick.


“They’ve replaced a real Lakeland pub with a counterfeit version of itself!”. @Neiltribe


Below is an amended post I did on Facebook recently reviewing the newly refurbished Dog and Gun pub in Keswick, Lake District. I’ve just returned from a weeks trip in Glenridding and so during that period I popped over to check out the transformation of this legendary walkers and climbers hostelry 

I must admit the refurbishment isn’t as bad as I imagined (some thoughts HERE in a previous post) but I’m afraid to say it’s lost ALL of it’s rustic charm, historical character and heart to the tides of corporate tastes. Read on….



WHAT’S NEW?

REFURBISHED DOG AND GUN PUB KESWICK
“City bar meets rural pub style”.


The ales? Good. Enjoyed four. All in tip top condition as usual. But the choice is overwhelmed by the Keswick Brewery ales. No bad thing of course. But it does feel more like a ‘brewery tap’ than the free house it was before. I’m no big fan of Keswick Brewery’s ales but that’s just my opinion of course, so you may beg to differ. I like a couple of their brews but generally find them somewhat underwhelming. Just because they’re a local microbrewery doesn’t mean the ales will taste great of course. Good ale is good ale, small or large brewery. You still get at least four other guests (trade depending) which is much more than can be said for other establishments. Whether that continues with with future visitor numbers? Who knows.

To help all the ‘city types’ (and I’m being tongue-in-cheek) along with the uninitiated to real ale, you now get the rather common place samples of ale in twee jars along the bar coupled with a tasting note label – just in case the staff cannot describe their wares to you (which ironically they can in this pub) and you need a ‘guiding hand’. Helps with folks ordering at the bar during busy periods I guess. But a bit too twee and ‘pubco’ for my tastes.

The staff are spot on as usual – the same team but all dressed in a smarter uniform which is often seen in pubco establishments. I use uniform specifically there with a nod to big chain pubs tastes for all-in-one formatting but it loosely applies to the rest of the pub. Whether that’s a bad thing or not, is up to you. Again this is all subjective.

The decor of the pub continues to reveal the grubby fingerprints of “corporate pub-ism” (I made that saying up so no sniggering). You’re presented with fine pine furnishings that finish of corners and walls, phoney artefacts on display and standard fonts for displaying fare. It was noted on social networks (thanks to the Keswick Boot Company initially) that some of the old climbing paraphernalia had been dumped in the skip outside during the renovation. Thankfully some of the locals managed to save these and will soon be put on display in the local museum and Cotswold Outdoor store.

That says a great deal in my book to the new owner’s attitude to the place and it’s history.

On a more positive note, the new seating and table arrangements do make the pub feel much more roomy. Good for bums on seats flying in and out, but along with the new decor adds to that corporate pub vibe. You get an idea of this in the photos embedded here of course.

The charm, rustic character, warts and all look that people flocked to the Dog and Gun for is now in my opinion sadly lost. “Corporate pub-ism” is the name of the game at play here now.

What is revealed as you stroll through the door is a ‘city bar meets rural pub style’. And for me that’s very sad. You ought as well go and visit the new Wetherspoons off the main street because it’s much the same in atmosphere and appearance – but cheaper and with more room for crowds of tourists and locals! And to be fair, their cultural displays are genuine and informative unlike much of what’s on show in the Dog and Gun.


DOG AND GUN KESWICK INTERIOR
Authentic spanner on the wall.

THE LOOK


Would I visit again? Of course. The ale and staff are spot on. The tiny pub does give off an air of charm but sadly very much diminished from before. The pub has had a large ‘something’ taken away. Make no doubt about it.


If this was a new pub, then I’d probably feel a bit more positive towards the new look. Alas I don’t. I frequented the Dog and Gun often throughout the year(s). It saddens me to see the changes made by the new owners. A gentleman who works at the pub had commented on my Facebook page defending the refurbishment and I quote…

“We were in a position where we needed to refurbish the pub as it was in a poor state as nothing had been spent on it for 15 years. I have listened a lot to our loyal customers and we have kept the Lakeland feel of the pub, climbing pics etc are in pride of place. I have also worked with Keswick brewery to add in 8 cask beers as they are so popular. We have also mended the real fire and our famous goulash is pride of place on the menu…..It’s my local pub and I am passionate about getting it right for everyone”.


The “Lakeland feel” is debatable to say the least. The real fire is crowded out by seating and tables. I know old pubs like the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham (built into caves) that’s had “nothing spent on it” for centuries. England is chock full of delightful old pubs that have little changed down the years. It’s part of their charm and what makes each and every one of them unique!


The new Dog and Gun is a pleasant place to visit – albeit not the one we may have all cherished before.

If you like such touched up places as I’ve described above? You’ll love it. 

If you prefer something much more authentic and culturally attached to the area? Maybe less so. You’ll pop in but you’ll likely seek an alternative somewhere else (unless you’re a creature of habit and stick with it).

Of course this is just my opinion. But I do try to be fair from the point of view of loving traditional community public houses. If I wanted to pop in a pub much like the majority of the refurb vibe that the Dog and Gun now possesses, I’d likely walk round to Wetherspoons and save some money.

I admire some felt the place needed a refurb and care about the pub as much as any of us. But for me personally, something has gone. Modern city styling meets phoney tradition has crept in and spoilt the day.


dog and gun pub lake district goulash
Little change outside thankfully.


CONCLUSION


I’m no cantankerous old fart. I love travelling, and culture never mind the great outdoors. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And that just about sums up my thoughts on what’s happened to the famous Dog and Gun.


A gentleman by the name of @Neiltribe on Twitter rather succinctly says “They’ve replaced a real Lakeland pub with a counterfeit version of itself!”. 


Needless to say lovers of traditional Lakeland pubs can judge for themselves. Lovers of city/town modern day styling of ‘traditional’ pubs can judge for themselves too.

Alas I’ll frequent the place cause I love my beers and it has an above average range on offer even if it mostly consists of Keswick Brewery offerings. The legendary goulash is still on but I’ll likely stagger into another public house to quench my thirst for good ale in a more authentic setting now for the longer ‘game out on the town’. Somewhere like The George perhaps around the corner. Who knows. We’ll see where my nose leads me. 

If you have any other recommendations, do please leave a comment below!
So ladies and gentleman, times are a changing – welcome to a new era.



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