Since James took over, the pub has had a bit of a spring clean, with fresh paintwork, plants and new windows, but none of the traditional touches have gone. Furnishings include wooden benches, oars from the pub’s rowing team, brass plaques bearing the names of deceased regulars and a ‘rain check tree’, for people to keep a record of drinks bought for friends arriving later. Old maps and photographs place the pub firmly in Cambridge history, without seeming too ‘studenty’ or unwelcoming to locals. For those familiar with The Eagle’s smoke messages left by American pilots, the Radegund’s ceiling is similarly inscribed with messages – jokes and signatures of staff and customers.
But aside from layout, the pub’s USP is its varied selection of real ales - including its own pale beers ‘Sackcloth’ and ‘Habit’ (named after St Radegund herself, who was said to wear hessian.) James beams as he tells me that at any one time they have nine varieties on tap, with at least 36 separate barrels in the cellar. “One advantage of having a small pub is that it’s easy to manage, but with so many ales on at one time, I’ve really cancelled that out.” He makes an exasperated gesture with his hands, “But I think it’s important. When breweries ask me if I want a certain ale I ask, ‘Is there anywhere else in Cambridge which sells it?’ If the answer’s no, I’ll buy it.”
And the final proof that the St Radegund really is the city’s friendliest pub? After the interview I was offered a job. I’ll see you there on Friday.
- The St Radegund’s Unusual Ales:
- Sackcloth - 4.3% (Milton Brewery)
- A pale golden beer with a very hoppy flavour
- Habit - 3.6% (Milton Brewery)
- A light beer with a crisp, citrus finish
- Red Watch - 4.2% (Cambridge Moonshine Brewery)
- Bright red in colour, with a subtle smell and taste of blueberries