The Alma nowadays is an eclectic place. It describes itself as "Cambridge's Rugby and Real Ale Pub" and the recent Rugby World Cup saw the place regularly rammed, even at 6am. Other sports are also popular here, with major events showing on the three big screens. The live music tradition continues as well. On Wednesday nights, local legend Ezio hosts the Songsmiths Sessions, a song-writers' open mic night which is recorded each week, with the best bits aired on Ezio's radio show. Bands often play on Saturday night - see the website www.almacambridge.co.uk for listings.
Thursday sees the popular quiz night with cash and drink prizes while Tuesday is Curry Night - a choice of six for only £5 when bought with a drink.
On to the real ales then. The Alma is a Greene King house but David takes full advantage of the guest and seasonal options. Only IPA is a fixture and the other five pumps change all the time. Morlands Original is a regular as David considers it a very under-rated beer (I agree). When I last called a superb drop of Bath Barnsey was available. 53% of the draught turnover is real ale and that percentage is rising all the time.
Food is served 12-2.30 and 5-9 weekdays, 12-9 Saturday and 12-4 Sunday. David describes it as "pub grub done well" with a wide choice of hearty dishes at good value prices.
The Alma has an interesting history. Until quite recently it was called the Alma Brewery because it had been the "tap" for a brewery founded in the 1830s. This was renamed the Alma Brewery after the first major battle in the Crimean War but closed in 1909. The Alma became a Tolly Cobbold pub but in 1982 was the last pub bought by CAMRA's own short- lived pub company. This was sold to Midsummer Inns, then Pubmaster and, in 1999, to the Essex brewers, Ridleys. They refurbished the interior and famously installed a telephone box filled with water - and piranhas (these turned cannibalistic and eventually just one huge specimen was left). Incidentally, David would love a photo of the box so if anyone can oblige.... Soon after, Ridleys was swallowed up, piranha-like, by Greene King.
The Alma today is a cracking pub with the clientele a lively mix of students, Chemistry Department staff, office workers from the Hills Road area, sports and music enthusiasts and, of course, real ale lovers. Well worth a trip into the derths of Newtown.