The Malt Shovel is the premier ‘real ale’ pub in Northampton. It was built in 1914 by the Northampton Brewing Company. It has been through many incarnations until it was purchased by its current owners in 1996. As well as being renowned in the area for good beer, the Malt Shovel also houses a vast collection of breweriana. It is a large pub which on the Friday night I went was very busy.
There is a good selection of local beers available. The Malt Shovel is the brewery tap for the Great Oakley brewery. The Great Oakley brewery operates a five barrel plant from Bridge farm, Great Oakley. Ales from Frog Island brewery are also available from the Malt Shovel. The Frog Island brewery is based around the corner from the Malt Shovel, and has been brewing since 1994. In total, there were about 10 real ales on tap at the Malt Shovel.
Great Oakley Harpers (4.3%). Harpers is a good brown bitter. It is a smooth drinking ale with a good complex flavours. I could taste a bit of wood and grassiness in this quite sweet rich bitter. A good quaffing bitter 6/10.
Great Oakley Gobble (4.5%). Gobble is a dark golden beer which is very rich and has a thick mouth feel. It is very smooth and easy drinking. Richness of golden syrup came through, as did slight apricot flavours. A tasty rich beer 6/10.
Elland Brewery Malt Shovel IPA (4.6%). The Elland brewery is based in Yorkshire, and was formed in 2002 as Eastwood and Sanders by the amalgamation of the Barge & Barrel and West Yorkshire Breweries. In 2006 the brewery was renamed Elland. This IPA is a light golden beer. The light theme continues in this very easy drinking beer. There is not as much flavor as I would have hoped for in this ale, especially given the levels of alcohol in it. 5/10