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Secret Drinker gives their verdict on The Westgate in Bury St Edmunds



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Welcome to the latest in our series of pub reviews by SuffolkNews' Secret Drinker, who will make their way round the county's watering holes and give you their honest opinion.

Never have I refused to finish a pint because it was bad.

In the surroundings of an old school pub, I was left reeling in my own disappointment. Was it the beer? A badly poured pint? Or just my own tastebuds letting me down on a sunny afternoon?

The immediate bar area, making the pub seem a lot smaller on initial thoughts
The immediate bar area, making the pub seem a lot smaller on initial thoughts

As the sun beamed down on Suffolk, I took myself to a pub that locals clearly loved.

The Westgate, in Guildhall Street, was my pub of my choice, as I explored the quieter streets of Bury St Edmunds away from the busy town centre.

It was formerly The Black Boy following a controversial name change by Greene King. Rich with history, the owners had quite clearly made an attempt to update the decor while keeping the older features of the inn.

The lager selection on offer. How I wish I kept my pint choice more simple
The lager selection on offer. How I wish I kept my pint choice more simple

A fireplace divided the main part of the pub, with the bar one side and a pool table and darts board on the other.

The pictures that lined the walls were a nice touch. Some celebrated Bury and previous years in the town, while others were just a nod to times gone-by.

A horde of people surrounded the bar, meaning service was not the quickest. But I was in no rush, and had plenty of time on my hands.

Once I was eventually served, I opted to savour a new pint again. Greene King's Yardbird at four per cent and £4.20 price looked the best bet. I quickly found out how wrong I could be.

Yardbird was just a pint full of disappointment
Yardbird was just a pint full of disappointment
They also gave a nod to the past (56724584)
They also gave a nod to the past (56724584)

You can drink all the lager in the world - and there was plenty on selection here - but sometimes a bad pint is just a bad pint.

It was like something I've never tasted before. The intended bitterness lingered for far too long, leaving a sickly taste in the mouth.

Subsequently, I could only think about what could have been. As I found my place at the bar earlier on, a pint of Guinness was poured to near perfection, leaving me with major regrets.

Despite the more modern surroundings, the music was a throwback to the 1980s, with a jukebox blasting out classic after classic from the era. Several of the regulars struck me as people with excellent music taste, and I can only doff my cap to them.

Regulars spent plenty of time visiting the jukebox, which I had zero complaints for
Regulars spent plenty of time visiting the jukebox, which I had zero complaints for
A nod to Bury St Edmunds and its past
A nod to Bury St Edmunds and its past

As a result, the atmosphere in the pub had a gentle hum to it. Groups of men digested the week's football, while plenty of laughter was to be had. The spring sunshine was sampled in the beer garden.

Still though, it became apparent that if you weren't a regular you weren't the most welcome. It didn't seem like a pub where many visitors to Bury retreated to, although there was an advertisement for a B&B in the window.

With the B&B advertising, I was sure there would have been food served. However, there was no sight of a menu anywhere, on tables or at the bar.

That said, I imagine it is most likely resourcefulness more than anything. When the football is on the television, as advertised on chalkboards outside, there is probably hot bar food and snacks savoured.

The Westgate had a mix of modern and old features
The Westgate had a mix of modern and old features

The scores (all marks are out of five):

Decor: It's what a pub in 2022 should be. It wasn't modern and branded as a gastro/bistro type pub, but it wasn't old and out of touch either. The darts board and pool table are probably popular, while I thought the wide range of pictures were a nice touch. ****

Drink: Too bitter, and just wasn't to my liking. *

Price: I will always consider £4.20 as a reasonable price for a pint these days. It's middle of the park for the price of a pint and middle of the park for its rating. ***

Staff: Friendly with regulars. **