The public house of the setting sun

The Unicorn in Preston's North Road
The Unicorn in Preston's North Road
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There are a good many worse places to be on a sunny May evening than The Unicorn in Preston’s North Road, and from a man who has passed spring (springed?) in Mexborough that really means something.

This fine old free-standing pub might lack an outside area, but what you lose on the tan you gain on the light show.

Large west-facing windows flood the small but airy saloon with brilliant golden light as the sun settles earthward, creating an unusually serene and mellow,
almost divine, ambience.

Incidentally, for pub-goers keen on such airy-fairy nonsense, I strongly recommend a jar towards dusk in The Crown Hotel just by Liverpool’s Lime Street station.

For a few minutes every day, that bar and everything within is illuminated as if God herself were shining her light on said boozer. It’s like having a pint with the angels (scruffy foul-mouthed angels with thick Scouse accents)!

For those more concerned with brass tacks – and let’s face it, all the celestial ambience in the world won’t make up for rank ale – The Unicorn is also a pub to put on your social drinking rota.

Not the biggest choice of pump, granted, but what they have is good and kept well.

Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, in proper order, remains among my favourite pints, and a fine one filled my hand in The Unicorn.

But not for too long.

Between the streaming golden rays and the clattering horror of the preceding day, my portion of this multi-award winner melted away like snow in the Sahara.

Clear and dark golden with a creamy snow white head and a floral toffee aroma, this cask-conditioned beauty is a malted nutty supple mouthful that leaves a soft bitter note on the swallow. Ludicrously smooth and easy drinking.

Duty-bound to run the gamut of what’s on offer, I hopped briefly over for a Lancashire Bomber, and found this, too, in good nick.

Malty to sniff, woody hops on the tongue, a long dry finish, an enjoyable glass of a beer I can usually take or leave.

Back to the Landlord for a last pint – got to love a pub where the measly budget for this column will run to a third, plus snacks – I sat back and watched a fattish orange sun dip below the horizon.

A fair stomp into town awaited, but beatific on both sunlight and ale this did not daunt me.

Indeed, with the excellent Moorbrook alongside and the Moor Park just across the way it suddenly occurred to me to make a night of it...

Grimly did I hit that road.

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