The rise of Banbury’s micro pubs

John Bellinger in his Banbury micro pub NNL-171123-154720001
John Bellinger in his Banbury micro pub NNL-171123-154720001

Much like London buses Banbury residents waiting for the arrival of a micro pub will find two have now come in quick succession.

The concept of a micro pub has been around for about a decade but it has been in recent years that the concept has taken off with the formation of the Micropub and Microbrewery Association in 2012.

Ian Shipton and Sheila Poppa who run the Baliff's Tap NNL-171127-094551001

Ian Shipton and Sheila Poppa who run the Baliff's Tap NNL-171127-094551001

To date there are an estimated 350 micropubs in the UK with all of them sticking to the basic principle of ‘keep it small, keep it simple’.

Micropubs are free houses allowing landlords to source ale from independent breweries, sell a limited number of spirits, lagers and alcopops if any, have no music on to allow conversation and are able to set up in limited space.

Banbury’s first micropub opened in February in the former offices of a bailiff on Southam Road. From the intimate road-facing snug the micropub opens up like the Tardis with ample seating for customers .

The Bailiff’s Tap is owned and run by Ian Shipton and Sheila Poppa, who are both new to the publican business with Ian coming from a sales background and Sheila a qualified teacher.

Ian said: “I enjoy meeting people, talking to people and having a good laugh. I also enjoy beer. It’s a good way of doing business where you can chat to people in a friendly environment.”

The Bailiff’s Tap has been a big hit since opening providing a different type of drinking establishment and environment for the locals to enjoy.

Ian added: “We’re building a community. We’re building that community spirit where people come in, they can have a moan if they want or we have a laugh and a joke.”

The Old Town Ale and Cider House in Church Lane is the second of Banbury’s micropubs having opened earlier this month.

Proprietor John Bellinger is at the opposite end of the publican experience scale with the old town micropub being the tenth he has run.

John said: “I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years. I looked into the history of them and thought what a good idea.

He added: “Most evenings I have had a little crowd in, people like it.”