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The Feel – Ronnie Rowlands
It’s Sunday, the 21st of October, and I am pleased to report that I will go down in history as the first customer in the brand spanking new Furness Bar!
Oh wait. You weren’t aware that it was open? Don’t worry – neither was I.
In fact, I wouldn’t have known at all had I not chanced to bump into Lonsdale beer king (and Furness’s new regular face) Andy Shaw outside the foyer. Apparently, it was felt that having a soft opening without telling anyone about it would be a good idea. Another marketing masterstroke from our friendly neighbourhood commercial services department, there.
Ignoring the endless stream of confusion over whether the building would ever stop failing its safety tests (although I have been reliably informed that the cellar no longer carries the risk of drowning / electrocution upon entry), some worries over the outcome of the refurbishment need quelling.
First of all, it is pleasing to see that the Junior Common Room has been retained, and despite the university’s apparent desperation to design the colleges out of existence (you’ll notice that the foyer’s sign now reads ‘Furness: School of Health and Medicine’, not ‘College’), colourful signs bearing both the name of the bar and the college are aplenty; admittedly an admirable move by Head of Commercial Services Jo Hardman.
Regarding the overall ‘look’ of the bar, readers will certainly be eager to know whether or not the place now resembles a mortuary.
As expected, Furness Foyer is the very model of self congratulatory glossy brochure ghastliness, and I predict that the Faculty of Health and Medicine will be most displeased when the area continues to be a place where students sit around eating chips.
Trevor, in parts, still has its hallmark cosiness. The alcoves’ bare brick walls and bare wooden bar holds a semblance of age, and there is, thankfully, no trace of ‘trendiness’ to be found. It has none of the depressing hideousness of Grizedale Bar, or the film noir / lapdance hybridity of Pendle Bar.
But, no university refurbishment would be complete without some level of utter weirdness.
Its’ understated pleasantness is often interrupted by areas that scream ‘university building’. Parts of the walls are white. Not old stony white. A colour chart might describe it as ‘prospectus white’. The doors leading into the bar, the back bar and the JCR are solid grey and bear the generic room labels found everywhere else on campus.
And the back bar? “Dr. Furness will see you now” springs to mind. It’s also odd that it has a speaker playing music through from the main area, making the battered old piano, which is still there, somewhat redundant.
New Trevor is a totally disconcerting experience, and I cannot help but be reminded of the final scene in David Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly’, when Brundlefly is fused with the telepod.
Perhaps Furnessthing would be a more suitable name.
The Beer – Jack Smith
The surprising thing about the drink in New Trev is just how little it has changed. Despite all the talk of an emphasis on Real Ale, we still have the customary two heads from local Lancaster Brewery.
This is by no means a bad thing. Lancaster Blonde is on offer, and tastes just as good as it did in the slightly more grotty surroundings of Old Trev. It’s light, refreshing, with a sweet aftertaste. It’s not exactly challenging, but is a beer that definitely will appeal to lager fans, especially since there is absolutely no bitterness.
Lancaster Black is also here. While a great beer in its own right, there is perhaps less of a need for it to be a permanent beer now that Guinness is finally available. Furness Bar will, at last, be able to hold its own St Patrick’s Day celebrations this year.
While the Lancaster beers are great, it would be good to see more variety in the ale department in the future.
Lager fans are well catered to. While, unfortunately, Carlsberg is still here, San Miguel is on tap. The most interesting and welcome addition is Erdinger, a delicious, cloudy and full bodied wheat beer also found in The Herdwick, Graduate College’s bar. The standard bottled beers are available such as Tiger, Becks and Budweiser; Desperados will be perfect for pre-drinks. Cider on offer includes Gaymers Pear on tap, and a wide selection of Kopparberg in the fridge.
A whisky selection seems to be taking shape behind the bar, with Glenfiddich 12 and Glenmorangie as some of the scotches available. Other spirits are more standard, never getting any more interesting than Captain Morgan.
New Trev is not bad in terms of its alcohol selection, but it’s not amazing either. The positive is that it has definitely not gone backwards. It would be a great bar in which to see some slightly more interesting bottled beers, and definitely has work to be done on the ale front.
Furness Bar will ‘officially’ open tomorrow at 5PM.