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BITE user comments - trainman

Comments by trainman

The Cock Inn, Halstead

Oh dear; I rated this pub 8 but now notice it relegated to 4, meaning that one of the more moronic users of this site has allocated 0/10 without, of course, bothering to leave a comment.

26 May 2010 10:01

The Southampton Arms, Gospel Oak

Nelly should note that the pub re-opened as an ale (&cider) pub in Dec, hence the flurry of positive comment. If I hadn't been too drunk to take note, mine would have been amongst them. What a shame sitwell had to stick an oar in - didn't do the pub any favours by suggesting it aims to cater for idiots like her.
The ratings spoilers are already on the case anyway, as always happens in this devalued 'top' chart.

14 Apr 2010 07:29

The Victoria, Bermondsey

nb. CLOSED when visited on a Sunday evening. No rating left.

23 Mar 2010 09:40

The Royal Oak, Borough

Sussex Best on perfect form tonight, and the Sunday menu looks excellent; lots of stuff around a tenner, incl rabbit in mustard sauce. Beware Sun hours: 12:00-18:00.

15 Mar 2010 00:14

The Lord Clyde, Borough

Doors open, but not serving tonight ~19:30, road outside dug up - possible pedestrianisation? If so, is alfresco society about to arrive at this otherwise classic pub?

14 Mar 2010 23:57

The Waterhouse, Manchester

Peerless Triple Blond, Black Hole Brewery (BHB) Star Gazer, Hawkshead Red, Bradfield Farmers Stout, Moorhouse’s Leaky Roof (‘brewed for Waterhouse’), Phoenix Wobbly Bob (6%), Elland Waterhouse IPA (‘exclusive to JDW’) x2, Ruddles, Abbot. Not been here before but impressive beer line up across 10 handpumps – note that the 2nd bank of 5 pumps is obscured by a pillar toward the ‘coffee shop’ – an area to which, pleasingly, most of the post-work crowd wanting to order food were directed. Unusual for a spoons, the Waterhouse has lots of separate areas & rooms, I was almost tempted to write nooks! Using the Kennedy St entrance I wandered a little before finding the bar, an area which is tiled with the rest carpeted. Not too busy, but very good service, and £1.95pp. Loos are upstairs and are even better than jdw’s usual good standard – stand alone granite(-esque) hand basins & airforce dryers (the only ones worth a fig, after airblade). The landing has a bookcase, and you almost feel as if you’ve been for a leak in a country house. Yes, all round impressed.

14 Mar 2010 09:26

The Bell Inn, Wylye

beerlager is quite simply lying.

We were the only customers just before noon, and remained perfectly polite through the whole saga. I think right-minded users of this site can form their own opinion of who is telling the truth here.

Thank you to the trustworthy member who alerted me to this libellous comment.

8 Mar 2010 13:13

The The Rail View, South Croydon

My first visit yesterday. Two of the three handpumps on, Pride & a decent Harveys, £2.75. The two rooms either side of a central bar both have a dartboard, the lounge on the left (where the pumps are) was showing the rugby and, when we opted for the empty vault (public) we were invited to flick on the tv if we wanted to watch it. This side sports images of Taylor, Bristow, Bobby Moore aloft the ’66 team, Best. Seems a community local and was being decorated with balloons & 50th birthday bunting while we were there. It’d be nice to see that 3rd HP in use with a micro beer, but I liked the place. Shame the name has been shortened to the slightly pretentious sounding 'The View'.

14 Feb 2010 11:39

The Leinster Arms, Bayswater

TT Landlord, Ryedale Winter's Tale, Pride (off). Cheery welcome, but the girls were still cleaning the bar area at 14:00 (16Jan) & I don't find that fresh polish goes too well with beer. The pub seems to specialise in pies; this day's offerings being Lamb&Apricot, Cottage, Fisherman's, Woodland Mushroom, Venison, Chicken Curry Pie, but there was pinging coming from the kitchen area to the side of, and open to, the bar.

28 Jan 2010 10:13

The Duke of Sussex, Waterloo

I quite enjoyed my previous visit here but now think I may have been lucky on that occasion. Last time there was a golden ale (can't remember what) which two of us had to leave half finished, the third guy had Pride which made him ill - I dunno how he drank any of it; well, the guv had admitted that he knew nowt about beer, and it showed! Good that there is a separate room with pool table and dart board (bizarrely hidden behind full length curtains), but there were no markers for the whiteboard and, without drinkable ale anyway, what's the point?
Shame, with caring management this could be very good, but it ain't.

31 Dec 2009 08:22

The Windmill Tavern, Waterloo

Just noticed this laughingly enter the 'top10'. Hadn't bothered to comment after my single visit as there is nothing of note to report, but I feel I should lest people seek it out. Fairly characterless box of a bar at the front, we were served £3.30 pints of Doombar from an uninspiring choice across the 3 handpumps by an antipodean barman devoid of personality. They had a Sky match showing at the front, didn't bother investigating the rear room. Must've been around halloween as some awful woman was organising her kid to go round with a 'trick or treat' begging bucket & then drinking the proceeds at the cafe style tables on front pavement (she was seen doing the same elsewhere). I won't be back.

31 Dec 2009 08:08

The Bell Inn, Wylye

Booked in to meet family (Briz branch) for lunch Monday, then stay overnight with dogs. Arrived early & went in to ask where we could give dogs a spin before lunch, explaining we were staying the night. Young barman says ‘Aaah, got some bad news for you, problem with the plumbing, haven’t got a room for you’. They ummed & aahed about the failure to notify us of this by phone (no number/wrong number bullshit) but, since we’d driven from London specifically to sample this pub, and were meeting another party there, this was a worthless defence. The chef came out, in filthy whites, to suggest an alternative couple of pubs nearby (&, to be fair, suggested the absent ‘owners’ would pick up the room tab), but I was not prepared to rearrange a family meet at an unknown (unresearched) venue. I ordered a pint (of Pint) while I went to get the dogs and a pub guide from the car. I returned to find the pumpclip reversed, leaving just Bays Dumpling available from 6/7 handpumps. That’s right – not a single Hidden beer available in a pub owned by Hidden Brewery; pathetic!! The building looks lovely and the bar area has a rustic charm but, without any direction (even the previously excellent website has been abandoned), the pub is destined to fail.
Fyi, we managed to get a short-notice booking, incl dogs, at Hindon’s Lamb, & diverted the Briz contingent there for lunch.

30 Dec 2009 10:54

The Rose Hill Tavern, Brighton

I like the pub, but I've given up affording more chances to the poor beer quality, last time undrinkable (refunded). Time for the manager to move on if he ain't interested.

25 Nov 2009 15:13

The Hare On The Hill, Bristol

First pub owned by Bath Ales; Festival, Gem, Spa, Barnstomer (known locally as Barney). Good looking pub but very busy during Eng-Arg rugby and very awkward layout around central horseshoe bar (6 uneven sides of octogon) made getting in & around a bit tricky. TVs in two corners, dartboard to rear right (no need for a table under it), follow bar round to left where a wood panel partition forms a small open snug (empty due to no view of rugby) but also a bottleneck to the loos when busy. Alex, behind bar, asked about the note taking and was thoroughly good-natured with the craic to gain positive comments, incl half a Barney! Home-cooked mains included chilli beef or steak & barnstormer pie (£6/£7) and a couple of good veggie dishes. Baguettes, in contrast, started at £5.50(!). Good pub, cheers Alex.

22 Nov 2009 18:10

The Bank, Bristol

Otley O8 (Pontypridd, 8%), Salopian Golden Thread (5%), Kelham Island Pale Rider (5.2%), a bit heavy on a session, also Goffs Tournament, Cheddar Valley & Bristol Port Cider. Another small pub wrapped around semi horseshoe bar. Left ‘end’ has decorative fireplace below wood panelling with bookshelf. Some leather banquettes, wood tables & chairs, a group of 12 eating at long formation opposite bar. Tall tables to windows on right, odd framed prints featuring financial subjects (eg top quarter of a £5 note), also framed hockey shirt – Univ of Bristol, nice old wood floor throughout. The blackboards winding round above the bar have changing trivia; one showed ‘chemical reaction of the month’ (unrecorded), ‘phobia of the month’ was ‘eosophobia’ (fear of daylight), ‘month of the month’ was June (1683).

22 Nov 2009 17:32

The White Lion, Bristol

I have survived the spiral descent to the loo and can report Wickwar Coopers, Bankers Draft, Bob(x2), Addlestones cider. Small bar surrounded by crowded drinking area, large windows to street from where, as Millay says, you can junction-watch (shades of a favourite Parisien bar for me) though you would have needed to do so from inside in last Sat’s downpour. Scattering of tables & stools, drinking shelf at windows with barstools, wooden bar-back with good whisky selection. Seven pints cost a reasonable £18. I have to mention the poor guys collecting for charity – painted smurf blue & wandering around in just shorts in the pouring rain, also that Tigerdrinker ‘pulled’ here – two senior ladies attaching themselves to the company until we had to leg it from the next pub…
ps. for me, the Nell Gwynne just wins the most hazardous descent, but I wouldn't fancy either at the end of a sesh.

22 Nov 2009 17:15

The Bridge Inn, Bristol

Doombar, Bath Spa & Gem, Pontypridd (Otley) O-Garden. The latter was available from the cellar and, when this was offered, I first thought he said Hoegarden but glad I eventually tried it, very flavoursome, & later available on handpump. Clips above the till showed what was coming next – Darkstar Meltdown, Yeovil Posh IPA, Otley O2, RCH Double Header. Tiny pub with wall banquettes surrounding 4 tables and, well, that’s it. Friendly service from the Polish(?) couple, a notice behind the bar announced bookings were being taken for ‘Christmas Breakfast’, champagne etc, which was declared excellent by American, Brislington Lyn (“one n – I’m poor”) in the other group last Sunday lunch. Homemade specials board showed sponge pudding, £1.50 after yr Sunday roast. I reckon 20 customers would fill this place, maybe that happens on Happy Mondays; £2 pints all day. I didn’t notice the aforementioned gramaphone, but this visit followed a very late night. On leaving, I was disproportionately pleased that Lyn recognised my username when I said I’d include her in the BITE review, haha.

22 Nov 2009 16:31

The Bag O' Nails, Bristol

A welcoming beacon on our dark, staggery, approach. Bath Festival Gold, Northumbrian Bucking Fastard, Facers North Star Porter, 2 reverse clipped (GWB Classic Gold, a.n.other), 14Nov. Straightforward one-room bar, mock fire to rear, big mirror, old pumpclips, ugly toby jugs above top bar shelf, nice window to street. I wrote down ‘great staff’, but can’t remember why. Pies & pasties in warm cabinet at bar, £1.50/£1.80, salvation!

22 Nov 2009 16:03

The Coronation, Bedminster

Summer Lightning, Autumn Glow, Red Ember, GFB, Crop Circle, Downton New Forest. Plain long bar facing door, big pine tables, rock&roll soundtrack. Heard fellow punter offer barman a drink – he said “I’ll have a bottle of Bud if that’s ok”. No! That’s so bloody wrong! Can’t remember if he rescinded the offer, I would have.

22 Nov 2009 14:28

The Orchard Inn, Bristol

Otter, Butcombe Brunel, Arbor Slumberjack (6.9%), plus ciders galore! Three on handpump plus 19 (nineteen!) on gravity, incl perries. Plain square bar area, tiled floor, practical rather than architecturally attractive, but friendly service, and most tolerant of the inauguration of a friend’s one-week old into Briz’s hop & apple (&pear!) society – welcome to the world Little Fish!
Some well-priced stuff to soak up those dangerous abvs – pasty £2.50, bangers & mash £4.50, mutton broth £3.50.

22 Nov 2009 14:14

The Nova Scotia, Bristol

Bass, Robinsons Wags to Witches, Otter Bright, Thatchers Traditional. Not many notes – narrow bar room, opening up slightly left of bar, local feel. My iffy beer was changed, no problem, but the replacement wasn’t tremendous. Wasn’t originally on-map, & I doubt it would be next time.

22 Nov 2009 13:58

The Portcullis Inn, Bristol

Goffs Jouster, Arbor Ales Brizzale Student Special (limited edition), Matthews Brassknocker, Thornbridge Jaipur IPA & Kipling, Dawkins Green Barrel (Organic by Matthews, named after owner – Dawkins Taverns), Cheddar Potholer (golden, surprisingly). Prices from £3.00 to £3.30(!), except Brizzale at £2.50. Chalkboards announce ‘present’ & ‘future’ ales. Cosy, low-ceilinged downstairs (ground level) bar, small seating area wrapped around the bar, faux fire to right. Upstairs room has bench & stool seating to new wood tables & door/window to walkway above street level (see photo above). Stack of board games here, and very nice smell emanating from upstairs kitchen led to our pal Two-Pies-Chas purchasing, well, two pies – to take out. I made a note of ‘unfortunate schmooze soundtrack’. Ned, known to Luke at Cornubia, was suspicious on our arrival & actually asked ‘Are you trouble?’. Nope, we are seven casketeers (40-60yrs) seeking further beery goodness stout yeoman. It was fine – 7 pints, 2 pies, & we’ll be on our way…

22 Nov 2009 13:46

The Hillgrove Porter Stores, Bristol

Cheddar Ales Totty Pot Dark Porter, Goat’s Leap IPA & Gorge Best, Three Castles Saxon Archer, Plain Ales Inspiration, Beartown Bearskinful, Goffs Camelot, Matthews Brassknocker (I have a note saying the pub owner, Mr Dawkins, also of Portcullis, took over that brewery?). Upper walls are decorated with old pumpclips, lounge area rear right has leather sofas (grrr), but not bad if you commandeer it in a group; bookcase, board games, a variety of brewery trays & other breweriana. Left to covered smoking arbor & picnic sets. Expensive, but the barmaid was very friendly & offered tasters of the beers.

22 Nov 2009 13:45

The Kings Head, Bristol

Doombar, Butcombe Gold, Cornish Coaster, 6X. Beautiful low-ceilinged dark wood pub, fabulous bar-back with high brass plaques proclaiming fayre in old style ‘Whisky’, ‘Cigars’, ‘Brandy’, ‘Claret’. Narrowish entrance with bar to the right, some bar stools then a partition announcing ‘Tramcar Bar’ beyond which is an earlier, preferable era – an enclosed snug mirroring a comfortable first class tram carriage, this area also has a short bar counter. Nice old photos around the walls, hanging jugs, nibbles on bar Sun lunch. Rear door leads straight to Temple church, appallingly abutted by some ugly 60/70s flats. Having just missed closing time Sat nt, we queued with another group for Sun opening, feeling very rough; thank goodness the first sharpener was in excellent shape. Hello to the Scots boys on their way home from the Wales friendly (ouch!), incl Derek from Kelburn Brewery.

22 Nov 2009 13:43

The George, Croydon

oops! I was, of course, referring to the reviewer prior to the previous reviewer. Unless someone sneaks in another comment prior to this entry.

28 Oct 2009 10:51

The George, Croydon

Very good range last Thursday included Jaipur IPA, Hogsback TEA & Autumn Ale, Twickenham Naked Ladies, Brewster's Daffys Elixir, a.n.other, plus the staples. Tried Elixir & Autumn ale & both in fine form. No problem with the service. Well done to the previous reviewer though, for finally working out how to remove capslock.

28 Oct 2009 10:24

Hardys Freehouse, Greenwich

Spitfire, gkipa & (I think) Pride. The reason I'm unsure about the latter is that the Spitfire had run out (although the guv did check whether there was any more) and we didn't stay for a drink, which surprises me if there was Pride (a reasonable, if ubiquitous, safety net). Anyway, the early match was showing, as well as racing. Long bar on the right, good darts area. I'll look in again if over this way. No rating left this time.

25 Oct 2009 12:32

The Pilchard Inn, Burgh Island

Small 2/3 roomed pub with old wooden sign depicting a pilchard and the date 1336, also printed in bold on the whitewashed stone exterior if you approach from the beach. The ‘Front Bar’, as mentioned previously, has a small sign at the door indicating hotel guests & regulars only, which is unfortunate, but I don’t know how actively that is enforced and can’t say that I noticed any ‘us & them’ atmosphere last Sun/Mon, although there should have been service cover for both sides to avoid the log-jam that a couple of large rounds created. Front Bar has studded wood stable door, old stone fireplace with heavy wooden lintel & open wood burning grate, cobbled floor by fire otherwise slate tiles, low beamed ceiling, old curved wood settle & a scatter of tables & chairs, a stuffed hawk is displayed in a recessed glass case and lanterns & ship’s wheel lend character. A little snug to the side has one table, settles & chairs and bar servery. Slipway Bar, whilst admittedly less atmospheric, is served by the same central servery, has higher beamed ceiling, low window settles, 6 tables, blackboard announcing soup & baguettes and, contrary to the statement in the article quoted by Devon_Miles, a bar (not a serving hatch) with more footage than that of the Front Bar. Just outside is a covered smoking area & beyond to a picnic set & barrel table with view over the strip of sand to mainland, below this another 9 picnic sets have similar vista and no ‘roping off’ was evident last week. This was a pretty idyllic spot to sit with a beer in the sunshine waiting for the tide to retreat (sea tractor out of action). The beers are Pilchard Best (which I heard is St Austell Cousin Jack, but couldn’t find that name on StA site) and XSB from South Hams Brewery. I don’t think the new barman who started Mon will last too long but the other guys were good, incl Gary, a star from the hotel. The pub has an upper room which forms extra accommodation for Burgh Island Hotel.

18 Oct 2009 18:43

The Bridge, Topsham

Otter Head, Branscombe Branoc & Summa That, Palmers Copper Ale, Yeovil Summerset, Adnams Broadside, Cottleigh Honey Buzzard (went), all served from stillage in ‘cellar’ beyond the small lounge which forms the servery & is a private area, albeit not obviously so, & one should not enter unless, as we were jovially told, ‘you want to do the washing up’. The next room on the right is the small bar/snug area with a hatch to the servery, and where you will find a list of the available beers (also listed in corridor & lounge), this snug has old flintlock rifles & swords hanging above an old fireplace with wood burning stove, pewter tankards haning at servery, assorted seating for ~15, little standing room, which would make queuing for the bar rather awkward. When I borrowed a pen to make some notes here, the landlady suddenly asked me to stop writing & brought over a clipboard, explaining that the table was 300yrs old, & even indentations of praise would be rather ruinous. The corridor (where one can also be a little awkwardly served) has a plaque mentioned the Queen’s visit in ’98. The room to the left of the corridor has an unchanged décor & something of the atmosphere of yer gran’s lounge, albeit with seating for ~20, an old clock (hopefully with an audible tick when quieter), selection of books, a great photo of the pub, a notice by the then proprietor WJ Cibbings, stating ‘This room is prohibited from all amusments (sic) on Sunday’, and a small notice re mobiles – ‘The Bridge is a place of conversation between people, not machines’, some picnic sets outside and, although it was too dark to see the water, I can see this is a good riverside location & note Paulaner’s mention of a serving hatch direct to garden, which must relieve a great deal of congestion on a fine day.
On arrival, a local had been recommending Otter Head (at 5.8%) but an hour later staggered off advising us not to touch the stuff – I wonder if that’s what HerMaj. went for? ‘One will try a pint of your finest Otter Head…’

15 Oct 2009 10:54

Exeter Inn, Topsham

Ok, maybe I should have checked first - t'internet confirms this is 'one of the few remaining thatched buildings in Topsham', sorry Archivist.

15 Oct 2009 10:14

Exeter Inn, Topsham

Cottage Deltic Diesel, Bays Devon Dumpling, Yeovil Ruby, Teignworthy Beachcomber. Pool table & 2 dartboards in room to rt of fairly plain bar. Decent soundtrack, slightly loud, probably reflecting the ebullient guv of 6 yrs, down from Middleton for the last 40, who happily gave us beer tasters and advised the groom not to go thru with it the next day! Admittedly it was dark outside, and I didn’t really stray from the bar area, but I have no recall of archivist’s mutiple buildings, or any thatch, sorry. 7 for great guv & good ale.

15 Oct 2009 10:10

The Lamb and Flag, Blagdon Hill

Dartmoor Best, Tribute, Bays Gold, Otter Bitter. Very old flagstone floor, enormous open inglenook with wood burning stove, open to bar and lounge/restaurant (rt & left of entrance repectively), one can actually walk thru the fireplace, carefully, to access either room. Wood & fabric settles, solid tables, a spiral staircase in lounge finishes (now) at ceiling level. Large garden with picnic sets & a small covered area with weathered wood table, good view from the grassed area. Beer was in good condition, but my pal’s lasagne had no bechamel sauce, making it a rather dry mince & pasta dish, and the paninis lacked flavour. I notice from the L&F website that they have a skittle alley, missed that.
To join the debate below, I think the view is toward the northeast – see google satellite for the building at junction of Curdleigh Ln & Blagdon Hill, and assess the direction looking from the picnic sets…

15 Oct 2009 09:49

The Eagle Ale House, Clapham

nb. doesn't open until 15:00 Mon-Thurs.
I don't see mention of this in previous reviews, and hadn't noticed myself until yesterday - is this a new policy?
It would be helpful if pubs keeping unusual hours would indicate opening times at the door. Frustrating, but rating unchanged.

15 Oct 2009 07:54

Ship Inn and Hotel, Gillingham

Ringwood Best, St Austell Tribute, Cheddar Ales ‘Gorge Best’ (haha), policy is to rotate the beers but mainly avoiding heavy abvs, which is probably why they’re not quite up Rd’s street. Left from entrance to wood-floored bar ‘ante’ room, with blackboards announcing daily specials which lean toward fish dishes, then to the bar proper with heavy stone slab floor and welcoming wood-burning fire. Short bar has a handful of barstools & the room a variety of tables (x4), a bay window settle, some Ringwood breweriana, a plasma above fireplace (dunno if reception is better than in bedroom?). The music was just marginally too loud, given the demographic in the bar, but that observation probably just reflects my view on the talentless Jay Kay, who inveigled his way in for a while. To the right of the entrance is a sequence of 3 open rooms, ostensibly for dining, which could cater for 40 covers at solid pine tables (in 2s,4s,6s). Wood floored, then carpetted, the mid-room is also the breakfast room where a large cow looks down from her photo positioned above a pine sideboard & a smaller pair, in caricature, do likewise, there is also a framed page of the ‘Salisbury & Winchester Journal’, 5Apr1830. The rear (rt) room is down a coupla steps thru an old timber doorway & has a beamed ceiling. As well as the specials (& chalkboard desserts), a printed menu offers additional choices including other mains, various sarnies & ploughmans, & a 3-course lunch for £13, currently extended to evenings Mon-Thurs, eg salmon goujons wi tartare dip, belly pork on dressed leaves, apple pie & ice cream. We stayed overnight (2 pers b&b £75), had a nice large room (#5) with view beyond adjacent road to nice rolling countryside. Didn’t go out the back, but from upper landing spotted a paved & walled garden with picnic sets, a couple under tented awning, and an old tin pub sign now on the rear wall. Guvnor of 5 years, Gavin, is very polite & cheery, & also rustles up a decent breakfast.

14 Oct 2009 11:12

Neeld Arms, Grittleton

Wadworths 6X & Henry’s IPA, Ramsbury Bitter, Oxfordshire Ales Pride of Oxford. Low beamed bar area, pewter tankards hanging around the servery, large inglenook with ancient wood lintel to the rt, coal burning stove to the left, 2 recessed window seats with pine tables, rear left of bar is rustic dining area, to the right a larger room decorated with aforementioned land tools on bare brick walls, dark wood furniture, horse brasses. This area also serves as the breakfast room, but was quiet fri evening, unlike the bar which was a positive buzz of local chatter, thinning out ~20:00. Food is all listed on chalkboards in bar area and was very good eg (our selection) mushroom ‘pepperpot’, smoked chicken & bacon salad, pork tenderloin stuffed wi black pudding, wrapped in bacon, homemade neeld burger, starters ~£6, mains £9-£12, separate veggie options. Good accom too, our room (#2) had probably the widest bed I’ve seen, spotless bathroom, £80 b&b (for 2), & breakfast was good (v tasty sausages). Grittleton is a very attractive looking village & Neeld Arms a good place to break a journey.

14 Oct 2009 07:59

The Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester

Disappointing visit a coupla weeks back with just 3 of the 8(?) handpumps clipped at 17:30. Lost my notes on what I chose, but it had to go back and was, to be fair, changed with very good grace, tho the replacement Bettys Best was not at its best either. Other pull was a mild. Maybe poor timing, but needs to improve beer choice & quality before I venture back.

6 Oct 2009 11:34

The Fletcher Moss, Didsbury

Quite like the pub, particularly the original section to the front which I guess comprised the old Albert, but can't exactly remember. Decent range of Hydes offerings & occasional guest, but my last couple of pints of Jekyll's have not been in quite as good a condition as suggested by other reviewers; do they pull them all through properly at lunchtime?

23 Sep 2009 09:13

The Tom Cobley, Spreyton

Will be closed for staff outing weekend of 10/11Oct, just when we're staying nearby. Disaster! Heaven knows when I'll have such an opportunity to complete a nap hand of this year's poty finalists. No rating left, yet...

13 Sep 2009 10:11

The Bedford, Balham

Pretty dreadful. I didn't like it when it featured in the London Standard top10 years ago (not surprising, as choices can be laughable), and it was worse when I stopped by last week to find the main (front) bar locked, and the rear bar smelling bad (musty/sweaty?) even with no-one in it. Three of four pumps (or 2/3?) were reverse clipped. I wont be making the 2min walk from Balham stn again.

13 Sep 2009 09:56

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

Sorry, I'm a day out of kilter, as usual.

11 Sep 2009 10:35

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

The Lymestone was Foundation Stone, and t'other was Doombar, so your LocAle must've been Mallard or Thru'penny - Horsham & Reigate respectively. Didn't know they had music on curry night (£6 inc a pint).

11 Sep 2009 10:34

Wards Freehouse, Harrow On The Hill

Glad I checked before visiting; this venue is rather inappropriately named, as they do not serve real ale. No rating left.

10 Sep 2009 13:41

The Bull, Horton Kirby

Over here Sat for the Pictish showcase. Naturally, the lucky locals had drunk all the Pictish Brewers Gold on Friday, but there was still some Alchemist, Galeda, & Staddlestone, also Darkstar Hophead, Sunburst, Extra Stout & Best, later Newby Wyke Summer Session, two scary ciders were Port Wine of Glastonbury & Gwynt y Draig Haymaker (both 6.5%), & Broad Oak Perry (7.5%).
Lynne identified me, yikes!, to point out that she had taken on board an earlier comment in which I mentioned that an afternoon grub option would have been good, and that they now serve rolls & sandwiches to supplement the main menu when not available. As it was, we stayed until food service resumed (18:00) and chose from the specials of Spicy Beef wi Dumplings, Mutton Curry wi rice or roti (quite hot, you need the rice), Faggots Mash Peas Gravy, or Steak&Ale Pie wi veg, all £6.50, smashing! And Garrett was his usual friendly beer-enthusiastic self. Top stuff!

10 Sep 2009 10:45

The Cock Inn, Luddesdowne

Instantly impressive; low beamed ceiling, gleaming brass handpumps, polished wood floor, quality rugs, friendly welcome. The pumps are unclipped, but the beers are listed on a chalkboard at the bar – mostly mainstream, but a decent selection – Black Sheep, Goachers Dark Mild, Adnams Bitter & Broadside, Hogs Back Best, Doombar, Sheps Masterbrew, 3or4 of which will rotate. Your fussy correspondent thought his Hogs Back was ok on Saturday & had raised no complaint, but a new barrel was pulled thru in a trice, unbidden, and my pint removed to be replaced afresh. The public has a few barstools, a bar billiard table in very good nick, a dartboard with polished brass oche and other board versions stored nearby, incl Yorkshire board (standard layout but no trebles), what looks to be called an Ipswich Fives, or Wide 5s (20,5,15,10 repeated thrice to form just 12 segments), Lincolnshire Board (like the Yorkshire but no outer bull, & all black face), but I didn’t see a Manchester Log-End (smaller, different number layout, no treble, tiny doubles, and the Elm wood needs soaking overnight to make soft enough to play!). We did have a game, and the guv showed us the sensible chain which links over to prevent accidental access from the conservatory. The bar room also features a photo of “Camer & Redwood Shoot’s Beaters’ Day 2006”, wall mounted heads of stags & foxes, decoy ducks, a log pile, a mounted replica of a 32lb salmon produced from a cast (haha) of the original fish, and another (trout?) caught, in Ireland, by a Cock regular who unfortunately turned up his toes the following day - something of Hemingway’s Old Man & the Sea about that.
The conservatory (with suspended wood ceiling) is nicely wood furnished, with each table supplied with games sets (eg doms, crib, backgammon), singer sewing machines sit atop a display case of model motorbikes, a portrait of Winston Churchill presides above the wood-stove (central, also, to the bar-room, where hang assorted polished copper skillets), a wood barrel supports an old typewriter, above which another case displays model cars (pre-Matchbox?). Out to the prettily planted fenced garden, concrete replica tree-trunk tables with proper canvas umbrellas which can be wound up or down. Split between a small lawn, stone tiles, & gravel (not Roger’s petanque piste, which I missed), there is even a covered trellis (smokers allowed) with seating, heat lamps, a pot-bellied stove, a dartboard (hung v low), and a small section of immitation bar-top, complete with bar stools! Hanging bags of nuts were proving very popular with the birds (stop that tittering at the back Watson!).
The corridor to the lounge has more display models, and showcases of old beer cans. The saloon bar has a sewing machine table opposite a leather sofa and settle library corner, which is homely with a rug on wooden floor, and works nicely (unlike most sofas in pubs). More books crowd a ceiling shelf near the bar which, itself, sports prints of the hunt. Both bars have ceiling covered in old (& very old) beer mats and both have wooden pillars decorated with brasses (I’ve warned you Watson!). Air & rail memorabilia are also present, in fact the friendly guv, who even showed me his amazing organisation of the small cellar, commented that the collection of diverse sundries had built up over his 25yrs at the pub. The pub is dog-friendly and a troop of happy Springers were wagging around on Sat. Apparently there is an owned cricket pitch next door(?), didn’t see that.
The lounge bar is the original build (1713) with the public added later that century. If you are walking from Sole Street stn, as we did, you can take the footpath around or across the field to save the much longer walk around Sole St and Gold St (see google satellite map above). And with this on the same line as Farningham Road stn (for Horton Kirby’s Bull), there’s really no excuse not to head out this way.

10 Sep 2009 09:43

The Bath Hotel, Sheffield

Abbeydale Moonshine, Thorne Best Bitter, Sheffield Brewery Blanco Blonde, White Rose Buddha the Stout, Tetley (the) Bitter, bottle fridge with some belgian stylees (eg Chimay Blue, 9%, £3). Flat-iron style building with a U-ish shaped central bar running in contrary direction to outer design. Tiled floors throughout, low ceiling, mustard walls, main bar has windows either end & wood-backed leatherette settles surrounding the whole with accompanying tables & stools but an open area at the bar itself which features wood bar surround & large choice of whiskies. Smaller side room fairly plain but would be cosy in winter if that fireplace is functional. Sketchy notes (hic) suggest a stained glass window featuring ‘Bath Hotel’, & a dartboard without oche (occasional use?). The walls carried a couple of splendid prints of blues musos; shame they were for sale rather than permanent for the pub. There was a good local feel to the place, a comfortable chatty atmosphere & end-of-day crossword comparisons in swing around the bar. Another good one for the lucky burghers of Sheffield. Seems Quinno was not using the tram (dayrider £3), which has stops nearby at West St stn & Univ of Sheff stn.

26 Aug 2009 12:13

The Stanley Arms, Portslade

I read that the Stanley is local poty again for '09, and has a 'fest due 11-13Sep.

25 Aug 2009 13:50

The Earl Ferrers, Streatham

Closed at 13:45 last Thursday, & I now see from their website that they don't open until 16:00 weekdays. No rating.

23 Aug 2009 09:22

The Commercial, Herne Hill

Is it under new management? Certainly the commitment to a variety of decent real ale from other than boring mainstream offerings seems to have vanished, causing me to do the same without imbibing recently.

20 Aug 2009 11:43

The New Barrack Tavern, Sheffield

Batemans XXXB, Everard’s Sunchaser & Beacon, Acorn Barnsley Bitter & Burning Bails (‘the Quest for the Ashes’, 4.8%, £2.80), Castle Rock Harvest Pale (£2), & Screech Owl (5.5%), Bradfield Farmers Bitter. Blackboard displays list of bottled beers and pressure draughts whose pumps make an impressive line-up (for that style) to the left of semi-circular bar, that side serving a sort of vault/snug (contradictory, I know) to left of entrance, Veltins, Leffe, Staropramen, Marstons Oyster Stout. The main curve of the bar, displaying the handpumps, is to the large entrance corridor, giving on to large open lounge opposite, cushioned wall banquettes, well spaced table/stool arrangements, huge Castle Rock mirror above fireplace with wood-burning stove, decent breweriana mirrors & prints. Another room to rear, bright, with windows to paved patio with picnic sets, dartboard. Menus here offer 2 for £8 (Mon-Wed) eg herb sausages & mash, chilli wi rice/chips, steak baguette wi mushrooms & onions, s&k pie wi chips & mushy peas. Board at bar announces Sunday carvery £7.95, today’s specials: fish pie £6.95, large cod £9.95, wines £10-12 or wine of the day £6.95 btl (last week Marquis de Cantonelle, or Lutzville Chardonnay). ‘One over the eight’ promotion offers accumulated discount. Comedy night 02Aug, tkts £5. It’s a downhill walk from Bamforth Street tramstop, but the uphill rtn is not too painful.

31 Jul 2009 14:16

The Hillsborough Hotel, Sheffield

Beers from the Crown Brewery (located downstairs) were Hillsborough Pale Ale & Traditional Bitter (both £2), & Stannington Stout, also Spire Sgt Pepper Stout (5.5%abv, laced with black pepper), Empire Brewing Commerci-Ale Traveller (clip has pic of Mini-Traveller), Ossett Yorkshire Glory, Abbeydale Absolution, Great Newsome Frothingham Best, plus, ‘coming next’ (but available direct from the cellar NOW), Hop Ripper IPA, Ossett Light Ale, Great Newsome Jem’s Stout, Bridestones Pennine Gold, Abbeydale Belfry. The small bar to right of entrance suggests it used to be the hotel reception and the office behind is now the kitchen. Wood floor continues to lounge area on the left, where mixed seating is reminiscent of a budget hotel but the warm welcome & beer line-up puts this in a different league. Beyond the bar & lounge area is a nice conservatory with bleached pine tables & a couple of Raj style rattan chairs, as well as smaller tables & stools, there is a cobbled balcony surround with picnic sets, and a board listing belgian style bottles. Mon: pie chips peas & pint £5; Wed: curry rice & pint £5; pie of day wi chips & mushy peas £4.95; chunky chips wi cheese £2.50. Tues is big Jim’s quiz night, 8pint prize. Six en-suite rooms, 3dbls, 3twins, £60 b&b, or £40 single. I’ll be booking in advance when I get the chance to tour Sheff properly, and it’s right by Langsett tram stop. As JB points out, you can see the former name ‘Wellington’ in stone over the door, and this and the Wellington down the hill (Henry St) were, or are, known as the Top Wellie & Bottom Wellie. Great stuff.

31 Jul 2009 13:32

The Baum, Rochdale

Coach House Farriers Best, Phoenix Mid-Summer Madness, Slaters Queen Bee, Holts Humdinger, Coach House Dick Turpin, in banks of 3 at front & 2 to side, the front bank double-clipped. I wasn’t really in review mode but, in deference to ROBCamra & kindly guv Simon, the sketchy notes state wood-floored, L-shaped bar, lots of old pumpclips on display, up a step to an open snug area, my exclamation mark presumably suggests the red-cushioned settles are quite bright(?), to the rear a good conservatory, and beyond to a large outside area with the surprise of two boules pistes - that’s right folks, a petanque league is alive & well in the Dale! Old tin adverts decorate the walls, I have a vague memory of an upright piano (unsupported by notes). You would deffo need local knowledge to find, hidden behind the central of 3 menu boards between door & bar, a great old photo of the shop that the place used to be (notes fail again, but hardware store, I think), anyway very well done to those who made the transition to the fine pub it has now become. I reckon the walk back to stn is nearer to a mile than the 0.6 indicated above, so leave more time for your train than I did, or take a cab but don’t try to offload yr mexican pesos round here!

30 Jul 2009 14:05

The Triple Crown Inn, Richmond

Enthusiatic welcome Sat, and guv offered tasters while I dithered - TT Landlord, Downton Apple Blossom, Twickenham Original, a.n.other (Pride?), and the right side of £3 may be rare round here. Long bar to right, tables & banquette seating along opp wall, dartboard in use at far end, a handful of chatty regulars, '66 world cup final showing on plasma nr entrance. I can understand what my pal Maldenman was saying if visiting solo at quiet time, and getting across the A316 on foot is a challenge, but I liked the pub, and how nice to get a cheery hello these days.

27 Jul 2009 10:38

The Cock Inn, Halstead

Harveys Best, Pride, plus changing guest, yesterday being Titanic Lifeboat, £3. I missed this last time I visited the area, maybe because its location is listed as Orpington, rather than Halstead? Anyway, I’m glad I found it this time, a rather charming pub with the air of a country inn, two bar rooms, and quaint (& popular) restaurant area to one side. Front bar has huge inglenook, low beams, hanging tankards, open access to rear bar room with wood burning fires at each end – this place must be blazingly welcoming in winter! Large plasma showing golf, dartboard (you’d need to rearrange tables to use), very nicely furnished with solid tables, dark wood chairs, bench settles, stools. I didn’t really take sufficient note of the little restaurant room, but it deffo had the feel of somewhere I’d like to sit down for a meal, and the friendly young guv was at pains to advise that their food was homemade, as opposed to home ‘cooked’. On the large blackboard in front bar a good choice included cod, chips, peas £10.50 (fresh fish daily); cottage pie £7.95; whole sea bream £11.95; burger with ‘pint of chips’ £7.95; sarnies ~£5. I really liked it, & returned for another beer before the bus, from outside, back to the Knockholt stn – be warned, they run (Sat) at .14 past the hour, until 6pm, then 18:23, then, oh, that’s it. We turned up for the 19:14! Ah well, it was downhill walking back.
Oh! I haven’t told you about the garden; really lovely outside area, part-paved, part-grassed, picnic sets, some umbrellas, surrounded by tall hedges, shrubbed borders, picket fence to country lane, beyond this to gravelled pub car-park. Local cricket pitch is other side of pub, sadly not visible from here (or there), but that’s the sort of spot it is. Pub has 3 pumps in each bar, so maybe could try 2 guests (if thrupull allowed) but definitely recommended if you happen to be over this way.

19 Jul 2009 17:06

The Black Lion, Plaistow

Entered main bar to friendly welcome & 3 handpumps, but just one clipped – courage. Fortunately a chalkboard at far end of bar announced ‘today’s guest beers’, served from three pumps in other bar, albeit Bombardier, Deuchars (yawn), but also Summer Virgin from Brentwood Brewing Co. (new to me), tho all at £3.20 seemed a bit steep round here. If you enter via the far door (from tube) there is a small seating area (near loos) before going up a coupla steps to the bar proper, lowish beamed ceiling, open brick surround, wood floor and long curved wood bar with room for a dozen well-spaced bar stools, opposite a row of tables with stools & long cushioned banquette below part-coloured windows to street. End of bar also carries sign stating ‘to beer garden and quiet bar’ and access is thru the bar servery itself (tho ‘quiet bar’ does also have separate street entrance). Here is well furnished bar room with more banquettes winding around 8 tables, open to smaller servery, and a plasma supplements the 3 in the main bar. A longer list of guest beers, with those currently ‘on’ being ticked, Robinsons & Mighty Oak were the more interesting possibles among mainstreams such as Adnams, pity I caught a day with less variety. Dunno if the postcode is wrong, but the pub lies on corner of High St & Richmond St, unlike map position shown above.

19 Jul 2009 12:06

The Bricklayers Arms, Luton

Have to say the beer quality was struggling Mon eve, 3 of 4 beers tried were far from good. Let's hope it was just a blip (possibly the indecisive weather - atmospheric influence?). Further to my earlier comment, the HBs did look a little happier.

16 Jul 2009 08:33

The Victoria, Dunstable

Tring ‘Victoria Ale’ (permanent offering, can’t remember which Tring beer is re-badged), Northumberland Summer Gold, Holden’s Golden Glow, and Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, the latter was this week’s special at £2.50, Tring £2.70. Single-roomed L-shape pub, wood tables, oddly-covered banquettes (shiny fabric?), leatherette wood stools, but it all somehow works – a great local atmosphere noticeable from the moment you enter, friendly welcome at the bar, and the board above indicates a community pub with mention of darts/doms/golf society/greyhound syndicate/cricket/bowling, a real hub, and high cabinet opp bar displays lots of trophies. The dartboard is in the front area, quite tight to a r/h wall, so left-handers may struggle! Plasma on rear wall of bar area (dk about Sky), then outside rear area is wooden fenced, small-block paving, with surrounding potted shrubs & flowers, a big shed beyond (to house the 4 ‘fests per year?), also a bricked/wood-roofed bbq corner. Picnic set with jumbrella, meshed garden chairs at round table, heatlamps. Very good, don’t miss this one if in Dunstable.

16 Jul 2009 08:26

The Globe, Dunstable

B&T Shefford Bitter, Dragonslayer, Midsummer Ale, Two Brewers Bitter, Edwin Taylor’s Extra Stout, plus ‘Shefford Brewery’ (still B&T) Dark Mild & Dunstable Giant, also Hooky Bitter, Everards Tiger, Whitstable Native, Summerskills IKB 1859, Old Rosie, Herefordshire Perry. Good number of beers but, as with Bedford’s Wellington (agree with Phantom_Power that a direct comparison can be made), not really much of great excitement from beyond the B&T stable. Long L-shaped pub and bar, a sort of open snug to the rt of entrance, nice cushioned free-standing settles & matching chairs, more settles opp bar, tables, stools & some barstools (seated regulars moved to allow view of pumpclips). Nice old dark boards throughout, and a high shelf winds around the whole sporting bottles and old pumpclips, walls carry some breweriana, nice pictures, mirrors, half-glass partition doors separate the rear of the pub from the bar area, and it is here that the dartboard has its own space, and a rare decent sized chalkboard. Outside to a small enlcosed concrete area, prettified by hanging baskets, some planted tubs, and a small lean-to with climbers growing on trellis side. Not busy Mon eve, but good banter and atmosphere around the bar and the young barman greeted us on arrival & was a pleasant lad, offering me a taster of a just-changed barrel while I was pondering. Yes it’s good, but some micro offerings might better justify the journey over.

16 Jul 2009 08:01

Norman King, Dunstable

Oh dear, looks great from the outside but that's it. Nice old building given an open plan makeover, three handpumps, none on, pool table, chav atmosphere, I didn't have a drink so won't leave a rating but it wouldn't have improved the current avg.

14 Jul 2009 14:26

The Betjeman Arms, St Pancras International Station

Idiot manager/supervisor person did his best, yesterday, to prove himself completely unsuited to a job in a service industry.
My pal bought me a pint of something badged as Sharps Betjeman & mentioned to me, as an aside, that the price had changed in the 5 mins since he got his - £2.95 from £2.98. So, when I went back for two more, I knew that the requested £7.40(!) couldn't be correct. Turned out that the barman had given me a Pride & a Betjeman, this was corrected & the idiot supervisor took the correct money (now 2 @ £2.95) saying never mind it's sorted now. When he was light-heartedly asked how much that made the Pride (s/be £3.25 apparently), & that the charge would still have been way wrong, he took a very aggressive stance, snapping 'Well everyone makes mistakes!' Yes, IDIOT, I know that, but they should be rectified with some contrition, not confrontation, arsehole.

14 Jul 2009 14:11

The British Grenadier, Colchester

Smaller lay-out than my beer-misted memory had me believe, but none the worse for that. I didn't record the ales available but do need to mention the late afternoon entertainment yesterday - the licensees' daughters were on vocals, accompanied by guitar, and were really rather good, well done them. Good local buzz about the place.

5 Jul 2009 15:34

The Albion, Colchester

Darkstar Old Chestnut, Nethergate Dr John’s Panacea, Roosters Elderflower, I feel sure there were more pumps (4or5 in total?) but that’s all I noted (well, this was the 9th pub). Comfortable woody interior, chairs, settles, barrel topped tables nr bar with barstools. Wood-burning stove near entrance, no it wasn’t on. Good dartboard with, unusually, sensibly placed chalkboard – sorry Td, don’t know how we managed to allow friction to enter the game. Welcoming guv was a good craic, as were the handful of locals at the bar, I heard that there will be a ‘fest next week (10-12Jul, Rowhedge Regatta on Sat, so expect it to be busy) with 9 at a time rotating through the bar, very tempting. It has a nice aspect over the Colne and, as LGA says, the 66A (every 30mins) will whisk you here in just 10mins from outside the British Grenadier, and take you all the way back to Colchester North if you’ve finished your tour, as we had (or, more accurately, the tour had finished US!).

5 Jul 2009 15:22

Kings Arms Hogshead, Colchester

I should add, in fairness, that they were very happy to give tasters to my pals, what a shame I didn't even occur to me to ask likelise for whatever was badged as Lomond. If anyone's interested, my pub rating was still 7, oh, and the manageress was very pretty.

5 Jul 2009 15:01

Kings Arms Hogshead, Colchester

Gk ipa (served two ways! No, & no thanks), Abbot, Goffs Jouster, Wickwar Bankers Draft, Batemans Miss South Africa, Lomond Gold. Large central hexagonal island bar serving various drinking areas, dark wood to street, tiles to right, more wood, carpet to left/rear. Very large, mostly paved, outside area with lots of picnic sets, some umbrellas, a long open wood-roofed area to rt & a small tented set-up nr door. Front bar has a mix of wooden furniture and a nice large corner window fully open to the street in yesterday’s sunshine. Small & large plasmas, but no Sky, they aint looking for the football set. Now the problem: one of my halves was Lomond Gold (it’s not), calls itself blonde (it’s not), sounds tasty (it’s awful). When the barman agreed that it was far from what he expected when he had tried it earlier I asked whether it might be changed for summat else, he referred me to the 20-something, pierced-tongued, manageress who rightly claimed that the pub could not be responsible for a brewery’s pumpclip and that I should have read the tasting notes (a brief-sheet I hadn’t seen on the bar), she then disappeared. Lomond Gold wasn’t listed, enabling me to ask the barman if I could have another word. She maintained the stance that they couldn’t just ‘give away’ beer because a brewery’s (clip) notes/descriptions were wrong. I shouldn’t have let frustration allow an F to slip out, but I apologised and said not to worry, I’d just state that in my report. Suddenly she couldn’t give me a replacement quickly enough. I really didn’t want to make such an issue and would have backed down if she hadn’t dismissed me quite so summarily in the first instance. Looking now at Lomond Gold tasting notes (and SIBA gold award), I can only think that the pump was wrongly clipped – what came out bore no resemblence to the descriptions available, and was pretty foul. Despite all this, I rather liked the pub and would certainly return (if allowed to after this diatribe…)

5 Jul 2009 14:39

The Hospital Arms, Colchester

Adnams Bitter, Explorer, Broadside, Woodforde’s Wherry, Landlord, Harviestoun Ptarmigan, Nethergate Umbel Magna, one other? Enter to tiled bar area & the 3 Adnams pumps, left to wood-floored mid & rear areas carrying 2 & 3 handpumps respectively, sturdy wood tables, chairs, & high-backed settles, out to concreted beer garden made more welcoming by hanging baskets & flowering tubs, beyond the part-covered picnic sets the rear wall is painted in Adnams ‘beach style’. To the right of the front entrance is a small carpetted area with nice wood tables & chairs, a bookcase and condiment baskets against far wall. Chalkboard announced homemade dishes & the menu reads very well, most mains ~£6.

5 Jul 2009 14:06

The Fox and Fiddler, Colchester

Mighty Oak Maldon Gold, English Oak, IPA, & Mixed Doubles (a confusing pumpclip helpfully annotated with a sticker indicating ‘blonde’), one pump unclipped. The Maldon Gold was excellent value at £2.20 ‘all day, every day’, and this meant the cheapest 4-pint round of the day at £9.70. The front bar has marble-topped tables & rather strange leather seating & sofas where one would expect more traditional wood furnishings but, that aside, I like the place & the guv is a courteous & genial host. I don’t recall all the 3-Para photos last visit, was I asleep?

5 Jul 2009 13:53

The Hole in the Wall, Colchester

I would maintain my rating of 7 and am still surprised to see this place grubbing along on a lowly 5+, the choice of beer was fairly good (tho unrecorded, sorry) and condition was fine, two I recall were Theakston Lightfoot & Tribute, plus summat from Wychwood. Another beerfest is due 30Jul-02Aug (I think). My only complaint yesterday was the 'music', some noisy trash seeping from the speakers like headphone 'bleed'. A foolish barman said that they had to please the majority & offered to turn it up, rather than off, it certainly was not aimed at the few who comprised the 13:00 demographic. The barmaid, by comparison, was far more light-hearted and mentioned, as we were leaving, that our timing was good because Westlife were coming on next, hehe.

5 Jul 2009 13:38

The Brewery Tap, Sudbury

On handpump, Mauldons Micawber Mild, Moletrap, Silver Adder, Black Adder, Suffolk Pride, Mid-Summer Gold, also, on gravity (tap room visible thru small window beyond bar), White Adder, Pride, Bombardier, & RCH PG Steam. Modern, minimalist feel on entry with bare-board floor to dark wood bar & a few ‘tall’ tables, but turn left to a mix of seating, various table sizes, solid wood chairs & nice free standing settles. Beyond the bar, the rear area is furnished with a couple of nice large pine tables served by bench settles, there is a dartboard rear right and adjacent bar-billiards table (covered, on our visit). Even here, though, despite the odd photo of the old locale, the white walls above light painted-wood panelling feel a little stark & naked, this made more obvious with the windows all around the L-shaped pub providing so much light – I had to think that more wall decoration and, maybe, hops adorning the whitewashed beams around the bar, would lend a softer, lived-in, homely effect. Outside a paved courtyard beer garden had new picnic sets, part covered by giant umbrella. I loved the blackboard at the bar offering filled rolls (£1.50), pork pies (£2), saltbeef or hot-gammon baps (£3), ploughmans (£5), how often we want such an easy fix, & how rarely it is found! Otherwise, cutlery is offered for bought-in take-aways and menus for the local ‘Kohinoor’ are available on window-sill. As previously mentioned, the long-haired german shepherd has a bear-like quality, but is much more friendly. It seems churlish, given the good ale line-up, to complain about restricted choice, but the pub web-site was still announcing a 35-beer festival 17-21Jun even though it had, apparently been cancelled 5 weeks previously. I wish the incumbents well with their new-born twins, but the guv stating that ‘I had more important things on my mind’ & ‘the website is the brewery’s responsibility’did not exactly douse the flames of frustration after making a specific journey from London.

2 Jul 2009 10:51

The Greenwich Union, Greenwich

Despite memories of this place displaying a disregard for cask ale, and something nearer to disdain for paying customers, I would have taken a look yesterday but was outvoted. I somehow doubt that I missed much.

28 Jun 2009 12:42

Richard I, Greenwich

With an ever dwindling number of traditional pub interiors why do Youngs feel the need to exacerbate the problem? See also, Duke of Devonshire (Balham) & Dog & Bull (Croydon). At least here the ‘makeover’ has been largely restricted to furnishings, with a ludicrous low-table & pouffe set-up to rear of right hand bar (could picture plastic gangstas with their feet up here) and chunky modern stools next to drinking shelf opposite bar in left hand side facing ugly uncomfortable-looking high wall mounted leatherette banquette serving tall but tiny shiny wood tables, quite horrible, thank goodness bits of character such as the curved window seating remain intact. My notes started off mentioning a decent looking garden but questioned why there were no umbrellas to provide shade from the sun – well, when the heavens opened 30mins later it wasn’t the sun that the sodden garden refugees were trying to escape, hahaha! Our indoors table was suddenly very much at a premium and a joker had to be played while the thunder rumbled past. Ordinary, Special, Waggledance, Bombardier, sad reflection of the times (& area) but £8.55 for three pints was the cheapest round of the day, and the Bombardier was well kept.

28 Jun 2009 12:31

The Royal George, Greenwich

Ah yes, warm memories of watching Greenwich Meantime win the Chester Cup a couple of years back to more than pay for the day’s drinking. The large plasma has moved to the rear wall but, other than change of stewardship, all is much the same. We watched the Lions doing the good stuff in first half (before the depressing finale at Prince Albert) and, although quiet, the landlady took the trouble to bring round buttered new potatoes, nice. Four handpumps, three on serving Spitfire, Masterbrew, Whitstable Bay, only tried the first mentioned & it was in splendid nick, £3.00. Blue swirly carpet is a bit 70s but nice lead light windows to street & lots of ship-o-rama decorating the walls, board games on box to rear and shove ha’penny board (wall mounted but couldn’t see supporting ‘prop’). Small one room local with a handful of barstools and just 3 or 4 tables along opposite wall, friendly welcome.

28 Jun 2009 11:54

The Ashburnham Arms, Greenwich

Spitfire, Masterbrew, Kent’s Best, Whitstable Bay, all in pretty good shape, the latter very good indeed, as one would hope for £3.20. The pub is fairly characterless with insipid modernity but I hadn’t previously realised it has a nice part-tented beer garden to the rear, in addition to the outside seating at the front.

28 Jun 2009 11:19

The Mitre, Greenwich

Four handpumps but just two in use yesterday, Hogsback TEA & Adnams Bitter, down to just Adnams as we were leaving - early Sat evening that's simply not good enough.

28 Jun 2009 11:10

The Anchor, Sudbury

Looks good from the outside, as suggested by the nice old photo above, but just one handpump - greedy king ipa, no thanks.

21 Jun 2009 08:54

The Waggon and Horses, Sudbury

Beware, closed 3-7pm (Mon-Thurs), 3-5pm (Fri). No rating left.

21 Jun 2009 08:52

The Brewery Tap, Sudbury

WARNING! The advertised beer festival (17-21Jun) is not now happening.

19 Jun 2009 10:21

The Hoop and Grapes, Aldgate

As suspected from previous ‘thru the window’ visit, you pass the door & door-frame which seem to lean in contrary directions, & enter to a welcoming woody interior, comfortable mish-mash of tables/chairs to the right of the wood&glass screen forming a hallway. On to a more open area with ridiculously tall studded-leather free standing banquettes in attendance at even taller rectangular tables, we sat at one of these before realising how impractical & uncomfortable they are. Further to a large central pillar encircled with drinking shelf and barstools, bar to the left. Four handpumps, three in action on this visit tho the guv said they are usually all on. Regulars TT Landlord & London Pride, plus Hopback Crop Circle, £2.90. Yet further, past a coal stove, to dining-looking area beyond which is a small chesterfield-style lounge. The entrance hall has some nice prints of local scenes from days of yore and a claim that the pub is ‘the oldest licensed house in the city’ with 13c foundations, and also the oldest timber framed pub, having escaped the Great Fire by 50yds. Built as The Castle in 1598, it became Hoop & Grapes in 1920. It’s a Nicholson’s house with character, I liked it.

12 Jun 2009 10:39

The Coalheavers Arms, Peterborough

Potbelly Brewery Aisling, Milton Pegasus & Sparta, Icarus had gone, Edwin Taylor’s Extra Stout, Potton ‘Village Bike’, Nottingham Bullion, Westons Country Perry, Rathays Painted Lady Perry, Moravka (unpasteurised lager beer). Completely empty 15:00 (30May) and sadly no tv for cup final, tho I don’t think we missed much? Single room pub, bar on left, wood floor on entry, then stone-effect tiles, six assorted size tables with settle/chair seating, book corner & games selection, nice big pine table at front window was ample for cards for our group of six. Narrow paved beer ‘garden’ with a few picnic sets. The roll/baguettes were truly dreadful (£2.50), whats wrong with a simple ham/cheese barm/bap/cob? And don’t start polishing the pumps at 5pm- that stuff makes you choke on yer beer!

12 Jun 2009 10:14

The Palmerston Arms, Peterborough

Bateman’s XXXB, Salem Porter, GHA Pale, Burton Bridge Bamboozler, Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Everards Sunchaser, Derby ‘Dino & Pete’s Breakfast Blonde’, Digfield IPA, Brewsters Daffy’s Elixir. What was the vault has red tiled floor and beams sport hanging jugs, the front of what was the lounge is still carpetted, BUT the central bar which used to serve both has been knocked through and replaced by a ‘new wood’ floor and bar at the rear of the pub open to both sides of what is now an oddly unbalanced U-shape. The large window to the tap-room (for it is from here that all beers are dispensed by gravity) is a very nice touch, but I’m afraid I did not like the unneccessary change of layout and my voicing an opinion against the vandalism briefly irked the landlady, under whose auspices the change evidently happened, though she remained polite when I returned to the bar. It’s lost something, including the double-jokers we played on our first pre-structural-change visit.

7 Jun 2009 12:35

The Drapers Arms, Peterborough

Grainstore Gold, Rutland Panther, Holden’s Special, Woodforde Wherry, Pedigree, Old Peculier, Directors, Ruddles, Abbot. It’s a pretty good ‘spoons.

7 Jun 2009 11:30

Charters Bar, Peterborough

Large 1907 Dutch barge, long bar with plenty of handpulls; Cathedral Ale Eight Bells, Cottage Mod n Hound & Merchant Navy, Leadmill Interstate 95 (just don’t!), Oakham JHB, Bishops Farewell, Inferno, White Dwarf, Westons scrumpy. Small raised area for live music, also home to the dartboard. Seating area to right of bar has some signed muso photos but I didn’t recognise any, sorry. I thought the green area next to the mooring was all grass last time I was here, but unfortunately they seem to have slapped a large patch of concrete in the middle now.

7 Jun 2009 11:22

The Wortley Almshouses, Peterborough

Looks terrific from the outside and, as L_g_a says, you have to stand at one end to appreciate the impressive interior view straight through to the fireplace at the other. OBB on handpump (£1.54!), SS Cider Reserve, Alpine keg, plus Pure Brew lager which was the surprising choice of one of our company, sadly taking the round of six beyond the tenner. Open rooms & seating areas in sections off the ‘corridor’, various wood/fabric settles & cushioned stools, some lovely faded yellow brick flooring.

7 Jun 2009 11:03

The Brewery Tap, Peterborough

Oakham JHB, Bishops Farewell (went just after opening!), Attila (7.5), White Dwarf, Inferno, Oblivion, Darkstar Festival, Wolf Wolf, & Wolf in Sheeps Clothing, Elgoods Black Dog, Westons Bounds Brand Scrumpy. Large paved bar area, gives on to wood flooring, black/white tiles around bar, open upper tier, old copper brewing vats visible to the rear, partially hidden by drop down screen (nothing on - roll it up…), didn’t previously realise they have a smaller rear room for functions/ comedy nights. Doesn’t feel overly pubby to me, but that’s a good beer line up. We arrived in Peterborough before midday so had to wait a few mins for the noon opening. Young friendly staff. Was busying up with younger (but not problematic) clientele when we dropped back in later on return to station.

7 Jun 2009 10:48

The Eagle Ale House, Clapham

My previous couple of visits offered a choice of ‘only’ four ales, but yesterday had a good selection across 7 of the 8 pumps: Surrey Hills Shere Drop & Ranmore, Tribute, Doombar, Westerham William Wilberforce Freedom Ale, Downton Honey Blonde, Ringwood Best, tried both of the Surrey Hills & in fine fettle, £2.90. Pub has a welcoming woody feel, some banquette seating around front area, proper wooden tables/chairs, & it’s one of the few places that manage to properly incorporate sofas – 2 leather ones and a wingback chair giving the lounge area to right of bar a nice feel, arranged around the fireplace. To the rear some good wall decoration as noted by others, but I’m surprised no-one mentioned my favourite – the front page of the Sydney Herald after we won the rugby world cup, an ‘apology’ from the Aussie nation for all the sledging they handed out down the years, & recognising the performance of an outstanding English team, then finishing with the smallprint ‘ye Pommie Bastards, …oops that just slipped out!’. I checked it would be ok to take my little dog in (it was) and, when re-entering, noticed the sign on the door, ‘all owners must be kept on a lead’…

5 Jun 2009 13:41

Goodbarns Yard, Peterborough

Odd looking place, closed for 'emergency repairs' yesterday. No rating left.

31 May 2009 12:47

The King Charles I, Kings Cross

I acknowledge the positive reviews of trusted Biters but, from last night's visit I am unable to concur. Brodie's Bitter & Deuchars went in the pulling of our round leaving only Mild on offer from handpump. True, the barman was apologetic that it was too late in the evening to change the barrel but where were the other choices mentioned below? Poor.

31 May 2009 07:52

The Windsor Castle, Carshalton

Investigated the beerfest Sat, pretty good, printed selection listed 27 ales (I think). Stills were set up in the large (I want to say ‘shed’, but it’s rather more substantial than that, oh sod it…) ‘shed’ across the little courtyard, and also in the cellar of the main bar where I pitied the staff the trek downstairs for each indoor order. Beers were well-priced, averaging ~£2.30. Choose your table in the bar, the paved outdoor area, the shed, or up in the lawned garden. I note Mike’s disbelief (Mar04) that anyone would take a bus here from Mordon; well, someone turned up from the Traf who had followed the Wandle on foot from S.Wimbledon to Carshalton lakes, haha., and hadn’t even known about the ‘fest. And I met slerpy & his better half! As Sam points out below, the pub is to come under Shepherd Neame control so presumably the ale range will be standardised with SN brands, & the prices will go up.

25 May 2009 08:19

The Grape and Grain, Crystal Palace

I have a review kept in obeyance in the hope that BITE will action my request for a new profile for the Grape & Grain, rather than just a name change to the record previously belonging to the awful Jack Beards, & subsequent inheritance of that pub's desevedly low rating.
Completely different now, and selection of well kept beers on my visit, detail to follow - hopefully on new page.

22 May 2009 22:42

The Gowlett Arms, Peckham

Like its sister act, Old Nun's Head, the furniture here is proper wood tables/chairs one side, & ludicrously low tables and sofas opposite bar, pool table squashed in beyond. You've got to be sceptical about a pub which gets more comments for the pizzas than the beers but, in fairness, there were four handpumps (3 on?) and the Harveys was good 'til it ran out and the Adnams Explorer was also good, although both £3.10. Furthermore those pizzas did look pretty good. Not my kind of place, but I've been to a lot worse and is evidently popular locally with a friendly 20-30-something vibe.

17 May 2009 15:00

Herne Tavern, Forest Hill

If I’d been on me own I’d have spun on my heel & done one, but the chaps had suggested an off-map visit so into the creche we went. Seriously, kids-o-clock, rammed with ‘em in rt-hand bar and playground garden. I wonder about a pub’s target market when 70% of the clientele aren’t even old enough to have pocket money, and their related 29% make a drink last & last until, at some invisible signal, they all disappeared at once, much like one-drink rags after a sky-match! At least the ale choice for our 1% minority included TT Landlord & Summer Lightning and the left hand bar area was (relatively) kid-free. The 3-pint round, though, was £9.80, ouch!

17 May 2009 09:15

The Old Nun's Head, Nunhead

Why do these places think that sofas & low tables are comfortable in a pub, and how do they make money from the glass-of-orange-will-last-me-all-match types that this stylee attracts? That said, the other side did have better wooden tables & chairs and there were four ales on incl Spitfire & Everards Sunchaser, albeit £3.10.

17 May 2009 08:55

The Ivy House, Nunhead

No answer on phone yesterday (14:00), is this place open or does it have non-pub hours?

17 May 2009 08:44

Page 2, Nunhead

Signage now reads The Duke, but I went past yesterday & it's already closed down!

17 May 2009 08:40

Victoria Hotel, Withington

Hydes Original & Mild, Spin Doctor, Jekyll’s Gold (£2.20), + one unclipped. Large pub presumably amended to a mostly open-plan look, roughly in a four-quartered square. To the left of the entrance is a pool & dart room with black & white floor tiles, to the right a room open to the bar with upholstered wall settles & a couple of the tables here had a lower shelf, too rare these days, enabling safe drinks storage during a game of cards (usually crib, don or nap up here), or dominoes. There is a wooden bar canopy with some coloured lead lights and opposite (far left corner) the largest ‘quarter’, itself semi-divided by a wooden ceiling arch. Carpetted here, with some pristine studded-leather wall banquette seating in the shape of two large facing crescents. Bar-side of the arch had corner plasma showing 5-a-side (with sound!) which no-one was watching, an upright piano is unfortunately flanked by a quiz machine. Victorian prints adorn the walls, other furniture is traditional wood tables/chairs/stools. Some nice original exterior signage, in stone above door and at roof level. Rather quiet on my afternoon visit, but pretty good pub if you like Hydes, the Jekyll’s was on form.

5 May 2009 21:46

The Salisbury Arms, Cambridge

Wells IPA, Bombardier, Waggledance, Adnams Explorer & Broadside, Woodforde Wherry, Tribute. Narrow front entrance via aforementioned, now-defunct, bar (although you can still sit here) to stone- then wood-floored rear with very high ceiling, featuring a suspended cyclist. Breweriana dots the upper walls and a spot-lit internal balcony (with no obvious access) forms the rear of bar area & overlooks some large central tables. Left to smaller, quieter, almost snug-like rear room with banquette seating surrounding regular wood tables and, opposite, some rather misplaced ‘tall tables’. Outside was a pretty awful courtyard where my notes read ‘braying hoorahs’, although I was flagging, somewhat, by this point.

5 May 2009 21:43

The Carlton Arms, Cambridge

Abbeydale Brimstone, Elgoods Black Dog, Summer Lightning, Northumberland Bucking Fastard, Oakham JHB, Oldershaw Regal Blonde, Old Rosie & Cassels Cider, all on blackboard then served by gravity. Enter to the left & find a rather naff little lounge/sofa style, albeit with assorted Cambridge prints on walls, and beyond to more traditional wooden furniture (with cruet, so presume for dining at different hour) & out to ‘smoking terrace’ at side of pub which opens to larger paved picnic set area at front. The right hand room, separate entrance but also served by central bar, has two pool tables & a dartboard and was equally quiet Sat 5pm.

5 May 2009 21:40

The Red Lion, Histon

Theakston Best, Oakham Bishops Farewell, Everards Tiger, Tring Blonde, Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, Oakleaf Blake’s Gosport Bitter, Adnams Extra, Westons Country Perry. All in fine form and with/without sparkler according to region. I should have noted the lagers, as the choice intentionally omits the Fosters-Stella style brands. Enter right to main bar, upholstered banquette seating below windows to main street, traditional wood tables & chairs. Ceiling beams opposite bar crowded with old pumpclips and, to the right, hung with decorative jugs. This area to the right is crammed with breweriana, pot flagons crowd the window sills, and interesting old photos adorn the wall. Note the shot of the end of the pub displaying the large mural declaring ‘Larcon’s Yarmouth Ales’ – the friendly guv (of 15yrs) Mark took me outside to proudly show me how he has had the feature restored in the same style! Old tin adverts decorate the lower bar and this style continues if you head left from entrance to the large side room – serviced from same bar, but no pumps at this side. Wood floor, plenty of seating, dartboard, masses more breweriana, plaques, mirrors, bottles around high shelf, beyond this to nice hedged & lawned beer garden with slide & swings, but no kids on our visit. Hold your nerve on #7 bus from Cambridge as it seems to turn back away from Histon from station rd, but then doubles back to drop you virtually outside – worth the 15/20min journey.

5 May 2009 21:39

The Cow and Plough, Oadby

Well, I was here again 08Apr & very much enjoyed another visit. Our group was somewhat taken aback to find the place so busy before 13:00 on a Wednesday, but they had a jazz band already swinging and a strong representation from some of the more, ahem, senior local populace. I suspect they must do midweek food offers too, as most seemed to be lunching. Yes, we had to wait a few minutes to be served but nothing untoward, given how popular the place was that day, and not at all for the 2nd round. The choice of beers was very good, and included my beer-of-the-day, the extraordinary (limited edition) Wellington from Millstone. The young ladies behind the bar displayed no poor ‘attitude’ as suggested below, and happily offered to phone me a taxi when I’d simply asked for a local number. And the gents loos were fine. It all makes kpb’s only-ever Bite comment rather mysterious…

27 Apr 2009 14:31

Wheatsheaf, Southwark

York Guzzler & York Terrier, RedCar Best & IPA (latter badged as "Return of the 'Sheaf"), Youngs Ord & Special, Bombardier, Nethergate Augustinian, Milton Dionysus, Addlestones cider. Decent size, but not a great layout, especially the positioning of the long refectory tables beyond the bar which create a blocked rat-run to/from the individual vaulted rooms (x2) at the far end. Good to see a dartboard with its own space, not so good that a section is taken up with a square sofa/low table arrangement. Most importantly, though, the beer was very disappointing - served way too cold, therefore devoid of most of its flavour, some with a chill-haze, and a new trio record was set at £9.80 for 3 pints! Bombardier (for the less adventurous) seemed to the the dearest? Overall, I doubt I'll be back in a hurry.

20 Apr 2009 09:00

The Shakespeare's Head, Leicester

Something of a throwback to the '70s, almost expected electric pumps! Don't worry, the Barnsley Bitter & Old Tom Mild were on handpump and in good condition at amazing prices, as mentioned below. I didn't plan it, honest, but it happened to be my round - 5 pints, £7.55, come on! Fits neatly between the Globe & Criterion if crawling the area.

9 Apr 2009 09:19

The Hope, Carshalton

Darkstar Hophead, Tom Woods Shepherd’s Delight, Cotleigh Barn Owl, Darkstar Over the Moon had gone but was shortly replaced by Moorhouses Black Cat. The pub has low windows directly to the street but in yesterday’s sunshine the feel was more akin to that of a country inn. Originally two cottages, the building became the Hope Beerhouse in 1877 and was restored with restructured frontage circa 1930. The bar is directly opposite entrance and winds around to the right, where 3 (display) handpumps unfortunately have no access to the cellar, and to the left where it becomes a horseshoe, and where the regulars gather. Low beamed ceiling, some well-upholstered settles and stools plus a couple of tables; to the rear a roaring wood fire (unnecessary yesterday, but kept going to toast buns for a birthday – later offered round the bar!) and a small open snug-type area with U-shaped seating for 8-ish and a serving hatch to the rear of the bar. Further on to a small dining room with windows to a paved beer garden with a few picnic sets. The lower bar walls have dark wood panelling, the papered upper half decorated with many naval pictures and prints and an impressive bronze(?) etched galleon mirror, some display knots are in cases on a central brick pillar. Good welcome at the bar, and easy chatting to the landlady & a few punters (15:00) and later (>17:30) there was a good local buzz. The landlady has an enthusiasm for the ales, and apparently brings a list of options for perusal at the end of the week: having cleared out some problem clientele (whose former presence is adversely & unfairly affecting her Bite rating) she is clearly building a following & deserves to thrive. I got the heads-up on this place from slerpy, but it also features in the current London Drinker (article and advert). Croydon/Sutton inaugural ‘pub of the season’. Glasses were Adnams or jugs, but it would be mean to criticise that. Three mini ‘fests coming up – Dark beers April, Milds May, Summer beers (Locale) June. Well done Susanna!

4 Apr 2009 11:05

The Skew Bridge, Harpenden

Nope. Empty room to left of entrance, busy-ish public to rt, uncomfortable getting in with most punters crowding between door & bar. Beer quality & service was ok, but just Black Sheep & Spitfire (as opposed to Mike’s “good selection of guest ales”). Two large plasmas to rear were showing different games (sky&setanta), mercifully only one commentary. Grey-clothed pool table to rear right. A little too cramped and locals’ local for me; let’s just say its current rating of 7.2 is… surprising.

22 Mar 2009 10:39

The Carpenters Arms, Harpenden

Abbot, Youngs Special, courage, Adnams Bitter, oh dear, but thankfully also Harveys Best. Looks very inviting from the outside as you approach and, indeed, enter to a convivial local conversational humm, but WHAT a bad layout! Just 8 people between the door and the bar made it impossible to get near to even view the pumpclips, necessitating a circular approach around a pillar and between seated customers to the left. Admittedly, having finally ordered we did get a table & even upgraded to the larger table in the bay window when it became free (sorry locals, you’ve gotta be quicker than that!). Probably a nice pub when very quiet but, otherwise, rather cramped, and they need to wake up that beer selection. The suggested taxi service was very prompt (early), £4 back to stn.

22 Mar 2009 10:27

The English Rose, Luton

Brakspear Bitter, Moles Best, Sharp’s Atlantic IPA, Leeds Special. Curious layout with small L-shaped bar to rear, brick fireplace with wood burning grate to right, pool table to left, carpetted throughout. Good to see the handful of other customers keeping a concerned local eye on the tv (above entrance) as to the Luton score, but they surely cannot escape after a 30(!)pt deduction? Another dozen, or so, punters later gave the pub a friendly local flavour. Something of an oddity, but pretty good.

22 Mar 2009 10:08

The Bricklayers Arms, Luton

Everards Tiger & Beacon, B&T Wembley Wobble, Milton Pegasus, Tring Royal Poacher– went, immediately replaced by Ramsbury Gold. Attractive woody look to the pub and warm ambience as you enter, bar to left of front room, wood tables&chairs, 3 tall barrels provide glass support & good view of plasma opposite bar (showing rugby ystdy), bookcase shelves either side give a homely feel. Further on to a second, smaller, room with a scattering of small tables and a tv quietly showing skysports news. Apparently gets busy pre-match if Luton are at home, but no sign of glass-backlog or anything when we arrived at 15:20. The £8.60 round (3pints) was the dearest of the day up here, and the exterior hanging baskets really need replanting to give a more cared-for look, but I very much liked the pub.

22 Mar 2009 09:51

The Wellington Arms, Bedford

Banks&Taylor pub, so B&T Two Brewers’ Bitter, Shefford Bitter, Emerald Ale (warned it was green), Oldershaw Regal Blonde & Alma’s Brew, Westerham British Bulldog & Wilberforce Freedom Ale, Burton Bridge Damson Poster, Thwaites Original, Adnams Bitter, Westons Country Perry & Old Rosey, 2 unclipped. As previously mentioned, it really is like walking into a welcoming beer grotto with brewery paraphernalia all around; among many brewery prints and mirrors I noticed, at far end toward the loo, separate pictures of Hardy’s Kimberley Brewery and Hansons Kimberley Brewery, obviously later Hardy&Hansons, before the loss to greedy king. High shelves are crowded with old bottles, old pumpclips abound, nick-nacks in every corner, furniture is plain rustic, an upright piano lives beyond the bar. Pretty quiet 13:00 ystdy, tv to right was quietly showing early footy (so sky), later rugby. A window pane is etched ‘Shefford Brewery, Porters Ales & Stouts, 1864’ but the (presumably) derivative Banks&Taylor is just 1981. Exterior is very plain, but some tin plaques nr entrance announce further breweries, and a board reads ‘We are a real ale pub, No Fosters, No Stella, No Carling, No Crap’. It would be rather graceless, after all this, to find fault, but with so many handpumps I did expect to find something slightly more micro-unusual. Apart from a borderline pint in the first round, quality was fine. Worth a visit.

22 Mar 2009 08:47

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

Good choice of Hopback beers, yesterday Summer Lightning, GFB, Fuggles, Entire Stout, mostly £2.50 or less. Also, if you feel the need to drink the inferior stout called guinness, that was on Paddy's Day sale at £2.10, & large Jamie's at just £2(!). Well done the Sultan.

18 Mar 2009 14:01

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

Continuing the value into March, the Traf has all ales at £2.40 this month. Tonight is curry night; choice includes korma, dopiaza.. up to phal, chicken or veggie, also thai beef, plus a pint - £6! Well done David.

12 Mar 2009 11:43

The Devonshire Cat, Sheffield

Devonshire Cat Best Bitter(?), Abbeydale Moonshine, Fernandes(Wakefield) Garnet, Barnsley Bitter, Thornlaw Jaipur IPA & Saint Petersburg, Acorn Perle IPA, Gt Newsome brewery ‘Pricky Back Otchan’ (pumpclip states ‘What a mouthful’), Rudgate Aris’Ale & Quaff, Phoenix Hopsack, 1 unclipped. The bottle store (‘tap room’ effect) to rt of bar is a good feature, otherwise the décor has something of a ‘spoons/chef&brewer stylee, but look again at that beer list & forgive any architectural shortcomings! Clientele bridges a large age range. Specials board offered Wild Mushroom ristto £5.50, Seabass fillet £10, Lamb rump £11, Venison casserole £8. Beer prices rose by abv, avg £2.45, good range, well worth a look.

11 Mar 2009 11:03

Harlequin, Sheffield

Derby Blonde Escape & Outrageous Drop, Blakemere Ferrier’s Fettle, OPA Hay’s Engel’s Porter, Goffs White Knight, Bradfield Farmers Blonde, JS Magnet, Bollington Happy Valley, Milestone ‘Classic Dark Mild’, Brew Co Winter Tan, Goose Eye Owa Th’ill, 1 unclipped, beers dispensed in over-size glasses. Carpetted open plan room winds around the bar, banquette surround seating, cushioned stools, wood tables, down a step to an area with piano, dartboard in far corner. Varying soundtrack (Acker Bilk, Rock&Roll, Motown), live music seems to lean toward blues – Tim Rodwell last Thurs, another band Sat. The ‘what’s on’ board noted Mon–Ales from £1.50, Tues–Folk Nt, Wed–Quiz, Thurs–live music (TR), Fri–free buffet, Sat–Ale in the afternoon (I asked–was told ‘just sit & drink!’). Not architecturally characterful but a great deal to like here–a pub obviously making an effort, and a marvellous beer line-up. Fairly busy & chatty on my visit. Recommended.

11 Mar 2009 10:18

The Old Queens Head, Sheffield

Thwaites Original, Lancaster Bomber, & topical ‘Red Nose Bag’. Central semi-octagon(?) wood bar with brass rails at counter & floor level. Bar surrounded by sectioned, but open, carpetted seating areas and fabric-wood banquettes follow around the walls below windows, old photos provide decoration. Behind the bar to the rt is a dining room with nice stone fireplace & coal grate, but it is unfortunate that the old full-length slat windows offer a view of only some picnic sets then a paved area where some bus-workers were having a smoke. Thursday’s blackboard specials were chicken & bacon pasta (£4.50) or lasagne verdi (£5.25) – both included garlic.. bread! Printed menus majored on cheap pub grub – eg fish&chips or steak&kidney pie were both £4, most wines were listed at <£10. Very quiet thurs 3pm and the 2 fruit machines may be invasive at other times, but most anoying was the music being neither on, nor off, creating the irritating tinny ‘bleed’ effect from cheap headphones of an inconsiderate walkman/ipod user. The pub is not all bad, the beer was ok, but even with a location handy for trains & buses it needs to try harder in this town, and the interior is hardly sympathetic to a building purporting to be one of the oldest in Sheffield.

8 Mar 2009 19:11

The White Hart, Whitechapel

Three banks of 5 pumps but only Spitfire on each section. So, 15 handpumps, 1 beer: to me, that just smacks of laziness probably born on the back of busy weekday lunchtimes. Real shame, as the old wood aesthetic and feel of the place appeals greatly on entry, and the long bar goes far back to the rear of the pub. I really don’t know why they open at the weekend, maybe they get some Brick La trade but don’t seem to be doing much to encourage it. Off list in future.

8 Mar 2009 18:37

The Hoop and Grapes, Aldgate

I should have guessed but was still disappointed to find this pub closed yesterday (Sat). The ground level exterior has a charming look with the old (closed) door leaning at a surprising angle, a peek through the window showed a woody welcoming interior. No rating yet, but I’ll try to return if over this way on a weekday.

8 Mar 2009 18:27

Goodman's Field, Whitechapel

Unusual to include a ‘spoons on the Sat crawl and expected more of this relatively highly rated (currently 6.8) chain outlet. One bank of 5 pumps was completely unclipped, the other had just Ruddles Best, Abbot, Batemans Golden Bitter (‘4 point 2’?); coming soon (haha) were York Constantine & Pedigree. They were showing some football on a plasma (terrestial channel), but although the room looks rather more spruce than an avg ‘spoons it is still something of a characterless box and I can only think it enjoys the current rating due to an absence of that group’s more (ahem) ‘traditional’ clientele. I don’t doubt it must be a popular outlet for weekday suits and presume the beer selection would ordinarily be better than ystdy’s poor 3, but I can only rate according to my visit. Very quiet Sat 14:00.

8 Mar 2009 18:17

The Horseshoe Inn, London Bridge

I noted Brakspear & gkipa last night, but acknowledge the many mentions of Pride so it’s possible I got the latter wrong. Either way, the Brakspear (£3) was pretty tired. The dartboard to the right of the bar was certainly not entertaining ‘serious’ play by the ladies who preceded us, and our game did nothing to raise the standard. There is another board in the side/rear room. Lack of beer choice & quality leads me to doubt that I’ll be back.

8 Mar 2009 17:56

The King Street Tavern, Southsea

ps doesn't open until 18:00(!) Sat.

17 Feb 2009 17:07

The Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Portsmouth

Very busy at the bar Sat (21:00), but battled through the youngsters to find a decent beer on tap (can’t remember what now) and, beyond the bar, the relative tranquility of a seating area which may be restaurant during the day. Friends who’d been checking the last trains back to London had witnessed dickheads getting off at Portsmouth&Southsea & smashing bottles at the station; you have to imagine ‘spoons being a prime destination for suchlike but, although this was busy, I didn’t detect any overt hostility.

17 Feb 2009 17:02

The King Street Tavern, Southsea

Wadworth beers, 6X, JCB, Henry’s IPA, Bishops Tipple, Horizon. Looks traditional from exterior and there is some old-style architecture in evidence, albeit with modernist ‘twists’ (I’d twist the fkn designer’s head off!). Nice back-bar, etched mirrors, restaurant area to right, jazz band setting up to left. It’s not at all bad, but potted plants & spider-lights(?) make you feel it’s been made over for ‘Manhattan Transfer’ enthusiasts. It wouldn’t be on my list for a return visit.

17 Feb 2009 16:53

The Hole in The Wall, Southsea

Country Life Brewery Black Boar (Devon Porter), Marston Moor Cromwell Pale, Buffy’s Norwegian Blue, Hepworth Sussex, Scattor Rock ‘Rock Steady Light’, Oakleaf Holehearted plus, on stills, 2 ciders incl Thatchers Cheddar Valley dry, also Grandma’s Weapons Grade Ginger Beer. Enter to the front room, half wood-panelled, tiled floor, trad seating, up a step (under hop-adorned archway) to fairly tight bar area, esp with a little finger buffet laid out Sat nt for 60th bday, heavy floral paper on upper walls here, and tankards hang from beams. Past bar down corridor with tables & retro ‘70s dumb-waiter, tall wooden pew-like(?) settles to rt , further to tiny snug on left – mirror, old photos, servery from rear of bar. Menu includes steak&kidney pie, mash/peas, £5.25, or steak-ale-mushroom pie £5.45. All beers <£2.50. Friendly young staff, good pub & it would have been sampled earlier in the day but for a Sat opening time of 16:00!

17 Feb 2009 16:39

Leopold Tavern, Southsea

Bowman Swift One & Nutz (I wrote down Mutz, but now realise it is a chestnut beer), Hopback Summer Lightning, Goddards Fuggle DeeDum, Oakleaf Holehearted & Pompey Royal. Quite busy Sat eve toward end of Wal-Eng rugby and the bar was a little clogged, meaning waiting for a drink while trying not to stand in eyeline for the tv, and this manc was conscious of many scouse accents at my end of the bar, but they were fine. Beyond the horseshoe end of the bar is a large characterless darts area, and to the rear a lounge bar leather sofa style. Not pubby enough for my liking, but good beer choice and, if you arrive in town early, & thirsty, they open at 10:00 Sat.

17 Feb 2009 16:08

The Winchester Arms, Portsmouth

Spitfire, Hobgoblin, Oakleaf Holehearted, 1 pump unclipped. Woody traditional décor, heavy dark wood back-bar & high ceiling beams, round wood tables & sturdy chairs, chatty clientele suggests a locals local, and nowt wrong with that. Small tv showing Wales-England Sat eve, my notes say ‘book corner, & decorative plates/tankards stylee’ whatever that meant? Walk round to the rear bar (or rather servery, no pumps here), a wood/fabric horseshoe banquette provides good seating for a large-ish group and, beyond this, a dartboard with its own space & oche. Barmaid was watching the note-taking & providing banter, ok Caz - you have your extra point!

17 Feb 2009 15:42

The Rose in June, Portsmouth

First pub, post early-match-exit Sat, and quite bizarre walking into one side of the bar which was, almost literally, empty. We joked about Lpool having been recent visitors, but the bar was back to its bones awaiting a refit & decoration. Old Hooky, Hogsback TEA, Otter Ale, Goddards Fuggle DeeDum, HSB, Pride, & Ceddar Valley cider on handpump. Other room, beyond central island bar, had dark wood tables, leather settles & seemed popular & homely, both sides carried muted skysports results. Good welcome from the bar, and the friendly guv seemed concerned at my beer inspection but it was passable, just. I’d give the place another try in the hope that the ale was more pristine, and also to see the result of that fit-out. Decent sized garden to rear may be an attraction to some come summer.

17 Feb 2009 12:21

The Sir Loin Of Beef, Southsea

Heard this venue had fallen out with Camra, for some reason, but is undoubtedly a real ale pub. 8 handpumps, Sat pm had one unclipped, otherwise Flowerpot Goodens Gold, Hopback Summer Lightning, WJ King New Beer’s Resolution, fff Moondance, Irving Frigate, Palmers Best, Whippet Gone with the Whippet. Light and airy in the bar with large windows to street, the rear area has had a pool table removed but sadly the dartboard has also gone – ‘It’s just a drinkers pub now’ we were told by the friendly guys at the bar, but must be popular as they had 19(!) teams for the quiz last week. Friendly staff too, I really liked this place – they just need to invest in some half pint pots; serving that measure in carling glasses is somewhat off-putting to old grumpies like me, haha! Ps. not at all crowded pre-match, but if you are heading to the ground there is a choice of buses from the stop almost opposite which will get you there in 5mins.

17 Feb 2009 11:58

The Florence Arms, Southsea

Another pub with a central bar serving two rooms requiring separate entrance. Vault/public has pool table and one handpump, other hps on lounge/saloon side where the room is carpetted, upholstered settles surround bar, a leather sofa still had a guitar from last night’s music still in residence, has a welcoming homely feel. Wrapped around the lounge is a long narrow function room which then opens to a shorter, wider, part of an L-shape, this apparently used to be next door’s garden(?), & was being set up for a wedding party. I agree entirely with other reviews mentioning the friendliness of the staff; at first I thought the list of ciders/perries were all bottled but over a dozen are on tap somewhere out back and when the subject came up the guv went into tasting mode & produced a couple of his favs for our benefit – I’m ashamed to say I failed to note the name of a lovely perry (actually tasting of… pear!) but the cider was Brown Snout from … doh!, failed again, sorry Greg, but thanks for the chat on local breweries (Bowman, ex-Cheriton, Hammerpot etc) and Alisha(?) for the input on other pubs & bus routes. Not a huge range of ales but the Oakleaf Nuptu’ale was very good, others were Spitfire & Broadside, also draught Addlestones.

17 Feb 2009 11:37

The Dolphin, Portsmouth

Contrary messages as you approach, with notices reading ‘Portsmouth’s Oldest Pub’ rather clashing with the presence of venetian blinds at the street windows. The room to the right of the entrance and the semi-open area opp bar do carry some originality, each with wood burning fires, the former has whitewashed brick walls, the latter curving half-timbered banquette seating, but the general feel of makeover – the large open bar area and those blinds detract from any sense of history or old pubbiness. Wooden floor throughout the front & bar sections, stone slabs to the rear where light wood tables appear set up in restaurant style, when I wandered back there to take a look staff hanging at the corner of the bar asked ‘Can I help you?’, hmmm. Jazzy schmoozy soundtrack added further to the feeling of bar, rather than pub, although the blues trumpet on a version of Summertime was pretty special. The beers were in fine condition, mostly from the local Irving brewery, Frigate, Cathedral, Invincible, Wee Malc’s 80-shilling, also Landlord & Doombar, but at an eye-watering £3.30! My only target pub in ‘Old’ Portsmouth, and the price and unsympathetic treatment of décor would dissuade me from returning.

17 Feb 2009 09:50

The Barley Mow, Southsea

Ringwood Best, Hammerpot Red Hunter, Yates YSD (went), Hogs Back Winter Ale, HSB, Pride, fff Pressed Rat & Warthog. Two-roomed pub, separate entrances, plain public bar with no handpumps at the servery, pool table & two dartboards. Larger more atmospheric saloon, carpetted, wood tables, upholstered chairs, old jukebox, upright piano in corner, homey lounge style area to rt of bar with more tables, sofas, real fire (unlit). Wood panelled walls carry plenty of naval photos, nice wood canopy bar-surround with upper glasswork lead-lights. Pleasant flagstoned patio beer garden, as currently shown in main image above. The only one of 3 target pubs in the immediate area to open early Sat (11:00), and good bluesy soundtrack and good beer make this, for me, a must visit in Portsmouth.

17 Feb 2009 09:48

The Bull, Horton Kirby

Enjoyed another visit Saturday when I was expecting the periodic guest brewery promotion to feature Pictish. Turned out to be Thornbridge, but none the worse for that, albeit some very strong beers in the range. No notes, but recall the stills included Lord Marples, Kipling, Ashford, the deadly Saint Petersburg and the wonderful, but also dangerous Jaipur IPA. Non-Thornbridge handpumps at bar featured Hophead, Oakham JHB & Inferno, & Newby Wyke White Squall. Always a friendly welcome, and the homemade dishes (chilli con carne, corned beef hash, & other tempting pub dishes) were all just £5, pity food service finished at 14:30; could have done with some later to soak up the beer. They even put the early footy on for me (muted), thanks folks, if I can’t get over again beforehand I’ll be checking London Drinker for the next brewery bash date.

9 Feb 2009 13:02

The Wellington, Sheffield

Millstone Old Git, Foxfield Horn of Plenty, Little Ale Cart Jeanie Deans & Saint Johnstoun, Boewulf Finn’s Hall Porter & Hurricane, Salamander Byzantium, Cheddar Valley cider, all £2.00-£2.40, some had tasting notes on board behind bar. Enter to open area at short end of L-shaped bar, smallish traditionally furnished room behind, left into lounge with real fire crackling in victorian fireplace below large mirror, upholstered banquette seating, wood chairs/tbls. Walls are somewhat sparse, detracting from the ambience, & could benefit from decoration, pictures, photos, maybe old pumpclips (of which there must be many) would improve the look. Standing at the bar, with the pub quiet on snowbound Monday, I couldn’t help noticing the noisy glass-washer (machine, that is), a tiny point but summat that could be addressed. If it’s still there, check the noticeboard opp entrance for the self-mocking (RATs-style p.take) announcing ‘Beer Tickers have been conned for years; even 1968 LongLife has now been rolled out as Glentworth Golden Showers’. Also, all new beers were, in reality, disguises of Stones & JS Smooth! Barman was deep into a word/number puzzle and one would think the pub would be more welcoming when busier, but that’s still a good beer line-up!

5 Feb 2009 10:13

The Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

Thwaites Original & Nutty Black, Banks&Taylor Clanger, Cathedral Ale Black Imp, Marlow Rebellion Roasted Nuts, Potbelly Brewery Jingle Bellies, Salamander Cornucopia, Abbeydale Vespers, Sheffield Brewery Snowflake, Pictish Brewers Gold, Acorn Barnsley Bitter, Bradfield Brewery Farmers Blonde (served in glasses with logo ‘Farmers, & No Bull’).Good welcome from theguv(?) and, when I started with halves of Blonde & Vesper, his warning that the latter was a dark beer showed good customer care. Nice homely bar area, small ‘library’ shelf to left (closer inspection revealed mostly gbg editions), coal stove in fireplace (unlit in Mon snow?), trad furniture with banquette seating in opposite corners and solid tables/chairs between. Room to seat another coupla dozen in the airy rear room with skylight & windows to surrounding beer ‘garden’/terrace. Walls variously decorated with paintings/photos/prints/awards. Also a warning that ‘If in conversation you need to swear, then take your custom elsewhere’. Good job I was alone!
Nice wooden L-shaped bar faces the entrance, with diamond tiled surround and wood boards beyond. Note also the rare but welcome sight of homemade rolls on bar, ham or cheese, £1.60. Beers served in over-size glasses, £2.00-£2.20pp; also interesting to note that some were set up with sparkler & others not – presume this to be according to the requirements of each beer & a definite indication of commitment to quality product. Other beers incl St Louis Kriek (cherry), Warsteiner, Konig Ludwig Weissbier, Westons Country Perry, Old Rosie. In the loo is a rather sad collage of “Sheffield’s forgotten pubs”, none on my list & presumably all now gone – thank goodness for hostelries such as this to still cheer the soul.

4 Feb 2009 18:38

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

ps. TT Landlord wasn't on Mon, but I think was listed at £1.89, to give you an idea of prices...

4 Feb 2009 16:59

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

I’ve been to FatCats in Ipswich & Colchester but this, allegedly, is the original & not part of the group owning the others (clearly held to be plagiarists in these parts). The beers on offer on Mon were predominantly dark & strong following a weekend winter ale festival, on handpump; Saltaire Winter Ale, Dunham Massey Winter Warmer, Kelham Island Pale Rider & Best Bitter, Derby Brewery Dark Princess, Spire Draymans Delight, Ascot Winter Reserve, Brew Dog Rip Tide (8%), Wensleydale Hardraw Force, Darkstar Victorian Ruby Mild. Nice traditional little bar, welcoming real fire, banquette seating, small tables & stools, serving hatch opposite to corridor, other side of which is a slightly larger, similarly furnished room. Both have some old photos & breweriana mirrors, the latter also displays a signed cartoon by Mike Atkinson (author of the ‘Fat Cat’ series). There is an upstairs room for functions or overspill, but flyers in bar announced its use as a bistro one w-end a month (trial venture for chef not connected with pub, £35 for 3 courses matched with beers). Sounds expensive compared to daily lunches such as steak, mushroom&tarragon pies, mexican chicken & rice or Kelham cheese & onion, all £4.40. Pub is very close to Kelham Island Brewery (which is not related to nearby ‘K.I.T.’) also the Industrial Museum apparently housing largest working steam engine, the River Don Engine.

4 Feb 2009 16:50

Fagan's, Sheffield

Two Tetley Bitter pumps, plus Abbeydale Moonshine. Bar to right with nice wood surround incorporating lead-light stained glass panels, open lounge opposite bar, upholstered banquette seating & stools, trad wood tables. Rear room has an eclectic décor of old folk-muso photos and the pub offers folk music 5nts a week. Tiny snug to rt of entrance with seating for 6-8, and a small access of its own to the bar.

4 Feb 2009 12:07

The Rain Bar, Castlefield

JW Lees Bitter, John Willie’s, Brewers Dark, Moonraker (7.5%). JW’s £2.90pp! Dunno where RobCamra is drinking to say that is relatively cheap round here? Large pub with diverse areas & seating styles, woody snug to left of entrance, booths & tall tables around bar-area, small lounge beyond, plenty of picnic sets outside next to canal presumably make it a summer hotspot. Impressed by friendly staff.

4 Feb 2009 11:20

The Vine Inn, Manchester

Disappointing after City Arms next door. Blackboard outside declared ‘Country pub in Town!’, hardly, and the offer of a mediterranean special supported doubt. Just 2 handpumps (was ‘briwuk’ seing double when he counted?); I asked for TT Landlord but was told it wasn’t quite ready yet, so had to settle for Hobgoblin – not my fav but, in fairness, it was in very good nick. Up a few steps to an unremarkable area with variety of seating, incl Chesterfield chair, downstairs to restaurant (also used for private functions), blackboard here offered more traditional pub fayre (scampi, f&c, stk pie…), one beerpump down here (1 of those being served upstairs). Back to the bar-room where the walls are decorated with random photos and higher walls/shelves have brass & copper nic-nacs, seating is fabric settles & stools, cast-iron brass-topped tables carrying flyers for £6.50 btl wine, or pizza + 2pints/btl wine £10 (mon-thurs, 5-8pm). Mixed soundtrack offered far more bad than good (for your grumpy correspondent). I, just now, notice the bite page mentioning darts & table football – I didn’t see that - presumably upstairs where I only glanced, but I still can’t think why it has such a high (7.9) rating.

4 Feb 2009 11:05

The City Arms, Manchester

Tetleys, Arundel Sussex Gold, Moorhouse’s Witch Hunt, Tom Woods Shepherd’s Delight, HH(gk)Olde Trip, Jennings Cumberland, York Mordic Fury, Thwaites Nutty Black. Nice old bar positioned to left of entrance in smallish front (‘upper’) room, old lead-light windows to street, display barrels above bar, wood floored throughout, incorporating an old brass plaque near door pronouncing ‘Tetleys Festival Ale House’. Couple of tables with banquette seating, drinking shelf with high stools opp bar, small tv in corner showing skysports news, dartboard next to this. Walls carry small number of old manc photos & brewing diagrams such as cask taps. Down a couple of steps to larger seating area with leather banquette seating around 3 walls & fireplace at far end, wood tables & stools. After a few pints I found myself imagining a commons-style debate between punters facing each other along the opposite, longer sides of the room, hopefully on important subjects such as football, or beer. A blackboard down here reminds what beers (&abv) are on. Side entrance leads to a victorian tiled corridor, gents, and this lower bar. Good sountrack, Dylan playing as I left. Closed when I last tried coz Sun hrs are 12:00-20:00. Well worth a visit, even if £2.80 is slightly dear up here.

4 Feb 2009 10:33

The Crown Inn, Stockport

Somewhat gutted that I have to withdraw my only-ever rating of 10 after my concern that one of the beers was iffy was summarily dismissed last week. It was changed eventually, but shouldn't be that difficult. Back with the nines, for now.

3 Feb 2009 11:30

The Cheshire Line Tavern, Cheadle

Went out of my way to this place on Monday but they had shut because it was 'quiet'. Not happy. Trudged back to Parrs Wood & jumped the bus to Stockport's superb Crown, Heaton La.

23 Jan 2009 10:47

Royal Oak, Alderley Edge

Would have been well positioned to meet some old friends now living in the area but a phonecall today revealed that the pub doesn't serve real ale, so ukpubfinder is showing duff info on that count. No rating left.

11 Jan 2009 13:20

The Swan, Hampton Wick

Off-map, but played joker en route to Lion. Not totally unlikeable, but the entrance does carry something of a hotel-bar feel & smelled of cleaning product on this Sat pm. Mostly carpetted, winds away to the right, more wooden seating, pool table & good dartboard out of way to rear, 2 decent plasmas quietly showing skysports news. Sheps, so Spitfire, Kent’s Best, Late Red, beer in good condition.

15 Dec 2008 16:28

The Boaters Inn, Kingston Upon Thames

Fairly new-build feel, but well positioned literally adjacent to the river with just the width of the towpath to the lapping water, a young lad was fishing from his spot a couple of yards from the side entrance, I imagine flooding may be an occasional issue? Panaoramic riverside windows make the most of the location, albeit blinds were masking the low sun, but rowing 8s were cutting serenely past & white-railed property on opp bank had a couple of boats moored outside. Antipodean barstaff were ok, 5 handpumps, 4 looked to be in regular use but only 2 were on (Sat06), Doombar & HogsBack Advent Ale, Blacksheep & Adnams were reverse clipped.

15 Dec 2008 16:12

The Lion, Teddington

Sat06, Pride, Doombar, BlackSheep, Twick Autumn Blaze. Busy carpet, plenty of seating, hadn’t noticed pool table to right last visit. Landlord said they still have music, predominently continuing the bluesy preference of prev guv, with perhaps one group every 4th week, or so, diversifying away from that. This evening’s offering was to be ‘Good Men in the Jungle’, if that helps? Not cheap at £3ppint, but I think it was already that ~2yrs ago, & we paid more elsewehere on the day. Decent bus route along main road, Kingston-Teddington-Fulwell (& beyond!).

15 Dec 2008 15:44

The Red Lion, St James

Another handsome pub, aesthetically pleasing outside & in. Dark wood, lots of etched mirrors, central horsehoe bar encircled by rather cramped narrow drinking area. Busy on arrival (Sat 15:15) and just one barman who did an admirable job but was left rather high & dry by a management who should have had more staff cover if this level of custom is the norm. Not much seating room, front or rear, but peripheral drinking shelves help a little. Pumps offered ‘sip before you sup’ tasting and consisted of Pride, Adnams Best, Landlord (reverse clipped), Oakham Inferno & Nethergate Monk’s Habit, the latter two in great condition. Beers pulled short but the lone staff was under such pressure I couldn’t bring myself to complain, although others later were topped up without problem. Nice little pub, decent beer selection, I’d certainly go back when in area.

1 Dec 2008 11:47

The Golden Lion, St James's

Very attractive exterior aspect, including an extraordinary ‘bowed’ lead light frontage with picked coloured glasswork; I can only imagine it originally curved around an interior pillar (and the ceiling markings may support that). Enter to dark wood panelling, bar to left with old tiled raised surround, bar-back of wood and etched mirrors. Nice large arched windows opposite bar, flush-bolted to each side, but unfortunate mock panelling in centre with poor finish & wrongly directed grain bringing a damning verdict from my carpenter pal. Peripheral tall tables & window drinking ledges, decent soundtrack – Lennon Come Together, then mellow jazzy blues. I failed to investigate the upstairs ‘Theatre Bar’ but the ground level was small but very nicely formed, quiet Sat pm. Pint of TT Landlord & halves of London Porter & HogsBack TEA came to £6.30 (my round, ouch!), the halves were in very good nick, but the pint was pretty average, Pride was the other beer on tap.

1 Dec 2008 11:26

The Red Lion, Pall Mall

Single roomed, dark-wood panelled interior, carpetted, old lead-light windows, bar canopy also picked out with small lead-light panels. Walls decorated with pictures & Victorian cartoons and display plates on-high, also a recessed lit display case containing statue of eponymous Lion. There was a corner tv showing muted beeb news Sat pm (it may not have been on during Rex’s visit), but the whole feel is of a previous era, and all the better for it, almost surprising that there is no real fire (that I could see) to offer that extra warming welcome. A friend reckoned the steep descent to the loo may be challenging later in the day! Rather strangely, two small stag parties turned up (~14:15) but they were in jovial form. Just two handpumps, Adnams Best & St Austell Tribute (£3), the latter in good shape.

1 Dec 2008 10:56

The Blue Posts, St James's

Beer selection more mainstream Sat pm than other reviewers have found: Pride, Deuchars, OSH, Spitfire, had the latter (£3) & it was in fairly poor condition & the pints served very short (albeit topped up with good grace on request). Kegs had usual superchilled stuff but also Staropramen. Quite busy with diners already (~13:00) and the smell of lamb & mint sauce was prominent despite the bar area being quite open & free of those eating. Exterior presents a tidy attractive façade & the whole carries an original feel but the external notice advises a rebuild after being bombed in WW2, also that Byron used to live next door in 1813. Dark wood floor, some wood panelling, some seating to either side of bar (benches to one side heavily gaffer-taped!), a couple of gaming machines rather out of character to the pub, dining to the rear, upstairs dining room closed Sat. Unlikely to revisit, although reviews mentioning Mauldons and beer festivals offer hope.

1 Dec 2008 10:31

The King Edward VII, Stratford

I think image2 is far more evocative & representative of the pub, showing the front bar, rather than rear dining area in main photo. Front bar has stone tiling, wooden furniture, windows to street, but is softly lit & has darkly atmospheric feel as you enter, I wrote Dickensian but it’s actually 1913. I know! & I’d only had 2 pints at this point. Rear right continues the woody feel and here you find leather chesterfield sofa & chairs, something of the feel of a gentleman’s club, beyond this to scrubbed wood tables in restauarant & more leather chairs to rear. Bar menu included Saus&mash £8, Vension Burger £9, Duck Cassoulet £12. Wine of the week Collet de Bovis, Bellet, sounded steep at £20 but it can retail at £15 (cuvee de Mathilde). You can witness the gamut of Stratford life in the short but circular walk from the station, or take Greshon’s advice (16Feb07) & take a taxi to ‘avoid contact with Stratford’, - it’s cosmopolitan, but not as we know it, hahaha!
Anyway, Bombardier, Wooden Hand Cornish Mutiny, Tribute, all £2.80, or Nethergate Eddie’s Best (pres.IPA) £2.60. Bit of a drag out here for a one-pubber, but we combined it with Pembury (8mins Stratford to Hackney Central) & Carpenters/PrideofSpitalfields (6mins Hackney Downs to Bethnal Gr BR).

25 Nov 2008 10:47

The William Morris, Merton Abbey Mills

Somewhat newbuild, with a rather bland boxy feel to the bar area, but nicely located next to the river Wandle so I’m sure the roof terrace must be popular on a sunny day. Didn’t know of this place until recently, surprising since I use the nearby Traf regularly, but there is quite a cosmopolitan complex surrounding the pub, eateries include Mama Rosa’s italian, Belgian bagel/creperie, Caribbean jerk shop, also weekend market, craft shops. William Morris has 4 handpumps but uses just 2, on my visit they were Bateman’s Valiant & XB, although the latter had already gone. Valiant looked good, but was too cold & a little tangy (£3.05). Food mains incl fish&chips, steak pie, scampi, sausage&mash, £8/9. The layout & beer limitations make me feel this is something of a wasted opportunity.

25 Nov 2008 10:05

The Buckingham Arms, Shoreham by Sea

My 2nd visit ystdy, my 2nd failure to record the beers on offer, sorry. 10handpumps, 5 fairly mainstream regulars, 5 more interesting changing guests. Two of our party chose a beer that came up looking good but tasting awful, it was changed without question & the pumpclip immediately reversed. Five minutes later the guv sent over another two halves of our chosen replacement by way of apology! Outstanding customer relations! Re shoreleaf's comments on 'barflies', yes, perhaps the barstools in front of the bank of handpumps should be moved to enable easier viewing of the selection.

23 Nov 2008 12:28

The Basketmakers Arms, Brighton

I know it’s tantamount to sacrilege in these parts, but I’ve long felt that the Basketmakers is rather over-rated, especially if you just want a drink. The choice is primarily the Fullers range, although they did have a Batemans guest last night in good shape, but its excessive popularity is off-putting – it was rammed last night & I ended up supping outside, shivering, to escape the claustrophobic bar. I’ve reviewed before, and the lunchtime food specials do look very good value and, yes, the staff are friendly & efficient, but I live in London, and this is a Fullers pub …

23 Nov 2008 12:17

The Great Eastern, Brighton

Just one pumpclip facing ysdty (of 4), pub was busy in a studenty-feel kind of way, but they did at least let us have a taster; wasn't keen, we left. It'll stay on my Brighton list, though, as I quite like the place, especially when quieter and with usually a decent ale selection, just bad timing last night.

23 Nov 2008 12:07

The Stanley Arms, Portslade

Itchin Valley Fagins, St Austell Tribute, Hydes MumboJumbo, Arundel ASB (‘lish), Skinners Betty Stoggs. Previously reviewed, still a very good local pub, busy & chatty yesterday, lots of punters watching England rugby team rather put to the sword. I hadn’t realised that there is another fairly large but quieter room beyond what turns out to be the central servery, no pumps on that side. Struggled to find it 1st visit last year, but if you take the footpath from Fishersgate station, continue across Manor Hall Rd, then take the 3rd set of steps on the right (Stanley Rd), you’re sorted!

23 Nov 2008 12:00

The Richard Cobden, Worthing

Thwaites Nutty Black, Summer Lightning, Harveys, gkipa. S/L was pretty good, Harveys was dull, rather poor. A locals bar & not a very enthusiastic welcome; their website mentions ‘shuffleboard’ but the bar-lady looked dumbfounded when I asked about it, one friendly chap overheard & explained it required an 8ft board that used to emerge on the occasional Sunday. Standard pub furniture, small tv showing racing, dartboard to the right occupied by very young drinkers. This was just a flying visit to Worthing, if I go back I don’t think RC will make the list.

23 Nov 2008 11:48

The Selden Arms, Worthing

Arundel Castle, Darkstar Hophead & Golden Gate, Ringwood Fortyniner, Hampshire Lionheart, Gadds Dogbolter (later Ringwood Porter). Small horseshoe bar faces entrance, carpetted surround, wood tables, cushioned stools chairs & barstools. Plasma to left of bar showing racing ystdy, with commentary, but unintrusive. Dartboard far end of left ‘spur’, real fire to rt not lit, but must provide a warm welcome when required. Pub has a real local chatty feel, with punters evidently knowing each other & sharing a laugh with the guv behind bar. Various old photos to front of pub, the rear rt could do with a freshen up, some decorative hops looking a bit sorry for themselves. Two beers went during our brief visit but both were immediately changed, maintining six on offer. The only negative was an odd odour which one of the group described as 'wet-dog'; well, my dogs don’t smell like that!

23 Nov 2008 11:37

The Rake, London Bridge

Two handpumps in a boxy bar? As a non belgian-etc drinker, I don't geddit!

20 Nov 2008 20:21

Carpenters Arms, Bethnal Green

A ‘Timeout’ review mentions Dorothy Goodbody ales, and a Kray associated past whereby the twins bought the pub to be run by their Mum, Violet, & the article also alleges that Ronnie got lashed here before moving on to dispatch Jack ‘the Hat’ McV, although that’s incorrect from the brother/victim perspective. Anyway, I imagine it must look & feel very different now, than then, & was surprisingly rammed (resisting the temptation to use ‘mobbed’) on Sat around 20:00(?). The aforementioned DG beers were unfortunately just available in bottles, starting at £4.10, the handpumps offered Adnams Best, Adnams Old, TT Landlord, ~£3. Large chalkboard to rt of bar carries an unexpected list of bottled beer from around the world, strongest Belgian was Chimay Blue(9%), £4.30, for those of you who know about that sort of thing. Woody front bar with traditional tables & chairs, & some bench/pew seating; hardly a seat to be had & the same applied to another room round the back, and the beer garden to the rear. Not far from Pride of Spitalfields if you want to double-up in the area.

18 Nov 2008 18:40

The Roebuck, Hampton Hill

I can’t explain my strange suspicion of Roebuck as a pub name, but I’m glad I put any qualms aside and headed for this place. Enter to a visually busy, almost cluttered, décor but become immediately drawn into a warm & welcoming atmosphere, ably abetted by the small real fire glowing happily & providing pleasant respite from ystdy’s light squall. Reach the bar to find 5 handpumps, ystdy offering Wayland’s Martian (light)Mild, Doombar, Alton’s Pride, Sharp’s Special(5.2%), Youngs Ord. There’s way too much wall & ceiling décor to record here, but it includes golf clubs, fishing rods, ship’s wheel, life-size wicker Harley, 4 antique fruit machines (I was told, but could only see3, incl 1 behind bar), glass-topped tables with old newspapers sealed in, pub is carpetted throughout. To the rear a paved, part planted, beer garden with picnic sets & a covered pagoda for smokers, also access to an extra ‘garage’ room, nicely furnished with pew seating and home to that 4th fruity. It was closed and is presumably used primarily in better weather, but thanks to the very friendly barmaid for switching on the lights for me to have a gander. It was quiet at 15:30 but a handful of regulars were drifting in before I had to leave and provided a local, comfortable, chatty backdrop, & sharing the craic with the staff. A chalkboard mentioned Paulaner Weissbier, and I spotted a Paulaner tap, also Spitfire smooth (wtf?). Richmond&Hounslow poty, well done. Most enjoyable visit & worth the easy 1m walk from my prev stop in Hampton. Definitely ‘on-map’ next time I’m over this way.

14 Nov 2008 11:45

The Jolly Coopers, Hampton

I’ve been before, & somehow always expect a slightly more adventurous selection of beers here, ystdy offered Brakspear, courage, Bombardier, Summer Lightning (£3.10). I like the pub tho, central horseshoe bar faces entrance, old photos on walls of river & locale, pictures (with thanks) of guidedogs which the pub evidently sponsored, splendid action shot from the ’70 cup final (Chelsea2 Leeds2), bar billiard table to the left and, beyond, a restaurant area to the rear which, if memory serves from prev visit, offers a decent menu. Not sure about prev comment on food price - I heard someone in Railway Bell mention they had a fresh salmon sarnie here for £2.20? Would be enhanced by offering a rotating micro.

14 Nov 2008 10:26

The Railway Bell, Hampton

Not as good a choice as I remembered, though they did have one from Twickenham Ales; Autumn Blaze, plus Pedigree & courage. I noticed they are doing 'Friday food specials, cuisine from a bygone era' - todays is Lancashire Hotpot wi braised red cabbage, a fiver. If not, there's a good chippy over the road & I'd intended to walk down to the river with some fish&chips, a plan dashed by a cancelled train causing me to miss the 2pm close (of the chip shop).

14 Nov 2008 09:46

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Closed yesterday for 'emergency repairs'? Check before travelling.

13 Nov 2008 12:04

The Bear, Horsham

K&B Sussex, Badger, Pickled Partridge. Quite a pleasant interior, wood round bar, carpetted areas either side, snug-like room with dartboard to the rear, large plasma contrats with wood panelling. Rather dubious about the clientele, one of whom was almost immediately leaning over my shoulder while I noted the beers at the bar, ‘expressing an interest’ would be the kindest wording – he seemed bemused that anyone would want to drink anywhere other than the Bear, where it was likely he’d been most of the day. Another disconcerting occurrence was the dash in, dash out, visits of someone seeming to be desperately seeking someone else, and possibly not for a chat… I surmise, but can only report as I find.

11 Nov 2008 05:45

Ye Old Stout House, Horsham

K&B Sussex, Badger, Tanglefoot, needless to say no proper stout (“no call for it”), I don’t count guinness. Nice looking bar with sections floored in wood, stone paving, & carpet, upholstered settles around walls, busy book corner (whatever that note means?), ‘cellar’ visible behind bar but a missed opprtunity for a decent tap room, wood panelled walls, beamed/yellowed ceiling, striped stools & wood tbls opp bar below tv housed in cabinet, a large games machine – out of context to the décor but mercifully unused on my visit. Radio was too loud but playlist was ok (but talky – what stn is Evans on these days?). Very nice bar billiards table nr entrance with its own suspended lighting/tassled lightshade. Large coffee maker prominent, make of that what you will. I don’t mind Badger beers but don’t actively seek them out, and H&W houses could be so much better if they allowed guests.

11 Nov 2008 05:27

The Dog and Duck, Kingsfold

Something of a mix of styles here. Low beamed ceilings (not all orig timber), wood & carpetted floor around small central new-wood bar. Down a few steps to open, but separate, dining room, nicely laid out with inglenook & faux(?) wood burning stove. Even larger inglenook bar side, walls decorated with prints, some brasses, old wine box lids (chateauneuf/bordeaux/chablis). Passed large grass garden on approach, picnic sets. Pub-grub style mains such as curry/lasagne/various pies £9-10. Receipts on wall indicate the pub to be an exceptional fund raiser (£6k in 2 rcpts!) so is presumably a real community local to achieve that; I notice they have a shut-the-box comp each Fri with a rollover bonus prize. Not too remarkable for the casual visitor, and the warbling soundtrack (Lionel Ritchie stylee) was slightly too loud for 12:30, but the Fursty Ferret was good (£2.90) and also served Badger Best and K&B Sussex.
I would strongly discourage anyone from the temptation to walk here along the dangerous A24 but, instead, check times of bus93 from Horsham or Warnham.

11 Nov 2008 05:07

The Owl, Kingsfold

WJ King Horsham Best & Winter’s T’Ale (halfpt £1.55). Stone, flag, & wood flooring, some old beams, hop decorated. Deli & farm shop in room to right of bar, quite large dining area opp end and seemingly aiming for that market. Interim open lounge had sofas, and more bar space was given to the coffee machine than the beer pumps, hmmm.

11 Nov 2008 04:47

The Royal Oak, Rusper

ps. a new one on me - the beams at the bar carried some leather hanging straps enabling one to balance while drinking, in the way you would if swaying on a tube/train; I bet we've all been there!
Extra notes say trad wood tables/chairs in 'dining' room, & babbling brook in tiered garden, which I don't recall, but sounds lovely.

11 Nov 2008 04:37

The Royal Oak, Rusper

I noticed this to be the sussex/surrey poty and, if you like a nice little local country pub, this is the real thing. Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale & Hammer Mild, Adur brewery’s Merry Andrew (6.2%), 1648 Armistace, 1648 Festival40 had gone, Darkstar Best, Arundel Stronghold – a great line up justifying the rather tricky journey to get here. In addition, a separate bank of pumps for ciders/perries offered Cheddar Valley, Yarde, Prime Farmhouse, Hecks Perry, one unclipped, and the landlady was away in Somerset collecting more beers and ciders – an independent set-up as it should be. Kegs offered just guinness & stella, the latter carrying fake cobwebs thru disuse, haha!
Enter to a very low, narrowly beamed, ceiling around the facing bar, a dining room to the rt (with awkwardly placed dartboard), snug to the left with chesterfield sofa, wingback leather chairs, wood burning stove, ticking clock, beyond to the ‘country shop’ which amounts to a storeroom for pickles and jams, chutney, horseradish, other bits, a couple of pine tables & a piano back here, so maybe it’s an overspill room too. The bar itself seems the heart of the pub & was the gathering point for chatting locals, it sports some used pumpclips & was manned by a jovial barman. Lots of pumpkins displayed on picnic sets out front indicated a recent halloween competition &, by extension, show the pub to be a real family & community hub. Outside, a grassed area has an open-sided marquee/tent for smokers. A notice in one room suggests it was a stage stop for York in 1706 & one opp the loo bemoans the smoking ban & offers snuff samples at the bar! Various sarnies from £4, ham/egg/chips or ploughmans £8.50, evening meals seasonal & meats sourced within 10m radius, so the choice may be limited to a couple of dishes, a fresh approach I rather like. English fruit wines from Lugurshall winery £12btl.
I had intended taking the bus from Horsham to Kingsfold & approaching the pub cross-country from there, ended up walking the dangerous A24 from Warnham stn to Kingsfold, not something I would recommend. Once off-road I’m not sure that I kept to the path (unmarked, but presumed walkable from google satellite?) but left my muddy boots at door as the sign requested. A 2m walk back to Warnham stn, but rather safer along Fri St.
Nb. Royal Oak closes 3pm, so forget the pubs in Kingsfold & get here earlier than I did.

11 Nov 2008 04:28

The Museum Tavern, Bloomsbury

Didn’t look closely enough to notice the evidence, mentioned by Mm of a previous existence as a 3-room pub, but I always find it sad when original features or layouts are lost to open-plan vandalism. The Museum Tav does, however, still retain a certain charm, including the nice etched lower windows & wood/mirrored back bar, high wood-crossed ceiling, carpetted throughout, tiling and brass footrail around nice old bar, mix of tables and seating, stand alone settles opp bar. Pretty busy, but not oppressively so (Sat 18:00), although we did have to hover before securing a vacated table, and pleased we were to get the high corner table for cards & several beers – jealously guarded when fellow crawlers went for a tab! The area around the bar (& leading to the loo) is fairly narrow, and the custom seems to arrive in waves (pres from museum?) so timing may be key to quick service. Food examples: steak&onion sarnie £5, Sun roast beef £8.50. My notes say 7(?) handpumps, but I’ve only recorded 6 beers – Bombardier & Doombar, both went but were reinstated within 20mins, Halloween Surprise (light colour was a surprise), Old Peculier, Salopian Black Prince, and the truly thin & tasteless Everards Wacko Jacko.

28 Oct 2008 10:31

The Bloomsbury Tavern, Bloomsbury

Spitfire & Late Red were very good but, be warned, 3 pints came to £9.50 – make sure you get a top up if sold short!! Masterbrew was the other option. Attractive wood panelled downstairs room, nice lead light windows with heraldic stained glass centre-pieces. Solid wood barstools but not much table seating; we therefore ventured upstairs where chesterfield sofas are arranged around a fireplace, supplemented by a couple of regular wood tables around the room. Small leaded arch windows give the room light, & a feel of being slightly older than it is (I read 1895), but the other small group up there had unfortunately commandeered it as a 2-kiddie-creche, so we headed back to the bar to finish our drinks.

28 Oct 2008 09:56

The Cross Keys, Covent Garden

Harveys Best, Brodie’s IPA, courage, first 2 in good nick. Dimly lit interior, carpetted, dark wood bar along rt, row of wood/cast iron tables to left & rear, leather backed studded banquettes, cushioned stools, a few barstools. Lots of old photos & cartoon caricatures above bar surround, and opposite walls completely covered in a variety of framed prints but it really is too dark to appreciate all of this. Lots of copper/brass artefacts hang from ceiling beams – pots, horns, divers helmet, paella pan – characterful, but you wouldn’t want to be responsible for dusting the place. Most seats were taken Sat pm, but still room to stand & enjoy a pint at the bar.

28 Oct 2008 09:00

The White Horse, Soho

No handpumps, no sale.

26 Oct 2008 16:58

The Pillars of Hercules, Soho

Six handpumps, 4 reverse clipped (various Adnams), 1 in use, Batemans XB, 1 unclipped. We waited at the unattended bar for a couple of minutes and, when the east european barmaid appeared, I genially asked where all the beer was? She explained that they were having a problem with the gas. Not for the handpumped beers, surely, I asked. ‘Yez, iz gaz’, came the reply. My understanding of handpulled beer dispense is clearly awry! Anyway, we asked for three pints of Batemans &, after a struggle, she managed two. ‘Only 2 pints’ she said, ‘Cheerio’ we said. Shame, as it did look an attractive old pub.

26 Oct 2008 16:52

The Black Horse, Fitzrovia

Looked good on approach with original old wood windows, BUT, 4 pumps, just one in action - Pride. Lazy, lazy, lazy! We didn't stop.

26 Oct 2008 16:41

The Golden Eagle, Bond Street

Traditional corner London boozer with no nonsense old school guvnor, carpetted throughout, wood tables, cushioned wall banquettes & stools with heavy cast iron bases, attractive lead light windows, highlighted with some stained glass work. Pride, Brakspears, & Tribute in very good nick. I always think that well tended hanging baskets indicate a good attitude of care for the pub, usually reflected in the quality of the ales – a theory borne out again here. Simple, down to earth, we all liked it. Nice, also, to see some independent shops still trading nearby along Marylebone La.

26 Oct 2008 16:36

The Pontefract Castle, Marylebone

Decent selection of beers, Tribute had gone but was being replaced, TT Landlord was very iffy (dunno why my friend didn’t return it), Doombar & Beartown Bear Ass were good, Pride & Hobgoblin completed the line up, we didn’t suffer the short measures that GDS experienced. Brief tasting notes and ‘sip before you sup’ offers on each pump. Nice woody little bar, ornate iron spiral staircase to upper floor, where some people did seem to be just drinking & chatting, so cannot confirm reports of it being a dining only area. Tall round tables with barstool style seating, nice original bowed window frames, some little wooden tables outside, continental stylee. Quiet but rather whiney soundtrack ystdy, various sausage & mash options from £6. Fascinating approach if you find the little alley leading to St Christophers Pl from Oxford St – a few paces which take you from 21c mayhem to a rather more sedate and preferable land. PC lacks a traditional feel but was worth having ‘on map’ for ystdy’s crawl.

26 Oct 2008 16:09

Victoria Cross, Thornton Heath

Enter left to lounge, rt to public, but open central horseshoe bar serves both. Carpetted throughout, some upholstered wall banquettes, some standard pub furniture, cushioned barstools in good nick. Nice wood panelling in both rooms, & wooden-faced bar with brass foot rail (needing a good polish), were all reminiscent of the old décor in the Commercial, Herne Hill. Small tv and large drop-down screen in lounge, plasma & pool table in public. Attractive stone-paved beer garden, part covered, fenced surround, planted borders which should look better in summer, picnic sets arranged a central tree (fir/spruce family?). The guest (Pilgrim ‘smoked’ IPA?) had unfortunately just gone & the next (can’t recall) not ready to go on, leaving just courage – not my fav, but was well kept & just £1 for my quick half. Pleased to notice wrapped rolls on display behind bar, a simple food fix so rarely seen these days. Quiet, ystdy 14:30, but a lot to like about the pub if only it could/would support a more expansive beer choice.

22 Oct 2008 14:25

The Pawson's Arms, Thornton Heath

Four pumps, Pride & Harveys (which was pretty good) plus 2 unclipped, dunno if they ever get used. Large square single roomed pub with wooden central island bar retaining overhead surround, carpetted throughout, upholstered banquettes around the whole, wood tables, cushioned stools & barstools, walls decorated with old photos, prints, plates, copper things, a list of licencees since 1869. Several gaming machines stood mercifully silent (ystdy14:00), 2 plasmas were switched off but a smaller tv was unfortunately screening some house makeover nonsense, 2 dartboards at far end with their own oche space. Above the bar was a photo collage of locals doing halloween (presumably last yr?), erm ok, but more centrally displayed is a framed panoramic photo at Millennium stadium just before ’04 playoff final ko between Palace & W.Ham (res1-0). With a better choice of ales, & removal of daytime tv, this could be a pretty good local.

22 Oct 2008 14:03

The Frog And Toad, Gillingham

There's nothing to dislike about the pub, except the beer. Just two pumps in action again ystdy (of five) - Cotleigh Harrier Lite was bland and slightly sour, changed for Pride which was just ok. Two disappointing visits, beerwise, there won't be a third.

19 Oct 2008 08:11

The Crown and Sceptre, South Croydon

Pride, ESB, Chiswick, Goddard’s Ale of Wight. There are actually 6 pumps so more guests could be accommodated but the handful of other punters seemed to be drinking lager so maybe there would not be the throughpull to support it, which is something of a shame. The helpful barman/guv(?) explained the single guest rotation and a small display of pumpclips suggests prudent choices. Carpetted throughout except stone tiles around bar and a small wood-floored central section, front area has large windows, wood tables/chairs & brick fireplace with wood burning stove, opposite bar some well-upholstered bench settles form open ‘booths’ around the tables, more wood seating and 2nd fireplace/stove to the rear, glass roof here so quite light (I think the main dining area if busy Sun), then french doors to a small uncovered area with a couple of picnic sets before the carpark. Walls are part wood-panelled, part brick, part papered, partly adorned with old photos. Large plasma to rear, no sky. Food looked decent value; roast beef/lamb sarnie wi chips £3.50, specials were lasagne/garlic bread/salad £5.25 or hot roast pork/stuffing sarnie £3.95. Worth a look if in the area.

15 Oct 2008 10:52

The Skylark, Croydon

Fluctuation continues. Ystdy offered Springhead Ruperts Ruin, Brewster's Hop a Doodle Doo, Westerham Grasshopper & Kriek (cherry). Hanby Scorpio Porter was one of the 'available soons' (haha!). Decent beer selection, and the upstairs is the most appealing bit of any 'spoons I've visited, but why did the manageress(?) have to bully the young novice barman, and even a customer trying to order food?

15 Oct 2008 10:11

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Splendid choice yesterday; Hopback Autumn Ale & OTT on the stills, handpumps offered Darkstar Festival, Porter, Sussex Extra Stout, Westerham 1965, Bombardier, one pump unclipped. Almost tempted to stick around for the Tues nt pool comp (£30 bartab to winner) but I doubt I'd have been able to see the table by 20:30. How nice is the manageress? Very. 30+ beers over the festival, I hear.
ps. not eaten here but soup & choice of sarnie for £3 aint bad.

15 Oct 2008 10:00

The John Harvey Tavern, Lewes

Unconvinced by this one - been very busy on both my visits, & seems popular for food, but the beer on each occasion was not as perfect as one would expect at a brewery tap. You can gaze at the adjacent river from the low carpark wall but they shouldn't rely on location & reputation when other pubs in town are serving a better pint.

14 Oct 2008 04:34

The Crown, Little Missenden

ps. I'm staggered that there is no bus service from Great Missenden or Amersham (except 59 which makes one! weekly journey on Mondays), necessitating a £7cab in either direction.

12 Oct 2008 12:53

The Crown, Little Missenden

Marlow Rebellion, St Austell Tribute, Adnams Bitter, Bateman’s XB. Single L-shaped room, wood floor at bar, old stone tiles beyond, fireplace at each end, dartboard impossibly positioned (corner above large table). Beyond the bar to rear (the short bit of the L) is an open, but separate area, with large refectory style table and wooden benches, a plasma in rear corner, with the exception a a small old photo of pub the walls here are unadorned and look rather drab compared to the bar area which sports old photos, prints, plates, bedwarmer and shotgun. Opposite bar is a wooden pew with seat dividers and a wood-backed settle. Molly, the old pub labrador became quite affectionate, I hope she enjoyed the lamb doggy bag (from Red Lion) which had been intended for my own dogs, but which I left behind when the cab arrived. Very nice country exterior, grassy beer garden to rear, unlit and misty at 21:00 so I can’t describe too much but there seemed to be a field beyond and a chap at the bar said the river could be seen ‘with binoculars’ – I think that may have been a wind up since it runs thru neighbouring pub’s back garden! Quiet last night (in total contrast to Red Lion) but a decent local feel nevertheless.

12 Oct 2008 12:46

The Red Lion, Little Missenden

Pedigree, gkipa, 6X (good condition). Lovely low-beamed bar, huge inglenook containing a piano(!) and a wood burning stove. Separate fireplace next to the bar was simmering nicely last night offering the pub that homely charred wood smell… well, I like it. The room to the right looks primarily for dining and, indeed, even in the bar all tables but one were taken by diners and that last was reserved, although, as we’d asked about food, the young barmaid came & found us in the garden when that group were a no-show (18:30 booking lapsed at 19:00, which is fair). We decided to eat although don’t think we’d have needed to. Glad we did as we, too, spotted the lamb shoulder and it was just as delicious as Glenco describes and, with nicely cooked veg, was a good tenner’s worth (fisherman’s pie was the other remaining special). They happily wrapped the knuckly remnants for my dogs but I unfortunately left them at the next pub, where I’m sure the resident lab was grateful. Outside, the garden is extraordinary with a river running through and a bridge leading to a grassy verge beyond. Ducks quack around and we spottted the large carp, the scene must be even more idyllic in daylight! Deffo leans toward foodie pub with some hoorah clientele but the beer was good as was the busy atmosphere. I read that it suffered a terrible fire in ’06, but the effects are hardly noticeable and this is still a good pub risen from the ashes.

12 Oct 2008 12:15

The Pack Horse, Wendover

Lovely looking on approach – on corner at end of row of old leaning thatched cottages. The inside belied this initial expectation, a low-ceilinged plain bar with upholstered settles, a large corner given over to dartboard (trophies suggest a good team here), the area to the front had the feel of an open snug with a fireplace covered in trinkety items. A plasma beyond bar was showing the Scotland game at unnecessarily high volume, given that there was only one other punter, plus us three - none of us watching the match. Gales Butser (pretty good) & Seafarer, Discovery had gone, Pride (poor condition). Didn’t expect to find myself in total disagreement with Lee, but I am. Not one that would feature on my list again, & ludicrously high current rating, sorry.

12 Oct 2008 11:25

The Red Lion Hotel, Wendover

Would not ordinarily be ‘on map’ with such a low rating but I read what Martin is evidently trying to achieve and pitied him inheriting a lowly position on bite. I really wanted to like the place and, on another day, probably would have if not for the surly service and determination to intentionally short measure the beers. The lady before us asked for a top-up and received a cursory effort still way short of satisfactory, we too needed topping up and a different staff member (could have been Martin himself for all I know) again left the level well short, stating ‘that’s how most people like it’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not part of the ‘full pint club’ and prefer a head on my beer, but this was a blatent rip-off, beer coming up an inch short.
Enter to rt and old stone slab flooring and huge, but modernised, inglenook, door to comfortable carpetted lounge on left seemed locked at entrance but access was open around the bar. Nice old building, dated 1669 according to brickwork visible from pleasant rear beer garden. Wychwood Big Bertha, Pedigree, Jennings Cumberland & Crag Rat. Sort out the poor staff attitude and patent beer theft and it could be good.

12 Oct 2008 11:01

The Hop Pole Inn, Aylesbury

Pub was apparently saved by local brewery Vale a few years ago, £250k spent on changing it from an undesirable scrotes’ dive into the very good pub it now undoubtedly is. Nice light front bar, two large bay windows, old but not ancient oak floor, assorted wood tables & solid chairs, walls decorated with various prints & old photos, upper walls and part ceiling sport old pumpclips, hops adorn back of bar. Small plasma to rear & large plasma in rear room (this one quietly showing news ysdty), two decorative fireplaces.Vale Best Bitter, Grumpling Old Ale, Gravitas, VPA(went), Inveralmond Inkie Pinkie, Goffs Tournament, Loddon MumboJumbo, Mauldon’s Micawber Mild, Dent Kamikaze. Board on side of building, visible on approach, also declared belgian beers. Friendly barmaid (offered taste samplers) & convivial clientele. Menu majors in pizzas (£7/8), chalkboard offers Sun roast, Lamb/Beef/Nut(!) £7.45. Mission pub of day & I could happily have stayed longer.

12 Oct 2008 10:38

The Farmer's Bar, Aylesbury

To clarify, it’s the Farmers Bar within the King’s Head. You’d need a largescale map to find the actual location but, once you’ve reached market square, the ‘passage’ is clearly marked by a large sign pictorially bearing the King’s Head. The appeal is in the medieval courtyard with ancient cobbles, some outer buildings being old stables and Nat Trust has fitted one out with historic information and horse sound effects(!). The bar itself, by comparison, has something of a hotel lobby feel about it, comfortable but hardly taking advantage of its origin (states alehouse since 1280) – even some old beams have been painted white (aaarrghh!) – you feel that some knobhead has been thru and removed horsebrasses and given it a ‘makeover’, scandalous. I’m amazed at the prev comment re kids not allowed, it looks to be aiming for family style market. Pop in for a look & a beer though – Chiltern Ale, Beechwood Bitter, Copper Beech, Osset Silver Shadow.

12 Oct 2008 10:16

The Nags Head, Belgravia

Expensive beer, rude staff, conceited up-their-own-arse locals clogging the bar. I was quite taken with the place on my first visit years ago, I must have been too drunk to see it for what it is; never again.

12 Oct 2008 09:24

The Pack Horse Inn, Stockport

Tetley Bitter, Copper Dragon Best, & 1816. Scatter of tables & barstools around bar, across an open corridor to two separate small carpetted, fairly unremarkable rooms, albeit both with victorian style fireplaces and one with pool table (covered on Mon). Exterior rather more impressive, architecturally, than the inner, but a jovial welcome at the bar, and the beer is good, also good location near church and indoor market.

8 Oct 2008 14:38

The Charles Dickens, Southwark

Don't believe it too difficult to find but admit that it's further down Union St (from Borough High St, or the cut across from MP) than I usually think. However, CLOSED again Sat20Sep (13:30), so I don't think I'll be bothered again with the walk for such inconsistency.

8 Oct 2008 12:31

The Angel, Manchester

Blackboard outside suggests this place leans toward food but enter to find a proper pub layout at the front and what seemed to be the eating area with solid heavy wood tables beyond bar round corner to rt. Four handpumps but just one clipped for Pedigree when we arrived, however the young barman said he’d have on another two in 5mins, and was as good as his word, adding Jennings Cumberland and Rossendale Pennine Pitch Porter to the mix. He said that all 4 pumps were usually in action and some ex pumpclips decorating the bar seemed to confirm a decent policy of rotating guests from micros such as Phoenix & Rossendale (Pennine). They could do with more clip decoration around the rather plain naked walls as you enter, although the furniture here was pleasingly pub traditional. The staff were young, friendly and seemingly happy in their work, which is such a rarity these days, and another big bonus is that they open 11:00am Sundays, serving breakfasts &/or, ahem, beer!

7 Oct 2008 13:41

The City Arms, Manchester

Most disappointed to find this closed Sunday nt, as was the Vine next door. Recall enjoying a previous visit but review & rating will have to wait.

7 Oct 2008 13:02

The Hare and Hounds, Manchester

Holts pub serving only that brew on handpump. Plain traditional bar area, tiled lower walls, upper decorated with hunting prints (The Meet, Break for Cover, The Kill, poor fox), either end of the central ¾ bar are carpetted rooms, upholstered settles, decorated with brass plates, mirrors & pictures. The bar itself has a nice wood & lead-light glass frame & a large upper window allowing light from the front room. Worth a look for the unchanged interior, but with the limited beer choice (just Holts bitter) and totally inappropriate soundtrack (yep, my old bugbear modern ‘r&b’ – oh no it’s not!) it is not somewhere for more than one, & I may have now paid my last visit.

7 Oct 2008 12:57

The Crown Inn, Stockport

Already reviewed, so just a note to declare this to still be shading my vote for best pub in the country (from those visited to date!). 16 handpumps, most of them usually on, serving quality beers from micros at good prices (from~£2). Yesterday offered Abbeydale Last Rites (£3.50ppint pretty good for those daring an 11% beer!), Abbeydale Black Mass (6.6%), Salopian Abbeygates & Darwin’s Origin, Pictish Alchemist, Copper Dragon Golden Pippin, Prospect Small Adventure & Silver Tally, Mayfields Troopers Gold, Slaters Queen Bee, Nelson Spanker, Acorn Golden Embers, Double Vision cider (7.4% just £2.30ppint!). In addition to the well-furnished, traditional, comfortable rooms to the left & rear of the bar the room to the right houses a pool table and the servery for food. Friendly, down-to-earth welcome, easy to chat to staff or fellow punters at bar; outstanding pub. They even do 4-pint takeaway jugs if you’re off to the train but, after a heavy weekend, I wisely swerved that ystdy. Sod it, I’m gonna up my rating from 9 to my first ever 10!

7 Oct 2008 12:39

Swan With Two Necks, Stockport

ps. Robinsons Unicorn bitter & Hatters mild in good condition.

7 Oct 2008 11:46

Swan With Two Necks, Stockport

Odd layout with a pleasant wood-panelled snug to the front left, the longer side of the central bar then serves something of a corridor, albeit with a couple of tables opposite. Further on to unremarkable rear rooms, and I’m grateful to JB (below) for confirming that there are, indeed, two of them – I thought my memory (ha!) must have been playing tricks. The gents loo is across the back yard, & this was the first time I noticed they have a few tables with seating outside. Surprisingly busy at 12:30 yesterday; a sign declared that anyone seeming to have had too many would not be served further – maybe that’s why the locals start in here!

7 Oct 2008 11:38

The Rising Sun, Isleworth

No rating left but, just reading Strongers' comment , 4 handpumps but only serving Pride? Maybe that sums up how bothered they are about customer care?

2 Oct 2008 08:52

The Cricketers, Southampton

Unfortunately positioned amidst the night bars in the area and Cricketers itself was rammed at 21:00 Sat, meaning it suffered by comparison to all other pubs on the day, not only from having the weaker beer choice, but also the least comfort, with the presence of a doorman being another immediate negative, although he himself was fine. Two of the 3 pumps were clipped, Wadworth Henry’s IPA and one from Hidden brewery (Treasure?). Attractive young staff & predominently young clientele, it may be better earlier in the day but would struggle to remain ‘on map’ if we were to crawl S’ton again.

29 Sep 2008 11:56

The South Western, St Denys

My second visit here and, again, highly enjoyable. Butcombe Bitter, Deuchars, fff Pressed Rat & Warthog, Flowerpots Goodens Gold, Itchen Valley Fagins, Hambleton Buckaroo, Downton Chimera Dark delight, Summer Lightning, Romsey IPA, plus Old Rosie cider. Bare brick & wood downstairs, rustic feel as GDS says, from prev visit I recall a big screen & lots more seating upstairs? Small raised area to left of entrance with dartboard beyond, small book corner other side of bar. Large paved outdoor area with central fountain & many picnic sets and a prettily planted shrubbery corner with more seating beyond a small pergola. Music played thru outdoor speakers, nothing too intrusive & the soundtrack fitted with the friendly boho feel of the place. Pleasant staff, and guvnor(?) especially helpful with my map query. A definite for playing at least one joker on a crawl, especially with the nearby Dolphin closed again.

29 Sep 2008 08:46

The Guide Dog, Bevois Valley

ESB, Palmers200, Flowerpots Goodens Gold, Oakleak Holehearted, fff Moondance, Fullers Discovery, Bowman Swift One, Chesil (Dorset Brewing Co) had gone. A good list, although just one darker beer present and that (the Palmers) was on its way out – this led to an unfortunate exchange, when it was politely returned, whereby the guvnor rolled his eyes and asked my mate if we were camra (we’re not, although we should be, but that’s not the point) – in what is obviously a proper real ale pub one would expect an off beer to be changed with rather more grace than that. To be fair, he did then change it and immediately turned the pump clip. Single room community local with overly busy carpet, regular pub furniture, dartboard above corner table. Overall a pleasant backstreet local with good beer choice, but one of the company less enamoured with his visit.

29 Sep 2008 08:18

The Avenue, Southampton

Should be able to take #2 bus from shopping ctr to top of road but we couldn’t find the stop & had £5 taxi instead. ‘The Avenue’ is not a pub name that suggests the type of traditional boozer which I seek out but att’d comments suggested it to be worth a visit. Distressed wood floor in main (front) bar room, plain wood tables, chairs, stools, barstools, fireplace & coupla of gaming machines to left, plasma showing skysports score updates. Unremarkable carpetted section to rear of bar then a corridor to the loos & a small pool room at far end, before this a little offshoot to the left with awful out-of-place sofas but, to the right, thankfully, more traditional wooden seating. Can’t remember the beer garden but have a note stating ‘nice weathered outdoor furniture’. Ringwood Best, Pride, 6X, and Doombar in good shape. Not bad.

29 Sep 2008 08:00

The Red Lion, Southampton

Pride, Bombardier &, amazingly, the only outlet in Southampton (allegedly) for Pride of Romsey from Hampshire brewery just 4m away. I remarked that it wasn’t looking too clever & the kindly barman immediately went to replace the barrel & the next pint was perfect. Historic pub with extraordinary high church-like ceiling (3 storeys?), anciently timbered throughout, decorated with heraldry, coats of arms, banners, an enormous fireplace of 1280 French oak, apparently a unique example of a carved kitchen fireplace which it used to be. Old wood panelling opposite bar, upholstered settles chairs & stools to the rear, tiny lead-light windows, way above head height, to the street and, bizarrely, a parrot in a 5’ cage. The upper gallery, with creaky uneven floor, is the scene of the 1415 trial of conspirators against HenryV & they lost their heads just up the road. To the rear is a low-lit dining area, empty but playing a most inappropriate soundtrack (that shite that today’s yoof mistakenly call R&B), fortunately it was inaudible in the equally sparse pub itself. An essential architectural stop & you may just get a guest ale as good as mine.

29 Sep 2008 07:28

Duke of Wellington, Southampton

Sadly only 3 of the 6 handpumps in action, & disappointing that no attempt was being made to offer replacements even while fairly quiet around 13:30 Sat. There was, however, the choice of Wadworth Henry’s IPA, JCB, & Red Shoot Tom’s Tipple (those debadged were 6X, Ringwood Best & Arkells Bees Organic). A public house since 15c the old building is visibly listing toward the street, inside a nice old uneven floor, beamed ceiling, cross-timbered walls, small lead-light windows, Napoleon & Wellington prints around the walls above thinly cushioned settles. A rickety leaning corridor leads to the loos & a tiny outside seating corner & also a nice wood panelled rear bar, set for dining but with a handful of punters just drinking at the bar. Nice enough, even if it may lean toward the tourist dollar.

29 Sep 2008 07:02

The Waterloo Arms, Freemantle

Hopback pub; Summer Lightning, Odyssey, Crop Circle, the unfortunately named Red Devil (won’t be tryin that!), also Ringwood Huffkin & Old Thumper – the pumpclip display around the bar suggests a decent guest rotation policy. Small L-shaped bar in corner of largish open-plan single-room pub forming a ‘Y’ around the entrance, light pine tables, cushioned stools, wood-backed settles. Dartboard is prominent in one of the room’s ‘arms’ opposite a fireplace, above which is a good print depicting Napoleon’s last troop inspection before Waterloo. Good staff, changed Crop Circle immediately it had run out. Buses back to town stop right outside.

29 Sep 2008 06:41

The Wellington Arms, Southampton

First and best pub on a good S’ton crawl yesterday. Adnams Bitter, ESB, Ringwood Best & Old Thumper, Pride, Hobgoblin, Marstons Pure Blonde, Batemans Combined Harvester, & the superb Jennings Crag Rat. Three room pub, turn right on entry to a smallish but welcoming lounge, carpetted except for tiling around bar along which is an iron footrail and barstools, and which ends at the rather quaint access door, full length, olde shoppe style. Opposite are upholstered booth seating and wood tables, the bar counter is covered in old pennies polished to such a high shine that much original coin character is lost but an unusual decorative touch nevertheless. Left to slightly larger similarly furnished public, old tanners are the bar coins here and military caricatures decorate the walls. A nice old fashioned touch is the handbell chained to the bar – ‘please ring for service’, a piano stands in the rear corner. Further on to a snug with more old military pictures, a table inlaid with chess board & another with backgammon, beyond this to a courtyard beergarden with cast iron tables/chairs and an extendable awning. Even the corridor to the loo is impressive with framed breweriana. Friendly guvnor, very good beer, top-notch pub. Lots of buses seem to go up Shirley road if you don’t want to walk.

28 Sep 2008 14:47

The Dolphin, St Denys

Closed again. Dunno whether there are any imminent plans to reopen but tentative enquiries at SouthWestern suggested not. A real shame as I enjoyed only previous visit; no rating now.

28 Sep 2008 10:55

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

I'm fully aware of the double-clipping but have never seen the number of beers on offer at any one time that recent reviewers suggest. If sussexsaxon bothered to read my comments properly he'd notice that I mentioned ye closet to be a good place for a group to sit, and never inferred any exclusivity. As for my 'lack of endeavour' getting to the bar, what the fvck is he on about? Try getting beyond zone2 you tosser!

28 Sep 2008 10:27

The Cask and Glass, Victoria

Nice little pub and the Sheps beers are kept in superb condition, but it's very expensive and the landlord is bloody rude!

26 Sep 2008 11:13

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

Hmmm. Let's face it Baron, your inference that the Mitre serves 7/8 real ales at any one time is simply incorrect. Don't get me wrong, I think this a special pub, secretly located (although not sufficiently so for my liking), full of ancient atmospheric originality and serving damn fine beer, but the choice is not as wide as you suggest; I was there last Friday and the Hydes had just gone, leaving Adnams plus a.n.other. Nevertheless, a great pub to include on a tour of other weekday-only openers in the area (Edgar Wallace, Castle, Jerusalem Tav) and very prompt and professional barstaff, how do they fit so many behind the tiny bar? Thank goodness so many punters drink in the ginnel, it gives you half a chance to reach the bar! If you are in a group and manage to secure ‘Ye Closet’, you’re sorted! Yes, Talltorquil, I think you’ll find that most of us browsing this site do ‘get it’.

26 Sep 2008 11:06

The Oakdale Arms, Harringay

Thanks Lee, I saw your mention of the ‘fest on bite forums & popped along yesterday. 10 beers on stillage in the garden shed, where they are also doing burgers & stuff, plus 7/8 on handpump in the bar. Maybe 4 Milton & the rest from around the country, ~£2.70. Not sure how they are going to rotate the stills as they run out (ie settling time), maybe they’ll leave the rest in the cellar and serve them thru the handpumps, as & when?

19 Sep 2008 14:20

The Prince of Wales, West Brompton

Doombar, Pride, OSH. Large pub, open plan but vaguely divided into 4 sections of similar style. Carpetted throughout, except wood floor at bar, mixture of sizes & shapes of wood tables & chairs. Downstairs to impressive paved beer garden, picnic sets, umbrellas, nicely surrounded by fencing and shrubbery, trees & some pot plants. There are a couple of tables out front but it’s a shame that the smoke blows back into the pub from here.

19 Sep 2008 12:40

The Atlas, West Brompton

Twickenham Ales Summer Gold, Pride, Deuchars. Attractive large wood panelled room, open but roughly divided halfway down the left-hd bar (black&white tiling, foot rail), smaller area to the front, larger to rear. Wood floored throughout with distressed wood furniture & some leather-seated wood-backed banquettes. At the very rear is the kitchen with an open ‘hatch’ to the pub above a stone fireplace (dunno if it is ever used but it’d need an odd-shaped floo, see White Cross Richmond), other aesthetically pleasing, albeit gas-fed, fireplaces at each end. Rather bemused by comments on the beer-garden, just looked like a narrow paved area with a few tables, the ‘garden’ door was fixed open, as was the entrance door at the front, and this caused an uncomfortable draught which was intrusive, especially as I was (for a change) eating. Despite the wind-tunnel effect the food was very good indeed, menus on blackboard but also printed daily, gastro prices, £6-8 starters, £10-14 mains, squid with chorizo, rabbit & wild mushroom… There is a plasma tucked away in a rear corner, although it didn’t strike me as the sort of place to screen footy. Friendly barstaff and, whilst it undoubtedly leans toward the food market, you would feel perfectly comfortable just going in to drink.

19 Sep 2008 12:30

The White Horse Inn, Watchet

Stopped briefly this time last year after collecting new puppy, & a flying visit to nearby Cleeve Abbey, but have no detailed pub notes. Maybe 3 real ales & whatever I had was good, friendly service, comfortably rustic interior. Separate beer garden, part decked & covered, on other side of road, also skittle alley housed in its own building. Mostly, I just found my photo to load & am commenting as best I can... They were happy for us to bring the adult dog in, I notice their website offers decent value accommodation.

15 Sep 2008 15:14

The Skylark, Croydon

Hmmm. They had Sky in August but now, seemingly, do not. The 3 guest beers in service had no variety of style, all being dark or stout. On the slide from a good first impression a couple of months ago.

14 Sep 2008 07:29

The Claret Free House, Addiscombe

My worst pub visit in a while yesterday. Five of the six pumps were clipped but none were to my liking. I usually like the Itchen Valley beers but the Fagins was thin & tasteless, I’m not keen on Deuchars & it was a little hazy anyway, Palmers was at the end of the barrel and undrinkable, that left a watery stout and a 7% dark beer. Think I’ll give it a miss until they get their act together.

14 Sep 2008 07:12

Canal House, Nottingham

Extraordinary entrance whereby, once inside, you cross a bridge over a still branch of the canal housing a full-sized narrow boat; this leads to a large open-plan single roomed bar, reminiscent of a warehouse style which, I suppose, it may easily have been in a former life. A large outdoor area provides lots of picnic sets next the canal proper and is covered by a glass roof, providing light and shelter. Crouch Vale Blackwater Mild, Rugby Victorious, Castle Rock Harvest Pale & Preservation and Td’s nemesis (see below) Elgood’s Golden Newt which I also had & thought ok (if not as perfect as the many other beers of the weekend) – his was hazier than mine tho, I suspect bottom of barrel.

9 Sep 2008 18:05

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham

Didn’t realise it had an upstairs, where the ‘built-into-the-rock’ site becomes even more evident. The main upper room is quietly atmospheric and has an untended corner bar supporting the ‘cursed galleon’ now heavy with dirt and dust but safely housed in a glass case to avoid any more prospective cleaners shuffling off this mortal coil, as the last 3 did in apparently mysterious circumstances. By the fireplace there is also the ‘pregnancy chair’ which you are not to sit on, firstly for obvious reasons, but also coz it’s fragile! Lots of nooks & crannies to explore and was easy to do so since it was pleasantly quiet Sun (14:00), apparently there’s a nack to hooking the ring in the downstairs bar onto the wall-mounted horn opposite – I don’t have it. It’s greedyk but they did have a genuine guest, Kamakaze from Dent brewery, also Refectory, Ruddles County, then GKipa, XX Mild, Abbot, OSH, Olde Trip. When a request went in for chip cobs, not being on the menu in a tourist pub meant, I thought, no chance, but fair play, they warmed up some baguettes and presented with butter, sauces, and excellent chips, credit where it’s due…
See the name in bold sign-work on the outside? Seemingly Mark’s uncle used to paint that every 6-months to keep it sharp. My review of the Bell mentioned that hostelry’s claim to be the oldest Inn, thinking this was the oldest pub(1189) but, now, looking at the photo, I’m confused.

9 Sep 2008 17:48

The Plough Inn, Radford

nb. I notice the pub closes 14:30-17:00, Mon-Wed.

9 Sep 2008 17:11

The Plough Inn, Radford

Adjacent to Nottingham Brewery and, even at 12:00 first knockings on Sun, the beer was in sparkling condition. All from next door - Rock Bitter, EPA (e for extra), Legend, Mild, Bullion, 150 Not Out (ran out, haha), Supreme (listed but n/a – awaiting next brew date). Large high-ceilinged traditional pub which looks original but I read has needed some restoration to remove the abuse incurred when controlled by some larger pub companies, if so, the result is seamlessly good. Enter & turn right to public bar with solid wood tables & chairs surrounded by distressed leather banquettes, a mosaic stone floor, large alcove providing separate area for dartboard, old brewery photos adorn the walls and bottles crowd around the high shelves, plasma in far corner was quietly showing grand prix. Opposite, to the left of the central bar, is the carpeted lounge where chairs & settles are upholstered, to the rear a tarmac beer garden with picnic sets and grass plot beyond. Both rooms have working fireplaces and the nearby dimples in the floor are testament to hobnail-booted workers stamping cold feet in days of yore. Refreshing to see simple signs at the bar proclaiming ‘fresh cobs, made to order’. We have to mention another undoubted asset to the pub; guv’nor Simon is a big, friendly, larger than life character and was a thoroughly good craic, cheers mate. Radford is just 5mins by bus from Nott centre (£1.50) or a taxi here is only £4, a must-visit if in this neck of the woods. You can read more if you add dotcom to nottinghambrewery.

9 Sep 2008 17:07

The White Lion, Bramcote

Local, in days of yore, to Td and other friends on Sat crawl, sadly now in the hands of the enemy (GKipa, Abbot), although the Hardy&Hansons Bitter & Olde Trip were in good nick, albeit too cold (turn that chilling system down – we don’t need proper beer at the temperature of the smoothflow abominations!). Seems a solid community local – downstairs bar was full of more senior drinkers (21:30), upstairs has a nice old tiled floor, bits of tables & stools, the guys tell me it hasn’t changed at all, & hoorah to that. Duck beyond the bar to the dart ‘snug’ but you’ll need to practice- the locals look pretty good! A large plasma sits in a corner & I expect it is judiciously used, next along is a large portrait of local-born Henry Ireton, a senior figure in Cromwell’s civil war & eventually his son-in-law. We had to wonder whether the unicycle in the corner was some sort of sadistic pub challenge, but it turned out the owner was doing his own crawl, and had managed 14 pubs thus far- on a unicycle!!, extraordinary.

9 Sep 2008 15:41

The Victoria Hotel, Beeston

Fantastic Victorian railway pub with trains rattlin past the tent (huge covered outdoor seating area) which sits literally adjacent to Beeston rail platform – the spring-heeled could leap straight into the pub from the train as, sadly, the access gate is now locked. Classic tiled ‘vault’ has frosted windows, walls sporting framed breweriana posters, next (central) bar area gives on to a wood-furnished dining room and, beyond, the rear room displays a décor akin to café stylee. The central bar itself displays indiv blackboards carrying serious food choices, £8-12 mains, see website for ideas. Two of the company declared the Lincs sausages/mash/gravy to be very tasty, as did those who nicked some from their plates. Was pouring down Sat & I’m glad I no longer smoke, as even the outdoor ‘tent’ is off limits, meaning no shelter at all for those who needed a tab. A coupla signs against the evils of mobiles but hey-ho, & I did get a tug for having a drink outside(!) whilst taking a photo, but they weren’t overboard & I just signalled I’d be back in a mo & all was well, even if I could imagine getting irritated on another occasion. High ceilinged traditional décor & feel throughout and solid beer choice and quality: Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Preservation, Elsie Mo, Everards Tiger, Thwaites Original, Bateman’s XB, Wold Top Keeper’s Light & A4 Amber, Hidden Fantasy, Wentworth Imperial, Caythorpe Bitter, dark beers listed separately, Funfair Meteorite, Newby Wyke Black Squall, also Biddendens Bushells cider & Newton’s Perry. Impressive?

9 Sep 2008 14:54

The Malt Shovel, Beeston

Nott Brewery Rock Bitter & Rock Mild, Black Sheep, Bass, Davenport’s Cloud9. Open plan, albeit with a dividing wall separating the dartboard area from the rest, one of the local lads on the tour reckoned it was an improvement on the previous layout with smaller individual rooms (surely not?, says I). TV in one corner was screening some shite that has no right to be on in a pub (no, not the England game!), but otherwise the staff were friendly & found us some darts, & punters nr the board made way & had a nice banter.

9 Sep 2008 14:07

The Salutation Inn, Nottingham

Wentworth Bumble Bee, Belvoir (pron.Beaver) Whippling Golden Bitter, Notts Legend, Oakham Inferno, Burton Bridge Stairway to Heaven, Hambleton’s Nightmare (5% stout). Descend 2 steps from door into single room wood-floored bar area, rock/thrash metal predominant music, then notice the blackboard of rather incongruous food specials ~£6/7, eg beef chasseur with mustard mash! Beyond to low-beamed King Charles snug on left; this has an old fireplace and an oddly stale smell, the bar extends down here but is now used for storage, rather than service. To the right the smaller, victorian-esque Cromwell snug, plain with tatty surrounding settles wood tables & chairs, another fireplace, a sash window to sidestreet, & print of an old monastic court scene (???, dunno, but I wrote it down…). Unsure re Td’s mention of sticky carpet – I only recall wood and tiled/stone floors(?). Slightly rough around the edges but friendly enough, and good beer choice & quality.

9 Sep 2008 13:55

The Bell Inn, Nottingham

Originally off-map (greedyk), but persuaded by local knowledge to include as they at least offered guest ales, and so it proved. Gkipa, Abbot, OSH, Olde Trip, Milestone Raspberry wheat beer, Nott’ Brewery Legend, Dent Aviator & Rambrau. Claims to be the oldest Inn in England (c.1437) but despite the lovely york-stone slabs at the entrance and what I was informed was a truly ancient timber in the rt-hd front bar (which closed at 15:00), I’d have to agree with Td that not much else bears witness to its age. The beers listed above were on hp in the large rear room, long bar to the right, seating booths to the left, busy & rather noisy Sat pm but no probs, a list of previous licencees (1759 to present) decorates the upper wall. The front bars (that on the left being more modern in décor & style) offered far fewer beers on tap but I did additionally notice gk XX Mild & Refectory English Ale.

9 Sep 2008 13:12

Langtry's, Nottingham

Rudgate Well Blathered, Deuchars IPA, Ruddles County, Flowers IPA, Everards Tiger, Brains Bitter, Milestone Raspberry wheat beer (5.6%) and Mongrel, from Marston Moor brewery – I’m told that the recipe could be likened to Pedi from ‘a similarly named brewery’ but the pumpclip announces ‘Good beer, No Pedigree’, haha! Semi-hexagonal bar (if that’s poss?) surrounded by traditional seating. Not on my original list, but worth a look in.

9 Sep 2008 12:19

The Lincolnshire Poacher, Nottingham

Castle Rock Elsie Mo, Harvest Pale, Sheriff’s Tipple, Bateman’s XB, Rugby Mild & No.8, Hydes Bells & Whistles, Everard’s Tiger, Hopback Odyssey & GFB, Broadoak Moonshine cider (8%), plus wide selection of whiskies & blackboard listing 16 belgian beers. L-shaped bar winds to left from traditional wood-floored bar area opening to a lounge with breweriana mirrors & bric-a-brac on high shelves. Small carpetted snug to rear furnished with upholstered settles, beyond this to sparse conservatory then out to courtyard style beer garden with picnic sets. Homecooked dishes on specials boards above bar read well – Faggots, Lamb Masala, Lincs sausage&mash, Pork Loin steaks wi cherry belgian beer, £6/£6.50. The management were mortified when one of the boys returned a suspect pork pie (probably the only thing not home-produced!) & immediately offered replacement &/or refund. I’m told this is not the most salubrious area of town & that a recent stabbing occurred nearby, but this is an excellent pub & I wouldn’t hesitate to return next time.

9 Sep 2008 12:19

The Keans Head, Nottingham

Not at all a bad place, but suffered on the day by comparison to other pubs visited. Good choice of beer in fine condition, but just not ‘pubby’ enough for my liking – single square room, busy Sat 13:00, but occupied by what seemed to be something of a brunch crowd. Indeed, the homemade specials did sound good at £8/9 (eg Italian sausage casserole). Presumed to be named after shakespearian actor Edmund Kean, the pub is situated just round the corner from the attractive St Mary’s church. Bateman’s XB, Crouch Vale Eldorado, Elgood Cambridge bitter, Castle Rock Harvest Pale & Elsie Mo.

9 Sep 2008 12:18

The Newshouse, Nottingham

Castle Rock Preservation & Harvest Pale, JW Lees Brewers Dark, Hopback GFB, Everards Tiger, Newby Wyke HMS Revenge, Isle of Skye Hebridean Gold, Moles Black Rat cider. As Td states, the exterior isn’t overly impressive but inside has a solid traditional layout & feel, I’m surprised to read that the current building dates back only to 1950s. From entrance turn right to traditionally furnished wood-floored public bar with big-screen and bar-billiards table, left to carpetted lounge with upholstered banquettes, central bar serving both. Cobs/rolls £2, eg haslet & cheese (Notts friends were surprised I’d never heard of haslet) or 2 slices of gala pie for £1.50. Very likeable pub and landlady, who provided a friendly welcome.

9 Sep 2008 12:17

The Vat and Fiddle, Nottingham

Superb start to the day’s tour. Brewery tap for the adjacent Castle Rock operation and offering their beers, plus guests, in top condition: Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Hemlock, Sheriff’s Tipple, Preservation, Elsie Mo, Okells Autumn Dawn, Newby Wyke Riverside, Nethergate Mild & Augustinian, Clarke’s Classic Blonde, Oldershaw Alchemy. Prices slowly increase by abv, Harvest Pale just £2. Classic tiled interior, banquette seating & wood tables around bar, opening to separate seating areas at each end, awards displayed on wall to left. Blackboard lists a dozen or so Belgian/German bottles, proper cobs available behind bar. Top notch, an opinion further cemented when we went full-circle & finished the tour here before train south on Sun.

9 Sep 2008 12:17

The Barge, Gillingham

Grainstore Cooking, Wadworth IPA, Springhead Newark Castle Brown (I got it eventually, haha!), plus two pumps unclipped which we were told would usually be on in the week. Weatherboard exterior, large model ships in the windows, old original wood floor front & rear, tiled bar area. Pool table to the left of entrance, dartboard to the right, then the bar, & wooden bench seating beyond to rt, & open wood ‘booths’ to left, further to some covered decking, then prepare yourself for a staggering view over the Medway from the garden, plenty of bobbing boats on this visit- I think they specially laid on a regatta. Slightly straggly-grassed garden with not-unlikeable tree-stump replica tables reflecting the comfortable boho feel of the place. Not sure I’d appreciate the large trampoline being in use (it wasn’t ystdy) as it would detract from the view, but I imagine visiting parents may welcome the provision of a distraction. To the rear of the pub is a small stage & a costly sound-booth suggests that they do some serious music in addition to open mic nights. I’m not sure why anyone with a map would be troubled finding the place but we approached on foot from Christmas St, which is linked to Layfield Rd by a footpath, and google satellite shows another footpath shortcut back to Grange Rd. You cannot approach on foot from Pier Rd (A289). Enthusiastic welcome from the genial manager. Recommended.

31 Aug 2008 11:37

The Frog And Toad, Gillingham

Maybe unfortunate timing a week after their 4-day beer festival, but just two pumps in action, Pride & Badger Best, which weren’t quite at their best. Other than a dartboard opp the entrance I don’t really have a comment on the interior as we went straight out to the large beer garden, picnic sets on paved area, strip of lawn beyond, some large umbrellas. Large lean-to at one side housing the stills from the ‘fest, a handful remaining at £1 ppint but risky with no cooling system. I would doubtless be singing the F&T’s praises if my visit had been a week earlier, but not on this occasion. I will, however, keep it ‘on-list’ next time I’m in Gillingham.

31 Aug 2008 10:13

The Will Adams, Gillingham

Castle Rock Hemlock, Sharps IPA, Summer Lightning; tried first two & both in excellent condition. Friendly welcome from big Gills-shirted guvnor who asked if we were down for the game (nope, northern accent but not Accrington). Narrowish pub with bar, barstools, & table seating as you enter, dartboard at far end, pool table between. A portrait of the eponymous Will Adams hangs behind the bar and a mural depicting his adventurer/seafaring exploits decorates the centre wall (partly hidden by St George flag). Otherwise the décor is made of dodgy plastic panels in the style of mock wild-west wood fencing(?), but don’t let that put you off, this is a proper friendly drinking venue. Two Westons ciders were available in boxes on the bar, food was hot-dogs, burgers, chilli, eg cheeseburger & chips £3.

31 Aug 2008 09:48

The Red Lion, Isleworth

A most enjoyable visit on Saturday to take advantage of their weekend beer festival. They had 30+ on stills in the garden shed (sorry 'Olde Ale House') and 8/9 on handpump in the bar. Also a fair number of ciders & perries. I got to sample, for the first time, Jarrow Rivet Catcher, St Austell Proper Job, RCH Pitchfork, the choice also included Alton Pride and many other fine beers. I was pleased with the efficient cask cooling system on a warm day and presumed the very slight haze to the beers was temperature related, they all tasted tip-top. Exception being the 9% AoverT, I had to try it one day, but gave away my half of this awfully sweet beer after one sip. Sat in the beer garden - half grassed, half paved & covered, plenty of picnic sets, most agreeable, even entertainment in the shape of the pub kitten who periodically dived from the shrubbery to ambush either pub dog as they wandered past, haha!

25 Aug 2008 18:12

The Skylark, Croydon

Only one ale available from the 'guest' bank today; Westerham BB was in good shape, but four other pumps clipped as 'available soon'? come on! Disappointing.

24 Aug 2008 23:32

Elm Tree, Cambridge

Review refers visit 28Jul, apologies to Rob for delayed posting.
Banks&Taylor – Edwin Taylor’s Extra Stout, Black Dragon Mild, Shefford Bitter, Hydes Eager Beaver, Blakemere Navajo, Red Rose ‘Old Ben’, Downton Olympic Flame, Wells Eagle, Youngs Best, Directors. Compulsory stocking of a B&T range and other mainstream staples limits, to a degree, the more unusual offerings from micros, but I’m sure a good rotational policy will maintain an interesting choice under expert care. A single-roomed pub, wood floored around bar, carpetted beyond in main seating area, a small raised ‘stage’(?) nr door. Furniture comprises wood/cast-iron tables, wooden benches & chairs, cushioned stools. Decorated with breweriana, mirrors, tin advertising plaques, high shelves filled with old bottles, glasses, flagons etc. Easy-listening background soundtrack (13:30). Games ‘corner’ offers draughts, scrabble, chess etc. The bottle menu leads with a welcome note, nice touch, and tasting notes accompany the Belgian & German selection. ‘Double Vision’ cider is served from a vat behind the bar, ‘L’ drinkers can choose between Erdinger & Red Stripe. No food, but willing directions given by friendly barman to a customer seeking an eaterie. That barman was Dom, who, along with Jo, joined Rob from Reading in this new venture: buy yourself another pint if you can spot the ‘souvenir’ that accompanied them in the journey from the Hobgoblin. A comfortable drinking pub with a good beer choice in the hands of proper ale lovers, I enjoyed meeting them & having a chat over some beers. They said to ignore ‘elmtreepubdotcodotuk’ as it’s well out of date & the jazz has moved elsewhere, but looking at it today shows bands still listed for future dates? Oh, & I have to mention the Indian guy who was here on my visit & explained that he was spending his redundancy touring on a motorbike and camping in a tent whilst ticking off GBG pubs – outstanding!

22 Aug 2008 12:56

The Cambridge Blue, Cambridge

Erm, forgot to mention draught offerings from rt-hd bar; Aspall Cyder, Meantime London Stout, Bitburger, Erdinger Weissbrau, Maredsous Bierre d'Abbey (8%- £2.80 per half), Boxing Dog cider, plus 2 other cider/perry in the tap room.

22 Aug 2008 12:05

The Cambridge Blue, Cambridge

Oldershaw Caskade, Archers Rule of Thumb, Nelson Powder Monkey, Iceni Partridge Walk, Cambridge Blue Dew Drop (Nethergate), Mighty Oak Up the Swannie, Tring Captain Alf, Woodforde Wherry, Adnams Best, Mauldons Micawber Mild. Wow! My selection of 3 were all in very good shape, even tho the pub was still quiet at 12:30. nb the lunchtime closing (14:30-17:30) applies only Mon-Wed. Walls sport old tin adverts (Woodbine, Waverley, Top Mill snuff), to the rear a well-tended beer garden & patio with picnic sets. Lunchtime specials (£7) included Pork Strogonof, Tuna Pasta Bake, Beef in Black Bean sauce, printed menu offered other bites, sarnies ~£3. All ale pumps are on the bar to left of entrance; tap room is visible from seating area to the right. Belgian,German,US beers are listed on bottle menu. One of a small number of pubs that could warrant a 10 but, for now, the search for nirvana continues… 9+

22 Aug 2008 10:11

The Commercial, Herne Hill

Longer ago than that Td - I think '85-'89 were our years of almost permanent residence; darts & camaraderie being the main draw in those days. Long since changed shape and added a decent selection of changing beers, usually veering a little from mainstream but seldom, if ever, featuring micros. The beers are usually well kept so it was most disappointing to hear of your experience with bad pints & even worse staff attitude to changing them - I thought the current mgr was enthusiastic about his ales, so I doubt he'd be happy to read about his staff arguing with (ahem) experienced drinkers about beer which was clearly 'wrong'. Sad to hear the damning verdict, let's hope it causes the Commercial to review standards & improve quality.

20 Aug 2008 08:31

The Crown and Anchor, Old Woking

Massively overrated. See prev review, & I think 5 was pretty generous.

31 Jul 2008 23:45

The Armoury, Stockport

Used to be my pitstop post train North & pre train South before I discovered the range at the Crown down bottom of the hill. I really must visit again soon for some superbly kept Robinsons Unicorn. A real local feel; contrary to others below, I’ve never been on match day but used to love sinking a few great pints (I love a good Robbies) and absorbing the local lingo – a kind of acclimatisation back into the fold. Great stuff. And at about £1.85 a pint, you can afford to tell those welcoming barstaff to keep the change from yer 2 quid, ‘and your own’ - it’s the done thing round here!

29 Jul 2008 13:11

The Live and Let Live, Cambridge

Clarks Feel the Pinch, Cropton Honey Gold & Scoresby Stout, Crouch Vale Amarillo, Black Sheep Bitter, Nethergate Umbel, a.n.other, plus Cassels cider. Good barman took time out from attending to a group of ditherers to serve me a pint. A serious alehead on the bar, presumably the guv, was talking staff thru pump changes. Special beer glasses suggest this place is belgian friendly. I know this manc feels at home here.

29 Jul 2008 12:45

The Kingston Arms, Cambridge

Still a great choice of beers but poor layout, décor & furnishing. Nice plain wood tables but the surrounding settles are pretty naff & way too low – I’m 5’10” and found myself reaching up to the table for my pint; someone smaller could feel positively lilliputian. Can’t remember why, but my notes say ‘pretentious’ and possibly ‘off-map’ next time. That may be a little extreme; I mean, you can’t go missing out a pub with 10 handpumps, but they need to get the rest right with stiff competition in the locale.

29 Jul 2008 12:06

Rose and Crown, Histon

Not on my list, but looked good with an almost Tudor-style frontage, and Everards owned, so I jumped off the bus & walked back. Woe is me. Four handpumps, Tiger & Original plus 2 unclipped. Tried the Tiger – it didn’t look good, and wasn’t. I’d already received a hostile glare from the bar when I asked for a top-up, mainly to make a point as the lager drinker served before me (the only other customer) had meekly accepted his drink maybe an inch, or more, short of a pint. Low beamed ceiling, some bare brickwork, large brick inglenook with brasses whose effect was sadly lost due to the presence of an ugly plastic high-chair obscuring the wood/coal stove. Someone who I imagined to be the guv was playing one of the intrusive gaming machines, beyond which were a dartboard & pool table. The pub could probably be first rate with some caring management & decently kept beer but, even empty, I got the impression it would lean toward chav-central when busier. Shame. In the belief that returning my beer to the bar would prove fruitless, at least in getting a decent pint, I left it & did one.

29 Jul 2008 11:43

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

Friday's top-notch selection was Hophead, Welton's Double Vision, Falcon Okells Mild (Manx purity brewed), Trafalgar Thrupenny Hop (Pilgrim), Milk Street Funky Monkey, Triple fff Stairway. Good stuff.

29 Jul 2008 11:09

The Red Lion, Histon

Am I mistaken in thinking I telephoned in advance to establish that this place has all day opening? Well, having spent time & money to get out here, only to find the place locked at 15:10, I was lividly determined to assign a rating commensurate with those of UK eurovision contestants; that was last Thurs &, in deference to Rob (now of Elm Tree) advising that the guv is a good bloke, I'll withhold a rating until I return, if ever, to Histon - it won't be between 3&5pm in the week!

29 Jul 2008 08:24

The Claret Free House, Addiscombe

Great little (v) basic pub with interesting, changing, selection of beers plus notices of what's coming next, but please change those manky beer 'towels' on the bar - they stink to high heaven of vinegar & make you wanna gag if standing at the bar.

26 Jul 2008 22:49

The Who'd Ha Thought It, Rochester

Small but good selection of beers offered Oakham Bishops Farewell, Sharps Eden Ale, Darkstar Sunburst. Wood floored, banquette seating, 2 plasmas – golf & GP practice respectively (I just don’t get the latter), small real fire, timber clad upper walls, strange little area beyond the bar to rt, with uncharacteristic modern leather sofa. If you’ve already been to John St, there is an alley leading to Maidstone Rd then a little uphill to here, followed by an easy roll back down.

20 Jul 2008 12:18

The Good Intent, Rochester

Sharps Cornish Coaster, Darkstar Best, Atlas Nimbus SPA, Biddenden Bushels cider (6%- colloquially ordered locally as a ‘pint of lose-a-day’) were available yesterday by gravity from stills behind the bar, 4 other stills not ‘on’ around 13:00. I didn’t take offence when the landlady, having spotted me noting the selection, asked whether I had a beer belly - I do! - and, amidst local laughter she produced the camra mag ‘Medway Beer Belly’, haha, before advising that the GI would be holding a ‘fest last weekend of Sep with an additional 10 stills in the garden. The larger room to the front of the pub had a pool table, dartboard, drop-down screen showing cricket (so must have sky), smelt a little beery from prev nt. The rear room was a plain rectangle with uniform seating around the sides & seems to hold regular live music. This leads out to a decent, albeit slightly straggly, garden with weathered furniture & an open ‘tented’ cover.

20 Jul 2008 11:56

The Man of Kent Ale House, Rochester

Whitstable East India Pale, Goachers Gold Star (also, later, Silver Star), Doombar, Dartford Kentish Best, Hopdaemon Incubus, Nelson IPA. Draught ciders had run out but Pawley Farm med or dry (7.5%) & Biddenden Vintage (8.4%) were available in bottles. Guv was just opening to take in the milk at 12:20 when we arrived, but must have already attended to the beers as they were in fine fettle. Check opening times – most weekdays 13:00, Sat 12:00, & be prepared for the two main doors to be closed & entry to be via the improv side entrance. Nice lived-in bohemian feel to the place, distressed wood floor, upholstered wood settles, solid wood barstools, flags of Kent & St.George at a window, wood burning fireplace, small snug at one end with tatty but comfy leather sofas – more like someone’s living room, friendly welcome at the bar. The soundtrack was a gruff washboard/bluegrass stylee that just fitted nicely. Definitely a venue to play a joker, or two, if crawling these parts.

20 Jul 2008 10:30

The Coopers Arms, Rochester

Just along from the castle & to the rear of the cathedral, you can take some visual culture on board on the way. Central servery open to front and rear bars, two pumps at each side so don’t despair at the sight of Courage & Directors on entry, the rear bar offered Pride & local Nelson Spanker yesterday – I think they would benefit from double-clipping so as not to lose courage detractors, like me, at the doorway. Rear bar had 3 long narrow wooden tables, seating 6 a-piece, & a plasma was quietly showing the golf. The front bar had a bare-brick rustic style &, although I made a note that it felt slightly manufactured, I bow to RogerB’s observations re the age of the place. Patio to the rear sported white-painted cast iron tables & was busy in the sunshine.

20 Jul 2008 08:34

The Tudor Rose, Upper Upnor

The small front bar is quite misleading as the pub opens out with plenty of seating to the rear and, it would seem from other comments, many other rooms I failed to stagger into. The large grassed, walled & planted garden to the rear had many picnic sets and a large round table, under a tented awning, with a revolving granite centre(?). A friendly welcome at the bar and, later, the landlady was most helpful in phoning round to find us return cabs. Good choice of well-kept Sheps beers and definitely, for me, the better pub in Upnor. If you wander down a few yards to the waterfront & look left you will see the proximity of Upnor Castle.

20 Jul 2008 08:10

The Two Brewers, Rochester

Like the pub itself, the beers looked good yesterday, but simply weren’t. The Spitfire & other (EarlyBird?) had an unpleasant flavour. I acknowledge positive comments attached but can only report as found, & we moved on in need of something to wash away the taste.

20 Jul 2008 07:55

Kings Arms, Upper Upnor

We waited at the bar while one staff polished forks in the empty dining area to the rear, then while two other staff members came to serve themselves & leave, then while some troll feeding herself at the bar (evidently another member of staff) berated us for laughing at this appalling lack of service, then finally a polite barmaid showed up to produce a good pint of Westerham Grasshopper & 2 flat pints of Wells Bombardier Burning Gold. Friends said it had a decent garden but I imagine the grass will need mowing before you reach it. If you take a bus or an £8 taxi from Rochester I would suggest swerving this place in favour of the Tudor Rose just down toward the river.

20 Jul 2008 07:37

The Orange Tree, Chelmsford

Stonehenge Pigswill, Farmers Nelsons Blood, Mauldon Gold, Oscar Wilde, all £2.60 or less. The public is a throwback to the ‘70s, dominated by a busy, swirly carpet, upper walls & ceiling decorated with embossed wallpaper, magnolia, of course, lower walls clad with terracotta wood panelling. Small L-shaped bar with a third of the room given over to the central dartboard, pride of place, with tables around the perimeter. Sarnies/baguettes £2.50-£3.50, mains £5-6, daily specials eg Shepherds Pie £5.20, Beef Curry £5.95. The saloon/lounge side (it was here I realised I’d been before!) has more formal dark wood furniture, some set for dining, a couple of chesterfields, a longer bar, red swirly carpet, breweriana mirrors, a large plasma, 2 stills (seemingly not ‘on’), & outside to a paved beer garden with a few picnic sets & a covered lean-to sporting an Essex flag. Although all the punters Wed pm were in the public, both rooms have plenty of space and a different feel – if JF is correct about plans to make the whole place open plan I’m not sure the result would justify the cost – just lose the carpet to transform the whole. The beers were pretty good but the suggestion that most Queen’s Head regulars have relocated, even allowing for loyalty to the publican, surprises me greatly – it’s the QH hands-down for me.

18 Jul 2008 11:13

The Queen's Head, Chelmsford

Crouch Vale Best, Brewers Gold, Essex Boys, Amarillo, also Otley OBB, Fox Bullet, Thwaites Lancaster Bomber, Mauldons Black Adder, prices £2.70-£2.90 according to abv, the EB (3.5%) was £2.25, tried most & all in great condition. Westons Bounds Brand scrumpy (4.8%) also on handpump, and it was amusing to witness a coupla lager boys stymied by the choice of either Kaltenberg Hell or Warsteiner, haha! Octagonal central bar, good upholstered banquette seating beneath part wood-panelled walls, solid wood stools & wood/copper tables with cast-iron bases. The bar area sports some photos of cricket greats, Bradman, Fry, Hobbs, WG, to the left of the bar a victorian style fireplace & to the right a large real fire open to both the bar & the dining/seating area beyond - more traditional furniture plus some open ‘booth’ seating, further on to more tables & a small conservatory before exiting to a small paved suntrap beer garden with picnic sets & umbrellas. The dining area has some brewery mirrors & a superb old shot of what looks like the Queens Head chara, heavily loaded, about to depart on a jolly (the ‘big-boys outing’ for those of you familiar with the excellent Early Doors series). The conservatory is decorated with painted prints of our main test-match cricket venues, the gents have Robinsons mirrors declaring Best Bitter & Best Mild – evidently predating their current production of Unicorn & Hatters. Sarnies/baguettes £2.50/£3.50, simple mains ~£5. Was pretty quiet around 13:00 but the service was quick & friendly, and it gives me great pleasure to advise that reports of a possible demise at this terrific pub are happily wide of the mark. Oh, & you can avoid the town ctr from the stn by going straight down Park Rd & across central park.

18 Jul 2008 08:57

The Skylark, Croydon

It seems I was wrong about skytv – they do show prem games upstairs but it apparently gets rammed for ‘big’ fixtures; still, I shouldn’t have difficulty for City games except, of course, when we’re trashing u-know-who, again, haha. Oakham Helter Skelter was wonderful yesterday.

18 Jul 2008 08:10

The White Hart Tap, St Albans

Pride, Batemans XXXB, Daleside Blonde, TT Landlord, Deuchars. My only other notes state “two large bay windows, nice bit o’ white pine”. So there you have it! Sketchy memory says good beer – my first visit, but I’ll return next time I’m in this neck of the woods.

13 Jul 2008 16:32

The Goat, St Albans

Deserves a fuller review than I am able to provide from yesterday’s visit (hic!), but I enjoyed the Doombar & a joker was declared when Tribute was added to the available selection before we left. Nice large room to rear of central bar with hop adorned beams & good furniture; space was being made for evening music, no idea what style, hopefully we assisted rather than hindered the moving of a heavy table. Had to laugh at the picture, in the gents, of a formidable group of temperance ladies with the annotation that ‘Lips that touch liquor shall never touch ours!’; couldn’t help but think that this motley collection may want to consider hedging their bets on that, haha!

13 Jul 2008 16:19

The Boot, St Albans

First time I found myself here, a coupla years ago, it was horribly rammed on a Sat nt. Yesterday ~15:00 was a much more pleasant experience, allowing appreciation for the low-ceilinged, old wood-floored, ancient timbered 16c(?) surroundings. Plenty of standing room around the central horseshoe bar & the single large room surrounded by wood furniture & settles. Only one staff on, but pub was pretty quiet & she was more attentive than some erstwhile colleagues. Summer Lightning, Youngs Ord, Directors, Bass, Celt Golden (Caerphilly?), we tried the latter two & both were in great shape.

13 Jul 2008 13:02

The White Swan, St Albans

Castle Eden Ale & Everards Sunchaser in very good nick, also GKipa (why?). Tiled floor at entrance, carpetted dining area beyond & to rt of L-shaped bar, wood floor to left where a plasma quietly shows sky sports & the opposite corner houses a bar billiards table. Decent tunes playing on jukebox. Glad it was ‘on map’, although ridding itself of greedyK beer would improve matters further.

13 Jul 2008 12:41

The White Lion, St Albans

Blacksheep, Youngs, Bitter&Twisted, Titanic Capt Smiths. Small central bar serves a lovely little snug-like front room (‘the den’), settles below windows, small brick fireplace adorned with brass bedpans, faux fire, local feel, blackboard displays beers on now & ‘coming soon’ (8th pint, no notes) also the larger rooms to the left of entrance are the well furnished lounge bar with dartboard, and dining area (or simply more seating?). Didn’t realise there was a patio/beer garden, & even a boules pitch! I liked the White Lion on my first visit, and still do.

13 Jul 2008 11:46

The Mermaid, St Albans

Mauldons Mole Trap, Hanby Rainbow Chaser, Salopian Matrix, Grainstore TenFifty, Adnams Best. Old wood floor, nice studded leather settles, wood tables with cast iron base, wooden stools. Dartboard to rt of bar, opposite wall decorated with old pub & cooperage photos, old pumpclips suggest good rotation policy. Small patio to the rear with 2/3 picnic sets, car park beyond. Two bay windows with upholstered banquettes at the front. Large plasma to left of bar (dk whether they still have sky – was switched off so didn’t catch the cricket score). Sarnies £3/4, burgers £4/5, jumbo mixed grill (incl rump steak & lamb chop!) £8.95. Friendly & polite welcome & service, beers in good condition.Very good traditional pub & great start to the day’s crawl.

13 Jul 2008 11:10

The Bull, Horton Kirby

'intersected by The Street' - should read, 'by Bull Hill', as correctly named on streetmap.

11 Jul 2008 18:37

The Bull, Horton Kirby

Red Squirrel Organic Blonde, Darkstar Sunburst, Newby Wyke HMS Revenge, Fenland Smokestack Lightning, all served in very good condition. The blackboard to the rt of bar listed these, and also the ‘coming soon’ notice included Rebellion Overthrow, Springfield IPA(5.4%), Hophead, Hopdaemon Incubus, Summer Sovereign(?), fff Pressed Rat & Warthog. Blackboard to the left had listed 2 real ciders, Hecks Port Wine of Canterbury(6.5%) & Pitts Kingston Black(5.5%), also Gwatkins Oldfield Perry(7.5%), but the ciders had been drunk and the guv was on his way out to collect more stock – you’ve gotta love the freedom (& relative unshackled simplicity) of a proper freehouse business. Attractive semi-island bar faces the door surrounded by light wood furniture & a few barstools. Large plasma on left-hd wall (barmaid was kind enough switch on to allow me to quietly watch my dosh go down the pan at Newmarket), further down a dartboard, past this to glass french doors leading to large grassy beer garden with picnic sets & lovely view over fields beyond (not quite visible on photo above). To the right is a new veg garden which thay hope can source some produce for the pub grub (food miles = 20yards!). Sarnies & baguettes from £3.50, chilli chips £2, mains £7/8, eg large faggots with pork gravy, or ‘old fashioned bacon pudding’. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon visit, will definitely return. nb open all day weekdays, also nb the att’d map links are currently slightly wrong – pub sits at the corner where Lombard St & Forge Ln are intersected by The Street.

11 Jul 2008 18:21

The Railway Arms, Alton

After being suitably impressed by Moondance a while back, I decided to google Triple fff brewery and head for the source, and the Railway Arms is certainly the place to enjoy their marvellous product. fff Alton’s Pride, Moondance, Hallelujah, Pressed Rat & Warthog, Stairway, also Dark Star Old Ale & Addlestones ‘Cloudy’ on handpump. An early visit and beers were drawn thru & inspected before serving, the best indication of proper care. The hop adorned horsehoe bar is surrounded by barstools & will no doubt be a focal gathering point for returning train travellers, post work. Some breweriana (watneys barrel hangs from ceiling), various old bottles & advertising plaques, ‘Spratts Ovals’ the best small-dog biscuit! I love the picture to the right of the main bank of pumps – 3 old boys enjoying a drink at the bar in a former, rather simpler & preferable era. Larger room to the rear with plenty of seating plus a dartboard &, beyond this, an outdoor area with picnic sets; a virtually illegible note from my later rtn (hic!) suggests a covered pergola or summer-house construction(?). Small outdoor seating area at the front below a flowered post carrying barrel-bearers on a plinth. Notices advertise local breweries ‘fest at Medstead Green (5m) 12July, & Vic’s Buskers open mic nt, 29Jul. Staff were still ensuring beer quality when I returned late afternoon, great stuff!

6 Jul 2008 11:18

The French Horn, Alton

Ringwood Best, Butcombe Bitter, Pride, courage, Spitfire, Broadside. Large Inglenook at each end of long bar, handful of lunching customers in bar around 13:00 & seems geared toward food with large dining area set up in room to left of bar; on arrival I’d also passed an outbuilding which looked a likely venue for private functions (50-60pax). Mains £10-12, burgers/ribs £8/9, filled cobs £5.50(!), steaks from £15 (never understand the disproportionate stk mark-up), all this bizarrely countered by ‘Burts hand fried chips’ at just 70p. Some of the diners sounded rather ‘hoorah’ but, despite this, the bar is long enough to accommodate drinkers & the huge grassy beer garden with plenty of picnic sets must be a big pull in good weather, a smaller garden area at the front looks out over the green. The stunning french/danish barmaid deserves a mention.

6 Jul 2008 10:39

Selborne Arms, Selborne

Ringwood Fortyniner, Bloomfields Bitter, courage, superb Flowerpots Stormchaser, Goddards Special Bitter, Hogs Back Zig Zag, Hidden Ace, Thatchers Gold cider (keg). Lovely bar area, country window squarely behind the pumps had sun streaming thru, old wood floor, large inglenook, hop adorned ceiling beam, hops also around bar servery of smaller, traditionally furnished, ‘Hanger Bar’ to right of entrance. Beyond the bar is a rustic dining room set for dinner, wood tables, polished glasses - duck at very low entrance. The chef owner is clearly serious about food although I’m unsure about the wisdom of the blackboard menu leading with chateaubriand as the £37 (for2) may discourage the avg punter from reading on to more regular dishes such as stk & kidney pie at £9.90. Don’t picture a gastro pub though – it is certainly somewhere I’d like to go for a meal but that does not preclude a very happy visit for beer alone, or more affordable lunchtime bites. To the rear a spacious covered, but open, conservatory style outbuilding with a central wood burning stove and beyond this an enormous grassy & attractively planted and bordered beer garden with picnic sets and mature trees to the rear; even the bbq area is sympathetically fashioned in the style of a covered wishing-well. Wind around to the left to find a kids play area with climbing/swinging distractions. Friendly barman happily discussed the freehouse benefit of his being able to deal directly with brewers of choice, and that they were lucky to have 15 or more small breweries in the immediate area. Rustically furnished throughout with traditional settles, tables, stools, & a games corner had crib, shut-the-box etc. Easily worth the £4.40 rtn bus (14mins) from Alton, but the schedule is slender & the Selborne closes 15:00-18:00 weekdays. I’ll be back, for sure.

6 Jul 2008 10:19

The Eight Bells, Alton

Romsey IPA, Bowman Wallops Wood & Swift One, Ringwood Best, Ballard’s Best. Carpetted bar, partly divided into front & smaller rear sections, low then very low beamed ceilngs, mix of wood & copper-topped tables, slightly ‘70s retro feel, some banquette seating & stools, dartboard at far end although corner table would need moving. Nice little paved beer garden with light pine picnic sets, some umbrellas, trees & shrubs attractively complement the scene. The stable door allows the pub to be aired in nice weather but prevents the Lancashire Heeler (Toby) from making his escape. There is the story of the local, horrific, murder of ‘Poor Fanny Adams’ in 1867 & check out the photo above the real fire ‘Farnham United Breweries, Fine Ales & Stout Drawn from the Wood’. I have a note that this is local Camra poty, but a couple of others I visited on the day would be serious competition.

6 Jul 2008 09:30

Our Mutual Friend, Stevenage

Adnams Explorer, Durham White Gem, Youngs Best, Acorn Cascade IPA, Tring Side Pocket for a Toad, Hooky Dark, & the admirable Marble 1280. Pretty much a public/saloon layout with the long front bar housing pool table nr entrance, a dartboard with its own space & oche to the right, pub darts available. A plasma was showing the tennis but unfortunately was not switched off when the schedule led into Weakest Link. The rear bar was hop adorned and had comfortable seating & a couple of booths with upholstered settles, a victorian style fireplace, cabinet displaying ceramic steins, this area carpetted with walls semi-panelled in wood. Check out the superb picture ‘The Stranger’ next to the Dickens display box on rear wall; I bet we’ve all been able to identify with ‘the author’ in one pub or another!

6 Jul 2008 08:53

Engineers Arms, Henlow

Not as good as my first visit. One beer insufficiently pulled thru, then served in the glass that had contained said thru-pull, another beer vinegary, although a lady in the bar was glad I pointed it out as she took the opportunity to also change the half she had been suffering in silence! Also, the tv was ludicrously loud for screening grand prix practice, what's that all about? I wouldn't discourage anyone, & the choice was still 8 beers, but this visit was unfortunately timed.

6 Jul 2008 08:24

Golden Pheasant, Biggleswade

Youngs Special, Archers Game Set & Match, Wells Eagle ipa, Adnams, & the excellent Crouch Vale Oregon Best & Buntingford Twilight. Welcoming local feel in comfortable front bar, dartboard in corner to left, albeit above a table. Nicely paved courtyard, lots of picnic sets, some covered by giant umbrella.The bar displays a list of those collectively barred in Biggleswade; probably 2 dozen(!) names, but I doubt the site of their wrongdoing would often be the Golden Pheasant. Certainly one to return to if in the area again.

6 Jul 2008 08:03

The Brown Bear, Biggleswade

I don’t know who wrote the review I found on fatbadgerdotcodotuk but it paints an inaccurate picture. Reality was just Pride, Abbot, Gkipa. Friendly enough landlord, but unexeptional pub. Pool table to the rear, a couple of very distressed picnic sets in the plainly paved terrace (think back yard) outside.

6 Jul 2008 07:48

The Skylark, Croydon

Westerham BB, Otter Bright & Silver King, Burton XL, also badged as ‘coming soon’ were Snecklifter & Bishops Farewell, these were all on what appeared to be the guest bank of pumps & a separate bank offered the usual spoons suspects, Pedi, Abbot, courage. Quite civilised for a ‘spoons, clientele seemed ok, nice layout with open plan around the bar and some booth seating in a ‘library’ section to the right. Nice upstairs bar (bar itself obviously not serving ystdy 15:00, and noticed no handpumps up there), old pictures of Croydon & aviation themes, 3 plasmas but, while euro08 was advertised, I don’t think they have Sky for prem matches. Staff were apparently ‘on loan’ from another ‘spoons but were good, the mgr seemed somewhat disinterested but was polite when serving.

2 Jul 2008 07:45

Half and Half, Croydon

Cleaner version of previous incarnation but without real ale pumps. In fairness, I won't leave a rating because this place will undoubtedly be preferable to most of its neighbours in the immediate area but why not stock some handpulled beer? 'Lounge bar'? Ta ta.

2 Jul 2008 06:56

Lewes Arms, Lewes

sorry, six handpumps, the ones I don't recall were presumably gk.

1 Jul 2008 12:09

Lewes Arms, Lewes

I appreciate that locals & regulars may still feel that the pub’s heart is not, & may never be, the same since the famed ‘battle of Lewes’ but we certainly celebrated that warming people-power victory over greedy king and, I have to say, the pub seemed no different on Sat than our 1st (pre-battle) visit in ’06. The small front bar was busy & chatty, the room to the left had space to sit at pine tables/benches or play ‘toad-in-the-hole’ or darts (although both would have been dangerous to the trio who had picked the adjacent table) and I noticed a 3rd room behind the bar which I hadn’t realised was there. Nice feeling to the pub, no sign of temporary undesirables mentioned in protest period reviews, I’d like to see the pub regaining a more accurate BITE rating and that will require some, who legitimately marked it down, to return and reassess the place. Four handpumps, 3 diff Harveys beers plus Black Rat cider.

1 Jul 2008 12:07

The Gardeners Arms, Lewes

Certainly the Lewes pub with proper alternatives to Harveys, although I wouldn't quite go along with Alph's 'vast array' unless a)he visited during a beerfest or b)I missed a separate bank of beer offerings. Another Lewes crawl, another failure to make notes, sorry, but I recall 6or7 handpumps including Harveys Best, Darkstar Hophead, Sharp's Special Ale, Milestone Rich Ruby, & Moles Black Rat cider. Easily one of the pubs in town to 'play a joker' (have a 2nd pint) during a crawl.

1 Jul 2008 11:44

Dorset Arms, Lewes

Standard Harveys options with Best & Olympia both in good condition. Larger bar to left leads round to accommodation area, smaller more traditionally furnished room to rt of entrance where we were the sole occupants, so we took advantage of the 'toad-in-the-hole', although wouldn't fancy sitting there with others playing and brass coins ricocheting around the room, just occasionally of course!
44 ratings but just 14 reviews; what's that about?

1 Jul 2008 11:25

The Crown Inn, Lewes

Just Harveys Best on one (of two) handpumps on Sat but good condition, and a comfortable wood panelled lounge area to sit down & drink it.

1 Jul 2008 11:12

The Stanley Arms, Portslade

Added to yesterday's Brighton crawl (10mins on train) and struck lucky as there was a beer festival in full swing, some 20 or so to choose from. Local camra poty 7 times in the last 10yrs, great stuff.

15 Jun 2008 08:42

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

Yesterday's offering (just the 5) was Darkstar Original, Gravesend Shrimpers, Doombar, Saltaire Bitter, JHB, very nice too. I noticed the aforementioned Dave Johnson is playing this Sat(07); anyone covering the likes of the Smiths, Beatles, Oasis has got to be worth a look but I'm usually in pretty poor shape by 20:30.

6 Jun 2008 09:41

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

Six handpumps with rotating ale selection, Hophead is quite a regular & 'Mild for May' was well supported here. A plain looking local that doesn't pretend to be anything else, but they offer jazz Sun pm, & the Dave Johnson nts sound good although I aint been yet. Beers £2.80, but have been £2.00 all day Mon for a while.

3 Jun 2008 19:35

The Golding Hop, Plaxtol

Got off bus222 opp Back Lane & descended down single track Bewley La with orchards to either side and fields all around (see satellite view on gmap). Smallish pub with hop decorated bar in central section with handful of tables and small tv (unfortunately showing one of those daily antique shows), beyond to the left a separate room with a couple more tables and a bar billiards table in excellent condition (recently reclothed). To the right of the entrance, up a few steps to a semi ‘loft’ area with dark wood furniture & timbered walls – I imagine this area is mostly used when busy, or for dining. There was a tiny room below the ‘loft’ but it was in darkness, a veritable bolthole. Walls/shelves are decorated with brass & china plates, victorian cartoons and a horse harness has pride of place above the wood burning stove in the central bar area. On the other side of the lane is a car park and grassy beer garden with picnic sets, and this was being patrolled by the crowing pub cockerel who must be something of a feature judging by the occasional picture inside. Beyond the garden is a childrens play area with slide, swings & climbing frame. Some bench seating and weathered wood tables immediately outside the pub overlook the very quiet lane. Didn’t see a food menu, but was happy to notice simple sustenance available behind bar in the shape of filled cobs/baps/barms/rolls (select according to location), something I wish a lot more pubs would do – it’s often all you want with a pint. It’s a down to earth place & some of the conversation between guv & regulars reflected the difficulties of such places surviving, especially with the imposition of euro/h&s regs which may not be applicable or practicable to a country pub. Four beers were served by gravity & I was somewhat disappointed not to find anything from a Kentish brewery out here – Adnams Best & Broadside, Moorhouse Black Cat Mild & Everards Sly Fox (gingery but refreshing), also four ciders – Vintage & House Rough (it was), both 7.3%, Sparkling Dry (5%), & Stowford Press. Bishop Gundulf’s Morris will be appearing the eve of 03Jun. Guv may appear a little dour but he was most helpful to me with a map query. Pub closes weekday afternoons (15:00?).

1 Jun 2008 19:41

The Bull Hotel, Wrotham

Whoever answered the phone on Thurs did not know whether the pub was open thru the afternoon but I was assured, since I was on my way and because the bar was busy, that I would be ok for a pint, erm, do the opening hours change daily then? Anyway, 10mins later there was nobody at the bar but a kids party was happening adjacent to it - something that would ordinarily have sent me running for the hills, but I’d come out of my way in the rain and they were extremely well behaved young people having a sort of sit-down meal bash, Ikea meets McDonalds(?) so not really a place for traditionalists or aleheads, although they did have a couple of DarkStar beers and the Hophead was ok (even tho I can get a perfect version in less travel time). Not my kind of place, but don’t want to be to down on the licensees who are obviously trying hard and they have booked a N’Orleans jazz band in July & host a D-day dinner 06Jun – a more family orientated pub, I feel. Oh, & they pronounce Wrotham as Root’em out here.

1 Jun 2008 18:26

The George and Dragon, Ightham

Oh dear! Attractive whitewashed old-timbered exterior gives way to a completely lobotomised, open plan characterless interior, a fine example of what should not be happening to our country pubs. I was so disappointed by the evident architectural vandalism that I can’t be bothered to relay the décor here and will restrict myself to asking why fireplaces and tables were decorated with lit t-light candles at 15:30 on Thursday, wtf? They were serving 3 Sheps beers and, at £3.10, the EarlyBird was distinctly average. There is a bus stop immediately outside and, when I heard a bus arrive, I left most of my pint & did one.

1 Jun 2008 18:07

The Old House, Ightham

The phone# listed here is unobtainable and no amount of googling could provide a valid number to check whether they close in the afternoon. As it happens, I was advised in the Golding Hop that they don't even open until 19:00(!!!) in the week. No rating left, despite a temptation to mark it down for such a policy.

1 Jun 2008 12:44

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

Hmmm. Further to my positive review below, I was very disappointed last week to witness the mgr(?) using beer from the drip glasses to start, or top up, pints; not entirely convinced it was always the same beer either! None of the other staff seemed to adopt this scurrilous practice.

1 Jun 2008 12:03

The Keystone, Guildford

Bitter&Twisted was good ystdy, but the studo bar'man' passed some snide remark when my friend sent back 2/3 pint of summat else which was cloudy. The mgr said we couldn't play darts coz he was about to set up for a band, then promptly put on his coat & went out! Tosser.

1 Jun 2008 11:12

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

This place is growing on me with each visit. Enormous island bar houses 16 handpumps in total, offering 10 different ales last week – Pedigree, Otter Bright, Harveys Best, Youngs Special, Jennings Cumberland, TT Landlord,Deuchars, Titanic Capt Smiths, Spitfire, and York Decade (cleverly named – I found myself asking for a ‘pint of the decade’, and v nice it was too). Unusually, each pumpclip offers brief tasting notes & the offer to ‘sip before you sup’, also there is a separate offer of a 6-ale sampler (third pints) for £6 – slightly dearer than indiv pints but seems an ok way to taste a few; well, you can’t ‘sip’ them all, … can you? The front area has a very high ceiling with polished chandeliers & huge windows to the main road and is very bright & airy but I prefer taking a left to lots of dark wood, comfy seating, wing-back leather chairs - a little snug with the feel of a gentleman’s club, thru a narrow ‘door’ in wood&glass partition to the rear bar area with impressive coloured glass-covered skylights and leather-backed settles & tables surrounding the room. Two high tongue-like tables (think breakfast-bar) jut out directly from the bar – handy if the walk from a regular table is proving tricky later in evening. Opposite these a blackboard announces award-winning sausages with mash & onion gravy (£6-7) supplied, according to the menu, by the butchers for Fortnums & Harrods, breakfast is served from 10am (£4.95). Good value wine range at £8-12 btl. The sport tv out the front seems to have been discontinued and that has removed some rough edges. They just need to fix the far left entrance door (leading to rear bar) as it SLAMS loudly every time anyone enters/exits.

22 May 2008 11:26

The Rose and Crown, Southwark

Masterbrew, Spitfire, Kent’s Best, Earlybird, tried the latter which was in fine condition. A compact pub arranged around a 3qtr island bar, scrubbed wood floor to the front with leather banquette seating, wood tables, padded stools & barstools, wood-panelled walls decorated with photos & prints of old London, esp river locations. Up a couple steps & around the longer narrow side of bar to an open snug-like carpetted area, a hanging board proclaims ‘Shepherds Retreat – Crook Bar upstairs’, dk whether that is a function room. Outside there is a mostly grassed beer garden to side & rear, somewhat overlooked by surrounding buildings. Seems popular for lunch with nearby office workers & menu includes burgers, chilli, nachos (£5-6), cod & chips (£7). Don’t know how busy it gets to support 4(!) lunchtime staff but you won’t go thirsty; I was asked 3 times whether I was waiting before I was even halfway down my pint! Traditional looking pub with good Sheps beers at £3.

22 May 2008 08:31

The Lord Palmerston, Carshalton

Prettily done out at the front with hanging baskets, somewhat belying the earthiness of the locals, no problem with that but the downpoint was the lack of beer - courage only, decent condition but I'm just not keen.

11 May 2008 09:53

The Halfway House, Brenchley

Gorgeous rustic bar to right with some ancient timbers & hop-adorned rafters, original blackened wood floor, wood burning fire, decorated with old tools, bric-a-brac, brasses, old pump clips, the feel of an old farm building. All beer served by gravity, 16 stills behind wood cask fascias at bar, 8 were in action ystdy, listed above bar and on individual boards above each still; Goachers Fine Light, & Best Dark, Rother Valley Mild, Harveys Best, Westerham 1965, Wyre Pea in the Pod, the splendid Halfway to Paradise, plus local Chiddingstone cider (7.5%), all were in top shape, £2.40-£2.80. Some chunky wooden tables as you enter, where some were enjoying lunch and, beyond the bar, a window from which is visible the large, well-tended garden with picnic sets. Most at the bar seemed to know each other and timing may be key in grabbing a barstool (I did) but there is plenty of space elsewhere; descend from the bar, past piano, into adjacent building (main brick bldg when photo appears) for lots of seating incl a bench & table hewn from very old wood, beyond this a smaller room seating 12ish almost privately, up a coupla steps to more seating with fabric settles & rustic wood tables (nb the country mural with oasthouse-size carthorse), still another room beyond this set for slightly more formal dining. Must be popular for food, I overheard the barman advise a phonecaller that they were fully booked last nt &, unusually, I had a bite to eat and the homemade burger with blue cheese, proper large chips & salad was very good indeed, £8, and last night’s specials included a choice of 4 curries, 2 for £9.50. I wouldn’t fancy walking down from Brenchley as the traffic really belts along dangerously, but the 297 from Tunbridge Wells (£4.70 rtn) stops immediately outside. If I rtn with others for the 24-26May beerfest (45 beers, all £2.80, daily spit-roast), Paddock Wood then taxi would be a little quicker. One of the pub signs proclaims Isle of Wight, Brenchley, apparently due to surrounding road system being shaped like IOW. Sorry to ramble but thoroughly good visit, highly recommended.

9 May 2008 12:31

The Cow and Plough, Oadby

ps. if you were less than impressed with the mention of Billy's pictorial adventures on his pumpclips, you have to bear in mind that he is a Jack Russell terrier...

7 May 2008 15:42

The Cow and Plough, Oadby

Exceptional. Kept this one for the post-crawl Sun debrief and it was all we hoped it would be. The beers from Steamin Billy were SB Bitter, Skydiver, Grand Prix Mild, SB Country Bitter, also Burton Bridge Shy Teaser, Leatherbritches Copper Mountain, among those ‘coming soon’ were beers from Ossett, Salopian, Tring. I think we tried all those served on the day and each was in immaculate condition. In addition, 8+ ciders were listed incl Old Rosie & Steamin Billy Country, ales avg £2.50, ciders £3. As we sat outside at one of the many picnic sets opposite other ex farm buildings the partner of the brewer stopped by for a chat about the brewery (in Burton), the beers & their other pubs & outlets, he seemed genuinely pleased at how much we were enjoying the range. The look of the large long building from the outside looks a little new, but step inside for a much more rustic country atmos, with an eclectic mix of solid wood furniture and the length of the rafters adorned throughout with hops. Breweriana abounds, especially in the two rooms to the rear (opp rear section of bar) where the low lighting suggests a decent bolt hole to escape inclement weather. A small blackboard offered a dozen diff fruit wines (12-14%), and check out the eponymous Billy on his pumpclips, driving in Grand Prix, parachuting on the Skydiver etc. At the far end is a very nice looking restaurant, polished glasses shining on bleached wood tables, sorry I forgot to check out the menu, the bar also offers light lunches which looked good & filling. It’s a shame there is no bus route down Gartree rd, but the 22 from Leic to Evington (15mins) leaves you a 10min downhill stroll to the pub & our taxi back to Leic stn was £8. I’m tempted to award my first ‘10’ but the search must continue.

6 May 2008 10:46

The Ale Wagon, Leicester

What are all these reviewers looking for with their comments about ‘atmosphere’? I found the welcome friendly & down to earth from the locals and the knowlegeable, beer enthusiastic guv. The pub has a simple interior with L-shaped bar serving two rooms, nothing wrong with that, or the local feel of the place. Hoskins beers, EXS (5%), Brigadier, Hob Bitter, Mild, Navigation Ale (7%), Tollgate TGB, Ale Wagon Traditional Cyder (8%). I nearly missed this place due to its artificially low rating on these pages, but I’m glad we caught a few well-conditioned beers here before heading off to the train.

5 May 2008 13:17

The Globe, Leicester

Nice, large, multi-sectioned, original pub with mix of dark wood, red brick, & stone-slabbed floors, equal cross-mix of clientele. Snug to right of entrance, narrow area to the front/left of large central bar, note the round stained glass lead-light window depicting ‘victory’ between the right and rear bar sections. Everards Tiger, Beacon, Sunchaser, Janet’s Gaffers Gold, Burton Bridge Sovereign, Fullers Chiswick(?). Rather irritating that they felt the need to suggest it ‘illegal’ for us to have marker coins on the table for our friendly game of b’strd brag, even if they did give us a box of matches to replace.

5 May 2008 12:57

The Criterion, Leicester

Agree that the building promises little from the outside and the front bar is equally basic and boxy with a large area to left for the dartboard (£5 refundable deposit on 2 good sets darts), very studenty vibe. The rear bar is much more pubby with some dark wood & booth seating. Regardless, it is certainly a beer pub, with barrels replaced within minutes of running out. Slaters Top Totty & Premium, Oakham Bishops Farewell, Spire Dark Side of The Moon (mild), Rugby Web Ellis & 1823 (mild), Sadlers Worcester Sorcerer, Old Rosie.

5 May 2008 12:38

Swan and Rushes, Leicester

Nice dark wood bar, solid light wood tables, two-roomed pub with great ale selection and, apparently, ~140 bottled beers in the many fridges which wind around behind the bar. The ‘menu’ may not always be bang up to date but, from reading a tda review, the prices seemed fair, eg Rochefort8 £3.20. On handpump Oakham No Bully Dozer, JHB, Bishops Farewell, New-K-Ham Brewery Puffin, Bateman’s Salem Porter, Burton Bridge Festival, Sam Smiths OBB, Bees Amber Ale. Bar billiards table, soundtrack included Adagio for Strings followed by some cracking blues. Friendly, and beer friendly, barman who was happy to chat, great value Sun lunch suggested roasts (beef/pork/duck) at £6.95.

5 May 2008 12:19

Black Horse, Leicester

Down to earth local pub with good selection of ales, front bar has tables of varying sizes and a certain feel that it is missing a dartboard (a couple of us said that, strange), carpetted rear bar has the feel of a snug but houses a huge plasma. Surprisingly large live music schedule for a relatively small place. Nice to hear the friendly barmaid admit to being unsure about one of the beers only because ‘I haven’t tried that one yet’. Old Rosie, Everards Tiger, Sunchaser, Beacon, Acorn Sovereign, Tring Jenny’s Yarn, Burton Bridge Sovereign Gold.

5 May 2008 11:21

The Boat Inn, Melton Mowbray

We phoned ahead to check whether we could eat our locally purchased pie here & the guv said no prob, although when we arrived he did admit to having thought we were on a wind-up! Small pub, nicely furnished with surround settles at the front, plasma & dartboard to the rear. Look out for the bank of four interesting handpumps (decorative) opposite the bar – unfortunately the bar itself offered only IPA, Abbot & Bombardier, but the latter was in fine fettle. And the Thompson pies were splendid with local pickles & mustard.

5 May 2008 11:20

Old Horse, Leicester

The longest walk away from the general direction of the crawl, but pleasant enough via the pedestrianised New Walk, rather than London Rd. An Everards house, Tiger, Beacon, Sunchaser, Original, also Old Rosie on handpump, a friendly welcome at the bar. Bright conservatory to left, dark wood bar, plenty of seating, banquettes in big bay windows at front, pool table, dartboard & plasma in separate room to rt which is beyond a smaller, interim bar. Check out the life-size Blues Brothers – Jake & Elwood are reclining in the courtyard to rear, beyond this a large well tended lawn with picnic sets. Not sure about the table formed of a coffin opposite the bar – quite out of keeping with the pub & slightly disconcerting.

5 May 2008 11:19

Sloanes, Leicester

I think the photo here has a ‘wine-bar’ look to it, but the interior is nothing like that. Wood floor, sturdy wood tables, chairs, benches, long-ish L-shaped bar offering 12 handpumps, all on and in good nick Sat pm. Beer emporium that may cater for rockers, I wasn’t that keen on some of the metal soundtrack, but it did at least vary. The barman (owner?) knew his stuff, chatted about beers, sold us some homemade pickles, perfect for the subsequent dash to Melton Mowbray – I hope he enjoyed the Thompson’s pie we brought back for him. Stapleford Full Mash (5.9%), Bees Navigator, Acorn Chinook IPA, Oakham JHB, No Bully Dozer, Bishops Farewell, Doc Mortons Brainwash, Abbeydale Matins, Leeds Old Accomplice, Beowulf Dragon Smoke, Holdens Night Train, Loddon Wowzer. Impressive line-up.

5 May 2008 11:19

Barley Mow, Leicester

First pub on Saturday - Everards house, near station. Tiger, Beacon, Sunchaser, Original, & ‘Gaffers Gold’ (later seen elsewhere as Janet’s Gaffers Gold?), Everards beers in very good condition. Leather sofas look out of place at front of pub but further to the right & rear the furniture becomes more traditional, continuous single bar winds round the whole, but in front/centre/rear sections. Piano (‘do not play’) centre rt, bar football table to the rear. Pumpclips on wall suggest a rotating guest. Was closed when we returned for a pre-train beer ystdy but the landlady took the trouble to come out to explain that they were taking a breather, having been open since 07:00(!) serving Leic fans prior to the crucial (unsuccessful) relegation match at Stoke. Bad luck to the Foxes, a reprieve to GDS.

5 May 2008 11:18

The Anerley Arms, Anerley

I would ordinarily find it very difficult to be complimentary about a pub that had no cask ale, but I was very taken with this place. Superb old dark-wood panelled pub and bar, curved bar area runs between saloon and public (as you’ll call ‘em down ‘ere), the whole bar-length (maybe 60ft all told) boasts an overhang with lead-light glass panels and a shorter, lower, section of the same made into ‘snob-screens’. Darts and pool were active, in a good way, on the public side of the bar ‘divide’ with participation by the friendly and effervescent new guvnor. The lounge has studded leather-backed surround settles and tables/chairs/barstools in good condition. Whisper it quietly, but I was so enamoured with the place that I stayed for a 2nd drop of keg OBB and I tried the SS reserve cider, which is more than acceptable. The guv, by the way, seems very keen to get in cask OBB so I, for one, will happily go back to check progress.

28 Apr 2008 16:01

The Windsor Castle, Carshalton

Dartmoor Best, Pride, Harveys Best, Youngs Special, Wadworth Horizon, Robinsons Dissy Blonde (I don’t have any reversed ‘z’s on my keyboard), the latter was beer of the week on offer at £2 ppint. Big horseshoe bar, carpetted, bench settle surrounds and standard dark wood tables/chairs. Wood panelling to rear around victorian style fireplace (gas effect) and beyond this a nice little wood panelled dining area, not orig build but looks good and, with net curtains and wall paintings for sale, it very much evokes a country inn feel, specials board showed mains at £8-12. There must be a function room to the other side as they were catering for a funeral party on the day of my visit.

28 Apr 2008 15:42

The Old Bank, Sutton

Thanks to the lady who was perusing the food menu by opening it fully out and propping it against the beer pumps obscuring 5 of the 6 clips. Actually they only represented 3 beers as they had 2 Broadside, 2 Bombardier, 2 OSH, and the same replicated on 3 more pumps at other end of bar, hmm, so 9 handpumps, 3 mainstream beers! A board to left of bar displays old clips indicating that Adnams & Fullers are the principle suppliers here. A modern, open plan pub immediately next to Sutton stn, layout offers a variety of booth seating and tall tables. Pleasant service, but beer served in warm glass straight from washer (it wasn’t busy, so they couldn’t have run out), dodgy ‘funk’ soundtrack. More cons than pros for this correspondent.

28 Apr 2008 15:11

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Visited the 'fest friday. One of the pool tables has been moved this year to accommodate the stillage, meaning the staff don’t have to run up & down stairs for each fest order, as was the case last yr. I think they advertised 30 beers, and they had a very good representation last wk – 16 on stills, 4 on handpump, and 2 more on stills behind bar, all at £2, and my GD disc card even took another 30p off that great price! Well done.

28 Apr 2008 14:27

The Old Mill, Plumstead

A bit of an uphill slog from Plumstead stn in Sat’s sunshine but this is a nice traditional pub, carpetted L-shaped bar, pool table at far end, defunct victorian fireplace, very nice beer garden with picnic sets around central grassed area, some below an open trellis with lighting. We may have been unlucky with timing coz the amicable guv had been on a late late one and hadn’t quite got organised for the day, with beers running out, but the 7 pumps offered a scrumpy, Bombardier (went), Theakstons XB & Dark Mild, Manns St George (went), Youngs Best, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted (already gone). Friendly community pub and one I would certainly try again.

28 Apr 2008 13:05

The Prince Albert (Rose's), Woolwich

Six handpumps but only three in action and GDS was luckier than us because on Sat two of those were mainstream Spitfire & Youngs, other was Cottage Merchant Navy, none of the 7 guests listed at the bar were available. The pub has a good local feel, a dartboard has its own space to the left of the entrance, horse-racing on large tv at far end.

28 Apr 2008 12:29

The Plume of Feathers, Greenwich

Pride, Adnams, Harveys Best, Everards Sly Fox.Carpetted bar area with banquette seating, lovely old brick fireplace to rt of bar and tv showing footie scores on teletext, beyond this a smart wood-floored restaurant area, empty but laid for evening service, well spaced tables, a nice country-dining feel to it although the price for pub-grub dishes leans toward top-end, starters £4-5, mains £10-12. Nice beer garden to rear, popular in Sat’s sunshine, we were lucky to grab a (plastic) table.

28 Apr 2008 12:10

The Dog and Bell, Deptford

Pride, ESB, plus 3 excellent guests, Gravesend Shrimpers, Itchen Valley Godfather, Dark Star Over the Moon, all in excellent shape. Nice ‘pew’ seating next to large front windows, the side/rear room has plenty of conventional tables/chairs, some new artwork, an unused victorian style fireplace and bar-billiard table at far end. I have a note stating that there is a paved beer garden, although memory is somewhat hazy on that. Nice ambience, and good to see the new guv (Irish = well-run bar) maintaining the attractive beer selection offered by his predecessor.

28 Apr 2008 11:53

The Junction Tavern, Kentish Town

Sharps Eden, Skinners Cornish Knocker, Deuchers, Nelson Loose Cannon, good quality except the Nelson which wasn’t 100%, glad I had a taster before I’d committed to a pint (all £3). Was a little worried on entry as I headed left and found a ‘modern bistro’(?)/ coffee shop style with all tables taken & nowhere to stand but presumably that is predominently for the food side of things and, as I backtracked, to my relief, I found the bar; nice wood panelled walls, decorative ceiling, old wood floor, large windows, large mirrors to rear, & what I consider to be proper pub furniture – wooden tables & chairs. Until I used the loo I hadn’t realised that this style continues around the corner, then gives on to a very pleasant conservatory area and, beyond this, beer garden with picnic sets. Newspapers available on bar.

28 Apr 2008 11:33

The Eagle, Hoxton

Haven't ventured back in since I had to change 3 different cloudy pints on the trot, despite the rather abrupt antipodean bartender trying to convince me 'that's how it should be'. Errm, I don't think so mate, g'day.

28 Apr 2008 11:17

The Wenlock Arms, Hoxton

Live piano & sax jazz yesterday, followed by very good blues soundtrack. Arrived 17:30, a time when many pubs would experience that Sun pm lull but the place was busy, buzzy, chatty and, of course, beery. Oscar Wilde, Brewers Gold, Archers Golden, Itchen Valley Winchester, Slaters Premium, Brewsters Bathsheba, Adnams, Mighty Oak Buffer (ran out). Obviously a target for ale enthusiasts but also a strong community feel to the place. True, the loos are a bit hanging.

28 Apr 2008 11:03

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Four handpumps and two stills but only Spitfire available yesterday. I note that a fest starts today, but no choice of beer on a Sunday is poor.

21 Apr 2008 08:45

The Queens Head, Allens Green

Took good note of the reviews and ensured that our visit was 3rd weekend, and rewarded with stills in the marquee offering Buntingford 92 Squadron, Oatmeal Stout, Lightning, Mighty Oak Firkin Gorgeous, Blackwater Blonde, Coach House Honey Pot, Outlaw Wild Mule, these in addition to those on pump in the bar, namely Woodforde Wherry, Maldon Gold, Pride. We were invited to taste those in the self-service marquee, but don’t take the proverbial…, then took our beers inside to pay. What a very friendly welcome and the guv took some time to talk to us, helped me find my pint mysteriously placed under our table, and one of his guys helped out after it slipped through my fingers and shattered, hmmm can you see a pattern here? You really are in the country here, among thatched buildings and fields, although the pub itself feels relatively new. Outstanding quality and service, tho, means we’ll be back on another 3rd Saturday, and I’ll take me velcro gloves!

20 Apr 2008 10:51

The Rising Sun, High Wych

Dunno which world Mr Smith is talking about if he refers to this as ‘old’, the interior struck me as more ‘new-build functional’, narrow bar with some seating at each end. Also, whilst I’d like to marvel at a lager-less pub Seagoon, the first thing I saw on entry was a bank of keg taps, albeit they may have been cider I suppose - didn’t pay much attention as I moved swiftly on a couple of paces to the salvation of four stills offering Maldon Gold, Oscar Wilde Mild, Piggin Stout, courage best. The 347 from Sawbridgworth or from Harlow Town will drop you outside, but beware that it only runs 3 services a day, also note that the pub closes 15:00-18:00, even Saturdays.

20 Apr 2008 10:14

The Gate, Sawbridgeworth

Not all pumps are visible in the front bar but the beers are written on chalk boards above and the choice is good: Youngs Special, Rebellion IPA, Masterbrew, Nobby’s Wild West (Kettering), Woodforde Wherry, Harveys Best. The bar has a local buzzy feel throughout, some punters were eating in the front bar (to the right of which is a small snug), this curves to the left and a larger mid room with dartboard and large screen tv, beyond this a pool table and another dartboard in separate rear room. Plenty of old pumpclips around walls and ceiling indicate this to be a proper beer pub. Re-reading reviews below I’m a little disappointed I didn’t spot their own brew(s), but good Wild West & Wherry.

20 Apr 2008 09:54

The Queens Head Inn, Harlow

nb. closes 15:00-18:00 even on Saturday.

20 Apr 2008 09:33

The Queens Head Inn, Harlow

Jump on the number 7 bus from Harlow Town and 14mins later you arrive outside this lovely old pub set in a picturesque village street with a variety of aged and weatherboarded buildings. The bar has low, original heavy beams and timbered ceiling & walls, comfortable fabric settles below the windows and darkwood tables & chairs. A handful of locals were already chatting on the barstools when we arrived at 12:05, the service was friendly and the beers good. Brewers Gold (£2.90), Websters Wonderful Wallop (aka Nethergate IPA) £2.50, also Adnams Bitter & Broadside. Smaller room to left of entrance is similarly timbered, with a large working brick fireplace, 3 tables with seating for 12-15, french window to rear carpark, decorative old brass cash register, a serving hatch from the bar, and a dartboard (although tables would need moving to use), also a local version of the Paul Whitehouse character Rowley Birkin qc, babbling on incoherently, I suspect he was already ver ver drunk.

20 Apr 2008 09:29

The Castle, Holborn

Darkstar Old, Nethergate Umbel Magna (porter), Salopian Abbey Gates, Bushys Castletown Bitter, Redcar Best (by Nethergate), Stonehenge Sign of Spring (green), Hop Back Back Row, Cotleigh Barn Owl, plus a list of 6 ‘coming soon’ incl Harveys Porter & Tring Great Gully. Single room pub, nice dark wood throughout & old wood floor, burgundy papered ceiling countered by large 2/3rd height windows around which a dozen barstools provide drinking sections from which to watch the world go by. Not cheap at £3.10 but I wasn’t too surprised round here. Had a chat with the barman & only other punter in there at 15:00 yesterday, good place. Combine it with the Edgar Wallace just a few minutes walk away & you’ve got 16 handpumps offering non-mainstream beers – pity neither open at weekends.

4 Apr 2008 10:46

The Old Fountain, Old Street

Red Squirrel Ruby Mild, Archers Bouncing Bunnies, London Porter, Cotleigh Tawny Owl, Pride, plus a golden ale I can’t remember. A good line up served by a very congenial host who happily chatted about beer, beer towns, pubs. He also mentioned that one of his ‘tickers’ had awarded the Porter 18/20, a dizzy height achieved by only four others in his sampling of 10,000 beers. Yes, it was tasty. If you enter from Baldwin St you first encounter a food servery, then a small bar with handpumps, up a couple of steps to the main bar, same handpumps, plenty of seating here although it was very quiet ystdy 14:00. Friendly, good ale, a worthy visit but, I suspect, closed at weekends?

28 Mar 2008 07:53

The Harp, Covent Garden

It's all been said, but my tuppence-worth would add that my smoking pals were impressed with the (previously undiscovered) provision of ashtrays and little half-barrel beer tables in the ginnel out back. Got a table to the rear Sat nt & enjoyed some extra beers, rather greedy after a Reading crawl but the Saltaire Amarillo Gold was outstanding.

24 Mar 2008 09:43

The Eldon Arms, Reading

nb. closes pm (3-6?) even on Saturday, but we were kindly alerted to this at the Retreat & arrived in plenty of time to a nice welcome and strong line-up of Wadworth beers - 6X, Henry's IPA, JcB, Bishops Tipple, Horizon, & Mild. The Horizon pump was not visible from where we stood and I was rather pleased that the landlady took friendly umbrage when I tentatively asked whether it was a k.e... beer, haha, it wasn't, phew! Just our group (now 5) at 14:30.

23 Mar 2008 15:08

The Lyndhurst, Reading

A fiendish 2-door snare at the entrance may be a cunning plan to ensure that those who have already had too much ale fail to make it inside. Luckily this was only the 2nd pub of the day so, only a few short minutes after arrival, our party of 3 safely reached the bar! Five handpumps sadly did not include Tribute, but did offer decent Landlord & Brakspear, also Old Hooky plus another couple (unrecorded). Nice open light wood feel to the place, quiet & no music ystdy 13:00 beerPrincess. Papers available on a stand nr bar.

23 Mar 2008 14:50

The Hole in the Wall, Colchester

The postcode has been amended so the gmap is now indicating the correct road, albeit the marked location is a couple of hundred metres south of where the pub is actually positioned.

17 Mar 2008 23:29

The Market Porter, Borough

Usual excellent selection of beers on offer yesterday and I was particularly pleased with Barnsley Gold, Kelham Island Pale Rider, and Titanic New World. I'm afraid that I have to disagree with the staff being 'friendly' though; if you are lucky they can be quick & reasonably professional but rarely smile and the trick of lobbing empty bottles from on-high into the bottle skip, causing a mini sound explosion each time, is particularly irritating. I know they are always busy, but that's not necessary. Still a top pub mind you, and always the meeting point when in the area.

16 Mar 2008 14:09

The Charles Dickens, Southwark

Didn't make a note of the beers but Maldenman's list gives you an idea. I tried 3 of the 6 on handpump and they were all very good - I've found that quality has not always quite matched the good selection on a few previous visits, so let's hope this standard continues. Rugby showing on the two plasmas with volume tempered to the small number of punters (Sat 16:00). One issue that needs to be addressed is that the kitchen is open to the rear of the pub and seriously needs a decent extractor to prevent the pervasive smell of cooking oil throughout.

16 Mar 2008 11:54

The Royal Oak, Borough

Now opens normally on Saturday, abandoning its previous (& bizarre) 18:00 start, although very quiet around 14:00 so maybe word isn't out yet or, as the barman suggested, it could have been rugby affected (no tv here). Ales yesterday as per LGA's att'd list & the Best, Armada, & Porter were in fine fettle.

16 Mar 2008 11:40

The Bull, Colchester

Brains SA, Joseph Holts 1849, Moorhouse Pride of Pendle. Busy, buzzy, 3 plasmas showing the rugby, plenty of celebrating from the Welsh contingent. Food being served. Yep, a good all round vibe Sat afternoon, don’t know whether the evening continues in this vein – the layout was almost reminiscent of a sort of upmarket ‘spoons if that can paint a picture without being disrespectful to the Bull. Thanks to the lovely ladies at Owen Aves opticians, over the road, for fixing my exploded glasses Sat.

9 Mar 2008 18:43

The British Grenadier, Colchester

Penultimate stop on Saturday’s crawl so things are a bit hazy by now. I can just make out that 4 handpumps offered Adnams Bitter, Broadside, Oyster Stout, & Mauldons Cuckoo. There was a dartboard with its own space, ie not crowded by tables, & I think we endangered the local populace by having a couple of games of ‘tactics’, sorry folks. Quiet, so we got a chance to briefly discuss the sad news of the Adnams disposal with the friendly landlord/lady, I wish them and the British Grenadier all good fortune for the future.

9 Mar 2008 18:21

The Fat Cat, Colchester

Bright lightwood front bar above which a blackboard showed available ales - five of six handpumps Sat pm, and seven of the originally listed eleven from the tap room; I don’t have all details but when the choice is reduced and still stretches to 12 beers, it’s gotta be good. I know they had Brewers Gold & Hophead and, I agree with GDS, the couple of FatCat beers I tried were really tasty too. A plain looking pub, too plain according to my fellow crawlers, but I didn’t mind the simplicity of the whiteboarded walls & ceilings in the front, contrasting with the green wall housing the windows to the tap room stills, and there was a small plasma showing the rugby above a decorative fireplace. Around the bar to the right is a more shadowy section with some serious beer tasting going on, beyond this a small tiled area leading to impressively spotless loos, and a tiny outside corridor for smokers. Come on FatCat, we need you to open an outlet in SE London.

9 Mar 2008 18:07

The Fox and Fiddler, Colchester

Another pub added to our crawl on local LGA’s recommendation, and rightly so. Very friendly greeting and service at the bar, Mighty Oak Burntwood, Maldon Gold, Everyman an Emporer, English Oak, and the fabulous In Seine. Pub arranged in 3 sections with bar and seating at the front, a lovely beamed room to the rear entirely occupied by a huge square table around which is seating for 12-15, and in between more seating in a dining room style. The rear two sections are separated by a large chimney breast. I fear the barman, dressed in full St George crusader outfit before the rugby, may have taken some mighty stick from his kilted chums Sat night.

9 Mar 2008 17:40

The Hole in the Wall, Colchester

Wouldn’t ordinarily have a 5-rated pub on a crawl but you’ve gotta take account of local knowledge and LGA has it on his list, also interested to visit the scene of victorian architectural vandalism – in 1843 they knocked a hole in the 2000yr old roman wall to enable patrons to view construction of the newly arrived railway to Colchester! A central bar serves a variety of satellite rooms, nice wood floor throughout, rugby on tv in one corner, cosy reading area in another (papers available nr bar), plenty of space at bar in both upper & lower (front & rear) ‘tiers’, there is some outside decking where a patio extension jutts out over the wall & road and some nicely shabby peeling wooden garden-style tables & chairs. Wyre Piddle Piddler on the Roof, Caledonian 80, Deuchars Ipa, Theakstons Coopers Butt, Joseph Holts 1849, blackboard also listed Sweet Lips (Springhead?) but I didn’t see that on pump. Winelist carries a few btls at less than a tenner and weekday food offers include 2 meals for £7.50. How?

9 Mar 2008 17:20

The Odd One Out, Colchester

Homely traditional feel, warming & hospitable, friendly chatty atmosphere of a proper pub. Nice careworn bar, decorated with breweriana trays, comfortable rooms to either side, gas fire & real fire with glowing coals, Elgoods Cambridge, Archers Best, Nethergate Old Growler, Brandon Wee Drop o’ Mischief, Brains SA Gold, plus 4 cider kegs on bar. Looks like DuchyBoy was most unlucky on his visit, you sure you got the right pub DB?

9 Mar 2008 16:50

The Bricklayers, Colchester

Returning to the Bricklayers for the last pint before our train home we ordered 3 different beers from the aforementioned impressive selection on offer and, since this is evidently a proper beer pub, weren’t worried when the Adnams came up cloudy as we presumed it would be changed without a problem, how wrong we were! The young barmaid referred the pint to someone I presumed to be the landlady, who incredibly stated that there was nothing wrong with it and wheeled out the old nonsensical line ‘Well no-one else has complained!). We’d already asked for a Wherry as replacement and this was sitting on the bar when the landlady told the girl to ‘charge them for that’. We were drinking the beers, ignoring the ludicrous demand for further payment and were discussing this remarkable turn of events when the barmaid launched into a good impression of a screeching banshee demanding that if we had anything to say we should do so to her face! Get over yourself sweetie, we were talking about such extraordinary treatment of punters by the landlady in an otherwise top-notch pub. Our party of 3 has a combined age exceeding 155 and have drunk more beer than we care to remember, so we wouldn’t be sending back a ‘good’ pint. The episode sent me home seething and put a right downer on the end of the day. I’m changing what would have been a 9, to a 3, so there!

9 Mar 2008 15:51

The Bricklayers, Colchester

I’m going to leave two reviews reflecting very different experiences of this pub, both on same day!
Great start to our Colchester crawl and my first encounter with an Adnams house serving guest ales (take note Southwold!), Adnams Bitter, Broadside, Explorer, Oyster Stout, Hooky Gold, Pride, Woodforde Wherry, Castle Rock Hemlock, Mauldons Cuckoo,Crones organic cider. The bar to the left of entrance is the saloon (or ‘vault’ as we’d have it oop north) and is a large enough room with pool table, dartboard with its own space and oche, tv, bar with stools and space to drink, just a couple of central tables & seating, not all pumps are housed on this side but the ales are listed on a chalkboard. The main bar/lounge has plenty of seating, a conservatory to the rear, an open snug-like area with comfy chairs & leather sofa, and again plenty of room to just drink at the bar if you wish. We got a friendly greeting, great beer, and couldn’t really wish for a better way to start the drinking day.

9 Mar 2008 15:50

The Ship Inn, Wandsworth

A hideous looking Youngs pub at number one? I don't buy it. How many unsubstantiated ratings this year, I wonder.

9 Mar 2008 09:50

The Hole in the Wall, Colchester

I'm on my way today, *** very glad I spotted that the GMAP address above is miles off! ***

8 Mar 2008 10:39

The Greyhound, Hever

Four pumps, three on, Landlord, Harveys, Pedigree. Wood burning fire to rt of entrance then a contrasting narrowish, almost formal, modern looking dining room to rt of bar with tall-backed leather chairs. Divided by the bar area itself are two rooms with hops adorning the lintels and carrying more of a country feel, esp that beyond the bar with little offshoot nook seating. The bar has a fairly mod look with chrome handpumps, there is a nice deck area at the front with small picnic sets overlooking the adjacent, but quiet, road. Extensive food menus with some of the prices at the upper end of the scale – brunch mixed grill £9, gammon/egg/chips £12, sarnies £5 – but there is a popular senior citizens weekday lunch 2course offer for £8.50, even if I was surprised that half the starters were garlic dishes. As I left I noticed a sign mentioning a large garden to the rear, and B&B available.

7 Mar 2008 14:57

The Kentish Horse, Mark Beech

Thankfully downhill if on foot from Hever, and still downhill if rejoining train at Cowden – wouldn’t have enjoyed it t’other way, although some may - I seemingly just missed a visit by 32 ramblers, but nb sign for ‘no muddy boots’. Larkins Traditional, Harveys, and two other handpumps which may be used occasionally. Fairly low ceiling with repro beams in carpetted bar, seating to the left where an real fire burns below the list of hearty sounding homemade specials such as steak & ale pie, or venison stew wi mash & veg, £8.95. Beyond this a large room, the feel of a dining area, with lots of well-spaced seating and large inglenook with wood stove, old photos of pub & neighbourhood, further on to a huge garden with picnic sets, kids play area, & fabulous views over downland to the south. They have paddocks out back and apparently house camping for an annual folk festival (end may) when I suspect the other two beerpumps will be called to action! They hold their own folk nt 2nd Sun of each month. Nice little snug to right of bar with stone floor, large rug, dartboard, tv, real fire, prints of country scenes. It has a nice setting at a crossroad next to the church and probably used to be two cottages as just the right half is externally weatherboarded. It somehow fails to achieve a genuinely rustic feel, probably as the bar is more recent, but it is certainly rural (check image2 if it turns out ok).

7 Mar 2008 14:34

The Grapes, Limehouse

First in Weds 17:30 and liked the look of it straight away. Pride, Pedigree, TT Landlord, Brakspear Oxford Gold, drank a few of the latter which was very good. Not a big selection of wines but the friendly barman poured a taster of the couple of reds before choosing. The whole has a nice lived-in woody feel, narrowish bar space widens either end with tables & seating and there is the much mentioned ‘deck’ to the rear over the river, although those suits who used it that night must’ve been frozen, maybe had some top level secret takeover to discuss, haha. Little dog at table next to ours, so it seems they are allowed which I like. Loos are upstairs which gave me a chance to spot the little restaurant, and very nice it looked too – it seems to have a good rep especially for fish, maybe I’ll check that out some time. Busy when we left, but nowhere near as rammed as the post-work Canary Wharf hell-holes.

7 Mar 2008 13:23

Bootys, Limehouse

Quiet Weds 17:15. Pride & Ipa on handpump, Pride passable but not perfect. Small round tables set up bistro-stylee, little vase of flowers on each, table cloths on those nearest to the river view window at far end which is the width of the pub. Plinky plonky jazz muzak gave way to some noise (sh1te) that today’s yoof misguidedly call r&b. French wine growing regions are framed on the ceiling; handy if you’ve keeled over after a few btls of chablis – you can identify its burgundy terroir. Downstairs loo had no light in the trap, meaning I had to leave the door ajar a craic! Haha. Was pleased at 17:30 to move on to Grapes.

7 Mar 2008 13:04

The Mariners, Limehouse

Not impressed. Two handpumps, my Broadside was cloudy but, after the barman suggested it tasted ok (I wasn’t gonna try it), he changed it for a cloudy Adnams bitter then opined that maybe the barrels had been knocked earlier. It didn’t look the sort of place that would sell much proper beer and my experience, and £3 per pint in a dodgy area, would show why; he was perfectly ok about giving me a refund tho. One other punter at 17:00, pub smelt of cooking oil.

7 Mar 2008 12:06

The Wheatsheaf on the Green, Esher

Pretty good feel to the pub, overlooking the little green, it aims to be more ‘country’ than it actually is with hanging lanterns, coppers, baskets, but the effect is better achieved in the two more secluded rooms to the left of the bar. L-shaped bar with larger room to rt housing a dartboard, inaccessibly positioned above a table set with vase of daffs as were the others, a nice touch. Nice little victorian fireplace & small seating area beyond bar to left gives on to outdoor patio with 6 picnic sets, there are many more out front under huge umbrellas, probably makes this a popular summer weekend spot. Chalkboard showed 3 specials (eg loin of pork, apple sauce, mash, £6.75), barstaff were friendly & polite and I quite liked the place, but for such a big pub they’ve got to wake up that beer choice – Pride, Youngs, courage – I mean, come on!

5 Mar 2008 11:32

The Albert Arms, Esher

Anyone looking for ale would worry reading the sign ‘Bar, Restaurant, Private Dining’, but I was steeled by GuideDogSaint’s mention of several great beers. Six of the eight handpumps were on, offering Surrey Hills Ranmore & Shere Drop, Twickenham Ales Scrum Down, Hop Daemon Golden Braid, Cottage Whippet Pawfather, Pride, all £3 or, most annoyingly, £3.10 for 2 halves! Horseshoe bar at front entrance, good enough drinking area, signed rugby shirts, a few old shots of locale, plasma screen, tall round tables with stools. Beyond this a long narrow stretch of tables laid for dining, banquette seating one side under windows (blinds throughout), chairs the other. A small admin position oddly sits between the bar & rest – I doubt I would enjoy being seated for a meal next to a phone & computer point. I didn’t see the main menu, bar sarnies were £3-£5, wine list was good but the decent stuff accelerated pretty quickly from £18. Beer choice was good and such a selection suggests that they have the evening throughpull to support it but I tried 4 at lunchtime and they were just ok, leaning slightly toward tepid, and were poured from on high in that one-handed (off-handed!) ‘glass-sitting-in-drip-tray’ fashion. Can understand ‘pretentious’ comments elsewhere but I can think of many worse places for a few pints if the beer was pulled thru & served properly.

5 Mar 2008 11:13

The Swan Inn and Lodge, Claygate

Pride & Hogs Back T.E.A. in passable but not perfect condition. Half the pub is dressed as a restaurant (incl white linen!) and half as rustic woody bar, albeit with window blinds throughout. This is another pub that oddly believes that the future lies in Thai food, otherwise sarnies or paninis. It looked pretty good value, but is it just me that finds ‘traditional english pub’ & ‘thai food served here’ an impossible juxtaposition? Sound track had the ups of Roxy’s Hard Rain & downs of someone’s Superfreak.

5 Mar 2008 10:36

The Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty, Heronsgate

Quite an uphill struggle from our previous stop at the Black Horse, but well worth it. Tring Liberty Ale & Monk’s Gold, Red Squirrel Dark Ruby Mild, York Mordic Fury, Grand Union, 3 real ciders, blackboard displaying short list of belgian beers. Small front bar but one where you could happily stand drinking, seating for 12 or so to the left, winds round to a fairly nondescript room on right with more tables & seating. There is a beer book corner far left, also cards, doms, chess, shut-the-box, but don’t get too distracted from those ales. Thank goodness it’s downhill to the station but as giles007 says, beware those cars, esp if you’re as wobbly as we were when leaving!

5 Mar 2008 10:16

The Black Horse, Chorleywood

Spitfire, Adnams, 6X, Dartmoor Ipa. Heading straight to the bar I hardly noticed the nice little area at the front which had great stone slabs for a floor and a wood burning fire, this was where some locals had gathered as we left, tv was on low and the area had a good chatty ambience. To the right we found some comfortable wing-back leather chairs, this section is carpetted and displayed brasses and plenty of horsey prints, beyond this to the rear was a cordoned-off dining area. Plenty of choice on the blackboard menu, mains avg £8-9.

5 Mar 2008 09:57

White Horse, Chorleywood

Nice enough pub spoiled, for me, by offering only greedy king’s usual suspects; Ipa, Abbot, OSH. Entrance splits, via a low door frame, to a surprisingly modern look room on the right with black leather furniture, but to the left a much better large beamed bar with wood burning inglenook providing immediate character & warmth. Plenty of tables & seating, pass by the fishtank to an outdoor patio area with heat burners. Liked the bar, not the beer.

5 Mar 2008 09:39

The Rose and Crown, Chorleywood

Small front or ‘upper’ room with equally small bar with 4 handpumps, down some steps to the larger room at the rear which looked full of diners at 14:00 Sat. All seating upstairs was also taken and, since the space was not really conducive to drinking at the bar we were soon out by the chilly picnic sets out front. Youngs, Pride, Rebellion Double Agent, Gales Swing Low, tried the latter 2 which were both somewhat iffy. The guv was friendly enough and spotted my suspicious viewing of the hazy Rebellion, immediately offering to change it if not right – it was claimed the barrel had gone & up came an alternative of Old Hooky from the cellar in a jug, but that was even cloudier. Possibly unlucky, and pub seems popular for food, but this wasn’t the best start to a crawl.

3 Mar 2008 16:37

The Rose and Crown, Halstead

Larkins Traditional, Whitstable Ipa, Goachers Mild, Cottage Whippet Strikes Back, Cottleigh Barn Owl. Main bar area gives quite a prominent position to the dartboard (they have 2 teams), the walls are completely covered in old photos and this deflects attention from quite a basic room. Continue round to larger rt-hd bar of similar design, a long room leading to beer garden with picnic sets. There is a separate pool room opposite entrance, kept locked – key behind bar on request, pretty good for a private group, it has its own tv & darts but no direct access to bar and was noticeably adjacent to gents. Food mains were £6-£7.50, various ‘big baps’ £5-6, add £1.50 with chips, but Sun lunch seems to be the main event – book early for your mini/midi/maxi portion, I heard people often struggle with the midi, so you’ll need to be a true trencherman to go for the big one. Quiet Thurs lunch, but locals friendly enough. Apparently, after 2 years as runner-up, the pub has just become West Kent Camra POTY.

29 Feb 2008 19:44

The Bulls Head, Pratt's Bottom

Fairly long front bar area with barstools next the bar & banquette seating under windows opposite. Room to right was primarily for dining (plenty of senior clientele here) and in the other direction the bar winds round to a separated room on the left which is home to the dartboard with its own space at the far end. Opposite this an upper ‘deck’ surprisingly houses a pool table and this area carries the story of Dick Turpin, who apparently used the pub in 1736. Also here a superb photo of two old boys in their rather shabby Sunday best, boots tied by rope around ankles, one with a suckling pig under one arm & his pint in the other huge mitt, quality shot! Very community based with flyers on the bar listing forthcoming events for next qtr – jam & jazz nights, easter egg hunt, sports, charity race night, friendly darts nt, hog roast fete… Bar snacks incl bacon bap £2.50, mains around £8, mon/tues lunch- roast plus dessert £8, mon nt- curries £6.50 incl a pint. One staff serving drinks & taking food orders ystdy lunch but no-one had to wait long. Theakstons Cooper’s Butt was just ok but the Tribute was good, they also offered Spitfire and (ahem!) courage.

29 Feb 2008 19:17

The Nightingale, Wanstead

Woodforde Wherry, Nelson Pieces of Eight, Pride, Hobgoblin, courage. Tried the first two and they were in very good condition, both £2.40. Good first impression before this with brass door panel gleaming at entrance & polished glasses shining from bar surround showing a sign of care & attention to detail. Bar is essentially a central island with all pumps to the narrow room at the front & two serving ‘hatches’ to the rear, green upholstered banquette seating curves around the whole & two further rooms, almost snugs, at far end seemed to lean toward dining at lunchtime today. Well positioned plasma in front bar & huge tv in rear where walls are decorated with brewery & whisky mirrors and prints of foggy victorian London, also signed Hammers & QPR shirts in frames. Fish is prominent on food menus with 6 fishy dishes on blackboard & 6 more on ‘additional specials’ board, incl fish of the week – battered hake + trimmings, £8. Other daily specials from £6 or sizzlers (eg cajun chicken or beef wi black bean sauce) £8. Slight smell of paint, so perhaps they’ve had a recent touch up? Solid local feel.

29 Feb 2008 18:52

The Old Mill, Salisbury

What a shame that this lovely old building and setting next the mill stream & pond are in the hands of greedy king. Arrived to find ducks & swans swimming around a few yards from the pub doorway, some picnic sets outside allowing an open view of this idyllic scene. It is a hotel (& I think I saw 12c mentioned in some blurb) and has a rather nice looking restaurant I peeked into behind a door labelled grainstore, but the bar itself is accessed straight from the approach road. Ipa, Abbot, OSH, free papers to peruse, more outside seating to the rear where the stream is calmer. Just beyond the pub frontage, a neighbouring cottage has an archway that provides a perfect frame for a long distance photo of Salisbury cathedral in the distance. Very nice, but get some guest ale!

26 Feb 2008 12:23

The Village, Salisbury

Five handpumps, four serving Sat eve, Middlewood Mild, Bowman Eldorado, Downton Quadhop, TT Landlord. A real local vibe around the bar and front tv area (where the England rugby team were further cementing Anglo-French relations, haha) and possibly because it was relatively busy it gave the layout a strange look, with the tv placed to the right of an intrusive descending stairwell. No matter, we were quickly served and all managed to get views to the rugby around the bar pillar or to the side. Smaller quieter bar to the rear en route to some pretty awful loos that are crying out for a refurb or at least a good scrub. One other tiny windowless room to the right which may be ok for a quiet read but not if you’re claustrophobic. Beers were good & we stayed for more, although there was a short moment of concern when one pint turned up murky (end of barrel) and something of a communal bar inspectorate passed judgement on it, before it was changed without problem.

26 Feb 2008 11:51

The Wyndham Arms, Salisbury

Hop Back owned pub offering 5 on Sat, Summer Lightning, GFB, Crop Circle, Spring Zing, and Downton Forest King. Small front room beyond which is a narrow area with bar on left opening back out to seating area at far end with tv, prepping up for the afternoon rugby, below which is sited the somewhat inaccessible dartboard, my scribblings say there was another room to the right opposite the bar. Friendly enough welcome, the locals here were clustered at the bar itself and, with that choice, why not? Not a hugely characterful building, but good beer & folk.

25 Feb 2008 18:53

The Haunch of Venison, Salisbury

By the time we reached the Haunch I’d forgotten my intention to read up about ghosts & stolen/returned severed hands, oh well. We managed to secure the ‘priest hole’ tiny room (see image5, tight for 5 + 1 standing) at the end of the bar to the front of the pub, and Summer Lightning saved us from the awful alternative choices of Courage, Directors or GKipa. Downstairs is small, woody, old & rickety with a reconditioned inglenook, an upper room to the right (so say my notes?), and a posher restaurant upstairs although image4 makes it look rather nice. Fabulous pewter bar counter is worthy of comment.

25 Feb 2008 14:42

The Winchester Gate, Salisbury

Left hand bar was completely empty Sat 14:00, to the right the atmosphere was local, chatty & friendly. Nothing exceptional about décor or layout, pool table to far end, but feels like a venue for a decent pint and a chat & a laugh. Keystone Large One, Hobden’s Golden Delirious, GFB. Too many pubs on our list to stay for 2nd pint, which made it rather embarrassing that a second game of pool lasted forever, whilst our empty glasses had to remain unfilled! To the most recent anonymous comment (why?) I would say that this couldn't have a feel further away from being a 'foodie joint'.

25 Feb 2008 14:25

The Old Ale House, Salisbury

Having read tottonfemale’s comment I expected to be looking for this place down an alleyway but no, despite the map not showing this section of road named as Crane St, it’s right there at the corner with High St. Quite a large bar area with plain floorboards & some wooden open booth seating opposite & opening out a little at either end. Large plasma on far end of bar and drop-down screen to right were showing early football Sat, handpumps offered 6X, OSH, Theakston Black Bull, and Abbot was available on stillage behind bar. We were wobbling back past at 23:50 and just managed a final pint before the midnight cut-off.

25 Feb 2008 14:06

Tom Brown's, Salisbury

Halfway House. Felt a longer schlep up the hill from the Village than expected. A plain locals bar offering Hidden Old Sarum & Quest, and Goldfinch Tom Brown's, not the best kept ales of the day.

25 Feb 2008 13:31

The Victoria and Albert, Netherhampton

Nice choice of ales, tho three of the four were 5%. Hogs Back RIP, Branscombe Summa That, Slaters High Five, 3 Castles Leap Beer. Lovely slow burning log fire greets you with that great charred wood aroma as you enter & adds an immediate homely feel. The problem was that this out-of-town pub was visted during the Sunday ‘de-brief’ and as it is evidently popular for food, esp Sun lunch, ALL tables were reserved for diners, many of which stood empty awaiting arrivals, meaning that drinkers were left with little space at the small and fairly choked bar. It is, however, a lovely thatched building with low beamed ceilings, decorated with brasses, some wooden picnic sets to the front and, standing opposite the church, carries all the trademarks of a great country pub, we were served quickly stayed for a a few. Oh, and that food did look pretty good!

25 Feb 2008 13:23

The Chough, Salisbury

Why was alchemy ever added as a prefix in the 1st place? Anyway, now the Chough is offering 6 cask beers from Hidden Brewery & I think we tried ‘em all between us, very nice. A rambling barn of a pub, high ceilinged bar area with beamed offshoots, some flagstoned flooring, loads of room, plenty of seating, unobtrusive tv in bar, plasma in rear room to left. If a couple of locals found it amusing that some of our party wanted two halves each for taste comparisons of relatively new beers then I suggest they go drink their festers elsewhere & mind their own business; I doubt that they would be managing 10 pubs & 13 pints on the day. The barman, btw, was perfectly friendly & polite about the combinations.

25 Feb 2008 12:57

The Anchor and Hope, Salisbury

No Moles beers except a light(er) version of Black Rat cider (brewery page suggests that would only be bottled?), other handpumps had Courage (why oh why?), Spitfire & Sharps Cornish Coaster, and the landlord suggested he hoped to increase the range soon. Indeed the whole pub seemed to be somewhat in transition with evidence of restructuring around a separate pool-table area, and room to front which had its own tv in addition to a plasma to left of bar. Diversions offered in form of games compendium (chess, backgammon etc). Nice leadlight windows at front, beer garden to rear. Not bad, but a work in progress…

25 Feb 2008 12:38

The Cat Tavern, Salisbury

Fairly nondescript boho-feel room with lots of hanging brass knic-knacs and a loud juke box pumping out varying but pretty decent tunes. 6X & Ringwood Best on handpump.

25 Feb 2008 12:25

Deacons, Salisbury

Summer Lightning, GFB, and well-kept Doombar, the latter at just £2pint. Rustic, slightly draughty front bar area with small open fire, narrow corridor past loos to larger rear room with two small chesterfield style sofas, tables & banquette seating, tv, plasma, & nice old bar-football table, covered smoking area outdoors beyond this. Friendly & chatty welcome from bar & locals. Good luck with your horse next time!

25 Feb 2008 12:17

The Keystone, Guildford

Empty late afternoon and Daleside Legover not great.

22 Feb 2008 12:59

The Royal Oak, Wood Street

nb. closed weekdays 15:00-17:00, I believe.

22 Feb 2008 10:17

The Royal Oak, Wood Street

Bar slightly smaller than expected from the imposing exterior (pics follow) but friendly welcome from the old-school landlord who knows his beers & was happy to chat about them. Six handpumps, 5 in action yesterday; Concrete Cow Old Bloomer, Bazens Black Pig mild, Boggart Bitta This, Surrey Hills Shere Drop, Courage. Senior clientele more prevalent lunchtime, some eating, two-course daily special was roast pork plus choice of 3 desserts for £7.50, other mains on menu were around £7. Banquette seating curves around the hop decorated bar and into 3 bay windows, walls are adorned with various prints, local scenes of yore, some regional awards, a couple of brass bedpans, and a mirror declaring JT Sharp’s Guildford Gunpowder. A small bookcase offers twenty odd choices, mostly novels. Gents loo is outside. Some of the glasses above the bar could do with blasting & polishing for water marks, or replacing, but a decent local pub & good beer selection. A rather circuitous 20mins on #17 from Guildford, and beware they finish early evening.

22 Feb 2008 10:13

The Keystone, Guildford

Quite modern feel & young vibe, but it does have a refurbed inglenook to the right of the bar, even if the adjacent sofa detracts from this nod to tradition. Beyond the bar to the left/rear is a tabled area which probably accommodates both dining and just drinking. Antipodean service was polite & friendly, the handpumps offered Black Sheep, 6X, and Wood’s Quaff from Shropshire which was very nice. They advertise £20 deal Mon nt for 2 rump steaks + btl wine.

20 Feb 2008 17:40

The Good Intent, Puttenham

One moment you’re tanking along the A31 on the x65 bus from Guildford (10mins), the next you are strolling through a quintessential english village scene past the local church, fields beyond, and most importantly into this lovely pub. There you find a good range of six well kept ales, those listed by Maldenman featured yesterday and the pumpclips around the bar suggest a good rotation policy. Fairly quiet lunchtime (nb they close 3-6 weekdays) but there was still a local mix chatting, reading, eating, drinking, and that, indeed, is what a pub is about. Hops adorn the bar which has a fairly low beamed ceiling, room to left set up for dining, to the right a small lounge area with lovely wood-burning inglenook and, beyond, a sort of open snug. Blackboard menu offers traditional pub fayre with mains at £7-8, the burger & proper homemade looking chips (£5.50) were going well, resuscitating staff from post xmas party blues; haha, no this is not a delayed review, I think that is stylish decadence. There is a noticeboard made from old wine corks and the wine list ranges from £10-17, plus options by the glass, the red selection looked preferable. The notices include details of GI’s cycling club, about to hit the road again thurs eves., and their website shows local walks - very much the community local, great stuff!
ps. I left my bag behind & have to return to retrieve soonest, such hardship!

20 Feb 2008 14:58

The Crown, Otford

Brains Bread of Heaven was nice, Harveys got my friend's vote as pint of the day, also IPA & Youngs. Main bar area has some old timber and the feel of a country dining pub, all tables had mat settings but drinkers could sit anywhere. There is a decorative victorian tiled fireplace and also a functional large inglenook containing a woodburning stove and sporting brasses and prize shields, presumably for darts(?) - there is a board in the adjacent room to the left. Always like the look of decorative hops around a bar, but not sure what the central suit of armour was about. Small bar serving area could feel very crowded if busy.

17 Feb 2008 12:02

The Bull, Otford

Other reviewers were luckier than us for 'interesting range of cask ales', we found the distinctly uninspiring Youngs, Pride, Broadside. Huge inglenook as you enter with a fierce draw and roaring logs. We were asked whether we'd be eating and that seems to be the direction that the Bull leans, there is not really any comfortable bar space to just stand & drink, and many tables were busy with mostly diners. A large outside area, seating for 50 plus more picnic seats for warmer weather, enabled us to take advantage of some weak sun, and the smokers to have a tab.

17 Feb 2008 11:44

Two Brewers, Shoreham

Low ceilings, and their anaglypta paper plus the red-dominant furnishings & decor all contribute to a retro 70s feel, pub even has space invaders machines in rear room, but they weren't switched on ystdy pm. Small real fire & a portable heater kept the cold out. Broadside, Spitfire, IPa, but your have to drink to a truly awful soundtrack - a mix of mediterranean plink-plonk, last waltz &, I kid you not, 'Raindrops keep falling on my head'. Surreal.

17 Feb 2008 11:31

The Olde George Inn, Shoreham

Small log burning fire at entrance, very low ceiling as you enter but taller people can stand up in the room to the left where the shop-counter style bar continues round, but with no pumps on that side. They had Everards Tiger & Original and Archers February Flavour, but none were in terrific condition. Handful of locals chatting at the bar but I didn't find the place overly welcoming and left with images of the Wicker Man flitting thru my mind, for some reason.

17 Feb 2008 11:12

The Malt Shovel Inn, Eynsford

I'm not going to leave a rating because my memory (&notes) differ so from the att'd that I am questioning whether I was in the same place! Half the pub last night was sectioned off by curtaining, so maybe they have some work going on. Dark Star Original, Harveys, Pride, a plasma opposite the bar & a few drifting in just before 17:15 ko, as is the habit of plastic mancs.

17 Feb 2008 10:56

The Bookbinders Ale House, Oxford

Last pub of Oxford crawl Sat, and only notes that survived! GK IPA, Fireside & Mild, Smiles Mistral, Holden's Golden Glow, Olde Trip had gone. Very comfortable front bar with good buzzy vibe and nooks & crannies off rooms to rt of bar. Friendly barman discussed beers & pubs from the crawl.

14 Feb 2008 13:13

Engineers Arms, Henlow

First the important stuff: 10 handpumps, 9 were on, all £2.50. TT Landlord, Northumberland Legends of the Tyne (#2, David Craig), Caledonian Try’d & Tested, Oldershaw Decadence(6.3%), Bateman’s XB, Everards Pitch Plack (stout), Marston’s Sweet Chariot, Stonehenge Sign of Spring (green! presumably early production for 17Mar), Buntingford Challenger, plus 4 Westons real ciders from the barrel, plus belgian bottles. When the Challenger came up short of its best the Burton guv’nor was called & he took it off and set about cleaning the line there & then, impressive. Food includes locally sourced pies, but none were available yesterday, just pizza. Various weekend music all leaning toward blues & soul (proper – not that shite that today’s youth call r&b), and 8Mar will have ‘Dr Busker’ at the piano for a trad singalong. ‘Meet the Brewers’ features a visit from 5 local breweries 20(?)Feb. Decorated with jugs, beerfest steins, knickknacks, photos, has a book corner behind door to main bar (like large snug) covering sport, beer, travel, insults… Chico the springer spaniel watches over proceedings. The football team had George Best as president, so the beers aren’t the only reason for famous drinking around here.
Having reflected on my exasperation of missing a last pre-train beer due to a protracted card payment at the other bar, I would like to say to the landlady that I was unaware that I swore but, if I did, I apologise. Top pub, by the way!

14 Feb 2008 12:57

The Crown, Henlow

Large pub, well laid out, with pleasant bar / lounge surrounded by seating and beyond this rooms to either end which felt like dining areas. The whole place, despite being very quiet, yesterday 12:40, evoked an atmosphere of country dining pub, albeit the specials menu was very limited. The whole feel of the place is enhanced by photos, prints, brass plates, knickknacks, bed-warming pots, grandfather clock (defunct) and hop garlands around the bar and throughout. Mellow soundtrack, Dean Martin etc. Just IPA & Broadside on handpump, though the latter was very good. Lots of picnic sets outside so I imagine it will be very popular with families in summer. Pleasant pub, glad I popped in.

14 Feb 2008 12:21

The Ship, Tower Hill

The attached photo belies a rather disappointing ‘boxey’ and characterless, but not unpleasant, interior with fake beams and whitewashed ceiling boards. Good service – I was acknowledged on entry and my very good Doombar pulled & paid for whilst 2 pints of Guinness were on the go. Additionally had 6X, Courage & Butcombe bitter on handpump. Quite a small room dominated by suits of course, but not at all crowded Tues 13:00 and even the prime table in the little bay window was available. Very pleasant approach in the sun along the river from London Bridge & quick jag up Mark Lane. Enjoyable visit.

14 Feb 2008 12:05

The Old Doctor Butler's Head, Moorgate

You’ve gotta love finding these pubs tucked away down old alleyways. This one states that it was founded in 1610 by William Butler, the eponymous Dr. & physician to King James I, rebuilt 1666 after Great Fire and reopened by Shepherd Neame 2002. Enter to wood-floored standing bar area and find good range of 5 Sheps beers, incl Porter, but £3.10 for pint of Spitfire! Beyond this is a seating area adjacent to a sandwich counter servery. Comfortable chatty atmos, albeit 80% suits, obviously, two small plasmas with low-volume SkySportsNews. First floor restaurant and function rooms, apparently. Contrary to previous reviewers, I found the place to be not remotely busy at 13:30 Tues.

14 Feb 2008 11:49

The Samuel Pepys, Mansion House

With such an historical name, why would you want to call the place 'TSP', complete with bland & ugly pub sign of that lettering? Here's 3 more for the pub: 'WTF'? I entered, despite gnashing of teeth, to find a fairly predictable lounge-bar stylee upstairs beyond which was a dining area and, from this section, a view of the river which laps directly below. To be fair, the barmaid/waitress approached with a smile but seemed slightly nonplussed by my asking if it was just Deuchars they had on draught (2pumps,1 clipped) - it's not my fav, and neither was TSP, I thanked her and did one...

14 Feb 2008 11:29

Throgmorton's, Bank

CLOSED today 13:30, and looks like it has gone for good. Pathetic post-it size note on one of the doors stated 'Throgmortons is no longer open'; did they have no customers who may have deserved something more enlightening than that?

12 Feb 2008 23:40

The Globe, London Bridge

Yep, have to concur with recent comments. I've given this pub plenty of chances over the years but it wastes all its attributes of great location and attractive appearance inside & out, by serving a consistently limited range of poorly conditioned beer and displaying questionable customer service for reasons highlighted by thecellarman. Used to like to approach down the york-stoned(?)ginnel opp London Bridge Street, but unless they start serving interesting well-kept beer it won't be delaying my arrival at the Market Porter again.

12 Feb 2008 11:48

The Cheshire Cheese, Temple

Very small single-roomed pub, although I note att'd suggestions of a downstairs room (I didn't investigate, sorry). Very old appearance with leadlight windows and low-lit bar area (I walked into a stray barstool before I'd even had a drink!) contribute to an intimate feel even if the handful of punters ystdy were local office or legal staff. Decent soundtrack - Lola/Mack-theKnife stylee - although muted sky sports news was probably unnecessary. Despite the size of the bar, the 5 tables (max 16 covers) were all set for dining and notices displayed the daily 'cooked special' - a choice of 3 curries - Lal Mans, Coconut Dhania Murg, Aloo Gobi - with rice & nan plus salad or raita, £6.95. On leaving I noticed that the regular menu also comprised indian dishes. Pleased to find St Austell Tribute as an alternative to the usual suspects (Bombardier, Courage, IPA), and it was good. I imagine bar area could become quickly uncomfortable if busy, but not a bad place for a stop-off if on yr way to Edgar Wallace round the corner. Only open weekends for private functions.

6 Feb 2008 10:56

The Charles Dickens, Southwark

Also CLOSED at 12:45 last Sat, and one of the large front windows was boarded over. No-one has bothered to leave any notice at the premises as to the status of this pub; anyone any idea?

5 Feb 2008 23:10

Hoopers Bar, Camberwell

I’m starting to give up on this place after a very promising introduction at its first mini-fest. Subsequent visits have produced a sliding choice and consistent lack of atmosphere culminating Sunday20th when the barman condescendingly explained that, despite four handpumps carrying clips, only two were ever on offer outside festivals. When I spotted a blackboard outside offering Harveys at £1.99, rather than the £2.90 we paid, he smugly suggested that no-one walked past that side of the notice and the current offer was on the other side (admittedly shown at the pump). I admire what the owner was aiming for by avoiding mainstream-only beers, and heaven knows the area needs a decent pub, but he’s not quite there and is unlikely to build up any sort of custom with rude staff putting off the few people who do venture in.

1 Feb 2008 11:28

The Priory Arms, Stockwell

Adnams, Summer Lightning, Harveys & Sharp’s Cornish Coaster is a surprisingly good line-up round here, and the old pumpclips around the bar suggest that this was no fluke. Presume there must be a college nearby as there was a definite student vibe and started filling up at 16:00 predominently with 20something clientele. Yesterday was curry-night and the notice board also offered Sunday-lunch which sounded a cut-above regular roasts for £8. The kitchen is open and adjacent to the bar. Shame it’s a little off-track with little else in the area appealing as crawl material.

1 Feb 2008 11:04

Old Red Lion, Holborn

Previously swerved this place due to the prominent GK signage but att’d comments persuaded me to pop in yesterday and, in addition to IPA, Abbot & OSH, they also offered Holden’s Golden Glow & HardyHansen’s Olde Trip (albeit the latter is now GK).
Nice simple bar area with stools around perimeter to watch the world go by thru large part-stained glass windows. Jazz soundtrack & friendly polite staff. I thought it would be busier at 13:30 so I don’t know whether some occasional drilling work upstairs or the £3.05 price tag on the (just ok) Golden Glow put some punters off.

1 Feb 2008 10:48

The Edgar Wallace, Temple

How on earth has this place escaped the radar for so long? Possibly as its never occurred to me to use ‘Temple’ as a location search, but it’s on my map now. By far the best choice of beers I have found anywhere near here; yesterday Adnams, Edgar’s Pale Ale (by Nethergate), Brewers Gold, Cottage Swordfish, Rebellion Smuggler, Banks&Taylor Shefford bitter, 1648 Hop Pocket, Nethergate Augustinian, and all well kept. Plenty of old pumpclips around the bar – always a good sign of willingness from the pub to provide changing & interesting ales. Food looked good too & if I hadn’t been moving on I could easily have been tempted by the day’s special of seared swordfish sarnie with pancetta, tartare, salad, & skin-on chips (£8.50), or chicken & chorizo skewers with jalapeno coleslaw from the typed menu (£5). Very friendly guv’nor who chatted about the beers & brewing & suggested reading microbrewers’ handbook, Ted Bruning. A real shame that part of the pub’s appeal in a ‘hidden’ location also contributed to a failed recent attempt to support weekend opening – apparently they’ll give it another go in the summer.

1 Feb 2008 10:28

The Anchor, Walberswick

Something of a surprise that The Anchor was not on BITE before our trip to Southwold/Walberswick as it is just up the road from the Bell. Very pleasant front bar, Adnams in good form, polite barman (bizarrely on work placement from Canada) who produced comp peanuts with our beer. Larger bar/eating area to the left and outdoor seating out back. They do accom with a 2 night minimum stay but a single night can be arranged for a small supplement. Worth a visit when this side of the creek.

29 Jan 2008 10:33

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Yesterday's visit was unlucky coz they were apparently rammed over the weekend and had sold out of Oakham Inferno, London Porter & both the beers on stillage (inc Old Growler?), so we were left with Pride & Spitfire but the latter was on good form. Got a good view of City's sad cup demise, so balloons to that! Perhaps I was given that discount loyalty card out of sympathy for (to paraphrase Colin Schindler) 'my life of misery & despair', but it's real money off, so thanks.

28 Jan 2008 13:05

The Pickerel Inn, Cambridge

Old multi-roomed pub right next to bridge over Cam. Two banks of handpumps serving same beers front & rear bar; Woodforde Nelson's Revenge & Headcracker(7%), Oakham Inferno, Salem January Sale. Quite studenty but good homely feel. Not crowded on our early evening visit, one wonders how these houses survive outside term-time.

28 Jan 2008 12:28

The Champion of the Thames, Cambridge

GK beers IPA, Abbot, but also Fireside - a new one to me. Quite busy and chatty Sat pm, studenty clientele. Pleasant & comfortable enough but where were those guest beers?

28 Jan 2008 12:00

The Castle Inn, Cambridge

CLOSED Sat 17:00ish.

28 Jan 2008 11:52

The St Radegund, Cambridge

Only one other customer on Sat afternoon so no queuing system to negotiate. Small single roomed pub playing background jazz. The infamous Terry was not in situ but the barman and the other punter were happy to chat about the pub's name & social angles - they have rowing & cricket teams and run an annual drinking (or drunken?)race. Apparently Jesus college was founded on the site of the 12c nunnery of St Mary & St Radegund. On handpump Thwaites, Pride, Milton Nero & Milton Sackcloth. Wall of shame is for those who fail to finish their drink - they are invited to sign a chitty stating "Terry's beer was too strong for me".

28 Jan 2008 11:50

The Cambridge Blue, Cambridge

Central bar surrounded by 3 open sections, one seemed to lean toward dining and family orientation, conservatory to rear. Another top beer choice: Abbeydale Moonshine, Mauldon Eatanswill, Gateshead Gold, Brentwood Hope & Glory, Cambridge Blue Dew Drop, Nethergate Barley Special, Milton Cyclops, Church End Pheasant Plucker. I didn't see the stillage referred to by Maldenman but some pumps were double-clipped so they may be included above.

28 Jan 2008 11:27

The Kingston Arms, Cambridge

Great beer selection, 10 handpumps included Brewers Gold, Phoenix Arizona, Oakham JHB, TT Landlord, Hopback Entire Stout & Summer Lightning, Elgood Black Dog, Beartown Simba. Open fire near door, bar along left, rather narrow area to view beers on offer compounded by unfortunate location of wifi terminals right opposite. Great beer, poor layout.

28 Jan 2008 11:15

The Live and Let Live, Cambridge

Comfortable, welcoming feel from old wood floor & furniture to wood-burning stove & chatty drinking atmosphere. Eight handpumps offered Popham's Pride, Ramsbury Gold, Adnams, Everards Tiger, Tom Woods dark mild, Nethergate Umbel, Mighty Oak Bingle Jells, Dymock Red cider(8%). Very good start to the crawl.

28 Jan 2008 11:02

County Arms, Cambridge

Four Everards handpumps and one guest, but not one of them was drinkable! Eventually asked for a refund and left. I've a good mind to alert Everards to the poor representation that their beer is being given here. A real shame as Tiger can be a fine beer, and this pub was the only one I noticed on Sat with sport tv so the fact that there were only 2 other customers is probably further indication of poor standards.

28 Jan 2008 10:22

The Jolly Gardners, Putney

A much more homely careworn feel than its near neighbour Coat & Badge, dark wood floors & mixed tables/seating, dodgy 70s-looking curtains to the rear & open brickwork to the left give an odd imbalance to first impression. Pride & Deuchars (yawn)but also unusual Smiles Mistrals.

22 Jan 2008 23:49

The Coat and Badge, Putney

Usually pass by en route to Bricklayers but stepped in today & pleasantly surprised to find Doombar on handpump, also Pride & A.N.Other. Doombar ok, but £1.55 for halfpint!!! Too modern & lacking in character for my liking, probably does well on summer weekends with large seated outdoor area as you enter, likely to be horrendous if that's true.

22 Jan 2008 23:35

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Still hit & miss re selection on offer, just Landlord, Golden Best & RamTam today, no guests. Landlord was very good, but £3!

22 Jan 2008 23:22

The Peveril Of The Peak, Castlefield

Yep, good original feel to the interior, 3/4(?)handpumps sell well-kept beers but a changing micro would improve the selection. The room which houses the aforementioned bar-football table also has many photos of the landlady with different tv celebs, not just from Corrie. Opening hours seem to vary; last visit I went past to the Britons Protection but on my return Peveril was opening at 17:00. This & BP very handy for GMex gigs but will get hammered.

22 Jan 2008 11:35

The Dove, Ipswich

Exceptional. Yesterday offered 12 handpumps, 10 in action, plus 12 on stillage in the ‘tap-room’. Not only does this represent the largest non-festival beer choice I’ve ever seen, but the selection was also sourced from no fewer than 17 different breweries. I sampled many and the quality was consistently excellent. Plain but comfortable décor, friendly staff & customers - happily gave directions to the Fat Cat (number 2 bus across road). Top notch drinking venue.

18 Jan 2008 11:57

The Grinning Rat, Ipswich

Rapport evident between barstaff & punters shows this to be a sound community local. Adnams Bitter & Broadside on handpump. Varied clientele and age groups. Pool room hidden away to the rear, so not impacting on the bar space. Not bad, but users of this site will be moving rapidly on to the Dove a few yards up the road.

18 Jan 2008 11:42

The Lord Nelson, Ipswich

First pub of the day & slight panic as no handpumps were evident, but 5 barrels on stillage behind the bar came to the rescue. Four were on offer from the wood (& they were wooden, but possibly fascias) – Adnams Bitter, Broadside, Old, & Explorer. Low beamed pub with three open sections winding around the bar, open fire in central bar area. Solid rustic tables most of which carried cruet sets, so presumably popular for food. Commercial radio blaring from the kitchen – ok tunes but didn’t need an excited on-air winner of £120 and 5mins of ads.

18 Jan 2008 11:32

The Grapes, Limehouse

CLOSED at 15:10 last Thurs, making my trip in the rain somewhat maddening. Odd that they bother to close for a coupla hours round here, but I'll be back to check it out when open.

13 Jan 2008 13:13

The Hare and Billet, Blackheath

A GK house, so IPA, Abbot and, I think, OSH on my visit. Nice originality and good community feel to the pub and, if you can bag a window seat, somewhere to gaze out on the heath and reflect on life over a pint. If you are in the area to also take in the Dacre Arms then you can turn left from here up Eliot Place then left down Heath La to avoid retracing your steps from Blackheath stn.

10 Jan 2008 12:41

The Dacre Arms, Lee

Cosy & friendly single-roomed neighbourhood pub with 6 handpumps serving mostly mainstream beers – Pride, Bombardier, Deuchers, Bass, Courage. Quiet Sat afternoon but we were advised that some would be returning from the Valley after the match – a nice fact that locals here support the local team. We were well received and both the barman and the handful of punters at the bar were happy to chat. Comfortable upholstered seating in sections around the walls & a slightly mad but star-quality West Highland terrier keeping an eye on proceedings. Hardly worthy of its brief spell at the top of the tree, but a very pleasant place for a few beers nevertheless.

7 Jan 2008 13:43

The Carpenters Arms, Marble Arch

Clark’s Top o’t’Tree, Moorhouse Santa’s Piste (peachy), Teignworthy Christmas Cracker (6%), Harveys, Adnams, plus a.n.other. I think it’s recently had a refit but some victorian tiling remains at one entrance, some ‘booth’ seating around the window, horseshoe bar with good & not-so-good music from the cd, tv & plasma with muted skysports. All in all a very good find in this part of town and a surprisingly local feel; worth checking out, along with the Masons just along the road.

22 Dec 2007 21:22

The Crown, Southwold

Our first pint after stepping off the bus in Southwold. Already busy at 12:40 in the main bar which seems predominantly for food and we were advised that the 'Back Bar' may be more to our liking, which it was. A nice little room to the rear but still with a view through the entrance hall to the street. Fine pint of Adnams bitter and a friendly & knowledgeable barman who told us about the new 'Spindrift'; not for me, but with which Adnams may be trying to target the keg market maybe for some radical lager drinkers who want to start tasting something in their pint. The bar had some brass nautical navigation equipment in the corner and a picture and story of a submarine hunting vessel disguised as a fishing skiff (the submarine won). Better by far than our next stop, its Adnams sister hotel The Swan, although bizarrely the same barman popped up there too. He should teach the Swan's barman some etiquette in customer relations.

6 Dec 2007 22:30

Nags Head, Reading

Revisited Sat & the only problem with a superb range of 12 handpumps on offer is that I failed, again, to make a note to report them to you here. Suffice to say do not leave Reading without stopping in the Nag’s Head.

3 Dec 2007 13:36

The Alehouse, Reading

Another enjoyable visit on Sat. I’ve already done a review so here’s just a list of what was on offer on handpump: West Berkshire’s Maggs Mild, Leaning Lord, Mr Chubbs, also Coastal Angelina, Hereford Spinning Dog, Cotswold Olde English Rose, Little Valley Gustibus, Marlow Rebellion Mutiny, Westons Perry. Worth a visit? I think so.

3 Dec 2007 13:26

Sweeney and Todd, Reading

Not a pub and I doubt that anyone comes here just for the bar, but a geat concept for beer drinkers – real ale to accompany a quality pie. Steak with stilton, kidney, or mushroom, plus exotics like pigeon & peach, and the Sweeney – a 3meat combo - some featured on a standard printed menu & others on a good daily list announced at table. Four handpumps included Adnams, 6X, Tanglefoot, ours in good nick. We managed to snag the ‘booth’ opposite the bar but beyond that was more seating to the rear. Early evening & our pies came with chips, so unsure about prev comments about chip curfew. Your pie chips & pint will get up toward £10 but a great way to re-fuel before continuing on a crawl. I have to doff my cap to one of our company who will henceforward be known as TPC, or Two-Pies-Chas, impressive eating mate!

3 Dec 2007 13:10

The Bell Inn, Aldworth

A bit of a hike away from our Goring starting point, but once I read in GPG that it was 14c, run by same family for 200yrs, and served NO draught lager it just had to be done. Original & authentic, displays an award for ‘most unchanged pub’. Bar is a servery with one window to a narrow L-shaped room the long side of which was filled with drinkers seated in recesses which looked rather like fireplaces, the other ‘hatch’ is to a corridor across which is a slightly larger room with seating, a dartboard, & displaying old pumpclips, many from West Berkshire brewery whose beer featured at the bar on Sat. Leaping Lord & Maggs Mild, Arkells BBB, plus another whose name I forget but which was delicious. Outside gents, large beer garden and fields beyond, one of which will be the cricket pitch when mown in summer. Well worth the detour, and thanks to Murdocks taxi for the timely service from Goring & back.

3 Dec 2007 12:41

The Hop Leaf, Reading

Busy, welcoming pub serving the full range of Hop Back beers including Odyssey, which I hadn’t heard of and regret not trying, esp now I read HB’s interesting tasting notes (coffee & marmalade?). Reading is something of a concrete mess but cherry-picking the handful of pubs that are so rightly praised on this site makes a visit very worthwhile, although getting around the 4/5 best ones will certainly result in a hangover as you’d have to be very disciplined not to want several pints in each.

2 Dec 2007 16:41

The Retreat, Reading

Not easy to spot in the dark, but worth the effort. Long & narrow with the bar along the right and divided into a small front & slightly larger rear room, the latter surprisingly houses a pool table which seemed something of a waste of space on Sat nt, but maybe comes into play when quieter. Very busy, chatty, bustling bar with a great range of beers - Harveys, Ringwood Best, Loddon Ferryman’s Gold, White Horse Wayland Smithy, Grand Union One Hop & Brass Monkeys, Ascot Ales Anastasia’s Exile Stout; and since this was the day’s penultimate pub I think it quite an achievement to decipher my notes to bring you that list. Very good pub.

2 Dec 2007 16:20

The John Barleycorn, Goring

May feel a little more homely when the newly-painted smell dissipates. Entrance splits to rooms either side of the bar; the public to the right with a small adjacent room given over entirely to the bar-billiards table, to the left a similar lounge giving on to a dining area. Some pew-style seating in both bar-rooms. The two beerpumps, stationed only on the lounge side, offer Brakspear bitter & special, beers not bad but not as perfect as the nearby Catherine Wheel.

2 Dec 2007 15:49

The Catherine Wheel, Goring

Lovely low-beamed pub with warm welcome & real fires being lit as we arrived. Low bench-settles around walls in two small bar rooms & assorted tables/stools. Dining area beyond bar with rowing oars decorating far wall. Hobgoblin, Hooky Dark(Mild), plus 3 from Brakspear – Bitter, Special & Oxford Gold – tried the Bitter & the Gold which were both excellent.

2 Dec 2007 14:50

Miller of Mansfield, Goring

A real shame that we couldn’t get a pint here to start yesterday’s crawl – pub was closed until 19:00, presumably for a private function. We did get as far as the bar, where glasses were being polished in preparation, but the barmaid had to go & check whether she could serve us and unfortunately the answer was no. No-one else there, other than the practising musical trio, so I’m sure it wouldn’t have harmed! Anyway, a beautiful old building and very attractive, if small, front bar area with three unusual beers on offer; I can’t leave a rating but it would have been very positive, given the chance.

2 Dec 2007 14:19

The Queens Arms, Goring

Rather disappointing considering the positive remarks attached, the weakest venue on our Goring and Reading crawl yesterday. Only GK ipa on offer; it was ok but that’s all it’s ever going to be. A pool table one side of the bar & a handful of locals sombrely watching Chelsea West Ham on the other, no hostility but no sense of warmth either. Barmaid was friendly enough and helpfully pointed out the Reading train times listed at the bar. Taxi driver back from Aldworth suggested Queens was frequented by younger (albeit not chavvy) locals, but it was very quiet on this visit.

2 Dec 2007 13:58

The Pride of Spitalfields, Shoreditch

Well, JohnB, I was very interested in the match that day & had earlier phoned the pub to confirm they were showing it, even though I needed to accelerate my consumption of superb Brewers Gold as Pompey could've scored 3 in the first 2mins, but we held on. BG ran out later on but the Doombar was a very good substitute. ESBecially, the barman I presume you are referring to is from Nottingham, me duck.

30 Nov 2007 17:04

The Stanley Arms, Portslade

A little harder to find than it would seem on the map but worth a hop off the train if passing. Good variety of handpulled beers offered Sharps Cornish Coaster, Dark Star Original, Hampshire Pride of Romsey, Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose, 1648. Posters of other breweries suggested that the rotation would be equally good with representations for Cotleigh, Timothy Taylor, Hydes, Ringwood. Great local feel, very chatty atmosphere, football showing on 2 small tvs & a large plasma. Dark wood floor, bandit, dartboard, very comfortable pub with great beer.

18 Nov 2007 16:32

The Royal Sovereign, Shoreham by Sea

Great photo attached and the frontage looks equally nice from the inside, original windows proclaiming wines, sprits, etc. Also beers – Pride, Landlord, Harveys, Abbot and, unusually outside the west country, a decent pint of 6X. Another well-used chatty locals bar, and the chippy is on the adjacent John Street.

18 Nov 2007 16:12

The Red Lion Inn, Shoreham by Sea

Harveys, Kings Old Ale, Itchen Valley Godfather, One Hop, & Hampshire Fallover (6%). VERY low ceiling around main bar area where a roaring log fire made for a warm welcome, some wooden booth seating then leads to a family room at one end, and away from the bar in the other direction is a higher ceilinged room set up for dining. Covered area out back so the smokers needn’t get wet. Great beer & lovely pub, why oh why do we have to suffer radio commercials in such a place?

18 Nov 2007 13:08

Marliplins, Shoreham by Sea

You know it’s a local’s local as soon as you enter. Warm (actually too warm!), busy at 13:00 ystdy with people eating & drinking, all tables taken & plenty of punters standing chatting around the bar. Harveys, Pride, Spitfire, Youngs. You can’t help but like a community boozer like this.

18 Nov 2007 12:51

The Ferry Inn, Shoreham by Sea

Only snuck onto the crawl as reserve, but was ok. Always a bit suspect having the pool table quite so dominant in a pub but no hostility. Harveys & Hobgoblin on handpump, a small snug to the side with peripheral bench seating & round brass-topped tables. Odd that the square-footage given to the toilets was probably more than 50% of the entire pub!

18 Nov 2007 12:42

The Lazy Toad, Shoreham by Sea

Put me very much in mind of the Claret in Addiscombe, including the interior layout, but maybe with slightly better furnishings & light. Certainly both establishments are similarly minded about good beer and the Lazy Toad serves all by gravity from covered barrels on stillage behind the bar. 10/12(?) were set up with six being served on our visit. The ones I remember are Summer Lightning, Hopback Crop Circle & Harveys.

18 Nov 2007 12:34

The Duke Of Wellington, Shoreham by Sea

Dark Star Hophead, Sunburst, & Original, Crouch Vale Top Sail, & Thatchers cider occupied the 5 handpumps, an impressive line-up. Piano on far side of bar, but apart from that and the very attractive original windows, an otherwise very modern, rather bland appearance, which was a shame. Note on wall states that ‘anyone mentioning a brewery with the initials GK, or a football team CP’ will pay a forfeit to the lifeboat charity box. Needs to be busy to hide the lack of character, but fantastic beer.

18 Nov 2007 12:18

The Buckingham Arms, Shoreham by Sea

Eleven handpumps present themselves as you enter; too much choice to list all here, but the Hepworths Harvest and Grand Union Stout were very good. L-shaped bar leads round to large plasma at far end, then out to a beer garden. Carpeted throughout, tables and seating around outer walls which are decorated with photos, prints, mirrors & awards. Good stuff.

18 Nov 2007 12:07

The Waggon and Horses, Twyford

Enter to find lovely old flagstone floor, low ceilings, Courage, Pride, Landlord. Two real fires, a plasma in the front bar area, stained glass porthole window above the optics, dartboard & oche given their own space – 2 teams play out of here. Make sure you stroll into the large garden to check out the well-populated aviary, I’ll bet the large pub cat regularly does!

15 Nov 2007 11:31

The Duke of Wellington, Twyford

CLOSED at 14:40 yesterday. No rating.

15 Nov 2007 11:21

The White Hart, Wargrave

Pride and decent Brakspear on handpump. A third of the pub to the right of the entrance is set up for dining, specials £6 starter, £10 main. Nice lounge to the left with wooden leather-padded chairs & round tables (perfect for a game of cards). This style followed down the side and rear of the pub where there was a plasma, a bandit, and a vid machine, one of which was periodically emitting intrusive bleeping noises; why don’t pubs turn the sound off, or right down, on gaming machines? Walls adorned with interesting local stories and old photos.

15 Nov 2007 11:18

The St George and Dragon, Wargrave

Bar and seating very reminiscent of a modern hotel bar, all sofas and wrap-around ‘bucket’ chairs, a style that was enforced by the barely audible muzak and the staff member who asked if I needed any help before I had even reached the barman to order my beer! Landlord and Loddon Hullabaloo, the latter was suspect in clarity but not quite rejectable and tasted ok; I think served correctly that would be a very nice beer. Pride of place along the bar was given to a line of 8 tall eurofizz pumps, although they did include Leffe & Staropramen if you are that way inclined. Not my type of place at all but the dining area and outdoor tables do enjoy a tranquil view of the adjacent river and fields beyond.
Overall impression? “I’m not pretentious, get me out of here!”

15 Nov 2007 11:04

The Greyhound, Wargrave

Tiny front bar feels like being in your gran’s living room, except the collection is of water jugs rather than toby jugs; very cosy, nevertheless, with a coal burning stove-style fire in the corner.Youngs Special, Bombardier, Courage, ho hum. Attractive young barmaid who saved the postman from the pub dog (canine). The larger rear/side bar was closed for maintenance but did not look as intimate.

15 Nov 2007 10:47

The Bull Hotel, Wargrave

Unfortunately the organic Brakspear Oxford Gold had run out ystdy, leaving a choice of Hobgoblin & Brakspear bitter (£2.90!). Genuinely old, with low beamed ceilings in the main bar area and a huge open fireplace burning logs. I could imagine this being a very good drinking environment for locals but it seems to be aiming beyond that, and the commercial radio in the bar and the young staff sit a little incongruously with the 15c image.
Also, could whoever writes the bar notices please learn that changing a singular into a plural does not require an apostrophe! So it’s bills, customers etc…, not bill’s, customer’s… Sorry, but why is this basic grammatical error becoming so common these days?

15 Nov 2007 10:36

The Baskerville Arms, Lower Shiplake

Rugby shirts and various sporting prints around the small but comfortable front bar area. Pride, Landlord and Loddon Hoppit on handpump. The rest of the pub is geared toward ding – it is, after all, the GPG Oxfordshire dining pub of the year and, although I didn’t eat this time, for a change I was there with a vested interest in the food set-up. In addition to a reasonably priced a la carte menu there was a fabulous, fortnightly changing, table d’hote style menu offering a good variety of choice and excellent value at £11.50 for two courses. Nice, also, to see some good non-turkey alternatives on the forthcoming dec/xmas menu (eg pan-fried pigeon breast or roast halibut) but disappointing that it is offered only for bookings of 4 or more.
If it does/did, as suggested, have some connection with Loddon brewery, then a choice of their beers would be a welcome change to the usual suspects.

15 Nov 2007 10:17

Ye Olde Bridge Inn, Oxton

How odd that this pub hasn’t had a comment for so long and here I am posting the 2nd today! What a warm welcome at the bar after an long slog on foot from Southwell, and thank goodness I arrived before the 3pm closing (on Friday), in time to enjoy Everards Original & Sunchaser in fabulous condition. I believe Tiger was also on, but I didn’t spot it. Bonhomie, and good beer.

11 Nov 2007 10:47

The Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden

Nudging the top40? I don’t get it. Nice to find this little old pub down an alleyway, but the beer choice is very limited and that descent to the loo may as well have the Styx running down it.

11 Nov 2007 10:24

The Bramley Apple, Southwell

Lovely village pub, seven handpumps, black rat cider plus 6 bitters from a variety of breweries including nearby Springhead, whose bitter was delicious. Roaring Meg was also on offer from this local source. If you want the 12:40 (bus61) connection to Oxton, however, do not wait at the stop outside, as this service only starts at Southwell Minster, and the next one is 13:50(?), and Southwell has no taxi service… Can’t blame that on this nice pub tho, or its friendly licencees; only time for one pint but gotta lean toward an 8.
Pity I didn’t get time to check out the self-promoting Hearty Goodfellow nearby, where blatent home reviews have been so obvious, but it’d have to be good to better the Bramley!

10 Nov 2007 00:07

The Halfway House, Barnes

Heard that they used to regularly serve Dark Star, but hasn’t been on during my handful of visits. Yesterday offered a couple of mainstreams (Pride/IPA?) but supplemented by a very decent pint of Brakspear. Music calendar for Nov/Dec looks good and has variety.
If walking from Barnes station you can cut the corner by taking the public footpath across the common but that route might not seem so attractive in the dark.

8 Nov 2007 11:31

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Yesterday’s visit was much more like it for beer choice - 4 TTs, incl RamTam, plus Downton Mad Hare & Brewster’s Belle de Jour (although I wasn’t keen on the latter). Also listed in the gents (but oddly nowhere else in the pub) was the forthcoming range of guests – incl 4 from RCH brewery, 2 from Butts Organic, as well as Daleside Porter & Museum White Shield. Sounds good to me; rating rectified to a comfortable 8.

8 Nov 2007 11:16

The Red Lion Inn, Horsell

Just nipped over ystdy from the Crown to see what their pm closing time was (15:00). I can't leave a rating but can inform that the beer choice was Courage, GK Ipa &, I think, London Pride. That's right - if only they offered another beer they could complete the line-up with Ordinary on as well!

7 Nov 2007 12:33

The Crown, Horsell

Two room pub with 4 handpumps housed in one bar only. Just 2 of the 4 in operation at 15:00 ystdy. Titanic Iceberg turned out to be a wheat beer – good thing because if it had been a golden ale, as the barman suggested, it would have been very off. The other on offer was Bombardier but they did have 40 or so old pumpclips on display so, although none were too radical (eg Archers,Sharps), they at least suggested that maybe I was unluckly in the limited choice that day. The staff left me be in the main bar and returned to the other side, which was also empty, to listen to the radio. It may be quite good with a busy bar & serving all 4 pumps but I couldn’t recommend the walk here in the afternoon, & there was a slight wiff of drains in the air.

7 Nov 2007 12:16

The Sovereigns, Woking

Part of Ember Inns who are currently running a ‘Best of British’ regional beerfest. Choice yesterday was Summer Lightning, Stonehenge Pigswill, Doombar, Bishops Finger, Deuchers, & Caledonian ‘Trick or Treat’. Tried the first 2, which were in good shape & the number of old pumpclips adorning the bar augered well for choice outside the ‘fest.
I arrived just after noon and the bar was very busy with groups of our more senior citizens all ordering food; the two efficient barstaff coped very well and no-one was left waiting too long to place an order or get drinks.
Modern-ish lounge decor & seating not really my style albeit comfortable, but please paint over that dreadful purple colour around the faux central ‘open’ fire.

7 Nov 2007 11:55

The Crown and Anchor, Old Woking

Just two handpumps, Pride & Youngs Ordinary. The Pride was off ystdy lunch and the latter was ok but simply tastes, well to me, as it says on the tin. The torturous 71 bus route from Woking eventually dropped me outside (361/362 apparently more direct) but then the welcome at the bar was admitedly as warm & hospitable as I can recall and, since everyone seemed to know each other, I’ll bet it’s jumping when busy.
Ultimately though, whilst it may make a decent local if you can cope with an uninspiring beer selection, I left after a single pint, rather disappointed with a pub which has appeared in the top40 for so long. Friendly staff deserve praise but the pub gets, at best, a 5/10 from me.

7 Nov 2007 11:37

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Big open pub which would not ordinarily be my preference but this place is keen on beer & that certainly gets my vote. Went in ystdy for their autumn ale festival (til 05Nov if stocks last) and was impressed with the choice of 20 beers, all at £2 ppint! The guys on the bar were knowledgeable & enthusiastic, even tho they had to leg it upstairs each time they got an order from the selection on stillage up there. Four handpumps & 2 stills downstairs &, apart from the 'fest, I believe they try to order a more adventurous rotation than is the Laurel norm. Good luck to 'em.
Lots of TVs, so I expect it gets hammered on a big match day.

2 Nov 2007 11:36

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

A very good pub but disappointing beer selection on my last two visits, with last week only 3 and yesterday only 2 pumps in action from a possible 10 (Landlord & ‘Pumpkin’ ale); hardly a justification of Camra's London 'pub of the year'! Quizman is right to suggest checking the range before travelling.

1 Nov 2007 12:05

The Prince Albert, Brighton

Huge mural of the legendary John Peel visible as you approach from stn end of Traf St., but the condition of the beer was poor on my single visit a few months ago. Didn't strike me as the sort of place that would have the necessary through-pull to keep the cask ale in top shape but would be on my Brighton crawl if they could get that (rather important) element right.

26 Oct 2007 08:39

The Duke of Hamilton, Hampstead

Not so good this week with just Pride & ESB on when I visited. Needs more than that to encourage punters, especially those who have to travel to get here, to return.

26 Oct 2007 08:30

The Princess Royal, Croydon

Hmmm. Don't know when those 'gbg' comments relate to, but todays choice was courage, youngs, & pride; almost as sad a line up as is possible in these relatively enlightened days. Tried the latter & it was poor. Probably an ok local when busy, but I won't be going out of my way again.

16 Oct 2007 22:23

The Spread Eagle, Croydon

Clean, bright, offering a large range of Fullers beers in very good nick, had a plasma showing rugby (dk if they have sky), and the service was quick & friendly. After this visit, my calling this place bland-looking in a comparative review (of the Ship) now seems a little unfair.

11 Oct 2007 08:57

The Blue Ball Inn, Triscombe

Bar is set in a loft-style upper level and is a little spartan, with the attention being given over more to the dining side of things, something for which the pub has seemingly won awards and I did like the touch of having their local suppliers listed above the bar. Beer was fine, Cotleigh had just run out when I arrived but the Otter was good, as was the strong cider. Extraordinary countryside view from window at far end of adjacent dining room, large multi-tiered garden outside and very welcoming to dogs, but somehow the bar fails to pull off the rustic feel one would expect out here.

8 Oct 2007 15:30

Hoopers Bar, Camberwell

Sundancer, Maldon Gold, Oakleaf HoleHearted, Oscar Wilde Mild: that’s a pretty good line-up and with Hophead & GingerBear to follow, the Guv has things going nicely for his ‘mini-fest’. Thought that one of the 3 goldens could have given way to a more autumnal colour, but thoroughly enjoyed all on offer. Pub interior is a little modern for the traditionalists but you’d have to travel some distance to beat this beer selection. I suspect there is no skytv here, but fortunately England beating Oz today was shown on regular plasma, Come On!

6 Oct 2007 18:55

The Dog and Bell, Deptford

Fullers Pride & ESB plus 3 guests incl Nethergate and Pictish. I enjoyed them but felt that some people travelling here might expect a juxtaposition of different beer styles in the guest rotation - these were all golden ales. Still, the locals are very lucky to have this in their area, or would be if they'd turn that ludicrously loud talk radio down behind the bar - as if I need reminding how expensive my mortgage is getting while I'm having a pint!

27 Sep 2007 14:24

The Alehouse, Reading

Managed to squeeze in few halves at The Hobgoblin after an afternoon at the Nag’s Head, and glad I did. Attached praise persuaded me it wasn’t one of the awful Wychwood creations such as the one nr Brixton and, although it must have a Wych history (see the ugly goblinesque caricature behind the bar, no not the barmaid – she was lovely), it was fortunately a different concern altogether. Things are a bit hazy but I believe there were 8 handpumps, happily all unusual suspects, and those I tried were all good.
Away from the bar the pub itself is a little maze of nooks & crannies, some so small that the addition of a curtain here & there might make you think you were in a walk-thru confessional. Come, cleanse your soul, & have a good few beers whilst you’re at it!

27 Sep 2007 11:14

Nags Head, Reading

A cracker! 12 handpumps with Midhurst Mild at one end & Hopback Entire Stout at the other, these sandwiching 10 bitters in ascending strength (3.7>5.6abv) and no mainstreams! I tried 7 & enjoyed em all. Chalkboards above the bar indicate what’s on now & next in each % category. Ciders were Stowford Press & Old Rosie, “L” drivers can find Staropramen, Grolsch, Amstel,San Miguel, NO Fosters, Stella, Guinness, Hoorah!
The one-room spacious bar area has a piano, dartboard, 10 tables (4-8 seaters) &, although it was very quiet ystdy lunch, I can imagine it rockin after work. Daily special was Lasagne wi Garlic Bread (bread… wi garlic?) for £6 and I would’ve stayed to sample but couldn’t last ‘til 5pm; a filled baguette for £2 sufficed.
Reading’s a bit of a stretch for me but the Nag’s Head lived up to its reviews & the slightly slower train direct from Clapham meant I didn’t need to bother wi the tube hell round to Paddington. Thanks Meeko ("Right, which beer needs testing?"), I’ll be back…

27 Sep 2007 10:18

The Arden Arms, Stockport

A genuine classic; RogerB has highlighted many of the interior features including the snug only accessible thru the bar (one suspects that may be just for the inner circle, haha), but note also the lovely rounded wooden sash-work windows around the bar, and black/white floor tiles.
Very popular for food, and starts filling with diners almost from opening time (12:00), includes good-looking specials menu at ~£8.00.
The handpumps are on the rear wall of the bar, dispensing Robinsons in top condition. If the pub is very busy the bar area can be a little congested and make the route to the loo something of a ‘corridor’, but this a small price to pay for retention of originality in a great pub.

20 Sep 2007 07:32

The Olde Vic, Stockport

Cracking little pub with a real enthusiasm for their beer, 4/5(?) handpumps incl Millstone’s Three Shires in fantastic condition on my last visit.
Pub looks closed down from the outside and only opens evenings (from 17:00 most days) but worth a detour for selection and condition of ales. Down to earth atmos but you have to mind your language and, even if I’ve had a reminder on that score, that’s no bad thing!

20 Sep 2007 07:14

The Crown Inn, Stockport

Sensationally good pub which is an absolute must whenever I’m up North; only discovered its delights this year, but 16 real ales from local independents and micros, plus ciders, make it so. A friendly welcome at the airy bar with windows giving on to the street, classic (and classy) rooms off the bar, a beer garden almost literally beneath the adjacent viaduct (which I heard is europe’s longest continuous brick structure?). Beers are pulled thru as ordered, so nice & fresh; why oh why do I always forget to allow an extra day for Stockport session before heading back south?
8mins walk from train stn & less from mersey sq buses, live (open) folk jam Tues eves and other music listed on internal posters. There are a number of very good pubs in Stockport and this most definitely one of them, 9+.

18 Sep 2007 13:06

The Fox, Hanwell

The garden is visible from the road as you approach and was busy with mother and toddler stylee on this sunny Tues pm; that was fine for me as it left the bar nice & quiet. Three handpumps as you approach the bar had TT Landlord & 2 mainstreams, these were replicated at the other end of the bar but the 4th pump there carried the excellent Twickenham Naked Ladies. A nice enough pub but, with 7 pumps and CAMRA awards on its CV, I wonder whether the Fox varies its beer choice occasionally with some more imaginative selections?

13 Sep 2007 15:49

The Viaduct, Hanwell

Popped in en route to the Fox & I liked it. Newish look interior with wooden & carpeted areas separated by original-looking partition with tiny door frame at which your head is protected by padding and a notice reading 'Duck or Grouse'. On Tues they had Pride, Discovery, & HSB still on Gales pumpclip. Cheap food including a daily fish special (Hoki & side £4.95). A toddlers play area next to the bar may put off committed drinkers at the weekend? I recall a mental note about spotless loos, so they must have been good!

13 Sep 2007 14:23

The Woodbine, Highbury

They should get rid of the idiot barman who refused service to ‘away fans’ – no colours, northern accent -(25Aug), despite the bar being quiet ~18:00. A friendly couple outside couldn’t believe their ears and kindly offered to go to the bar for us, but I politely declined and took our custom elsewhere.
Shame, as the pub had a nice aspect from outside and within; horseshoe bar, wood floor, choice of real ales, can’t recall what they were as I didn’t get to sample any!

12 Sep 2007 11:15

The Royal Oak Inn, Luxborough

A gem of a country pub. The rooms beyond the immediate (fairly small) bar area are mostly dedicated to eating, but that does not detract from a warm welcome and a good selection at the bar itself and if you do also eat here you are in for a treat. The excellent Exmoor Gold was supplemented by beers from Otter & Palmers, and also local ciders.
I had an overnight stay in the very comfortable accom, in a room overlooking the rapidly babbling brook coursing under the little stone bridge outside the window; b&b £75 for 2 pers, breakfast choices incl full english, haddock fishcakes, kippers, fruit compote.
Dinner was approaching restaurant price but easily justified by its quality; starters~£7, mains~£14, all six dishes eaten at our table were very, very good, all slooshed down with some decently priced sauvignon & merlot.
Probably a pub that you would usually aim for if eating or staying in the area, but the beer was great too, and an all-round thoroughly pleasant visit.

4 Sep 2007 12:22

The Duke of Hamilton, Hampstead

Friendly welcome last Sunday and a good beer selection with 3 Fullers and 2 guests (Smiles Blond & something nice from York brewery which I can't remember). The guv took time to tell us about his forthcoming beerfest w/e 01Sep with 30 or so beers from around the country, some of which he will be collecting from smaller suppliers himself - a good sign of commitment to the cause. Revisited Tuesday and the beer was still on good form. The pub has a nice aspect to the street with wide-opening doors to take advantage of good weather, and a fair few tables out front. This, and the White Bear up the road will be making Hampstead a regular stop for me.

1 Sep 2007 06:19

Ye Olde White Bear, Hampstead

Well presented and laid-out pub with aesthetic woody interior and… six changing handpumps with none of the usual suspects, also Addlestones cider in addition to strongbow. So impressed was I on Sunday that I trundled north and staggered up the hill again on Tuesday, when it was explained that the policy was to no longer stock ‘standard’ ales (Pride, Youngs, Courage, etc) in favour of a changing rota of less usual beers from around the country! The five that I tried over my 2 visits were all in good shape. Super pub with a few tables out front in good weather. Cannot understand its relatively low BITE rating; nearer a 9 in my book, and I look forward to sampling more beers here in future.

31 Aug 2007 11:32

The Robin Hood and Little John, Bexleyheath

Much to like about this pub from the friendly staff and local, but welcoming, atmosphere to the good selection of handpumped ales; I think there were 5 on offer including Harveys and a very fine Sheps Whitstable Bay.
Closing time is 15:00 during the week which was a particular shame yesterday as I arrived at only 14:30 after a rapid march from the already-closed Prince Albert.
RH&LJ is certainly a pub to which I would return if in the area but may be a little out of the way for a specific visit, given the lack of ‘crawl’ opportunities nearby.

31 Aug 2007 10:31

The Prince Albert, Bexleyheath

CLOSED yesterday at 14:20. Check times before travelling.

31 Aug 2007 10:05

The Crown, Eastbourne

Spitfire, 6X, & Bass. Bass was ropey, Spitfire ran out but was fine when changed. Modern looking bar on one side, sofas & dartboard sit a little oddly together, blackboard dangerously close to dartboard for someone scoring a player as bad as me. Somewhat lacking in character.

29 Jul 2007 09:20

The Buccaneer, Eastbourne

Missed this one on earlier visit to seafront so it became the last of the day and things are a little unclear. Big pub, high ceilings, good choice of beers, had to rush off for train.

29 Jul 2007 09:11

The Counting House, Eastbourne

Student vibe in the bar, and student barman running up & down from cellar. We did wait a while but, whilst I can identify (from days of yore) with the probs of running a bar on yr own, it was all a bit chaotic & we moved on. The entrance & garden area looked quite grandiose & I expect that when things are running ok it's a decent place for a pint (Spitfire & Pride?). No rating yet.

29 Jul 2007 09:03

The Lamb Inn, Eastbourne

Another brewery pub so a good range of Harveys and some great Harveys-related photos en route to gents (incl one of handpumps in the brewey shop, Lewes, which I missed on my visit). No chavs, although I appreciate they usually come out to play after sun-down, just locals watching the racing when we were there. Plaque on house opposite states that Dickens used to be a regular visitor, no doubt also to the Lamb for a tipple. Btw, what's that indoor well by the loo all about?

29 Jul 2007 08:46

Dewdrop Inn, Eastbourne

Three handpumps incl St Austell Tribute. Good value lunchtime specials board (£5-£6), nice little sun-trap beer garden with growing vine. Short visit, but I liked the place.

29 Jul 2007 08:35

The Dolphin, Eastbourne

First in as pub was opening ystdy at 12:00, off came the towels and relieved to see the beer pulled thru before we were served 3 very good pints of Harveys (£2.55), TT Landlord was also available. I liked the look of the bar although it is probably 'newer' than it seems at first glance. Food menu (& prices) a little pretentious, but good start to the Eastbourne crawl.

29 Jul 2007 08:32

Terminus Hotel, Eastbourne

Good range of Harveys, as expected at this brewey held pub located on the main shopping street. Plasma (no sound) opposite bar showed the racing ystdy but we sat outside is if en francais, even if some of the passers-by lacked a little parisien chique. Heard this place had a £1.5m(!) re-fit, looked ok but what exactly could have cost all that? Visited 15:00 so cannot comment on aforementioned lighting effects (although I doubt they'd be to my taste). Varying mix of clientele, not unlike that which you may expect at a (railway) terminus bar.

29 Jul 2007 08:24

The Marine, Eastbourne

Impressive bar presentation leads to conservatory-like area, then paved beer garden. Harveys was fine, lots of specials on individual blackboard plaques which sounded good but not cheap (eg half shoulder of lamb £13.95).
Imagine it has a good mix of locals & visitors.

29 Jul 2007 08:06

The Windsor Tavern, Eastbourne

Wasn't on the list of targets but we went in after exchanging pleasantries with the guv & others outside. Two huge plasmas showing different games, pool table & dartboard although you couldn't use both at the same time. A bit laddish in the beer garden area out back. The beer though, showed why it was 'off-map' - just Broadside on handpump, and it was pretty awful.

29 Jul 2007 07:59

Hurst Arms, Eastbourne

Can understand Floyd's comment re the 2 rooms either side of central bar - very much young 'uns and older 'uns, unfortunately I'm falling into the latter category but this place does the mix well. Bar billiards table (they have a league team!) was covered, prob for sat nt, but we settled for a quality Harveys and a chat with the landlord, who steered us toward Quali-seas chippy, back in town, for much needed solids. Good local feel.

29 Jul 2007 06:57

The Oval Tavern, Croydon

Couldn't check opening times before returning here as the number listed above 'does not accept incoming calls'(!) However, it was open at 14:30 but only one of the four handpumps was in action as they were 'waiting for a delivery'; so no beer for a few days then? The Waggledance was warm & fairly unpleasant. I liked the rather bohemian look & feel of the place but I was the only customer and the beer & dodgy 80s funk drove me away pdq. Pity, as I liked the idea of the occasional blues programmes they put on but this correspondent cannot identify with many of the positives listed by others below.

26 Jul 2007 17:29

The Red Lion, Lindfield

Quite busy for lunch yesterday, to the extent that I popped over to the Stand Up Inn whilst waiting for the food rush (& small bar queue) to quieten. Returned to a good pint of Harveys, there was another handpump on offer but I don’t recall what it was, sorry.
Attractive rooms either side of a large central wooden bar, enormous beer garden to the rear.

26 Jul 2007 09:50

The Stand Up Inn, Lindfield

Greeted by 9 handpumps, DarkStar Hophead, Best & Original, Oscar Wilde, 1648, something at 6.2%, plus 3 ciders including Black Rat.
The look is modern, slightly spartan, but there is a bar billiards table… or just stand by the bar near all that wonderful beer!

26 Jul 2007 09:34

The Bent Arms, Lindfield

The beerpumps were being polished when I arrived yesterday lunctime; always a promising sign and the 3 beers did not disappoint, the Badger, Tanglefoot and Sussex bitter (not Harveys) were all in great shape.
It seems to be popular for food and the lunch rush kicked in soon after 12:30 keeping Lorna, the lone barstaff, busy with food & drinks orders and service for the bar and restaurant as well as some peripheral duties for the attached hotel.
The bar itself features an effective, but not original, sloping timbered ceiling and has some curious paraphernalia such as a ship’s speed navigation mechanism and a rather unfortunate stuffed bear. Large grassy beer garden to the rear. Intrinsic to a Lindfield mini-crawl.

26 Jul 2007 07:31

The Duke of York, Marylebone

I wouldn’t ordinarily visit an establishment which so blatently promotes itself via narcisistic self reviews, but I was in the area so decided to step in for a reality check. Four customers and two aussie staff were in the carpetted bar at lunchtime, beers on offer were 6X, IPA, Bombardier – had the latter, which was fine. Tables were set up for eating (with ketchup btls) , I didn’t notice a food menu but the wine list led with Moet at a v reasonable £28.50 and the reverse showed features such as quiz night, 15min food turnover, summer pints of pimms. A plasma at each end of the bar suggests it is probably big on sport. I was always unlikely to be endeared to the D.O.M. having received a rude e-mail from one of its BITE incarnations following my comment (removed!) about self-aggrandisement, and that is still the case. Ordinary bar, ordinary beer. I moved on to the Masons (Badger beer and characterful pub) and the Carpenters (5 unusual real ales).

6 Jul 2007 10:52

The White Horse, Chelmsford

I didn't see a large selection of real ales yesterday and both the Broadside and the Mild were badly drawn and flat as a pancake. Unlike Camra's 'full-pint' club I prefer the aesthetics of a head on my beer and some life in the flavour. It won't be on my list next time.

4 Jul 2007 11:11

The White Horse, Chelmsford


2 Jul 2007 10:07

The Queen's Head, Chelmsford

The holy grail of yesterday’s Chelmsford crawl, and the Queen’s Head did not disappoint. Eight or so real ales to choose from but, since this is effectively the brewery tap for Crouch Vale, I couldn’t look beyond the excellent Brewers Gold. When I return to these parts there will be a few pubs dropping off the list to allow more drinking time here. Fantastic.

1 Jul 2007 12:07

The Oval Tavern, Croydon

CLOSED at 15:30 yesterday. Check opening hours before travelling!

27 Jun 2007 10:59

The Park Tavern, Kingston Upon Thames

My previous couple of visits have seen a good selection of ales on handpump but quality has not been quite top notch. I feared the worst yesterday as my first choice had to go back, but it was a case of bottom of the barrel and my subsitute Summer Solstace was perfect. Good local pub hidden down residential street, worth a visit before/after Willoughby.

24 Jun 2007 11:33

The Willoughby Arms, Kingston Upon Thames

Very good pub. Quality ales regularly rotated; choice of 4 yesterday but can only remember Surrey Hills Shere Drop, which was delicious. Rear bar is very sports orientated with framed shirts & paraphernalia, two 'drop down' big screens for the football (was packed last England match). Pool room walls are covered with superbly iconic movie photographs and this area leads out to a good-sized grassy beer garden with a large protective lean-to already erected presumably for the post-01July-smokers. Wish we'd had time last night to stay to listen to a blues/folk duo who were setting up to start at 21:30.

24 Jun 2007 11:20

The Oakdale Arms, Harringay

Don't know what the situ was with Rob & Nell but happy to report that they were both dispensing the beer on my first visit to the Oakdale on friday. What a top pub - nine handpumps greet you in the front bar and these were supplemented by ten barrels on stillage in the back bar during the beerfest. Milton beers are the regulars here and these were well represented along with a good cross-section of alternatives, strong on the summer/golden ale varieties which are my current favs, but also cider, perry & chocolate stout. Tried a dozen or so and was very happy with all of them. Outstanding - seems to be something of an oasis in this part of town and worth the treck from seven sisters. I'll certainly be going back.

24 Jun 2007 10:20

The Barley Mow, Shepperton

Good beer selection, 4/5 pumps incl Summer Lightning and Hogsback TEA when I visited at lunch but, whilst the latter was not quite rejectable it certainly was not in peak condition. They were serving plenty of it but others, incl someone I presumed to be the guv, seemed happy with it. The place was quite busy around 13:00 and noticeably a locals place, I liked the bouyant atmosphere and maybe I was unlucky with the beer but that doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed, especially in light of glowing comments attached.

7 Jun 2007 16:47

The Bell Inn, Shepperton

Ignore my prev comment until it is removed, wrong pub, sorry.

Bell Inn was very quiet mid afternoon but enjoyed some Itchen Valley Pure Gold (4.8%) and Archers Crystal Clear (5%), also served Adnams & Courage. Clean carpetted bar area with a few nice framed prints around the walls and a dartboard at one end (although if it were in use it would be inhibit access to the loos), four round umbrella-covered tables out front toward the pavement. Nice enough pub but the value of a specific journey may depend the variety of guest ales. I threw in the Barley Mow & Harrow, and you can make a them a circuit from/to Shepperton stn by using the footbridge over M3 at the end of Old Charlton Rd. Check with Bell before travelling, the lunchtime hours are sometimes restricted.

7 Jun 2007 16:39

The Bell Inn, Shepperton

Good beer selection, 4 pumps - 2 mainlines plus Summer Lightning and Hogsback TEA when I visited at lunch but, whilst the latter was not quite rejectable it certainly was not in peak condition. They were serving plenty of it but no-one else, incl someone I presumed to be the guv, seemed bothered. The place was quite busy around 13:00 and noticeably a locals place, I liked the bouyant atmosphere and maybe I was unlucky with the beer but that doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed, especially in light of glowing comments attached.

7 Jun 2007 16:06

The Harrow, Charlton Village

I don't think it quite delivers what it promises on the tin. The facade is a lovely thatched country inn but the bar area is more cramped than expected and the table layout suggests that diners hold priority over drinkers. I waited, alone at the bar, for a few minutes before someone arrived to pull me a pint of OSH (which was fine), the other 2 pumps were Abbot & IPA. The look of the bar area is old timber & beams, these sit a little incongruously with the strong smell of curry as you enter. The aroma, however, made me recognise my hunger and led me to find the indian menu displayed on a wall but, having chosen a couple of tasty-sounding appetisers, I was told that this was the evening-only menu. The lunch menu on the chalkboard was varied and good value (£5-£8) but too different from my initial choice to be of interest. A loud telephone was left ringing unattended behind the empty bar & this drove me back outside to the decent garden area with tables and natural tree shade. Could have been better, but now a GK pub and no more than 6/10 in my book.

7 Jun 2007 15:42

The Red Lion, Southwold

Later in the day when we staggered back from Walberswick to the Red Lion, which was now very busy around the bar but we mercifully grabbed a table in an anex room. Exhausted from drinking and improvised twilight dune 'boules' (rock throwing) it all seemed a bit raucous for me, especially with an upstairs party getting into gear, but that would be an unfair reflection of the pub. Omnipresent Adnams beers were good, the folk were friendly, the long chalkboard menu looked appetising. Another good pub but, by now, (& whisper it quietly in Adnamsland), I was sacrilegiously craving a guest ale!

31 May 2007 14:33

The Victoria, Hitchin

Closed when I arrived at 14:57 yesterday.

31 May 2007 13:47

The Albert Inn, Hitchin

First pub on small circular (actually, bottle-shaped) crawl of Hitchin ystdy. Only me in there at 12:30 but pool table & large darts area suggests a pub for locals & regulars. Spitfire was in good nick, also had Pride & Wells' Eagle. Nothing over-special at lunchtime but I imagine it shows true character when busier.

31 May 2007 13:41

The Nightingale, Hitchin

A pub with something of an identity issue? Lounge area with sofas to the left of the bar contrasting with dartboard area out the back. Four handpumps incl Nethergate Old Growler (5% porter) & N'gate Azzarat were a positive aspect but I was unfortunate enough to visit the loo while I was there and the filthy condition did not reflect an attitude of care toward the pub or its customers.

31 May 2007 13:33

The Sunrunner, Hitchin

Lots of handpumps (maybe 10?) but just a couple of bitters on ystdy lunch, fair comment made about limiting choice at quiet times to avoid wastage thru lack of throughpull. A little disappointed that having checked the pumpclips (& been seen to do so) at both ends of the bar I still had to go back to ask if anyone was serving. Ended up with Hydes 1863 which was good. Front bar has attractive rounded bay windows & I hope/presume it loses its coffee-shop ambience when busier. Pub stands opposite lovely old half-timbered building with a "developer's" sign hanging threateningly from its facade; I hope it gets preserved. Sunrunner looks great for beer, I would go back if ever in Hitchin again.

31 May 2007 13:08

The Kings Arms, Hitchin

Good aspect if you approach from Tilehouse St and see the pub immediately as you turn into Bucklersbury; something of a surprise to enter a rather tiny front bar but this is two-sided and the farthest room is much larger. Deuchers, Pride & a.n.other, Abbot(?), ystdy, quality ok but not exceptional. The kitchen could do with an extractor to lessen the cooking odour in the bars. Friendly staff.

31 May 2007 12:42

The Half Moon, Hitchin

Evidently care for their beer and seemed to be getting a visit from a micro-brewer when I was there yesterday. I love the idea of a gov'nor with the freedom to discuss hops & what's next off the press and order accordingly. Four bitters when I visited were Oldershaw Flag Fen, Adnams, Youngs, Banks & Taylor Shefford, also Old Rosie, Sheppy, & a Perry for the cider lovers. Looks newer inside than out, but I liked this pub.

31 May 2007 12:26

The Royal Oak, Borough

Always considered this pub first rate with quality Harvey's ales, good layout & decor, lovely food (based on a single experience) and friendly service. This week, however, I had a most unfortunate experience when the barman (E.Euro, I think) sneezed into his hands before serving me then reached straight for a pint glass without giving a thought to washing first. It quite put me off my beer; I must give the Royal Oak a low rating and a wide berth until I manage to erase the incident from my mind.

11 May 2007 08:39

The Pride of Spitalfields, Shoreditch

Big screen showing cricket replay Sat pm with volume way too loud, but Brewers Gold still exceptional.

29 Apr 2007 07:32

The Commercial, Herne Hill

The only place in Herne Hill (or Tulse Hill or West Norwood for that matter) for decent real ale. Four handpumps change on rotation and are well kept. The range isn't too radical but the mainstreams are supplemented with some decent alternatives such as Timothy Taylors, Brains SA etc, also Addlestones cider and some weissbiers. Used to drink in here late80s when I first moved south so I regret the loss of the lovely wood panelling and 50% of the old horseshoe bar but the place still retains some charm & is now busy in the evenings so the conversion is evidently a success, no doubt aided by its location directly outside HH train station. Food & wine menus pretty much the same as the Greyhound in Dulwich. Good pub.

28 Apr 2007 12:23

The Pride of Spitalfields, Shoreditch

Outstanding. Buzzy, busy, but not overcrowded yesterday at 13:30, and everyone happy and chatting! Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, Sharp's Doom Bar, Pride, ESB & lots of old pump clips suggesting good rotation policy but the Brewers Gold which I found delicious (light fruity summer ale) is a constant. 'Mary's Pantry' next to the bar is dispensing down-to-earth grub at silly prices mostly <£3, eg Ham,Egg,Chips £2.50. The place has a couple of pavement tables outside & an upright piano in the corner; don't know whether they ever get a knees up-going of an evening! If you want to eat on the hoof, the Beigel bakery is toward the north end of Brick lane and their salt beef beigel or sandwich with mustard & pickled cucumber is heavenly.

28 Apr 2007 09:33

The Commercial, Herne Hill

Testing123, why are my reviews disappearing into the ether?

28 Apr 2007 09:11

The Barley Mow, Shoreditch

Old school, rough & ready, one room, wood floor pub whose larger than life guv & bar customers may look a little daunting to the faint-hearted but are friendly enough. Three Fullers beers on handpull but they let the side down, Pride was pretty awful, hopefully I was just unlucky on my visit.

28 Apr 2007 07:32

The Bell Inn, Walberswick

Walked along the dunes from Southwold and arrived via the foot-ferry (a well-worth-it 70p in a rowing boat). The pub was very quiet at 17:30 so some sporting rivalry continued over a game of dominoes; good pub guide suggests that they also have shove-ha'penny & boules. Usual Adnams beers were good, the pub was attractive with wood panelling, a nice looking breakfast room for the hotel to one side, a huge grassy beer garden to the rear past which was a view of the sea. Tried to book accom here but they have a two-night minimum stay.

27 Apr 2007 10:55

The Brewery Tap, Wimbledon Village

A little clinical in appearance and not a style I would ordinarily look for, but this place does seem keen on serving a decent selection of ales. As I was passing yesterday I peered through the open window at the four hand-pumps and the barmaid cheerily popped out to ask whether I could be tempted by anything. Nice to get a friendly greeting, and the choice included a 5%-er from Joseph Holt as well as a Mild and Adnams & Pride. I'll be back to sample another time

27 Apr 2007 10:52

Swan Hotel, Southwold

Bland hotel bar. Barman seemed to take an age before approaching us with a surly 'Yes?'. Sorry, but that is simply rude and not, I'm sure, how the management of this Adnams hotel would expect staff to greet customers. The guy (from SA I think) lightened up later but, in my mind, the damage had been done. Bizarrely, the courteous & very helpful barman from our previous stop (Crown Hotel) was buzzing around the area - his colleague could learn a thing or two. The beers were ok but I prefer to be in a pub anyway.

25 Apr 2007 10:38

Pier Bar, Southwold

Inside is far more similar to a pier cafe than a pub or bar, but with the sun shining it was very pleasant to sit outside with a beer watching the sea. There is also an open but shielded wooden windbreak area with tables, and the beer quality was far superior to what you may usually expect in a tourist trap, Adnams of course, like every pub in town.

25 Apr 2007 09:52

The Prince of Wales, Wimbledon

I find it hard to get excited by this place but equally hard to find negatives. The bar area is attractive with intricate tiled floor, the pumps shine and dispense 4/5 mainstream ales in good condition on handpull, the staffing levels are good so you never wait to be served, but somehow everything is a little clinical or impersonal. Maybe I'll have to leave time for more than one next time I'm waiting for the train.

23 Apr 2007 08:55

Mannings, Ipswich

Nice bar, good looking woody interior, 4/5 ales inc Adnams(x2), Summer Lightning, Pride, those sampled in very good shape. Friendly barman mentioned a couple of others they get in on rotation. Good all round.

23 Apr 2007 08:38

The White Hart Hotel, Saxmundham

Friendly service, good Adnams bitter, large seating area just off the front bar with chesterfield sofa, pool room to the rear with bar-service access, tables outside in flagstoned beer 'garden'. Mix of piped music was varietal & pretty good. Best of the three we entered in Saxmundham.

23 Apr 2007 08:31

The Railway Inn, Saxmundham

No real ale, no point.

23 Apr 2007 08:25

Bell Hotel, Saxmundham

It's a hotel bar, Adnams beers, Regatta was poor, changed for bitter which was ok. Can't comment on the hotel itself, but nothing special as a drinking venue.

23 Apr 2007 08:22

The Coopers Dip, Saxmundham

No answer yesterday on the tel# posted above, so don't know whether the pub is open or not. Since time was short we decided not to take the chance and stayed in the White Hart.

23 Apr 2007 08:19

The Albert, Witham

Sour beer, infested with chavs & their offspring, truly awful.

23 Apr 2007 07:43

The Hand and Raquet, Wimbledon

The choice of ales seems to be decreasing and becoming more mainstream (GK dominant), & the list of forthcoming beers is no longer posted next to the stillage behind the bar. Some of the staff display a discourteous attitude and the whole feel seems to be less customer friendly. Sad to reassess my original rating but seriously needs to sharpen up its act & outlook.

13 Apr 2007 10:26

The Goat, St Albans

Good looking bar area although it probably gets a bit clogged when busy, chesterfield style sofas in room to the left and seems to open up to the rear with lots more room, possibly for eating. The St.Austell Tribute swings it for me though, it was first rate.

9 Apr 2007 10:14

The Lower Red Lion, St Albans

Lovely pub with friendly helpful bar staff and great selection of real ales, maybe 7/8(?) when I visited on Sat, but are they stocking too many without adequate through-pull? The two we sampled were not crystal clear and, while not quite rejectable, did not taste as clean as one might expect in what is obviously a beer haven. Sadly, I was a little disappointed this time.

9 Apr 2007 10:06

The White Lion, St Albans

Top notch. Nice feel to this place, welcoming barstaff, good selection of ales. Tried the Titanic Anchor & Jennings Cumberland and both were outstanding, I think there were 3 or 4 others on offer. Probably the pub of the day for me on yesterday’s St.A. crawl.

8 Apr 2007 10:16

The Verulam Arms, St Albans

You would think from the name that this may be a pub of great history and character, it's not. The interior is modern and bland. 'Great decor' gingerprince? I think not! The pub was completely empty yesterday at 17:00. That said, the staff were friendly enough and the beer was ok. The pub is already no-smoking throughout.

8 Apr 2007 07:46

The Sun Inn, Englefield Green

Looks good outside and in (Inn) but, oh dear, what a let down the TEA was after enjoying a very good version of the same at the Fox & Hounds. Came up clear but somehow managed not to realise how flat & sour it was until it was too late to realistically ask for a change. Returned 3 half-drunk pints to bar on way out and mentioned it wasn't right. Some helpful punter at the bar suggested we'd made a bad choice as it hadn't been served for a coupla hours. I won't relay the friendly advice I could have dispensed in return.

2 Apr 2007 15:03

The Fox and Hounds Restaurant & Bar, Englefield Green

Very much the country feel here, with horses clip-clopping down the road beyond the tables on the lawn outside. Superb pints of Hogs Back TEA. Light wood floor & large windows lend an airy feel to the bar, good looking blackboard menu but restaurant prices. Felt I should have ordered plums to make my manc accent more acceptable round here, but no-one was looking down their nose at us. Good pub.

2 Apr 2007 14:43

The Happy Man, Englefield Green

Comments on the unfortunately named Monkey's Forehead suggest that Dave has moved from here to there but the new couple running The Happy Man seemed very nice on Sat. No-one appeared to know this, however, as there were only my group of 3 and a friendly glaswegian & his lady here on Sat eve when we stopped by. Good pint tho, and an nice extra half of Gales HSB before moving on. Note previous comments re students, so maybe it's busier in term time.

2 Apr 2007 14:33

The Beehive, Englefield Green

Seemed very busy early Sat eve but I think the bar layout is not necessarily the best to take advantage of its space. Who cares, when the Summer Lightning is so tasty? Barman took the time to tell me about forthcoming ales as we were leaving but I was far to gone to be able to relate them to you here. Just have to go back & find out another time.

2 Apr 2007 13:53

The Armstrong Gun, Englefield Green

Very good Timothy Taylors Landlord on Sat pm. Can understand why some people may perceive the place to be a little intimidating at first, but it's just a good old local and I didn't detect any hostility at all. Definately on the list next time.

2 Apr 2007 13:47

The Monkey's Forehead, Egham

Getting later in the day by the time we reached this pub so cannot report on the choice of beers on offer. Recall being happy with whatever I had but what really sticks in my mind is that when I fancied a quick half of a different brew the beerpumps were down for cleaning (odd on a Sat nt) but the guv, presumably the aforementioned Dave, went down the cellar to get me a glass straight from the barrel. Now that is outstanding service! Studenty feel to the place but we got a good spot at the bar and a Landlord like that undoubtedly deserves to do well.

2 Apr 2007 13:38

The Red Lion, Egham

The first pub on our Sat lunch crawl, and a very good start. Can't remember the ale selections but the Pride was probably the best I have ever tasted and a wall poster suggested that Doom Bar bitter from the excellent cornish brewer Sharp's would be serving soon. The friendly Landlord offered to call us a cab to our furthest targetted pub but one of the attractive young barmaids had already given us a taxi#. The guv then went upstairs and printed the BITE page for the Fox & Hounds for us! Two plasmas and a small tv were all showing the match but without being intrusively loud. When we returned later, somewhat the worse for wear, there was live music in the shape of a young lad on base & an older Gorton bloke on guitar & vocals. They may not appeal to everyone but I thought they were very entertaining. Missed the train, oh dear, more beer. Good pub, will return.

2 Apr 2007 13:24

The Wheatsheaf Inn, Marsh Green

20 minute walk from Edenbridge Town & watch yourself on Marsh Green Rd, the cars can arrive at speed. First impression was not particularly welcoming but that changed when the barman took time out to talk about their beers & even local micros (eg Larkins, Chiddingstone). Very much a local regulars haunt, very dog friendly, details showing nearby point-to-point in which one of the lady customers was due to ride. Attractive interior, light wood floor, real fire, good menu but too long (keep it short & freshly cooked). Now then - Harvey's Sussex, Mild, Porter, Everard's Tiger, Cotleigh Harrier Lite (3.5%) from Somerset, Westerham Freedom Ale, Biddenden's (8%) cider on draught. Shame they had to have Neighbours showing on tv in back room but mercifully inaudible in bar.

29 Mar 2007 10:31

The Old Crown, Edenbridge

I note previous review mentioning Harvey's but on my visit this gave the impression of a Marstons tied house offering Pedigree, Burton Bitter, & Old Empire. I'm often a little sceptical believing Marstons not to be the best of travellers, but the Burton was fine. Pub has Ye Olde look outside not necessarily reflected inside, although there is an enormous fireplace just off the bar area (unlit on this occasion). Some characters chatting around bar, chalk board menu looked pretty good although I didn't see diners, coffee machine in front bar, reception/accommodation out back.

29 Mar 2007 08:57

The King and Queen, Edenbridge

I think the same 3 regulars as my only prev visit were sat obscuring the beer pumps again but they aint hostile and this Sheps pub had Spitfire, Materbrew, & Bishops Finger. Evidently popular locally and for food too, but am I alone in thinking that the phrase (for my Spitfire) "That's £2.90" is missing a word? I noted the same brevity (rudeness) with another customer, maybe he was an outsider too.

29 Mar 2007 08:38

The White Horse Inn, Edenbridge

Friendliest greeting on Edenbridge Town tour. Was in early so only customer but guv took time to explain his beer rotation policy. Keeps two Sheps pumps with Masterbrew a constant and the other rotating seasonally. At this time t'other was Early Bird which will give way to Goldings or Whitstable Bay (summer), then Late Red (Autumn), then Spitfire (Winter). Be interested to see the pub when busier; beware it closes in afternoon and was already locked when I returned at 15:05.

29 Mar 2007 08:28

The Basketmakers Arms, Brighton

Good range of beers, including Jennings Cumberland today, and the daily food specials read very well indeed, eg Fillet of Black Bream with new pots & roasted pepper sauce for just £5.95, but I can't help thinking that the drinkers are slightly marginalised at lunchtime when the whole pub smells like the kitchen. That, however, is admittedly something of a devil's advocate standpoint and I think this is a terrific pub run by people who evidently care about their food & drink and are always welcoming & polite.

28 Mar 2007 21:14

The Setting Sun, Brighton

Left Basketmakers, crossed grand parade, hiked up the very steep morley & sussex streets, reached the Setting Sun(pretty much an estate pub)completely out of breath, to find a chalk board outside pronouncing the beer garden was open; it wasn't, the pub DOESN'T OPEN UNTIL 15:00 MON-THURS! The view doesn't include the sea, just the hilltop properties to the West. I can't give it any plus points & won't be back.

28 Mar 2007 21:01

The Lion And Lobster, Brighton

One of my favs in Brighton. Good selection of high quality beer, attractive barmaids, local feel. Busy in a good way early evening but very relaxed this lunchtime. Darkstar Hophead & Festival, Wessex Bitter from Cottage Brewing, Harvey's Sussex, and Abbot from boycotted GK. Wood bar and panelling, 2 TVs (no sound today), 1 plasma out back. Best pub near seafront for beer & atmosphere. Food selection didn't look great, in fact I can't recall seeing anyone eat there on my half dozen visits, but Bankers chippy is just up on Western Rd where I tend to eat in, as the gulls round here attack in squadron formation - I'm sure they must be in radio contact.

28 Mar 2007 19:36

The Railway Bell, Hampton

Friendly bar, local chat, Twickenham ales, great stuff. And a good chippy round the corner.

24 Mar 2007 09:23

The Jolly Coopers, Hampton

CLOSES 15:00-17:00hrs, so will have to postpone comment.

24 Mar 2007 09:14

The Bell Inn, Hampton

Good location overlooking river but the beers were poor. Barmaid changed my cloudy Buccaneer for ... a cloudy Pride. I headed back to the Railway Bell and the very tasty 'Naked Ladies' from Twickenham Ales.

24 Mar 2007 09:08

The Crown and Sceptre, Kensington

Sorry, T.E.A. is Hogs Back, not Hopback. Obviously had Salisbury on my mind, Hopback & Downton breweries suggest that must be worth a visit.

22 Feb 2007 11:42

The Crown and Sceptre, Kensington

'Rugged cosmopolitan'? Glass, light weathered wood, mismatched seating & tables, eclectic mix? On my only previous visit both beers had just gone, but was impressed that barman dashed straight down to change them (as should be the case) but was in hurry so couldn't wait. I'm glad I went back yesterday; there seems to be an interest in beer that sits a little incongruously with the bar but that's good and the choice was Hopback TEA or 'Drum' bitter from Downton brewery in Wiltshire. 'Drum' (4.2%) was light, tasty & refreshing. Wine menu had some reasonable choices at £10-12 btl, sandwiches & bites £4/5, Tacos/Fajitas £6 on specials board. Harveys beer mats - so I guess they stock it on rotation. ... ps. reminded of fav joke of '06 : 'How do Mexicans keep warm?', 'They use chicken fajitas' boom boom!

22 Feb 2007 10:48

The Radnor Arms, Kensington

Visited yesterday afternoon; marvelous little locals pub with friendly feel and great beers. An Everards house; they had Tiger, Goldfinch Midnight Sun (Dorchester), and Wessex Brewery Merrie Mink. After 2 Tigers and 3 Goldfinch I was feeling quite emotional about the imminent demise of this oasis, especially as the coup-de-grace meeting seemed to be taking place out back while I was there. I wasn't privy to the details but the man from the Pru (who own the lease which expires in 2 weeks)seemed to dash off pdq which couldn't bode well. It would be fantastic if the pub, the crib corner, the fishtank, the great beers, the 6 excellent malt whiskies could find a reprieve but, if not, go there and enjoy it before the shutters come down, and good luck to the Guv & Guvness & local punters in finding somewhere even half as good to move to. The petition has over 2000 signatures - I hope they include some who will be cancelling accounts with Prudential.

22 Feb 2007 09:53

The Claret Free House, Addiscombe

Exterior presents a wine bar-like facade and I wasn't keen, either, on the corridor-like layout inside, but approach the bar and you know you'll be here for more than one pint. Five(six?)polished handpumps displayed real ales which were all new to me, none of which I can relate to you now as this was later in the day, although prev reviews mention Palmers and Westerham & those ring some sort of bell. Suffice to say I sampled four of them and enjoyed 'em all. Sad that Dark Star wasn't amongst them as HopHead is one of me favs, but good alternative selection and I can live with the decor which obviously helps keep the burberry boys at bay. Tiny tv showed the racing, & plasma at far end showed footy results. I'll be back.

20 Feb 2007 15:15

The Ship, Croydon

Spitfire, Pedigree & Banks bitters; tried latter which was in good condition. Surprised by loud music at noon when I was the only punter in the place but was ok and the small stage at the street end of the bar shows it to be an evening music pub. Cheap basic menu inc '2 meals for £4.95' eg Steak & Marstons ale pie, possibly not homemade organic. Bohemian feel appeals to me more than the bland looking Spreadeagle on the next corner.

20 Feb 2007 14:49

The Cricketers, Croydon

Change of feel on Sat pm when it was full of blokes watching Chelsea on tv. Not hostile exactly, but a very different pub to a mid-week visit. Handy for the tramstop (Lebanon Rd). Only the one handpump serving London Pride, which was fine, but I just had the one and jumped back on the tram (to Addiscombe) in search of beer variety at the Claret freehouse.

20 Feb 2007 14:31

The Dog and Bull, Croydon

Usual Youngs fare, Best, Special and, thesedays, Bombardier. My pint of mixed was in good form. Love the weathered old wood floor and general comfy unchanged feel of the place. Nod to modernism with plasma for football in rear room. Drink to the sound of the Surrey St market traders just outside. It's a good pub, cor blimey!

20 Feb 2007 14:16

The Half and Half, Croydon

Found Beer Circus open Sat lunchtime, but seemed as if the place had not been properly cleaned from Fri night - bar counter may have had a cursory wipe down, but was hardly gleaming and this, I thought, reflected a not-too-bothered attitude, mirrored also in the juxtaposition of the two handpumps in action - Dark Star 'espresso' and 1648 'Winter Warrant'; both dark beers. Loos pretty squalid and the bar had the feel of a waiting room rather than a pub. Conceptually good for beer drinkers but, sorry, this one was less than impressed.

18 Feb 2007 09:50

The Half and Half, Croydon

Very disappointed to find this place closed on Wed around 14:00. Should have noted prev reviews and called for opening hours, but shouldn't we expect a bar to be open midweek? Tempted to score zero as the opening hours were not even evident at the locked door but, in deference to what they are seemingly trying to do for beer drinkers, I'll post a 'don't know'.

16 Feb 2007 15:47

The Abbot, Redhill

Visited last month and thought it showed promise for such a large pub close to station. Landlord heard me discussing ale choices with friends and took the time to point out that Speckled Hen has now been reduced to 4.5%abv (from 5.2?) which makes it more approachable if on a session. Unfortunately that positive helpful attitude was absent yesterday lunch when, despite a friendly greeting from the bar, only one of the 3 handpumps was in action - GK IPA. Come on Abbot, make an effort.

16 Feb 2007 15:31

The Garland, Redhill

Disappointed by the irritating commercial radio playing behind the bar yesterday lunchtime; I like music, but not adverts and banal DJs. Come on Garland, can't believe your target clientel appreciate that intrusion. Previous review of great pub and beer still applies but this visit lasted for only one pint.

16 Feb 2007 15:14

The Salisbury, Leicester Square

Attractive horseshoe bar, attractive smiling barmaid, some victorian glasswork and ... six real ales. All boded well as I entered this pub, and so it proved. The beers? Youngs,Pride,Bomardier,Deuchers,Old Hooky,St Austell Tribute. Tried the last two named and Hooky was very good, Tribute excellent. Not keen on this area of town but I'll be back for another visit to the Salisbury.

25 Jan 2007 16:41

The Garland, Redhill

Had a good crawl round Redhill yesterday thanks to pub selection inspired by BITE reviewers, but a future visit would require more time to be allotted to the excellent Garland. Somehow, pubs serving Harvey's tend to be my kind of place and that was more than the case here. Full range of outstanding Harvey's ales, friendly bar staff (guv's son), well laid out seating, even a dart board tucked away nr the loo, a generally nice pub feel. The regulars are lucky to have this pub; heard some of them were on a day's jolly to Harvey's homeland of Lewes but I was given a taster of one of their fav mixes - Harvey's Old & Christmas Ale(8.2%) - not for a session methinks.

21 Jan 2007 15:42

The Home Cottage, Redhill

Liked this pub; good bar, and Youngs & Bombardier in good fettle. 'Facilities' above state Sky TV but that is incorrect (BITE - how do we get that changed?),so we missed the 2nd half of yesterday's lunchtime game but the barman kept us updated on the score, which was a nice touch.

21 Jan 2007 14:54

The Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell

In the spirit of fair assessment I looked in again when I was back in the area and two of the four pumps were in action; both the Timothy Taylors and the Adnams were in good condition. Wasn't eating but the food served to a nearby table looked good in both quality and portion. Huge windows provide a light, airy feel in the afternoon.

12 Dec 2006 11:48

The White Lion, Clerkenwell

Good chat with the landlord yesterday afternoon, top bloke. Restricted choice of bitter but the Adnams was in good nick and I think they had GK on too. Nice pint and good hospitality, I'll be back.

30 Nov 2006 12:49

The Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell

Woody, auldy worldy interior, tiny bar. St Peter's brewery beers. Nice. Went at 2pm yesterday and took a few minutes to be served, heard a couple of groups asking when their food would appear, but friendly enough and well worth a visit although I would avoid peak times as it must surely be uncomfortable when busy. Briefly featured in the beer episode of 'How London was built'.

30 Nov 2006 12:28

The Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell

Went in yesterday lunchtime. Four handpumps, no beer. What's the point?

30 Nov 2006 11:50

The Pelham Arms, Lewes

The only unwelcoming pub on our, otherwise, fantastic Lewes crawl. For the other 9 pubs visted I could wax lyrical about the astonishingly high standard of Lewes beer (mostly the superb Harveys, obviously)coupled with friendly greetings, but for the Pelham, alas, I cannot, since the morose and intransigent landlady refused to serve us (us being four 45-60yr olds looking only to enjoy good beer in peace!). I'll give it 1/10 for a cleanish looking bar, but I won't be putting the place on the list next time I'm in Lewes - too many great pubs to waste time at the Pelham.

5 Oct 2006 18:44

The Red Lion, Hopwas

Great locals pub with outstanding Bombardier and Pedigree when I visited. Friendly and polite barstaff and a nice chatty buzz around the smallish public bar. Arrived on a friend's narrow-boat - this and the Tame Otter either side of bridge over canal - Red Lion was much preferred for beer and proper pub feel.

30 Sep 2006 13:18

The Claret Wine Bar, Cheam Village

Don't be put off by the 'wine bar' tag, this is by far the best pub in Cheam. Good ambience, friendly (& beer-friendly) guv'nor, three good beers on tap - Masterbrew & Hepworth Iron Horse (4.8% strong pale ale) were in excellent form on Saturday. Sport TV not intrusive with low/no volume.

17 Apr 2006 13:21

The Hand and Raquet, Wimbledon

I should add that it looks rather more welcoming now than it did in the rather bleak photo shown here from its earlier days as Hogshead.

2 Apr 2006 09:12

The Hand and Raquet, Wimbledon

I don't know whether this pub has changed hands recently, but from my two lunchtime visits in March I found it to be very different to the pub portrayed in previous reviews.
It was a bitter drinker's heaven with a number of cask ales (7 last time), some displayed behind the bar and served straight from the barrel. All those tried were in top condition & served by friendly & helpful bar staff (including the highly efficient manager). I was even offered a taster before committing to a pint - I think this place is a gem, and evidently popular locally for food, which looked standard pub grub but I heard a new menu is imminent.

2 Apr 2006 09:08

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