I’m starting to acquire an affection for Otter‘s beers. Until last year every half I’d had, typically in Sussex and Hampshire country pubs, had been drab. A bit like Butcombe.
Since I started getting into Dorset and Somerset, there’s been some superb beer, which must reflect on the improved cellarmanship in the western counties.
I had more luck with Otter even closer to the brewery, in the picture book village of Broadhembury, which is also as close as the gorgeous Blackdown Hills gets to a Beer Guide entry. With lanes that make South Devon’s country roads look like motorways, and little public transport, that may be a good thing.
The Drewe Arms is your archetypal Good Pub Guide village pub, with the attractive streets overflowing with cars (I think I parked in the next county). The thatch and cob cottages around the pub are a small part of quite a large straggling village designed to confuse Simon Everitt when he tries to find the pub in 2037.
To be fair, despite a number of touches common to the upmarket dining pub like this in the Gents,
and a box of toys in the family room, the bar area did feel genuinely pubby, and certainly free of “greeters”.
Not much in the way of seating, and quite a formal setting for diners, but I couldn’t argue with the atmosphere or the quality of my half of Otter Ale (NBSS 3.5).
I’d always associated Otter and Butcombe with quite a small core range of beers, with the odd seasonal. Ale is one of five different Otters I’ve had recently. They’ve all been good, but I couldn’t tell you what their flagship beer is. The Fusion Wetherspoons Festival special was superb.
Years ago we paid a memorable trip to the Luppitt in Luppitt, home of an octogenarian landlady and a single polypin of Otter, as well as the brewery itself. It’s been out of the Beer Guide so long I assumed it was closed.
Although apparently last surveyed in July 2012, WhatPub assures me it’s still there, though with some of the most restrictive opening times outside of the Anchor Anchor.