I completed Surrey’s cohort of Beer Guide entries in Guildford, as is traditional. It’s a place I warm to more each year, though rarely because of the pubs.
There’s some unwelcome digging up of the High Street at the moment, but that doesn’t attract from some impressive buildings, and the castle is, like Shrewsbury’s, underrated.
I even spotted a bit of street art this year, though I don’t think Guildford University’s students can take much credit for that.
Each year sees a sole new Beer Guide entry, normally a casual dining pub with London Pride, TEA and Doom Bar in NBSS 3 form. I don’t think there is a “classic” Guildford pub, we did like the down-to-earth Rowbarge but that felt like it was in a different county. This is prime Peroni territory, particularly along Stoke and London roads. Not a lot of craft outside the traffic-worn Spoons.
I was expecting a bit more from the Robin Hood with its engaging WhatPub description.
A pleasantly basic looking corner pub with Milk Street, Triple fff and even Tetley on the bar promised much. I immediately dismissed the Hop Art due to the silly pump clip, and asked for the local Triple fff. The barman had no idea what this was, turning the clips round in turn, and then clicked that it was Alton Pride I wanted. Know your products.
It was OK in a Surrey NBSS 3 way, and the pub was quiet but pleasant. You knew you were in Guildford when you looked at the other table though.
Half the customers had their home computers with them, so I can only presume the coffee is better or cheaper than Starbucks (I doubt that). All helps pay the pubs bills.
Jeff Bell has extolled the merits of Surrey Hills on his blog, but my experience with their Shere Drop hasn’t been great. I put that down to turnover rather than the brewer, so imagine how thrilled I was to get a pint of it on the busiest day of the year.
Yes, Father’s Day in the Onslow Arms on the edge of the hills may be my idea of pub hell, but the beer was wonderful (NBSS 4). I can now put Shere Drop in the same mental box as Otter and Butcombe – “can be great”.
Instead of the usual “Straight or Handle” or “How ya doing” I was asked “Shall I put that on a Tab for you Sir ?” . A Tab ? “You’re very welcome”, as they say.
Pub Curmudgeon would have loved it. An upmarket Brunning & Price with children running around while you try to enjoy a superb beer. Book now for Christmas.
At some point Guildford will get a great pub, and I’ll finally understand the appeal of the modern Cathedral.