Since GBG16 came out I’ve been to 32 new pubs in Somerset; only Cornwall (34) has seen more pubs ticked since September. I wouldn’t say Somerset has the best beer, but the county is now a real favourite for its walking and proper pubs. All I need now is to get to see cricket in Taunton (which itself is grim).
I wouldn’t have liked it a couple of weeks ago when “Glasto” brought the place to a standstill for it’s old folks convention. By the look of it there was still a lot of dismantling of posh tents going on ten days later, when I drove past Pilton to Shepton Mallet. Shepton looks like it needs the little annual economic boost it gets.
It’s an odd little town, a badly pedestrianised high street leading downhill to some attractive places built by the wool trade, including a bargain guest house at the Old Masonic Lodge. You could walk from here to Pilton Farm for next years Fest if you started now.
Inland Somerset has some of the country’s most famous unspoilt pubs, including Tucker’s Grave and the Rose & Crown at Huish Episcopi. A new one for me was the rural local at Witham Friary, with basic rooms and a serving hatch.
The Seymour Arms was somewhere between Newton’s Queens Head and the Three Stag Heads in Wardlow Mires in feel. Purists will love it, but the quality of the sole (bargain) real ale from Cheddar (NBSS 2.5) made it a less than brilliant visit. Basic isn’t always best, and plenty of well-heeled locals (judging by the cars) weren’t touching the beer either. Go for the experience, and the views.
Back in Shepton, the pubs are on the basic side of basic. Nothing in the Beer Guide, and nothing screaming “I’ll be in in GBG17 either”. So I picked the one showing the football.
The Swan is a thin, characterless, sports bar of a place, a model developed in Welsh mining towns or Small-town Essex. Four blokes, two standing at the bar, one at the door, one watching TV with a bowl of chips. I’ll call him Mr Ketchup.
Just the one beer on here too, an odd one from Cottage, and it was tremendous. Cool, tasty and with a tight head (NBSS 3.5). Beer that good might just get the Swan back in the Beer Guide.
Opposite the Chinese takeaway, the Wine Vaults had some impressive Bass livery, but I chickened out of that one.