Stopping at Winchester’s caravan park on the way to End of the Road made a change, we normally stay in Salisbury, which gives me plenty of time to whinge about warm Hop Back beers in their otherwise very lively pubs
The absence of the Beer Guide when we left home (surely the subject of a future Chilcott review) meant no chance of new GBG ticks. However it’s a while since we visited Salisbury’s neighbouring county town, and it meant Mrs RM could be terrorised by these fellows on our walk into town. I’m sure it was a coincidence we both opted for veggie options in the Old Vine.
Entering from the east, our first GBG pub is the Black Boy, home to half the town’s 20-30 population and all of its tat. Fans of stuffed zebra, Christmas trees in ceilings, and Mews Brewery will be particularly delighted.
Neither of those are criticisms. A very busy pub on a Wednesday night is a good thing, and memorabilia can provide character, as seen in the Yew Tree and the Sheppey. It’s a warren of interesting rooms, with few diners, and rather the exception to the current assumption that young people don’t go out midweek just to drink.
The beer, from Hop Back and Flower Pots, was decently cool and tasty (NBSS 3), as it should be at £4 a pint. The picture of Lord Olly gazing down at you was a warning about excess anyway.
We considered staying for some “pub grub”, but a soundtrack of Floyd and James Blake, which would inevitably be leading to C******y, persuaded us to move on.
As already described, we couldn’t eat in the Wykeham either, so decided on a touristy looking place in The Square. The Old Vine is a class act (and it’s Enterprise), managing basics like taking orders and feeding us more efficiently than for many months. Home-cooked veggie food too.
It’s not a place I’d come to drink, but as on my previous trip I rated the Butcombe highly (NBSS 3.5). Once again, the place was packed with smartly dressed folk out drinking on a mid-week. There’s hope for the pub yet.
We finished in Wetherspoon’s Old Gaolhouse, a tired building several notches down the posh drinking tree, but a rather joyous place.
We shared a Brew Dog Vagabond and wondered what was in the basket. The four ladies on that table finished their bottle (not Cloudwater DIPA) in about 3 minutes, top stuff.
I’ve rarely been in a busier town mid-week; what a lovely place this is. It’s probably just as well we didn’t know there were new GBG pubs to explore, as we’d had enough. The Rising Sun looked very enticing though…