(Adjective – indicating completion of Buckinghamshire Good Beer Guide entries)
Following the Good Beer Guide, rather than the advice of a mate as to the best pubs, certainly takes you on some lesser travelled roads.
GBG17 provides a rare excuse to visit the unknown land between Milton Keynes and Northampton. No, not Newport Pagnell, that’s the exciting bit.
It’s a land of (Grand Union) canals and (Salcey) forests, certainly, but very few new Beer Guide pubs.
My first stop however, was another reminder of the perils of sloppy GBG ticking. Blisworth is an attractive canal-side village, with the promise of a 10.30 opening at the Walnut Tree at the end of a drizzly walk along the Union.
I was ten yards from the door when I realised I’d been here not 18months ago, but had failed to update my GBG spreadsheet. As I retraced my steps I noticed the calling card of the man who’s actually done the whole Beer Guide.
Mrs RM and I agree about a lot, but mostly we agree that canal holidays are a bad idea given my famed lack of patience (Sorry Peter).
But walking along canal paths has its merits, and the Grand Union seems to have acquired a fair few Beer Guide pubs recently. Perhaps a consequence of old codgers like me and Mrs RM parking our campervans in places like Cosgrove, propping up beer turnover and quality out of season. And as we know, old folks are always drawn inexorably to water.
There’s a nice tunnel under the canal to the pub, but no tunnel art (apart from the unwanted liquid kind).
The Barley Mow is another impressive looking Everards pub (Tiger NBSS 3.5, beautifully presented), where they call you “Sir” but don’t ask if you’re dining. The sole conversation seemed to be about Marmite.
That’s a thumbs-up for Northamptonshire, but a couple of miles north-east you slip into Milton Keynes territory, which is nice.
The Cock is one of those 4pm openers which is packed with locals by 4.10, all drinking Fosters, Bud and Guinness at the bar. Everyone knew each other, and was catching up on each others tea arrangements. It’s a little bit of Feltham moved brick-by-brick to North Bucks. The windows (top) are their own, though.
What was the beer like ? It was hard to get through to the bar to find out, but I eventually decided on the GK IPA as the most likely (sorry Wagtail). It was very decent(NBSS 3), but I suspect the quality of the real ale won’t be switching many drinkers here off the Fosters, and why should it? Good to see the local CAMRA picking pubs on quality rather than the number of pumps.
This was my last Beer Guide pub for Bucks, and one of my county favourites for its community spirit, decent beer and Chinese takeaway opposite. I have simple tastes.