Another Midlands catch-up with my old work colleague Charles last night. I finally found a decent guesthouse in Stourport, the Victoria having that delightful combination of cheery welcome, clean bedlinen and cold milk. A gem.

Stourport is no Bewdley, and pubwise no Kidderminster either. But the two Beer Guide pubs it does have are corkers, and show that underrated beers can be near nectar in the right landlord’s hands.

In January the Bird in Hand was one of the dozen pubs “shut when they should be open“, but after a presumed winter hiatus it was back looking like a classic all-day opener.


It might be a pleasant canal-side dining pub by day, but by 5pm the tradesmen of the parish had assembled, and it was a proper boozer (albeit a very blokey boozer) of the first order. You can tell by the surprise that greeted my request for a half (Government Guidelines and all that).

Charles observed that canal-side pubs are generally more basic and homely than their riverside counterparts, which is an argument with some merit.  As he’s Scottish, I rarely argue with him anyway.


A Hobsons and a Holdens on the bar made a change from the ubiquitous Wye Valley, and were a good NBSS 3.5.  The cheery landlord clearly adds a 3rd beer when it gets busy, rather than starting with six on a Monday.   As you can see, proper pub seating and a multi-roomed layout in the classic Midlands style.

Bird in Hand

I raved about the town centre’s canalside Black Star on a lunchtime visit last year, and it needed a return trip to test its Monday night credentials.

Verdict: As good as ever. Half a dozen locals, half a dozen beers isn’t a great equation, but they and we were sticking to the Butty Bach it seems, and it was a great advert for Hereford’s finest, with a real kick and a tight head.


Charles rather let the side down by asking for a taster of the Stout.  Apparently that’s still acceptable behaviour in Norfolk.  I apologised on his behalf, but still drank the generous sample while Charles dithered.

The Star is a long, narrow pub built for beer, banter and black pudding pies.  We skipped the latter having feasted on Pie Night earlier, but I nearly took one home.  Over an hour we came up with a plan to conquer the GBG pubs of the Lothians, and admired the pub dog.

The barman was a cheerful young soul, who became noticeably animated when we decided to finish on a pint of Robinsons Flagon (top).  I’m not saying this is the new Caffreys/Perroni/Punk, but I’ve seen a fair few youngsters drinking this gem in Worcestershire, and it seems to have acquired a cult following amongst Norfolk-based Scottish auditors too.  Smooth,  brightly coloured and alcoholic.

No headache the next morning either, so one up on Old Rosie.


  1. Haven’t been in the Black Star since 2013 and I’m glad to see it thriving – it was struggling a bit back then.

    I think we’ve only been in the Bird in Hand once…probably because we tend to start any pub crawl down by the river and work back through the town. Whilst they are not all of the greatest quality, it’s still nice that there are plenty of pubs to choose from still!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the photo of Alfie, our surrogate dog! The black star is an example of a pub that was run to the ground but rescued by passionate landord/landlady that do the simple things so well. The death of the British pub is much exaggerated.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s