Hardly a year goes by without a disappointing trip to Gloucester. Why, oh why can’t it be like other modest Cathedral cities ? Never mind Salisbury, even Rochester has more GBG entries, and more to detain you.
Like Peterborough, the cathedral is the star, an absolute gem, even without the Potter trappings.
I tipped up on the first night of the Fun Fair, an annual event at which the Mayor repels the attack of craft beer,
and revellers flock to the official bar with it’s strangely unnamed offerings.
My Beer Guide newbie, the first central one for a while, is by the docks.
By the way, if I sound like I’ve got a downer on Gloucester, some disclosure is needed.
In April 2010 I parked my car in the retail park just south of those docks. In the morning I went back to fetch my son’s Nintendo DS, only to see my car hovering 20 feet in the air, held by a crane near the Burger King. Yes, parked in contravention of the rules, £255 or your car goes off to the crusher (or a depot in Avonmouth, arguably worse). A seven year old screaming “Don’t crush my DS !”. As I recall, Mrs RM laughed.
To be fair, the revitalised Dock area is perfectly pleasant, but lacks the sparkle of maritime Portsmouth or Bristol.
Full marks to the cheery and engaging staff, who seemed pleased to serve me. Perhaps because of their enthusiasm, they were selling a lot of beer. Some upholstered bench seating makes it feel decently pubby, though I was confined to the high tables.
A shame the Gloucester beer was served in a Bud glass, and their homebrew wasn’t sensational either. The keg Sourpuss almost was.
A 1981 soundtrack of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Bette Davis Eyes” and good cheapish burger compensated for an inability to discern any interesting banter among the young professionals.
The Spoons next door (complete with pizza oven) was bustling too, perhaps the busiest I’ve seen pubs in Gloucester.
In sharp contrast, Sam Smith’s restored Robert Raikes’s House is worryingly quiet on Saturday evening, as it was in 2010 on the night before CarCrushGate.
On that occasion I was fleeced for £4.55 for one of their small fruit beers, which made the cost of getting my car back seem quite reasonable.
The OBB was less than £3, and excellent (NBSS 3.5). I took it on a tour of the empty rooms.
Tellingly, the kitchen had closed at 6pm. I don’t know how it survives.
As the drizzle descended, Gloucester became a ghost town.
I trudged on through the rain, looking for street art.
Oddly, I then warmed to it. As usual, you just need to look up.
What else can I say ? The highest incidence of smokers I’ve seen anywhere outside Salford, and an essential visit to understand the vagaries of 1960s planning.