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.

Lager £4.00

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.


Gloucester Brewery’s newish Tank is a very decent chunk of modern beer bar, a bit like the Twisted Barrel tap but with burgers.



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.



Traditionally the town’s gem is the New Inn, still worth a look but as cluttered as the George, and with an even worse beer range.



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.






  1. I went to the Gloucester Spoons in 2002. I remember upsetting someone who sat at the table with me. Then the train home got delayed and Virgin ended up having to hire a minibus to get me and 5 other passengers stuck at Stafford back home to Stoke.

    It’s things like this that put me off travelling.


  2. Tank is my pub of choice for an after work drink being just around the corner, never been served a beer in a Bud glass before! Despite many of the usual craft beer bar traits it still manages to feel somewhat “pubby” to me, perhaps the decent spread of upholstered bench seating helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s sort of in the photo, from the lady in purple top into the corner under the tv then along the adjoining wall to the entrance is one continuous bench.

    Before the bar it was used as the brewery itself, they moved the brewery into a warehouse on the opposite side of the dock to make way for the bar, I don’t know what it before the brewery was there, that was before my time in Gloucester. Gloucester brewery did try to secure the building where the Wetherspoons now is for their bar but were outbid by spoons.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sam Smith’s “Southern” prices don’t make them the stonking bargain they are in the North, especially in a less well-off place such as Gloucester. Have you ever been in the Murenger House in Newport, Mon? (Me neither – why on earth would I want to go to Newport? 😮 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was £2.60ish for OBB, but of course most drinkers aren’t on cask anyway.

      Murenger House is great; Newport is a personal favourite, though pubs better than beer.


  5. The Docks also has a newish Spoons and a Brewhouse and Kitchen. Gloucester is a right mixture of a place unlike any other in the south and you have captured that really well. A big rugby town too with football playing a distant second fiddle.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Generally they are. Granted there are some busy ones, locally to me – The Duncan & General Elliot in Leeds, otherwise they are relatively steady. There will be busier ones elsewhere, no doubt, demographics & local economics will no doubt have an influence. Myself and Mrs C have sat in The White Horse, W1 on our own on many occasions, despite it being a very characterful and pleasant hostelry and it’s West end location. I have said this many times before – the Smith family (that’s Humphrey then) will be seen as philanthropists in time; keeping quiet village pubs open when otherwise they would have closed for economic reasons. There was only myself and 1 other in Old Star yesterday 1800 – 1845! Smith’s aren’t the only ones with empty pubs neither!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. The ones I go in certainly aren’t! Boar’s Head in Stockport is busy throughout the day, and on two visits in May the White Horse in Beverley was virtually standing room only.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been before, of course. It’s the other Beer guide regular now that Wadworth place south of the docks has dropped out. I thought Pelican was a proper pub, though the HPA wasn’t great. Will pop back sometime a Gloucester bound to get new pubs.


  6. Went in Robert Raikes’ House yeterday lunchtime and, while a beautiful building inside and out, it wasn’t remotely busy then either. I thin Sam’s suffer from the twin problems of not being a recognised brand in that area, and their “Southern” prices not being the stonking bargain they are in the North. OBB was £2.80.

    In Stockport or Huddersfield that pub would be heaving.

    I also noticed the interesting upper floors of those two buildings near the Cross.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Raikes does serve food, although of a rather bog-standard variety. I was almost tempted to go in the Tank instead as their sandwiches sounded much more interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

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