SPOILER : Contains rare praise for Greene King, so move on now if that upsets you.
If you’re American and travelling the Cotswolds on the Fodor (or even the retiredmartin) recommended route, I bet that Burford looks like that “Lil ol’ England” of your dreams. Or of any Richard Curtis film, anyway.
It’s very hard to find much to say about Burford, which seems to exist purely as a collection of pleasant small hotels, ladies boutiques, tea shops and antiques emporia for charabancs to visit on the way from Cheltenham to Oxford.
There may be a “Stockport of the Cotswolds” somewhere, but this isn’t it. At least there’s a hill.
I don’t think Burford has a Winters (RIP) or Olde Vic anyway, though in fairness it does have a decent collection of Wadworth, Hook Norton and Greene King houses amongst ten “pubs”. Tiny Rebel have yet to make much of an impression unfortunately.
Faced with that competition, Greene King’s Golden Pheasant looks the least Olde English of the lot. That’s why it’s in the Beer Guide, the first change here for a decade or more.
Inside, it looks very Greene King “Olde English“, with Champagne happy hour (I was too early), red Chesterfields and low beams. The fact it’s Champagne rather than Prosecco tells its own tale.
It knows its audience, a collection of retired gentlefolk and, er, retired gentlefolk. Service was exceptionally cheery, just as retired gentlefolk expect.
I thought I was the youngest until I came across a couple hiding in the corner. Obviously on an illicit midweek break from Maidenhead.
Far too many beers for a place where at least three of those would be seen as “exciting“, so I play safe with Britain’s second favourite beer.
How much longer must we tolerate thin glasses ?
To be fair, the IPA was more than decent, as it often is. Please don’t ask why I resisted the Daleside, you know the answer. You could smell the real fire from the bar. If technology ever allows, I’ll add an “scratch’n’sniff” feature to this blog.
A middle-aged fop came in and perused the hand pumps. Pointing at the Olde Trip, he asked a series of questions;
“Is that an ale or a lager ?”. (I snorted silently)
“I really shouldn’t do this before 12 you know” . It was ten past.
“Are you showing the quarter-finals of the tennis later ?”
No-one believes me, but there are vast swathes of the pub world which have never seen Harvey’s or Titanic, let alone Hopdaemon and Tyne Bank. I like that in a town. And those proper hand pumps.