Our night in Oxford drew to an end as dusk descended, in the Pint Shop, Mrs RM deciding she’d had enough pubby fun, and wasn’t doing the Sam Smiths place with the rest of the gang.

This was a slight disappointment to me, but I’d guess the Pint Shop is a gazillion time more likely to get in a future Beer Guide than Sam’s. Just a hunch, mind.  Tim Hampson joined us and great company he proved.

Local knowledge suggested the Pint Shop could be quiet, just as the Cambridge original can be before the suits join in with the odd tourists.

Not quiet today, in fact a cacophony of noise, and a good mix of drinkers upstairs, with diners down below.  Somehow Mrs RM found the last table. It’s a knack.

Pint Shop -the Euston Tap for poshos

All the same things that slightly irritate me in Cambridge are here as well.  Mainly, the dangling lights that I always bang my head on.  “Your fault” said Mrs RM. She’s right.

And a Bristol-style “order by number” craft beer board I can’t read.

Read very carefully

Eagle-eyed craft aficionados like Paul Mudge will notice a certain corporate feel to the beer menu; loads of Camden, Nene Valley and other usual suspects. Not much for the curious, and keg beating cask 18 to 3.  #CaskIsDead.


The obvious cask to go for, Maharajah from West Berkshire (IN A HANDLED GLASS !!!), was less than spectacular, too, as noted by Pub Curmudgeon yesterday.  £3.50 a pint was verging on bargain, mind.

But apart from that it was hard to fault.  Mrs RM had the strong keg from Stone and Beatnikz Republic, and you suddenly could have been in a proper beer town like Manchester.


It was so good, Mrs RM cancelled plans (as they say on NBSS) to visit a Thai restaurant and we ate downstairs. Excellent pork belly and kebabs, washed down with a better cask beer from Thirst Class Ale and a beer chosen solely for the novelty name from Nene Valley. You can guess which one.

And that was Oxford.

Except I had 10 minutes before the Park & Ride bus rumbled round, just enough time to verify the Three Goats Head actually exists (I’d never noticed it before).

It’s a Sam Smiths, honest

It comes as quite a shock after Sam Smiths in Levenshulme and Stocky, and not just for the youth of the customers.

Youthful Sam Smiths

Small, plush and cosy, without the curmudgeonly Old Boys you expect, and I wouldn’t have recognised it if not for the bar.

Classic brands

Closer to three quid a pint than two, the OBB was Beer Guide standard, but it will never make it. But I’d have it in Cambridge in an instant.




39 thoughts on “SAM SMITHS v PINT SHOP

  1. The blackboard was encountered by us in The Small Bar Bristol -Mr Tyke without his right glasses on struggled to make a choice under the gaze of youth/beardy individual behind the bar -we felt ancient in there !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The “Three Goats Heads” has been a Sams since August 1986, having previously been a pizza restaurant. But the handpumps were taken out in about 1998, and it was keg-only until about three years’ ago. Other than ‘Spoons, it is the cheapest ale in the city centre. The “Oxford Union” – not a pub – next door also has cask ale, and was the venue for the original CAMRA Oxford beer festivals in the late 1980’s.
    The ‘Spoons at Cowley, some three miles from the city centre, has recently been reprieved from closure and has cut its ale prices to celebrate. Ruddles at £1.79, and all other guest ales at £1.99. The “Ferryman’s Gold” (4.4%) from Lodden tasted good today at £1.99 per pint, which is an amazing price for anywhere in the South-East.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It did mean that OBB was absent from more than fifteen years – not sure about your “…so soon…” comment ! Its return was prompted by new management who wanted cask ale.
    The ‘Spoons prices are excellent, but sadly at the Cowley branch only. The two city centre branches are in the £2.60 and upwards price range for guests.
    Shame that your crawl wasn’t more widely advertised, but if all of your readers had attended, getting served might have been a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 15 years, the blink of an eye in Sir Humphrey’s timeline ! Sorry, meant so recently.

      The Beer & Pubs Forum is a secret society; I had to answer a test question about Burton Union closure to gain admittance. Pub Curmudgeon may comment, but it’s a fairly informal get-together rather than an “official” crawl, and finding a table for 8 would have been beyond us !


      1. So am I the only reader who wasn’t invited then ?
        When I said “…if all of your readers had attended, getting served might have been a problem”, I wasn’t thinking of a table for eight, more of a table for several thousand !
        Of course, Bass from the Burton Union system pre-dated best before dates. I regularly drank Bass in one pub where the landlady insisted that all Bass served must have sat for a minimum of six months in her pub’s massive cellar. And she sold a barrel (a 36) of Bass every day. You don’t get cellars, pubs, landladies or Bass like that today !

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, there are no doubt very clear rules on the Forum (if I could be bothered to read them) about people with clearly made-up names.

        Anyway, SIX months ? I have no idea about beer any more, but that does seem to take maturation to extremes !


      1. Fred,
        I certainly remember pubs where all Bass served must have sat for a minimum of six weeks, rather than months, months in the cellar.
        And pubs where customers would take the Bass back if there was a head on it.
        I think it was about 1981 when Bass Charrington got rid of the Burton Unions.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Don’t worry Fred, I never got invited neither. I would have got the Burton Union question wrong anyway – A defunct and now mythical beer production method from long ago, that only exists in the promotion blurb of Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries and in the fantasies of members of said secret society is apparently not the answer required.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will keep my powder dry (I’ve already paid for my room and don’t want to be barred from the trip before I get there – I mean what else would one do in Wolverhampton?). In the meantime I will keep my commentary to Sam’s – interesting about the pub and the OBB. Bit of a problem with the supply (production) and demand at the minute. Little demand (on all Sam’s products) and production wobbly and quality variable. Since Christmas we’ve had the most hoppy variation ever (which is super) and new casks of old, almost vinous, solera-fied stuff and casks getting sent back. Can never understand why they don’t put Sovereign in cask, it’s far more suited to the modern palate (whether connoisseurs like it or not – they have to make a living). Makes you wonder whether they are tinkering with the recipe (hint, hint).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wolverhampton also has the first set of traffic lights installed in the UK (although probably not the actual original lights now).


  4. “Read very carefully”

    With a board that size you’d have to go for #18 obviously. It’s a No Brainer. (LOL)

    “just enough time to verify the Three Goats Head actually exists”

    Not sure if the Three Goats Head exists, but the Three Goats Heads certainly does. 😉


    Liked by 1 person

      1. “How’s your better half ?”

        Apologies for being a bit of a drag but not good alas. More pre-cancerous polyps, needs major surgery. 😦

        But I’m trying not to let that define our lives at present. Chin up and all that.

        Heck, it’s a good excuse to have a beer, eh? (or as you folks say, what?)* 🙂

        * apologies if I sound callous; just dealing with it in my own way

        Ok, back to beer blogging! (thumbs up)

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Note your comments about Palmers – can be brilliant when on form, otherwise it’s abysmal. Wouldn’t have touched it so far out of Dorset. NB similarities to Sam Smiths (late 18th C start up, family business, original (and stunning) brewery premises, more interested in property dealing than brewing, original beers only very subtly hopped).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good points. Haven’t really had as much Palmers as you do, at home or out-of-county. Did have a stunning pint of seasonal at London Victoria Spoons a year ago which suggested it CAN travel well.


  5. I have mixed feelings about pint shop, most unusual for the time you visited they normally have a 12-13% imperial stout on from a Scandi brewery, and they will absolutely not sell it in thirds, just halfs or pints (yes pints) and that being £5-6 for half. I just find that aspect slightly ridiculous. On the other hand you can get a bottle of sam smiths imperial stout (7%) for just over £4 in the three goats (and they do decent pub food).

    Liked by 1 person

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