I was going to delight you with a report on one of the greatest pubs in the world, serving Bass from the jug to cheery folk on bench seats in front of a majestic fire*, but where’s the fun in that ?
I know you really want to read about horrendous experiences in the home counties, going by my gastro nightmare in Battle last year.
Step up, Winterton Arms in Chiddingfold.
It’s in a proper bit of bucolic beauty in the Weald between the Devil’s Punch Bowl and the Surrey Hills.
It gets no posher than this, as anyone who’s been to the Merry Harriers in Hambledon will know.
The Winterton has the sort of Olde Worde/Modernist combination that Mrs RM loves, and the Tuesday custom was groups of South African entrepreneurs “chilli’ out” over bottles of White.
There’s no-one behind the bar, but a voice from somewhere says “Hello“. It takes me a while to realise a nice lady folding napkins somewhere is taking my order.
If I wasn’t here on GBG duties I’d have gone for one of the craft kegs on the inevitable white wall.
Instead, I’m forced to choose a “local beer”.
What Pub says “There is a strong focus on local breweries, with the likes of Crafty Brewing, Firebird, and Little Beer Company featuring“. As if that’s a Good Thing.
After the usual “Just a half of Dunsfold Best please“, “Was it just a half ?”, “Yes, just a half“, “Anything else ?”, “No, just a half please“ dance, this turned up.
I gave it a go, taking it to the high table underneath the Nana Mouskouri album cover. You’re getting images of the Squirrel in Battle already, aren’t you ?
I took a few sips. I looked at it. This is real ale, folks;
Please don’t ask what the stuff on top is.
Now, a basic principle of blogging is that if you’re going to criticise a place, you do it to the pub at the time. As you’ll know, taking your pint back is an art form.
(whispered) “Er, excuse me, I’mreally sorry, but I fear it may be the last of the barrel. What do you think ?”
The very nice lady, who had been enthusing about their ales 5 minutes ago, suggested the other one. Ah, this looks OK.
But as the head cleared, I was quickly left with this;
And it tasted as bad as it looked. Like a watery version of a badly kept pint of Websters Bitter in 1996. I thought of pouring the beer into the pot plant, but it would have overflowed and drowned my new mate.
At least I had company. I shall call him Anthony the Ant. I guess he escaped from the pot plant on the table.
And we wonder why Cask is dying.
*And it’s not in the Good Beer Guide this year.
**Don’t worry Dick and Dave, it isn’t.