Yes, these little blighters.
60p a packet, and I’ve kept Jakemans of Boston in business these last few weeks. You’ll be pleased to know a morning in Edinburgh New Town with Stafford Paul finally cured my itchy throat (that I don’t like to talk about).
I tell you this in advance, so you will understand why I’m reserving judgement on Alestones in Tardebigge.
Yes, that Tardebigge, betwixt Bromsgrove and Redditch. A better walk from the former, in my expert opinion.
Not many GBG pubs round here to start with, and of course hard to reach micros have a 101.7% chance of getting in the Guide, research has proved.
Alestones has the advantage of being in one of those little craft courtyards you see popping up around the UK in places like Bisphams Green and Broughty Ferry, offering “Classical Bedrooms” and “Kev’s Stripping” along with your pint.
It also means you’ve a 18.3% chance of being run over by a Worcestershire Range Rover if you approach on foot.
So to be honest I was already on edge when I approached the bar.
Of course, there is no bar. Mein host (sounding like Trip Advisor here) is chatting with locals in the tiny front bar (pop.8).
He gets up, I ask for a half of the one from the brewery up the road.
“Hardly worth me getting up for a half, is it ?”
I laughed. Mrs RM would have hit him. Should have had one of those rolls with it.
There’s a pubby back room that probably gets quite lively later on.
But I’m not anti-social enough to sip a half on my own yet.
So I went outside (pop. 4) where the two tables in the sun were taken and perched my glass on one of those beer barrels that now serve for seats/tables/talking points.
Sadly, it was Jakemans 1, Woodcote Manor Pale 0. Virtually undrinkable, whether due to throat sweet or whatever.
And no, I wasn’t rousing the landlord again to debate the difference.
No flower pots, either, so I headed for the communal loos serving the court.
“Number for the loo available from the pub” said the note.
Silently, I screamed.
Anyway, I shall be making a return visit from the Redditch direction and will no doubt find this to be the best pub in Britain next time. It happens (Newton Cap, Bishops Auckland, 2003).