A week after our triumphant return from the Northern Tickathon, we were off again in the (as yet unnamed) campervan to tackle the south.

Or more specifically, Oxon, Bucks and Herts.

Only 2hrs 20 to the Hook Norton Brewery, almost exactly half an hour more than it toock from Waterbeach on my only previous visit in 1995.

Yes, 1995. Before the internet, colour telly and guest beers. We took Sis and (ex) Brother-in-Law for a weekend in Ludlow via the Cotswolds, and after a pint in the Pear attempted to have a look round the brewery (I was young then).

There was no-one around, so we had a good look around in the gristing shed and wort dorm, or whatever breweries have. Our interference may have accounted for the poor quality of the Hook in Banbury that year.

A lady suddenly appeared.

Is it OK if we have a look around the brewery” said a quick thinking Wayne.

Oh, no. Definitely not !” said the lady. I will never forget the accent.

26 years later they positively welcome visitors, and their cafe is in the GBG with early closing hours to annoy BRAPA.

On the upside, the handpumps are nice.

And their lunch menu is simple. But it’s £7.50, NOT £7.5. That’s 0.5 knocked off your NBSS scores mate. We both had the Ham, Egg & Chips, which was more transport cafe than Cotswold gastro but I like unfussy. It’s why I married Mrs RM.

The place was full of gentlefolk couples at 13:30. None of them appeared to be drinking alcohol, let alone beer, so I’m at least able to express relief that my Hooky was a crisp, chewy 3.5.

Now, if you want Hooky at its best, you need to head here NOW.

It’s worth doing the Peyton Arms just for the idiosyncratic Sunday opening times.

But if you can’t wait till 5pm and want to enjoy the worst cover versions of 60s hits on a tinny Hi-Fi on the planet, I’d go to get Hooky at its source.

13 thoughts on “HOOKY

  1. Hi Martin, based on my earlier experience I’m going to assume this isn’t an anonymous comment, and so there’s no need for me to say it was posted by Mark Crilley.

    That Hooky architecture looms large in my imagination. Here’s hoping I can visit someday. They’ve got to be in the running for “Most Visually Distinctive Brewery”; but is that building actually the brewery, or a carefully preserved symbol, with a soulless corporate box somewhere nearby where all the real work gets done?

    Me, I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears and go on believing everything of importance goes on within that building! 😉


      1. As I was just writing, Robinsons. And Banks in Wolverhampton, which is much more interesting inside than out and has the best beer at the end (in the country, never mind Wolves !).


      2. Go to Wolves, when you can. Pay for the tour, skip the tour, just go straight to the sampling room and get your money back in beer. The guide pours the first pint, expertly (NBSS 5), then you get an hour to help yourself (NBSS 3). Believe me, as Trump would say.


    1. You’ll be pleased to know that they still brew all the beer in that building, Mark. It was powered by steam until quite recently and the steam engine still works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wait till they move brewing to an industrial estate in Banbury and turn the brewery into flats; CAMRA will have a meltdown and boycott their beers (oh, they already have judging by how few Hooky pubs there are in the GBG).


    2. The Hook Norton brewery is very striking, isn’t it ? hat is definitely the brewery, not something constructed for a Walt Disney film in the ’60s ! You can observe beer actually being made from, well, whatever beer is made from (I have no ideas). I guess that the brewery has remained big enough for demand over the years, there’s a bit more free trade but volumes in their own pubs may have declined a bit.

      Of course, Robinsons in Stockport is my favourite, mainly because it’s in a major town centre visible from lots of viewpoints.

      Please wash your hands after sticking your fingers in your ears ;-0


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s