Before we saunter round Swindon, some good(ish) news about the missing Good Beer Guide. It seems that during a CAMRA HQ administrative reorganisation the direct debit details for the GBG Club were lost, and an email asking me to set it up again went to “spam”, which I thought was the volunteers lunch at the Great British Beer Festival.

A nice CAMRA man called Matthew called me in a pub I can’t mention due to embargos (but it rhymes with Zarntry) this afternoon and I should be getting GBG22 next week. Phew.

OK, back to a mad dash to make progress in GBG21.

I’ll be honest, Swindon wasn’t high on my “must visit list” either.

But three (arguably four) new entries in GBG, the first since that time a 76 year old man spent 3 days trying to get off the magic roundabout that there’s been anything new in the Guide.

I couldn’t remember the last time in the Old Town, one of the UK’s most modern looking.

And I had no recollection of the Little Hop, which was called Hop Inn when I ticked it years ago when micros were still fresh and exciting.

Some tickers would feel obliged to come here because it’s been renamed, some would say “Not unless the bar has moved more than 6 inches since Arbor took it over“, I just went in for a beer.

All a bit bewildering as none of those cask beers are from Arbor, so I just chose the first one from Ramsbury and have my usual “Do you prefer cash or card/don’t mind mate conversation“. 93% of conversation in pubs these days are about payment method.

My famous notes say “Busy. Portishead, PJ Harvey deep cut, West Country hipster” but I’ve no idea why I wrote that.

The Hop started off a dull 2.5 but ended as a 3+, and a century later historians will wonder how that is possible. It just is.

The Hop, the big one, was all of 30 seconds walk away if you don’t stop at the crossings.

It looks like a Proper Pub, but was actually a little less cosy than it’s sister/brother/uncle, and I can’t explain that either.

Perhaps I was just bemused as to whether I would count this as my tick given it’s the same name as the one I did in 2014 and then decided no-one cared. The lovely barchap told me Hop was not connected to Hop Kettle over the road which was loosely connected to the Eternal Hoptimist and I suddenly had a headache but you shouldn’t take aspirin with beer.

Same beer, slightly better (NBSS 3+), and my notes say “Skinny arms come round me” which is clearly an XTC B-side.

One down, or possibly two, so let’s head into New Town and admire the cider stop,

and Ray’s informal homage to Lyons.

and the mural of Swindon’s musical legacy. I imagine this lot all played at The Vic, possibly not at the same time.

Oddly, I can’t see Oxide & Neutrino (No.1 in April 2000) on that wall, but these things take time.

For a better review of the Hop(s), read here


  1. I’ve enjoyed all these Swindon posts, but was about to comment “Wot no XTC reference?” until I got to this one. I wonder if Andy Partridge has been to any of the pubs you visited. I mean, he does refer to the price of beer in “Dear God.” 😁


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