I’ll be honest, I was spoilt by beer quality in Bath, half an hour away, so if I had to stopover on my way from Heathrow to Newport (Gwent) I wouldn’t stop in Devizes.
But I can make the case for a great night out, probably ending with music night at the Southgate Inn.
Lovely walk through the oldest part of town past St John the Baptist and the Conservative Club.
I reckon the Cons Club is the only Devizes What Pub entry I’ve avoided; watch it make the Guide next year.
The Southgate is the most quirky of the GBG entries, right down to the quirk of posting opening hours on the wall.
And they’re right.
Hop Back don’t own many pubs but they’re all unfussy gems.
A joyous racket and a landlord in a Hawaiian shirt greeted me; I picked a half of Summer Lightning and apologised for sending him into the back bar for a half. “An ‘alf”. Yes, half pint shame.
In the side room a raggle taggle group of Waterboys session musicians blasted out “What a beautiful day, hey hey” over the top of the piped Van Morrison, and I realised why I love pubs (see also : gentlefolk who make you blush, Curry Club spelling).
The Summer Lightning (in Thatcher’s Glass), a favourite of Mrs RM and myself for 25 years and more, was cool and rich if not quite drinking at its 5%, and I should have had a pint, or at least takena quart back in one of those cartons that appal me.
Bert the pooch stared suspiciously me from along the bench seat (top) and barked too vigorously at the latest unrecognisable tune (press play) coming from the side room.
I guess you’ll want a prize for identifying it, heh ?