When E and I used to go to Cheltenham many years ago, it was to the annual rally in support of sacked workers from the Government Communications Centre (GCHQ) based there. We also had a few libations, but sadly though I remember drinking Wadworth's, the nature of the pubs is long since forgotten, though the reason for being there isn't and won't be.
Last Saturday though we went to visit two free houses. Firstly to the Kemble Brewery Inn which was a busy back street local holding a music festival. We were greeted at the door by the newly elected Lib-Dem councillor who had fought for them to get a licence for the event against local objections. I had a chat with him. He explained that the objections had been on noise levels, lateness, frequency of sets etc. He had proposed and agreed some restrictions which both the pub and the objectors had agreed to. Good for him. I was in the front of the pub and could scarcely hear the music at all, so it must have been a successful compromise, though one or two locals remarked that they'd have liked it louder. All well then? Not exactly. Another restriction had been placed on them. All liquor had to be sold in plastic glasses. "Had glass been a problem I asked?" Not as far as he knew was the answer.
Now I hate drinking out of plastic. I hate even more these petty bureaucrats who decide, on no evidence whatever, that the freedom of others should be restricted. I can just about understand it where certain places have a record of glass based violence or vandalism, but to have these "just in case" restrictions without evidence is just too much for my sensibilities. Unremitting brown beer didn't help either, but my gloom was lifted by Thatchers Scrumpy and the sheer friendliness, not only of the councillor, but the chatty music loving locals.
Our last Cheltenham stop was a bigger venue, the Jolly Brewmaster. This was bustling and boisterous but the beer choice was again brown, though I recall the ubiquitous Deuchars IPA. No matter though. The company was good and having given up on beer for the afternoon, pints of the now familiar Black Rat were enjoyed instead, providing a pleasant end to an interesting afternoon.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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