Saturday was a bright and early start for our visit (in persistent rain) to one of Britain's four remaining "cider only" houses. The Monkey House as it is known, is in Woodmancote, not far from Tewkesbury and would be almost impossible to stumble over, hidden as it is. A picturesque thatched cottage with a serving hatch and a basic - and I mean basic - room off the side is all there is. The house dry cider is made by Westons and was decent stuff. A medium cider and a perry were also available. The gents toilets were, shall we say interesting, with good open views. This is the sort of place though, had the weather been nice, that you'd liked to have lingered a bit in the pleasant garden. As it was though, in pissing rain, a half hour was enough.
Much better known was our next visit, to the well known Fleece in Bretforton. Thatched and twee and restored after a devastaing fire, this was welcoming and comfortable. Those of us who had been before revelled in its stone flagged floors and renewed acquaintanceship with the collection of English Civil War pewter ware. Those who hadn't "oohed and aahed" at its lovely interior. The beer was good too with half a dozen well kept and interesting ales.
Stanton is a painfully pretty village near Broadway and has had nothing new built there since God was a boy. Its honey coloured stone glows, even in solid rain. The Mount Inn sits above it up a heart stopping steep hill which would have had a mountain goat wheezing and protesting. Buoyed up, by the thought of beer though we all skipped up. Those at the back were luckiest. We found out how undrinkable the Donnington BB was from others and swapped to the merely unpleasant SBA. Now I have to say I have never found Donnington beers to be much cop despite the pretty brewery and pubs, but these were bloody grim. My mood was not enhanced by the fact that a pint of BBA and a Carlsberg Export (E wasn't chancing the bitter) was an astonishing £7.10! The Carlsberg was an eye popping £4.60 a pint.
Equilibrium was restored at our next stop. The Cotswolds is full of nice little towns and villages and they kind of run into each other after a few beers. Winchcombe is a typically pleasant example. We enjoyed really bitter (and rare) Stanney Bitter from the Stanway Brewery which I visited some years ago, before finishing up in the Plaisterers Arms with an excellent pint of TT Landlord - probably the best I've had in years - then boarding the coach for Cheltenham - an old stomping ground.
Always look on the bright side - In their new book 20th Century Pub, Boak and Bailey reached the conclusion that “we feel unfashionably optimistic for the pub”. Now, in my usual role as ...
3 hours ago