The Sunday trip home on these weekend jaunts invariably gives the best beer of the trip. It's a kind of welcome Sod's Law with the sting in the tail being that time is restricted by the need to get everyone home and of course, the drivers hours are (rightly) limited by law. The dedicated toper has to use his or her time wisely.
We left Tewkesbury in time for a pre noon pint in Worcester. Pre noon means Wetherspoons as none of the GBG pubs opened until 12. The Postal Order was a typical example and absolutely jumping at around 11.30 when we added to the hubbub. Now the usual suspects will moan about JDW, but this one was filled with all sorts, from soaks to shoppers, with as many teas, coffees and breakfasts being scoffed as pints. It also gave us the opportunity to stock up on sandwiches from the nearby Tesco as we were unsure about the availability of grub in later venues.
A quick stop in Uphampton for the Fruiterer's Arms, home to the Cannon Royal Brewery. The pub is down a narrow country lane, with I assume, fruit fields on one side and a straggling hamlet on the other. The pub was old fashioned, full of locals and had a nice ambience with some outside enjoying the sunshine, locals chatting and a family function kicking off in a side room. Clearly a place at the heart of its community. The Fruiterer's Mild was dark and luscious. Some of us collectors regarded the framed poster from a defunct brewery. The old gent in the smock looks quite content does he not? Radcliffe of Kidderminster was taken over in 1947.
Our next stop shook off the brown beer with a vengeance. Coombs Wood Sports and Social Club is a thriving Cricket Club among other things. It was friendly and had an impressive array of six beers, Mauldon's Silver Adder did just fine for Tyson, me and E and the time passed all too quickly before we made our reluctant way to our final stop, the Waggon and Horses, also in Halesowen. What a pub! Fourteen beers from handpumps, bread, cheese and a rip roaringly hot salsa on the bar, the friendliest and chattiest locals you could imagine and the beers in wonderful condition. Bloody great. I can't list them all - I can't remotely remember, but beers from Nottingham, Oakham, Holdens and more were scoffed by Tyson, E and me. I looked around, We were chatting to a couple of locals and most of our group had a local attached, chatting away. We left with considerable reluctance.
It is worthwhile to reflect that when there are unpretentious, friendly pubs like this (and indeed the Fruiterer's and the Cricket Club) thriving and serving fantastic beer, you really know all this talk of the pub going down the tubes is just that. Great pubs, selling great beer in a great atmosphere will thrive, leaving those that can't cut the mustard to fail and that's just how it should be. I've said it before and it is worth repeating. It is really all about the offer.
No pictures of the Waggon and Horses. Sorry. The time just flew by and I didn't get round to it.
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