Ebrington Arms

We were all set to go to Hidcote Manor Garden on Monday, but given that it didn’t seem to want to stop raining plans changed.

By lunchtime we were at the fabulous Ebrington Arms – not that I’m complaining – a nicer pub with better beer and food is hard to imagine.

We started with Prescott Hill Climb, 3.8%

A smooth golden pale ale named after the traditional racing of mostly classic and vintage cars at Prescott in Gloucestershire.

And Stroud Brewery Budding, 4.5%

A pale ale with a grassy bitterness, sweet malt and luscious floral aroma. Champion Beer of Gloucestershire 2006 & 2008, a finding I’m more than happy to endorse.

And we finished off with Severn Valley Dursley Steam Bitter, 4.2%

A sparkling summer ale full of flowery hops. Brewed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the “Dursley Donkey” which ran on the branch line which served Dursley and the Cam valley.

Hic!

It wasn’t all about the beer, we did manage to sample amazing things from their menu too.

When can we go back 😉

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Falkland Arms

So here we are again at the Falkland Arms in wonderful Great Tew, Oxfordshire. This is the umpteenth visit and we must have stayed nearly ten times, the big difference this time however is that the pub has changed hands – not the brewery, it’s still a Wadworth Pub, but the licencees – gone are the welcoming and professional SJ and Paul, and to be blunt the place just ain’t the same without them.

Now it would appear that the new licencees took over in Jan 2008, and due to particular circumstances we hadn’t been to stay since 2007, so although we’d made a couple of visits and not seen SJ or Paul we put this down to bad timing. So it was a bit of a shock to find strangers in charge at our favourite pub. And that wouldn’t matter if a lot of small changes hadn’t also made it feel like a strange and decidedley ordinary place instead of a wonderful one.

Add to this a significant drop in the quality of the food and we’re already talking about finding another pub to take over as our all time favourite.

What a shame. What have Wadworth allowed to happen to this flagship pub? And what happened to SJ and Paul? Why did they give up what appeared to be an idillyic pub in an idillyic setting. What could they have found that was more appealing? Except maybe a job where you’re not working 365 days a year I suppose…

Oh, and it’s four minutes to one in the morning and the crowd in the bar is still making a racket that’s gonna stop me sleeping until the useless bastards in charge chuck these noisey f*#^kers out. Have they nae got homes to go to?

Bugger.

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Xmas shopping

Today I have been mostly Christmas shopping…

But now I am rewarding myself with a session in the Turf Tavern, Oxford’s most tourist-y pub but the best place for real ale in Oxford and alway buzzing with activity.

The beers we drank today were:
Sadlers Thin Ice
Ossett Silver Link
Elgoods Cambridge Bitter
Banks & Taylors Shefford Bitter
Elgoods Greyhound
Morlands Original

Thanks Darren and your crew for making us as welcome as ever 🙂

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Canadian beer

Rickards WhiteSo far, this is better than I had expected, which is good.

Rickard’s White (a Witbier or wheat beer – served inexplicably with half a slice of orange wedged onto the rim of the glass; I blame fucking Hoegaarden and their lemon slice)

Rickard's RedAnd now Rickard’s Red (Molson’s website tells me this has been Canada’s top selling red beer for over 10 years)

Now I know there are micro breweries too, so the real challenge is to find something exceptional in one of those.

Use The Force

Robinson's Tempus FugitNot sure if it was the power of the force, or just the good wishes of all who sent cards today, but had an excellent time, lots of sunny skies and for the first time in over a year a visit to my undisputed favourite pub in the world the Falkland Arms.

Lunch was good and there were three ales on tap which we’d not tried before, a challenge worth rising to!

Robinson’s Tempus Fugit
Greene King Chariot
Old Mill Brewery’s Old Curiosity
and we also re-sampled Wadworth’s JCB (John Cairns Bartholomew)


Sadly no sign of SJ & Paul our friendly hosts, but look forward to seeing them if we can plan an overnight stay for later in the year…

Don’t forget the beer

Oakham Ales InfernoWent into Oxford on Saturday (23rd) mostly to see the new Michel Gondry film ‘Be Kind Rewind’ which is not the screwball comedy implied by the trailer as much as it’s a soft-hearted romantic look at the strength of communities and the power of something personal over something polished and professional and mass produced.

Anyway, ducked into the Madding Crowd while waiting for movie to start and tried another four new ales:

By far the best was Oakham’s Inferno a beautifuly pale beer with a light crisp fruit flavour and dry finish.
North Cotswold Brewery Cockles of Your Heart
Vale Brewery Hadda’s Winter Solstice
Frog Island Shoemaker (This brewery has one of the worst websites I’ve seen for a long time, wonder if they’d give me free beer for help improving it?!)

Ale

Was in Oxford yesterday, decided to see Juno –

Highly recommended, brilliantly written, acted and directed.
Fabulously funny with some of the best lines I’ve heard in a movie for ages – "Honest to blog" being one of my personal faves.
Expect to see Ellen Page do well during awards season.

Abbeydale EpiphanyWychwood Brewery Dirty TackleAnyway, had forty minutes to kill before the movie so we went into ‘Far From the Madding Crowd‘, which despite being devoid of atmosphere, is always well stocked with interesting real ales, usually five at a time.

We tried Wychwood Brewery‘s Dirty Tackle an okay brew, but nothing outstanding, we’ve definitely had beers of more distinction from Wychwood in the past.

We also drank Epiphany brewed by Abbeydale a beautiful crisp pale golden ale very refreshing.

And Hadrian & Border‘s Tall Ships, a surprisingly sweet rich red brown ale full of flavour.