Our intended itinerary for Saturday 4th January was The Village Inn at Nailsworth , Clothiers Arms and Ale House both in Stroud and finally the Star at Whiteshill. As it turned out this changed quite a bit on-the-day, more of which later. Travel tip of the Day:
Buy a Group Explorer ticket if there are blocks of four of you travelling. All day in the area for all four people for the princely sum of £15. Bargain! Just ask the driver.
Leaving Gloucester on the 11.15 No.93 to Nailsworth we arrived at the first pub – The Village Inn. We spoke with the head brewer of 2 years, Eimhin Hawes (pronounced Evan). The 6-barrel brewery was established in 2006 which allows the pub to offer its own ales (in a bid to maintain exclusivity) together with other local guests – they have recently started bottling too. Originally a Blacksmiths the building had its own 50ft deep well, flowing from the Brecons, which provides an ideal water source for brewing. Make sure you head downstairs (en-route to the loo anyway) to take in a view of the brewery/ 2nd Travel Tip of the Day:
You may bring your own food into the pub. So may we recommend a visit to the chip shop next door for what could only be described as “whale and chips” for £6.30.
Beers: The Mayors Bitter 4.2%, The Amber Skipper 4.5%, The Red October 4.9%, Severn Vale: Severn Swans 4.9%, Alestock 3.6%
We intended to head from here back to Stroud but a quick exchange of texts found us on an unscheduled sojourn up the hill on a Cotswold Green bus (out of service I’m afraid) to The George at Newmarket. Thanks go to Chris Brooks for offering an off-piste service during his break. Greeted by landlord of 19 years, Bob Pike (a veteran of 60 years in the trade), we entered what has been a pub since 1902; the building itself has been standing for 300 years and was previously 3 cottages. A gem of a place offering 4 ales, all in excellent condition:
Beers: Uley Old Spot 5.0%, Uley Bitter 4.0%, Timothy Taylors Landlord 4.3%, Stroud Tom Long 3.8%
The pub also has a full dining menu (booking recommended) and there are numerous photos of old Nailsworth to wet the appetite of all you local-history buffs. Even the railway ones! Chris – and his bus – were now heading to Stroud via Minchinhampton Common and he generously invited us along for the ride as a shortcut the the next pub not on todays’ list 🙂 The Crown and Sceptre. A fair walk “up the hill” from Stroud town centre became a quick hedgehop on the bus and we found ourself sitting in front of a welcoming real-fire with a pint. Chris’s words still ringing in our ears “be back here for 4.25 and I’ll drop you at the Ale House!” There is quiet background music here and a number of eclectic pieces of décor, including a full functional cuckoo clock! Together with a welcoming atmosphere. The bar staff informed us that we’d just missed the last of the Christmas Spingo (darn it) but there were 4 other locale beers to sample (not all of them of course, unless you’re here for a longer visit than we were):
Beers: Stroud Budding 4.5%, Uley Bitter 4.0%, Uley Pigs Ear 5.0%, Butcombe Brunel Atlantic IPA 4.1% Ciders: Ledbury Cider and Perry Company: Wilces 6.0%
It was very nice to see a good selection of well-kept local beers; particularly as it is not possible to find a Stroud Brewery beer anywhere in Gloucester at the moment. 4.35 and the last leg of our trip with Chris and Cotswold Green and our hedge-hop to the Stroud Ale House. In our opinion a highly rated pub offering pleasant, up-to-date surroundings in which to sample a very wide range of no less than 8 regularly changing, sensible session-strength guest ales:
Beers: Leeds Yorkshire Gold 4.0%, Dark Star Hophead 3.8%, Salopian Oracle 4.0%, Celt Experience Dark Age 4.0%, Mallinsons Pacific Cross 4.1%, Stroud Ding Dong 4.2%, Hammerpot Red Hunter 4.3%, Cotswold Lion Golden Fleece 4.4%
I have to confess at this point, I had never tasted a Cotswold Lion beer before today and I took the opportunity to try both – and was not disappointed. Please don’t tell head brewer John Kemp as I used to go to college with him! And finally, to a pub on our list, The Star at Whiteshill. No bus for this portion of the trip, although there should have been, don’t ask Neil about bus-times or taxis please 😉 All ales offered are served directly from the barrel. Another open fire-type arga thingy to warm yourselves too. As we were back on the First bus service routing for the final leg from here back to Gloucester may I strongly recommend leaving a healthy margin for what in our case was the last bus back to Gloucester at around 19:00. It’s a long walk and it’s ALL UPHILL!
Beers: Otter Amber 4.0%, Skinners Lushingtons 4.2%, Cotswold Lion (yay another one) Shepherds Delight 3.6%, PCH PG Steam 4.2%, Slaters Top Totty (please don’t write to your local MP!).
And so back to Gloucester for 19:30. Not a long day out but some very nice pubs that are hard to get to unless you can twist the arm of a non-drinking CAMRA member. A nice selection of locals ales too and all with tastes that belie their lower gravity. A grand day out and on your door-step but don’t expect door-to-door service from Cotswold Green 🙂