Pub Clips are the most recent submitted, plus those from previous 2 issues of "Worts & Ale" (ie: 6-9 month's worth) - any comments older than that are probably out of date anyway!
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Personal outing (10 November - TD)
A rapid turnover at the George, Alton on Saturday afternoon. I had the penultimate pint of what I thought was a rather undistinguished Marston's EPA and it was replaced without me even asking (with a very good Irving Type 42) when it was realised that was the last in the cask: that's service!
Tried a taster of the Brain's Cafe Phoenix which revealed another end of cask, and had a fresh one which was (and I quote from the brewery puff) "a rich, dark and smooth Porter with flavours of caramel, toffee and coffee. It blends seven malts, with each adding to the beer’s complexity and depth of flavour, from the sweet caramel notes of Crystal through to the roasted flavours from Brown, Chocolate and Carafa III. ". Very good indeed.
Also good were the Dark Star Hophead replacing the EPA, JW Lees Founders and the ever reliable Sharp's Sea Fury.
Personal outing (3 November - TD)
A new manager, Luke Forshaw is making his mark at the Market Hotel opposite Alton Town Hall. A decent Timothy Taylor Landlord is the regular ale and there should soon be a rotating guest also available. The hours have been extended to 1am from Thursday to Saturday and an interesting twist on the Happy Hour theme is the free pool table and jukebox 5-7 pm Monday to Friday.
The King's Head in Market Street lives up to its recent LocAle listing with a guest from the likes of Itchen Valley or Andwell always available. Stuart and Christine believe in giving value for money with all cask ales just £3 at weekends. At other times the regular Courage Best is competitively priced at £3.60 and the guest at £3.80 with a 10% discount for CAMRA members except for early evening Happy Hours with a different reduction which I haven't got my head round quite. There is often a good local live musical attraction such as Key Lime Pi on a Saturday night - look out for the events board outside.
(Not) a bus trip (27 September - TD)
This should have been a bus trip but reduced numbers meant just three of us set out with the infinitely self-sacrificing Mik Potter doing the driving and thus spending most of the evening on tomato juice and coffee.
First port of call was the Hen & Chicken a Hall & Woodhouse (Badger) house in a prominent position on the A31 on the outskirts of Upper Froyle. At around 7.45 pm it was crammed with diners but there was room at the bar to sample the reliable Badger Best 3.7% and Red Ramble, a new autumn seasonal offering with a mix of three malts and Jester and Amarillo hops producing a well-balanced ale. Fursty Ferret, Tanglefoot and Weston's Rosie's Pig cider were also available on handpump.
Things were rather quieter at the Anchor Inn, Lower Froyle and a pleasant atmosphere in the olde world bar area where two Triple fff offerings, Alton's Pride and Citra Sonic were available alongside Ringwood Boondoggle. Those sampled were in good order.
At the Star Inn, Bentley the Alton's Pride and Doom Bar were tried and found good. Brain's Rev James Original was also on here.
At the White Hart, Holybourne tried a Greene King group seasonal ale Belhaven Bridge to Nowhere, a light gold easy drinking offering at 4%. Morland Original was also available.
Final port of call was the Queen's Head on the fringes of Anstey where the Triple fff on offer was Alton's Pride alongside the regular H&H Olde Trip, both enjoyed by the company and the Queen's Head Best, rebadged H&H Bitter.
The Market Hotel (25 September - PH)
Called in Tuesday and sampled an excellent TT Landlord.
Plan to have up to three beers going depending on demand. Starting food lunchtime and evenings from next week.
The George (23 September - TD)
Excellent selection at the George on Sunday. Started with a good Marston's Saddletank, a 3.8% old style malty, biscuity beer named after the engine that served the brewery's own sidings in Burton.
Two really good beers followed -
The green hop variant of Andwell's King John 4.2% dry hopped with local hops, variety unspecified on the brewery website and actually quite malty again in aroma and taste.
Star of the show for me the award winning Exeter Darkness a 5.1%, a classic chocolate stout with toffee and coffee in the aroma and flavours.
Irving Type 42 was also on and sadly the Sharp's Sea Fury taken off while I was there.
Kingsley and East Worldham (15 September - TD)
The Cricketers in Kingsley is thriving under the management of Kieran (ex-Cedars, Binsted) with a full food menu now available Wednesday to Sunday. Today two palatable ales on - Morland (Greene King) Old Hoppy Hen lived up to its name, and Hog's Back TEA its usual well-balanced self.
Down the road at the Three Horseshoes in East Worldham I tried the Dark Star Hophead which was in good order. London Pride and a Fuller's seasonal - Autumn Pale - were also on.
Both these pubs are on the hourly no.13 bus route from Alton to Whitehill running every day except Sunday.
Eight Bells Beer Festival (7 September TD)
The Eight Bells Beer Festival got off to a cracking start on Friday 7 September. I tried nine "thirds", all £1.20, the highlight being Longdog Lamplight Porter.
All beers were £3.30 a pint, £1.20 a third (did not try halves), and everything was very distinctive and very drinkable.
Market Hotel (3 September - TD)
The Market Hotel, Alton re-opened on 30 August with new manager Andy Fairburn and partner Jackie in charge. Very much a work in progress at the moment with one real ale, Sharp's Doom Bar, decently served but at least up to three are promised plus a full food service within a month or so. Accommodation will be available. The range of pub games promised will include dominoes and crib as well as darts and pool. The venue is dog and child friendly and East Hampshire CAMRA branch wish it well for the future.
Personal outing (31 August - TD)
A return visit to the Cricketers, Kingsley today confirmed that extended opening hours from Wednesday to Friday will be in place from 11 September, with food service on those days and at the weekend for lunch and dinner, with all day meals on Saturday and from 12-6 Sunday.
The ales on offer today were both very flavoursome, Greene King IPA and Hog's Back TEA.
Personal outing (22 August - TD)
A pleasant outing catching the 11.13 no. 13 bus from Alton High Street to Bordon Camp Crossing which, running a few minutes late, delivered me to the Royal Exchange in Lindford bang on midday opening time following a 15 minute or so walk down the Lindford Road. Three ales on today and tried the two from Tilford Brewery. The first Red Mist is the house beer, originally from Andwell, a 3.7% pleasant, nicely balanced, undemanding light golden ale with 20p per pint sold donated to local good causes. The Tilford Wit was a more challenging, a 4.5% Witbier style with 50% wheat combined with Maris Otter malt plus honey and coriander seed flavouring. Hog's Back TEA was also on.
After enjoying the beers and a light lunch walked back along the Lindford Road cutting off north-westward through the wood and across the A325 to the Brocas woodland and Kingsley Common to the Cricketers, newly saved from redevelopment and purchased by a pair of locals as a free house under the management of experienced licensee Kieran Stewart. At time of writing the pub is opening at 4pm Monday and Tuesday, 3pm Wednesday to Friday but expecting to be open from 12 noon through the week once the kitchen is up and running by early September. Kieran's ale policy is to mix a constantly changing range of local and national brands and today enjoyed Hog's Back HBB and Morland (Greene King) Old Golden Hen.
Branch walkabout (16 August - TD)
An East Hampshire walkabout in the Butts area of Alton started at the French Horn where it was felt that the recent reduction from six to three handpumps had been a positive move enabling a better quality level to be maintained. Certainly the Timothy Taylor Landlord and St. Austell Tribute were felt to be on decent form. The other ale available was Sharp's Doom Bar.
At the Conservative Club in Butts Road there was just Doom Bar available which was considered to be no more than average.
Things looked up at the Hop Poles on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road where the two ales, Fuller's London Pride and St. Austell Tribute were in good order.
Next door at the George a further improvement demonstrated that in the right hands facilitating a rapid turnover a large number of ales can be maintained to a good quality. Available were Flack Manor Romsey Gold, Hog's Back Surrey Nirvana, Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose, Longdog Centennial and Sharp's Sea Fury. All were very acceptable, the Sea Fury, as usual, particularly impressing the company. All ales are now £3.50 except for Beer of the Week (currently Hampshire Rose) discounted to £3.20.
Ivy House (6 August - TD)
Something approaching a tap takeover from Loddon with two ales on the bar and another soon to come on. Tried the Summer Snowflake 4.1% which was very good indeed, a spicy golden ale: not too sweet. Forbury Lion 5.5% was also on and Reading Best 4% waiting in the wings. However I finished with a half of the only other rotating guest, the ever-reliable Adnam's Ghost Ship, a well balance 4.5% premium bitter.
Bristol RE bus running day (14 July - TD)
A couple of good out of area hits on Bristol RE Bus Running Day.
First at the Flowerpots Inn, Cheriton I had good Perridge Pale and Elder Ale and a very good Cheriton Porter which turned out to be my best of the day. Flowerpots Bitter and Gooden's Gold also on. To access by public transport from Alton take the 64 bus to Alresford from where the hourly 67 bus on weekdays stops at the Cheriton War Memorial about five minutes walk from the pub. On Saturdays there is a three hourly service and no service on Sunday.
Dropped off at the Ship in Bishop's Sutton on the way back where I had good Cotleigh Calypso and Alfred's Winchester Pale with Courage Best also on. This excellent village pub with regularly changing beers is on the well-served 64 bus route and well worth a trip out.
Closer to home on next trip out I visited the Selborne Arms where I enjoyed the three thirds 'beer paddle' to sample Bowman's Swift One, Langham Sundowner and - second best ale of the day - Andwell Ruddy Darter. Ballard's Wild and Ringwood 49er also on. The weekday bus service from Alton (none at weekends), is the 38 which runs every 2-3 hours and is suitable for lunchtime opening only.
Personal outing (5 July - TD)
On a hot summer's afternoon and after a walk along footpaths south of Alton the handpumps of the Greyfriar were a very welcoming sight. Had two halves, a 4% guest from Butcombe called El Toro described as an English wheat ale with Wai-iti and Wakatu hops giving a zingy citrussy flavour, and a reliable stand-by London Pride. Also on were a Fuller's summer seasonal, Fruit Loop and ESB.
At the French Horn there was a choice of three ales on and I had the Timothy Taylor Landlord in preference to Sharp'sDoom Bar or St. Austell Tribute.
Last port of call was the George, where I had Andwell Gold Muddler and Sharp's Atlantic, the latter particularly flavoursome. Exeter Ferryman was the Beer of the Week reduced to £3.20 Irving Type 42 was taken off shortly after I arrived.
Personal outing (30 June - TD)
On Saturday 30th I combined my love of beer and walking by getting the 11.20 no. 65 bus from Alton to the Hen & Chicken on the A31 at Upper Froyle. This is a Hall & Woodhouse (Badger) pub whose use of cask breathers has perhaps led to a lack of interest in the past - however CAMRA is now taking a neutral view on these (quite rightly so in my opinion). The pub opens early, so I was able to enjoy a couple of halves of Badger Best and Fursty Ferret, both very drinkable. Tanglefoot, a summer seasonal Old Harry's Pale Sail and Weston's Rosie's Pig cider were also available on handpump.
From there a short walk up a country lane took me into the heart of Upper Froyle and the St. Swithun's Way, which led through a shady avenue and across fields with fine views to bring me after about a mile and a half to the Anchor Inn on the southern outskirts of Lower Froyle. There are usually a couple of Triple fff beers on here and I was not disappointed with the Alton's Pride and Ringwood Boondoggle. Triple fff Citra was also on. For what is a quite upmarket dining experience pub the beer was reasonably priced at under £4 a pint, and robust looking starters (eg Scotch egg) and sandwiches are available as lunchtime bar snacks for between five and ten pounds.
I wanted to press on to my next destination before eating and got to the Star Inn at Bentley around 1 pm, where I sampled Butcombe Bitter and Triple fff Moondance, both good to very good, while eating a "small portion" of Haddock and Chips - quite sufficient for a hot summer day. The 65 bus back to Alton goes on the hour from just round the corner in Station Road and I got the one at 3 pm after a pleasant chat in the bar with CAMRA member Graham from Woolwich, who was walking the St. Swithun's Way from Alton to Farnham. Lunchtime food service finishes at 2.30 pm here so a meal can be easily fitted in to the roughly three mile walk between Upper Froyle and Bentley.
Got off the bus close to the Queen's Head, Holybourne where I had a pint of "Queen's Head Best" (rebadged Hardy's & Hanson's Bitter) in the garden. The usual Olde trip was also on and the current Triple fff offering was Moondance.
Final port of call was the Railway Arms opposite Alton Station Approach for halves of Pressed Rat & Warthog and Goldfffinger. Alton's Pride, Moondance and the current seasonal Two Halves, a 4% ABV pale ale, were also available here. All in all a very good day, none of the beer disappointed.
If one wants to add in the White Hart at the other end of Holybourne, the bus stops at Neatham Mill on the A31, and a short walk up Lower Neatham Mill Lane brings you out in London Road in sight of the pub.
The Ordnance Survey Explorer 144 1:25,000 scale which picks out the St. Swithun's Way and other long distance recreational paths is an invaluable aid to walking the area.
Prince of Wales, Hammer Vale (13 June – Paul Hawley)
Called in as part of our route to deliver this magazine; London Pride, HSB, Spring Sprinter and Oliver’s Island were on draft. Had HSB and London Pride, both were excellent. Had good lunch of steak & chips (self) and Chicken Caesar salad (wife).
This pub is worth a visit although it’s a bit out-of-the-way. Clean and tidy, including the toilets. Other pubs please note.
The George, Alton (12 June - TD)
The George is now open again on Mondays with most ales at £3.50 a pint (previously £3.80). The exception is the "beer of the week" which is £3.20, currently a very pleasant Langham's Halfway to Heaven. The George Best (a re-badged Longdog Red Runner) and the Sharp's Sea Fury also very drinkable. Flack Manor Double Drop and Dark Star Hophead were also on.
The George, Alton (11 June - PH)
The George, Monday 11 June. Called in for lunch (Ham, egg and chips – ham was to die for in seriously large slices), washed down with a top class Sea Fury. Finished up with a (shared) George Mess, ice cream in a meringue.
Rolled home and slept it off!
Bus trip (7 June - TD)
Seven of us set out from Alton Community Centre on the evening of Thursday for a bus trip around some of the pubs in the Bordon area.
First port of call was the Woodlark in Whitehill, a modern, light and airy Marston's house, food oriented but with four ales for the drinker. Unfortunately Pedigree was off but Thwaite's Wainwrights, Ringwood Razor Back and Wychwood Hobgoblin were tried by the company and found in good order.
The Road Maker just down the road was seen to be CLOSED but with no clue as to why. Any information gratefully received.
The Royal Oak at Hollywater has had a change of management and a makeover in recent months and normally has Sharp's Doom Bar (currently off), and Fuller's London Pride which was pretty average. However glad to see the pub was busy as was ...
...the Red Lion, Oakhanger where just a decent Courage Best was available. Was told that the beer will vary but likely to be restricted to one cask offering.
Last port of call was the Three Horseshoes, the Fuller's house in East Worldham, where there were four handpumps but just two ales on, London Pride and Gale's Spring Sprinter - both very acceptable. A steady turnover of Fuller's and Gale's seasonals is anticipated.
After putting the bus to bed the company adjourned to the King's Head in Market Street to enjoy the regular Courage Best and current guests, Ascot Final Furlong and Loddon Hullabaloo, all good to very good.
Personal trip (4 June - TD)
Had a good pint of Alton Pride and a very good half of Dazed & Confused at Offf the Rails, Four Marks on Sunday afternoon after a pleasant walk through Ackender Woods from Alton. Pressed Rat & Warthog, Citra Sonic and Goldfffinger also on together with small selection of craft keg on draft and in cans.
Outside a robust smoking shelter has been erected but the new outside seating is currently stacked up having proved unstable when people actually tried to sit on it! The seating should be corrected in the coming weeks. The current state of affairs can be seen on WhatPub and will be updated as work progresses.
Personal walkabout (27 May - PH)
The Ivy House on good form today with two milds. One, Nottingham Rock Mild, had supped previously so tried the Loddon Wilfred's Mild brewed in honor of WWI poet Wilfred Owen who lived in the village where Loddon based. A decent 3.6% session strength mild. Followed that with the Fallen Acorn Hole Hearted, a robust 4.7% beast of a golden ale. West Berkshire Good Old Boy and Hog's Back TEA also on alongside the usual suspects.
Around the corner in the George had Dark Star Hophead 3.8% and Flowerpots Gooden's Gold 4.8%, both on good form. Flack Manor Double Drop, the house beer Longdog Red Runner badged as George Best and Sharp's Sea Fury also on.
Personal bus trip (26 May - TD)
In the Star Inn, Bentley an end of its life Andwell Gold was replaced without prompting with a fresh and tasty new cask of the same. Also had a good Butcombe Bitter and Doom Bar also on.
A very good Itchen Valley Hampshire Rose on in the King's Head, Alton. Courage Best also on and coming in the next few weeks will be two ales from Loddon, Hullabaloo and Ferryman's Gold and Final Furlong from Ascot.
Personal bus trip (19 May - PH)
Went for a Saturday lunch visit to Offf the Rails, Four Marks (and to avoid the doings from Windsor). Started with Apache Rose Peacock, which was so good I had another. Snaffled an excellent (if a tad pricey) Scotch Egg, sausage roll and a packet of crisps. Chatted with some of the (few) other drinkers and bar staff, made a fuss of accompanying dogs and listened to their excellent choice of background music (other pubs please take note). Decided (after a pint of Dazed and Confused) to get the 14 23 bus back to Alton, however we got preoccupied with singing along to Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” so saw the bus disappearing into the distance. Waited outside the Four Marks Coop for 25 minutes discussing the virtues of a food store where there was once a good pub until the greedy pubco ran it down and sold it. How unusual!
Called in at the George, Alton after our trip to Four Marks and had a top-class pint of Andwell’s King John. Also a slice of “wedding” cake, actually a delicious sponge cake. All in all, a good day. Went home and slept it off!!
Bus and walkabout (6 May - TD)
An energetic way to get to the Holybourne pubs taking the 13 bus to East Worldham and walking part of the Hangers Way and down to the handy foot tunnel under the busy A31 below Lower Neatham Mill. After two hours walking on a warm day the White Hart had the refreshing but undemanding session bitter, the Greene King IPA which was very welcome. Followed that with Timothy Taylor Landlord, more rewarding to the palate and a fixture on the bar. Morland Original also on as one of the regular beers.
A short walk took me to the Queen's Head where I downed a very good Triple fff Moondance.
Last port call was the Railway Arms with its usual extensive choice from Triple fff and current guest Crafty One which was good as was the Alton's Pride. The strong Hallelujah very good. A very tired Apache Rose Peacock was replaced without quibble. Pressed Rat & Warthog and Moondance were also on here.
Personal walkabout (3 May - TD)
Took a walk from bus stop in Kingsley across Kingsley and Shortheath Commons (plenty of mud and had to divert round a building site at one point) to check out the Red Lion in Oakhanger. Only one cask beer on but it was Hog's Back TEA and was in good order. Told by landlady Marion that usually Courage Best but will alternate with perhaps two on when demand permits. Now open all day (closes 8 pm on Sundays).
Walked up to the Three Horseshoes, East Worldham where I had very good guest Adnam's Ghost Ship and a good London Pride before afternoon closing and catching no. 13 bus into Alton.
In the King's Head two localish beers alongside the Courage best - IVB Pride of the Valley and Crafty Brewing Fine Hop, both in good order.
At the Eight Bells the thirds availability enabled me to sample Suthwyk Old Dick, Longdog Red Runner and Hop Back Minstrel - a new to me golden ale at 4.3%. All good to very good.
Cricketers, Kingsley (11 April - TD)
Used the no.13 bus to Kingsley today to visit the Cricketers which is under threat of redevelopment.
Usually two changing ales on but just Palmer's Copper today which was very pleasant. A couple of stops on the 13 took me back to East Worldham for a pint of Fuller's Southern Star, 4%, described as an Australian hopped ale: very drinkable as was the London Pride. Spring Sprinter was also on.
Bus Trip (5 April - TD)
An entertaining East Hampshire CAMRA branch bus outing saw eight hardy souls set off around the village pubs in the north-west quadrant of the branch. Plenty of local ales on offer.
At the Castle of Comfort, Medstead, Courage Best, Fuller's Front Row and Sharp's Doom Bar were available. Although the Front Row proved a little temperamental the Best was on good form.
The Sun, Bentworth featured Palmer's Copper (told it was the customers' favourite), Flack Manor Flack's Double Drop, Hog's Back TEA, Andwell King John and, the one most of us tried, Bowman Yumi, a 3.9% golden ale with citrussy notes. Ales available vary but often feature the breweries represented this evening.
At the Royal Oak, Lasham there was just Andwell Gold Muddler and TEA on. I tried the Gold Muddler which was a decent pint.
The Gliding Society Club Lasham, off The Avenue and open to the public, can sometimes close early if trade is slow on weekday evenings but we found it open around 9.30 with a choice of Bowman Lapwing, another golden ale with plenty of fruity flavour at 4.5%, and Gale's HSB. Flowerpots Bitter had recently gone off. if you want to check if the bar is open ring 01256 384900.
Last port of call on the bus was the Golden Pot, Shalden where the Flowerpots Bitter was pretty good. Bowman Swift One and Upham Punter were also available.
Most of the party ended the evening in the King's Head, Market Street, Alton where I tried two Red Cat beers, Scratch and Mr M's Porter which were on alongside the regular Courage Best. Both were good to very good.
NB from the weekend commencing Friday 6th April the King's Head will be discounting all beers to £2.50 a pint at weekends ie 7 pm Friday to Sunday closing. The 50p off Happy Hour discount will remain in place 4.30 to 7 on weekdays as will the CAMRA discount on ales at other times.
Also watch out for the next King's Head beer festival 27-29 July.
Personal walkabout (24 March - TD)
On Saturday 24th March walked from Alton along St. Swithun's Way to the Church of the Holy Rood by its attractive pond before turning down Church Lane to the White Hart in London Road. This is a Greene King pub and I tried halves of all three ales on - Morland's Original and two guests, Oakham JHB and Timothy Taylor Landlord, all very acceptable. Cask breathers, otherwise known as aspirators, are used here but frankly did not affect quality as far as my jaded taste buds could tell. I believe that CAMRA opinion may be shifting on this.
Down the London Road going back towards Alton on the edge of Anstey Park the Queen's Head is another Greene King pub, but again you wouldn't necessarily think so from the three real ales on the Bar. Only the Olde Trip is a GK brand and the two rotating guests always include a Triple fff offering. This time it was Moondance accompanied by St. Austell Tribute. Tried them both and again between good and very good.
Final port of call was the Railway Arms facing Station Approach. Quite a line-up of Triple fff on handpump, Pressed Rat and Warthog, Alton's Pride, Moondance, Citra Sonic, Hallelujah and the current guest, Dorking Brewery's DB No. 1. Contented myself with a half of the very tasty Hallelujah (4.5%) before calling it a day.
Chawton and Alton (8 March - TD)
As a pleasant afternoon on Thursday 9 March walked down into Chawton for the Greyfriar. Had two of the Fullers group offerings, Gales Seafarers which was very nice indeed and Fullers Spring Sprinter, a 4% golden seasonal which was on decent form. London Pride and Front Row also available.
Picked up the 38 bus back into Alton (NB you get on the same side as the pub to come back into the town, the bus stop signs do not help) getting out at the George. Had a decent Bootleg Fool's Gold at 3.9% featuring New World hops and the dark and delicious Jennings Sneck Lifter. Also on were Black Sheep Bitter and the two regular ales, Longdog Red Runner badged as George Best and Sharp's Sea Fury.
Finished in the Eight Bells where had two good ales, Longdog Bunny Chaser 3.6% and Cotleigh Tawny 3.8%. Irving Type 42 was also on alongside the regulars, Swift one and Doom Bar.