Pub Clips are the most recent submitted, plus those from latest 2 issues of "Worts & Ale" (ie: 6-9 month's worth) - any comments older than that are probably out of date anyway!
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"Alton West" (30 December - TD)
Those who have looked at the preparations for the extension of the Butts Bridge and wondered about the effect on the French Horn, fear no more. I am assured that the pub will continue trading throughout the works period with perhaps an adjustment to the food service. After it is all over they will be looking forward to improved visibility for people entering Alton from the south and much improved pedestrian access under the railway. Today I enjoyed Fuller's London Pride and St. Austell Tribute with Timothy Taylor Landlord also on.
Down the road at the George the staff maintained their reputation for attentive quality control taking off a Sharp's Winter Solstice at the end of its life before I had a chance to taste it. The Sea Fury from the same brewery, their top seller, was as usual very good and I also enjoyed Box Steam Handlebar and Titanic First Class. Dark Star Hophead was also available.
Round the corner in the Ivy House winter ales were well in evidence and I limited myself to the potent but dangerously drinkable porter style Exmoor Beast at 6.6%. Titanic Plum Porter 4.9% was also on together with Mordue Winter Tyne, a dark winter beer but at just 3.9% and the usual Greene King offerings.
Offf the Rails, Four Marks (29 December - TD)
Offf the Rails is currently restricted to indoors only with no outside seating or smoking shelter due to a noise complaint!
However service continues and four very good Triple fff ales sampled, Alton's Pride, Winter Oatmeal Stout, Lady Eleanor and Comfortably Numb. Goldfffinger and Moondance were also available plus a craft keg guest as usual.
Holybourne to Alton (23 December - TD)
The Queen's Head, Holybourne had just one Greene King offering when went in on Friday before Christmas - the usual Hardy's & Hanson's Olde Trip which was on good form, as was the Hook Norton Honkingly Good Ale, a 4.2% festive offering. The current Triple fff guest was really very good indeed - Lady Eleanor, a new 4.6% hop monster of a brew about which I can find no information on the brewery website although tasting sites rate it highly.
The Lady Eleanor was also on handpump at the Railway Arms along with Alton's Pride, Moondance, Winter Oatmeal Stout, Goldfffinger and two Cotleigh guests, Tawny Owl and Red Nose Reindeer.
Eight Bells (16/17 December - TD)
At the Eight Bells for the last day of Nigel's tenancy on Sunday 16th December and first day of owner Phil 'The Trout' Troubridge taking back the reins on Monday. A good crowd on both occasions.
On the 16th a good selection of ales as usual with Longdog Bunny Chaser, Bowman's Yumi and Flowerpots Gooden's Gold all on good form. Sharp's Doom Bar was also available.
The following day Phil making his presence felt by reinstating the open fire, he was laying and lighting it as I arrived, and reducing ale prices by 10p to £3.30 for below 4%, £3.50 for 4-4.4% with a new premium £3.70 for 4.5% and above. The Bunny Chaser had been replaced by another Flowerpots, Perridge Pale and all the ales all of course in good order.
(See "Local News" for a picture.)
Railway Arms (12 December - TD)
All seven handpumps in the front bar now in operation at the Railway Arms following refurbishment of the lines (did not look in the back bar). Had six of those on offer (halves I hasten to add) just skipping the Timothy Taylor Landlord enjoyed recently elsewhere.
The Triple fff offerings sampled were Alton's Pride, Moondance, Winter Oatmeal Stout, Comfortably Numb nothing less than good and the golden Goldffinger really excellent. The guest, Long-Eared Owl from Cotleigh was also very acceptable.
Walkabout (6 December - TD)
A westward wander starting at the Railway Arms where the guest was Red Cat Mr M's Porter and very good it was too. Triple fff beers on were Alton's Pride, Moondance, Goldfffinger and Comfortably Numb. There were two empty hand pumps as not all lines are upgraded yet.
In the Eight Bells the one-third measure allowed three ales to be sampled, Flowerpots Perridge Pale, Bowman Yumi and Flowerpots Cheriton Porter, all in good order. Sharp's Doom Bar and Black Sheep Bitter were also available.
Courage Best and Andwell Gold Muddler were on in the King's Head and both good - although the Andwell was very lively it poured clear and tasty.
Finished in the George with halves of Flowerpots Bitter and a new beer to me, Sharp's Winter Solstice a 4.8% red ale, again both good. Marston's EPA, Dark Star Hophead and Sharp's Sea Fury were also available.
Selborne Arms, Selbourne (25 November -DT)
Our reward following a cold walk from Alton was a very pleasant pint of Titanic Plum Porter and Welton's Horsham Old. Both were judged to be in good order.
We had a welcome chat with the bar staff and other visitors to this very pleasant village pub. The fire was roaring which is always a great help on a cold day!
The ban on dogs in the bar might explain why it seemed, at least to us, relatively quiet in the pub. I'm sure the local dog walkers would welcome a pint in the public bar during the winter?
Prince of Wales, Hammer Vale (25 November – PH)
Called in to delver copies of Worts & Ale, after visiting the Cats Protection Christmas Fair at the Haslemere Adoption Centre. Decided to have lunch so got stuck into a delicious roast topside of beef with seasonal vegetables. Washed this down with a pint of Gales HSB, which was in top order. Afterwards returned to the Cats Protection place and reserved a 2 year large black cat, whom we are going to call “Sampson”. That’s what you get when you brood over things at a lunch venue!
Bakers Arms, Aton (24 November - TD)
After nearly three month's closure this small locals' pub on the High Street has reopened under the existing ownership of Adam Neller and Graham Trott (who launched Triple fff) with Altonian Trudy Riley managing. There has been a thorough sprucing up of the bar area that does not detract from its cosy ambience. Cask ales available are currently Sharp's Doom Bar and St. Austell Tribute both on decent form when sampled.
Liphook (24 November - TD)
There are two very varied pubs in Liphook village centre both close to the hourly no. 13 bus route from Basingstoke and Alton.
The Royal Anchor on The Square, an historic one-time coaching inn on the old A3, Portsmouth Road is part of Greene King's Hungry Horse chain and offers four ales, GK IPA and Abbot plus two rotating guests which on my visit were St. Austell Tribute and Skinner's Cornish Knocker. The IPA and the Skinner's were in good order.
Just round the corner in London Road the Green Dragon offers three regular beers selected according to locals' preference. Currently they are Young's Bitter, Hog's Back TEA and Timothy Taylor Landlord. The Young's and the Landlord were both tried and enjoyed along with a good value Thai green curry.
Deer's Hut, Griggs Green (18 November -DT)
Sunday morning walk exploring the local area with the benefit of a walking guide downloaded from Hampshire County Council’s "Visit Hampshire" page available at ...
We popped in after completing the Flora Thompson circular walk at Liphook. A warm welcome from the bar staff was swiftly followed by a very good pint from Longdog.
Hen & Chicken, Upper Froyle (17 November -DT)
A family evening meal was nicely accompanied by a couple of the usual ales from this Hall and Woodhouse favourite. The ales were in good order especially Tangle Foot. We can also recommend the steaks!
Personal outing (14 November - TD)
At the Queen's Head had a good "Queen's Head Best", probably Hardy's & Hanson's Bitter 3.9% and a very good Triple fff Moondance. H&H Olde Trip also on and all beers £3.50 a pint.
Just four ales on at the Railway Arms due to need to refurbish the other handpumps including those in the back bar. Normal service should be resumed by the end of the month at the latest. In the meantime had very palatable Triple fff Autumn Daze 4.8% and an even better Red Cat Porter, 4.5%: both beers £3.30 a pint. Old favorites Alton Pride and Moondance also on and coming soon Brown Bustard and Danish Dynamite from Stonehenge and Triple fff's own seriously good Comfortably Numb.
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.