East Hampshire

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Pub Clips

Pub Clips are the most recent submitted (around 6-9 month's worth) - any comments older than that are probably out of date anyway!

Feedback on the availability and quality of real ale in the area's pubs, clubs and hotels is always welcome, but before compiling a pub clip, please talk to the publican.
We would like each clip identified with the name of compiler and date of visit.
Please send pub clips to Mik Potter (to put up on this website) - see 'Contacts'.

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2021

Selborne (28 August - TD)
After a Gilbert White's Brewery beer tasting on the Wake's lawn to the Selborne Arms for lunch where had two very good guest ales. First off was the 3.8% Parkway Giggle and Titter, a pleasant traditional bitter with crystal malt and sovereign plus olicana hops. Finished with Tanners Box O' Frogs at 4% where a powerful hop aroma leads into a strong malty flavour. Also available was Red Cat Muisca alongside the regular Bowman's Swift One and Ringwood 49er.
At weekends with no bus service this is best tackled by taxi if coming a distance to take advantage of the impressive range of ales on offer.

Holybourne and Alton (27 August - TD)
At the Queen's Head, Holybourne Goddard's Fuggle-de-Dum, a 4.8% tawny premium traditional bitter is now the guest alongside the St. Austell Tribute and Greene King Abbot regulars and very good it is too.
Navigating the seemingly interminable Anstey Road works brings you to the Railway Arms opposite the approach to Alton Station where the number of cask ales is steadily being built back up as trade increases. Today there were two very good guests on offer alongside the Triple fff Alton's Pride, Moondance and Goldfffinger, both on the strong side. At 5% Dorking Red India gets it's rich colour and depth of flavour from crystal malt and its hoppiness from Perle and Centennial hops. Even stronger and full of flavour the 5.4% Red Cat Muisca described as a citra and el dorado IPA has oats and wheat in addition to barley malt in the grist and I was lucky to get the first half fresh on the bar.

The Ivy House (16 August - TD)
At the Ivy House in Alton there was a good spread of guest ales in addition to the Sharp's Doom Bar and Greene King usual suspects. The Loddon Citra Quad (4.4%) is an intensely bitter hop monster where oat based malt is also evident.
I also tried two ales from Firebird of Rudgwick, West Sussex: first off Two Horses, with modest strength (3.8%), but again heavily hopped; and finally, a very different, traditional style English bitter, Festive 51. This strong (4.8%) ale has a rich malt kick and is apparently based on the old King & Barnes Festive recipe.
All ales were priced at £1.99 a pint and represented very good value for money. Loddon Hullabaloo was also available.

Holt Pound and Bentley (13 August - TD)
After getting the 65 bus to the stop by the defunct Bull Inn on the A31 I took a walk across country to the recently refurbished Ball & Wicket at Holt Pound. This Greene King Chef & Brewer branded pub on the A325 used to be known as the Forest Inn and has been renamed by virtue of it overlooking the old Oval pitch for Farnham Cricket Club, abandoned for a century and now a pleasant meadow with footpaths leading to the western part of the Alice Holt Forest. There were four handpumps two in use on the day of my visit serving Greene King IPA (3.6%) and Morland Old Speckled Hen (4.5%), both in good condition and priced at £4.15 a pint before a 10% discount for CAMRA members. The message on the outside wall promises local ales and at the time of my visit Hog's Back Tongham TEA was waiting to come on along with Greene King Yardbird. Light meals and more substantial fare are available through the day and the whole place with rambling interconnected drinking and dining areas plus a substantial upstairs function suite overlooking the Oval makes a useful pit stop for walkers.
Leaving the pub I took the well defined track through the Holt Pound Inclosure to Gravel Hill Road and then across fields to Bentley for the Star Inn where owners Matt Luard and Sophie Croft have recently taken back hands on management of this free house with an emphasis on local produce including the beers. The two ales on were Crafty Brewing LBB 3.9% and Triple fff Moondance, both £4 a pint and highly palatable. The owners are waiting for trade to pick up post-Covid before extending to three or more cask ales and extending the opening hours (the pub is currently closed Mondays and Tuesdays). The rear garden approached through a vine pergola is a delight. Lunchtime and evening meals are available and the Star, which is well placed for the 65 bus route, deserves every encouragement.

The Tap @ the Shed, Bordon (11 August - TD)
The Tap @ the Shed in Bordon is a brand new bar, completely free of tie set in the entertainment, shopping and eating complex, "The Shed".
There are two regularly changing cask ales from Hampshire breweries alongside a real cider on handpump, usually from Meon Valley. Yesterday's cask offerings were Longdog Bunny Chaser (3.6%) and Triple fff Moondance, (4.2%) both in very good order (after the owner Ed noticed as soon as I did that the first Bunny Chaser pulled was well past its best - full marks for a quick response and cask change). Cask beers are priced at £4.10 per pint but the exotic fare from the array of craft keg fonts can run to considerably more.
Meals from the various outlets in The Shed can be enjoyed in the bar

Holybourne to Alton Station (7 July- TD)
The White Hart in the centre of Holybourne village had two handpumps in use and I tried the St. Austell Tribute (4.2%) which the barman admitted was getting a little tired. Timothy Taylor Landlord was also available and I'll try that another day.
At the Anstey Park end of the village the Queen's Head had three ales on as usual with the Palmer's Dorset Gold (4.5%) and the Greene King Abbot (5%) being on good form. St. Austell Tribute was also available here.
An interesting experience was had in the Railway Arms opposite Alton Station Approach. A boxed Red Cat Melody Cider (4.5%, selling for £4.50 a pint) had joined the Seacider boxes and I was given a small taster. It had a pleasant not too sweet traditional aroma and flavour, was unfined and unfiltered and produced in Somerset exclusively for the brewery mainly in bottled form. On the handpumps there was a choice of four ales and I had couple of halves, firstly the ever reliable Moondance (4.2%) and followed it up with Red Cat Peach Mosaic. This 4.9% unfined beer is a rebrew of the brewery's popular Mosaic APA with 100kg of peach puree added to intensify the stone fruit flavour in the Mosaic hopping. It certainly worked for me. Alton's Pride and Hallelujah were also available.

The George (3 August - Paul & Shirley Hawley)
Called in for lunch (pre booked) and saw they had Tribute, Proper Job and TT Landlord (they only have three hand pumps). Had an excellent meals of (respectively) Steak and Ploughman's.
Had Tribute (£3.95), however after taking a mouthful the glasses were swept away by the Landlord who explained that as the pub closes on Mondays they preferred to pull the lines through, so we were presented with two fresh pints which were top class. The Proper Job was also excellent, although was £4.70!

The Eight Bells (5 August - TD)
The Eight Bells, Alton continues providing the two Flower Pots Perridge Pale and Pots Bitter on fine form along with latest guest, Itchen Valley's 4.2% Hampshire Rose also on very good form.

Blacknest & Binsted (1 July - TD)
The Jolly Farmer at Blacknest is a smart largely food oriented Fuller's pub on a crossroads where the Binsted-Bucks Horn Oak road crosses the road coming south from Bentley. Today there were plenty of people spread around inside and out but lots of room for everybody, and I enjoyed halves of London Pride, £4.70 a pint, 4.1% and, a new one to me, Dark Star Skylab, 4.2%, £5 a pint - which I determined is rebranded Session IPA. Both were in very good condition and the Skylab displayed a full-bodied fruitiness just right for the summer day. Gale's HSB was also available.
Had what I thought would be a light sandwich lunch which came with chips and that was also very good.
Down the road in Binsted work is proceeding apace on refurbishment and extension of the Cedars which should restore a much-needed pit stop in an area in fine walking country with far-reaching views criss-crossed by plenty of footpaths.

The Greyfriar, Chawton (22 June - TD)
The Greyfriar in Jane Austen's home village of Chawton achieved full all day opening on 17 May (except for the table service requirement) with all four handpumps in use and food service lunch time and evening. The three ales I had, Dark Star Hophead (3.8%, £4), London Pride (4.1%, £4.30) and Dark Star American Pale Ale (4.7%, £4.30) were all in good order. The multi-award winning APA was on particularly good form displaying its citrussy New World hop character. There is a triple dose of Cascade, Centennial and Chinook here. Gale's HSB (4.8%, £4.55) is also available.

Alton pubs (17 June - TD)
With friends from Surrey I visited a couple of Alton pubs starting with the Ivy House for lunch. Here an initially attractive looking guest beer selection was somewhat let down by Bowman Swift One going off as it was being drawn for us, and the Loddon Ferryman's Gold being past its best. However the Wychwood Hobgobin Gold, 4.2%, was on good form as was the Nethergate Old Growler, 5%, a complex and satisfying Porter and probably appropriate for the turn in the weather. All guest ales are £2.15 a pint and Doom Bar plus Greene King's IPA and Abbot remain available. There is now pretty much a full food menu ostensibly on offer but be prepared for short-term unavailabilities as management juggle reduced capacity and trading with maintaining fresh stocks.
At the Railway Arms I am pleased to report that five out of the seven handpumps are in use with the readily available Triple fff beers Pressed Rat and Warthog (3.8%, £3.40), Alton's Pride (3.8%, £3.40) and Moondance (4.2%, £3.50) being joined by seasonal Hallelujah (4.5%, £3.50), a light golden pale ale with New Zealand Green Bullet hops. All were very drinkable and also available was guest Gales HSB.

Winchester and Alton (15 June - TD)
As I needed to be in Winchester for National Beer Day I went into one of my favourite pubs The Albion just below the station to enjoy a pint of Flower Pots Perridge (3.6%), and halves of Flowerpots Bitter (3.8%) and Gooden's Gold (4.8%) from the same brewery. The Gooden's was £3.80 and the other two £3.60 a pint. All were on very good form and I was pleased to see a healthy trade, although there was still plenty of room within the current 18 seated capacity at lunchtime. During Covid restrictions the pub is closed between 3 and 5 pm and the very filling artisanal pork pies have been suspended.
Looking for a light lunch I bypassed the Old Goalhouse (JDW) and one or two other pubs currently offering very run of the mill ales, and settled into the William Walker on the edge of the Cathedral Close. Here I had very tasty but pricey Dark Star Hophead (3.8%, £4.85) with a substantial chorizo Scotch egg. London Pride and HSB were also on.
Back in Alton into the Eight Bells for another pint of Perridge (£3.40) and a half of Phil's current guest, Crafty Brewing LBB (4%, £3.60). The latter has a strong malt kick and the other regular Flowerpots Bitter was also available.

Ten Tun Tap House (12 June - TD)
The Ten Tun Tap House, Market Square, Alton currently has two handpumps out of four in use and I had two very tasty ales, both reasonably local, at reasonable prices; Ascot Gold Cup, 4%, £3.50 and Longdog Old Ale, 4.6%, £3.60. The Gold Cup is described as a session IPA and the Old Ale was deep, dark and delicious.
At the moment the inside is bookable except for the window seats, and walk-ins are welcomed outside where there was no difficulty getting seated at opening time on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Jason, together with other Market Square hospitality venues, is fighting an edict from East Hants licensing authority that outside seating finishes at 9pm: 11 would be far more reasonable.

Ivy House (8 June - TD)
The Alton JDW Ivy House beer range has improved markedly since inside reopening with three Loddon beers available today. Tried the Hullabaloo (4.2:%) which was in good order. Ferryman's Gold (4.4%) and Hocus Pocus (4.6%) were also available, all at £2.50 a pint alongside the Doom Bar and usual Greene King suspects.

Walkabout in Alton (5 June - TD)
On 5 June I visited the Queen's Head in Holybourne to try the St. Austell Tribute (4.2%, £3.70) which was on good form as usual. Palmer's Copper Ale continues as the guest beer alongside the other regular Greene King Abbot. Although indoor sevice is now allowed, everyone chose to sit in the attractive garden in the sunshine with the wisteria in full bloom. On way back into Alton called into the Railway Arms near the station where I had the Pressed Rat & Warthog (3.8%, £3.40) and Moondance (4.2%, £3.50) - both from Triple fff of course and very palatable, again as usual. Alton's Pride was also on and Chloe the landlady told me that this will be swapped for Gale's HSB next week with Triple fff Hallelujah also waiting in the wings. A more intensive use of the seven handpumps will probably have to await further relaxation of Covid restrictions

Prince of Wales (3 June - TD)
The Prince of Wales, Hammer Vale is now open inside and out for much of the week as follows with booking strongly recommended if eating:
Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: 4pm-10pm (no food)
Wednesday: 4pm-10pm (food served 6pm-8.30pm)
Thursday 12 midday-10pm (food served 12-2pm and 6-8.30pm)
Friday 12 midday-11pm (food served 12-2pm and 6-8.30pm)
Saturday 12 midday-11pm (food served 12-2pm and 6-8.30pm)
Sunday 12 midday-8pm (food served 12-3pm)
Four of us sat under the attractive marquee and enjoyed the three Fullers ales currently available, which as ever in this Good Beer Guide perennial were on fine form and each very distinctive, London Pride, 4.1%, Dark Star American Pale Ale, 4.7% and Gale's HSB, 4.8%. Dark Star Hop Head, 3.8% went off as we arrived. An excellent lunch rounded things off nicely.

Eight Bells, Alton (19 May - TD)
The Eight Bells, Alton is now open inside with some modest diminution on the regular seating.
Opening hours are noon to 2pm and 5-11pm through the week and three cask ales are available with Flack Manor Flack's Double Drop back as guest to join the two regular Flower Pots offerings, Perridge Pale and Flowerpots Bitter. Today the Perridge (3.6%, £3.40 a pint) was on its usual good form.

Railway Arms, Alton (18 May - TD)
The Railway Arms, Alton is currently open from 3-10pm daily with four handpumps in use. Today tried the Pressed Rat and Warthog and Moondance both on good form with Alton's Pride and Citra Sonic also available.

Walkabout in Alton (10 May - TD)
At the French Horn on the Butts, Alton there was plenty of room to sit outside mid-afternoon and a very tasty St. Austell Tribute was had. Timothy Taylor Landlord was also on and this continues to be currently the only cask ale available at the Market Hotel in Market Square, on good form as per earlier visit. Opposite in the Ten Tun Tap House there is currently a very hoppy and fragrant pale ale, Wealdway 4.5%, from Iron Pier of Gravesend on handump. Booking is recommended but there is a reasonable chance of a walk-in around opening time

The Market Hotel, Alton (27 April - TD)
The Market Hotel, Alton reopened on 12 April with new landlord Dan offering a varied food menu starting with brunch from 11 am. Seating is currently restricted to outside on Market Square or in the extended seating area (with deep well) to the rear.
Currently just one cask beer, Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.3%, £4.30 a pint which was on good form. Dan said it is shifting well and is interested in knowing what other beers might be popular.

The George, Alton (22 April - TD)
I visited the George, Alton - recently re-opened with new tenant Tim Lees. Internal refurbishment is underway while the carpark, including a substantial largely open-sided marquee, has been converted into a substantial drinking and dining area. Booking is recommended and it was certainly doing good business at lunchtime on Friday when I turned up for lunch.
Like most pubs serving cask beer provision is reduced, but the George is serving three ales and I had two very palatable pints of St. Austell Tribute (4.2%, £3.95) and Timothy Taylor Landlord (4.3%, £4.20). The other cask ale on offer currently is Wychwood Hobgoblin Gold. The gluten free kitchen provides a decent range of good quality cooked meals.
Links for details of opening times and other facilities...
https://whatpub.com/search?q=the+george+alton&t=ft&p=1&home=1
https://www.thegeorgealton.co.uk/

The Selborne Arms, Selborne (20 April - TD)
The garden of the Selborne Arms is currently open all day with meals served lunchtime and evening. I went at lunchtime having booked for the covered area which is an attractive cross between a pergola and a gazebo, open on two sides with shrubbery threading through the wooden framework.
I had just missed out on the latest batch of draught Gilbert White beer from the recently reopened eighteenth century brewhouse down the road at the Gilbert White Museum, but did console myself with a couple of bottles from the Museum shop. There are currently two decent cask ales on at the pub - Bowman's Swift One and Crafty Brewing Crafty One - 3.8 and 3.9% ABV respectively and both £4 pint.
Like many other establishments restricted trading does not allow for the full range of cask beers (four handpumps here) but that should be alleviated with extended reopening in May and June. The wild boar burger came with a generous helping of chips and was a very pleasant experience all round.
For full details of opening times and menus follow the link from the Pulling Together update box at...
https://whatpub.com/pubs/EHA/8/selborne-arms-selborne.

The Offf the Rails (14 April - TD)
Offf the Rails opens at 3 pm on Fridays and I arrived at opening time to be among the first of what was around 20 people on average in the garden and under the marquee. The core selection of Triple fff available and I had the mild, Pressed Rat & Warthog (3.8% ABV, £3.20 a pint), Moondance (4.2%, £3.60) and Citra Sonic (4.4%, £3.60). All were in good order with Alton's Pride and Goldfffinger also available.
Most tables were in use but always some space with people coming and going. No booking needed. The shop is also open and times for both are on the website via the WhatPub link.

The Queen's Head (14 April - TD)
The garden of the Queen's Head Holybourne is open from 2pm each day, no need to book if you just want a drink but recommended if you want to eat between 5-8pm.
Today there were three ales on with the St. Austell Tribute (4.2%) on particularly good form. The Goddard's Fuggle-de-Dum (4.8%) and Greene King Abbot (5%) were also available and very worthwhile. It was good to see the the garden had a steady flow of customers and everybody well spaced out.
A warning: London Road is closed to traffic all three ways at the Anstey Lane junction for at least this week for work on a new set of traffic lights. Pedestrians have to make their way along a narrow footway.

Personal walkabout (12 April- TD)
On the first day of outdoor pub re-opening with two core companions and others along the way I tried a cross-section of the varied pubs of Alton starting in the Eight Bells at noon where Phil had three ales on offer. I started with what I thought was the best of the day, the excellent Perridge Pale at 3.6% from Flower Pots of Cheriton. Flowerpots Bitter (3.8%) from the same brewery was also very good as was the Flack's Double Drop (3.7%) from Flack Manor. Satisfying to see 21 people spread out around the paved garden with Phil and Babs kept busy, mostly serving cask.
In the Ivy House the usual enterprising guest beers were not in evidence with just Greene King IPA and Abbot plus the ubiquitous Sharp's Doom Bar on offer. The IPA (3.6%) was very ordinary but there was a tasty "Meat Feast" pizza from the currently restricted menu for a late lunch. Nearly all the customers were in the paved rear area rather than the grassy frontage probably because it was bit more sheltered.
Finished the day in Market Square for 4pm opening of the Ten Tun Tap House (booking pretty much essential with just the limited terrace seating available) and only one cask on offer here but it was the Red Cat Mosaic 4.9% with a hefty charge of the eponymous hop variety which brought a satisfying end to the day's casketeering. Did also try a half of the craft keg Labyrinth of Eyes (4.3%, where do they get these names from?) a vegan stout with a satisfying roasty, smokey flavour from Full Circle Brewery of Newcastle. Even the normally keg (and vegan) hating member of the group liked it.