12/12/2012

Drinking in Winchester

A place I always enjoyed visiting whilst at University was Winchester, so I jumped at the chance to go and check up on the state of the pubs recently. My partner-in-crime on this occasion was my landlord from my final year , Mark.

As is becoming customary breakfast was partaken in at the Old Gaolhouse. One of the better JD wetherspoon branches in Hampshire I was very happy to find Adnams-brewed Feral IPA still available after the recent beer festival. Breakfast was good despite the wait (IT failure apparently...)

We then proceded to drink our way around the Good Beer Guide hostelries plus a few extras.
      
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The Old Vine was a very food-oriented pub but I enjoyed a half of Bowman Swift One. Onwards to the Eclipse, which looks great with its Tudor frontage but always a little unadventurous with the beer choice. A half of Andwells King John had to suffice.



PhotobucketThe Wykeham Arms is a fantastic ex-Gales (now Fullers) pub replete with school desks, open fires (roaring) and a Thomas Crapper original installed in the conveniences. Here I enjoyed a roasty porter from the nearby Cheriton. Slight molasses and burnt toast nose, quite a light body with licorice and coffee. Criminally its not been included in the GBG this year but its packed as always.
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After that it was time to replenish the food reserves; so we opted for a hog roast bap from the nearby continental market. This gave us enough energy to complete the stroll along the river to the Black Boy. Its a characterful pub with all manner of taxidermy, bric-a-brac and breweriana including a working AGA. On this occasion the beer was a littler lacklustre and the refusal to tell us who brews "black boy pilsener" left a sour taste in the mouth.
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Another favourite next, the Hyde Tavern. Beer on hand pump and on gravity. It always seems overly quiet when I visit, which explains the price premium. Well worth a trip and good to dry out by the roaring fire. 

The Albion is on the up again, offering Dark Star Revelation on cask and an excellent selection of bottled beers from around the world (including Old Chimney Good King Henry and some of the pricier Mikkellers). We decided to press on to the final two GBG entries however.

PhotobucketThe Fulflood Arms is a green-tile exterior back street local, formerly owned by the Winchester Brewery.
PhotobucketIts come full circle and now has a brewery on the premises. The house bitter wasn't anything to write home about nor was it horrible, just okay. Another pub suffering tired beer syndrome.





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We finished off in the St James Tavern, a Wadworths house at the top of a steep hill, where I settled for a half of Horizon.
Again a bit foody but any pub that has Neil Gaiman comics as artwork in the toilet is fine by me.
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It was then home to Southampton for some real beer in the Guide Dog.

6 comments:

  1. I stayed in Winchester back in September and had perhaps the world's most pathetic ploughman's in the Old Vine.

    The Eclipse across the way is a nice little "proper pub" - because of its small size it can probably only turn over three beers.

    I also liked the Wykeham Arms, St James' Tavern and Black Boy; the Spoons was much like any other Spoons.

    I didn't think much of the Hyde Tavern - it seemed on the wrong side of tatty vs lived-in, and I had some very tired gravity beer.

    Lovely city, though.

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    1. cheers for stopping by Mudgie. Missed that post from september.
      The Eclipse used to have at least one decent beer on, but now they're all "lowest common denominator" beers and pretty much all of the same style there's nothing to enliven the palate.
      Did you get to the Fulflood or was that a bit out of the way?

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  2. Have you been to The Rockstone and Platform yet?

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    1. Was in the Rockstone last time i was in southampton but didn't get a chance to go to platform this time.

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  3. Generally agree with this. Winchester is more about ambience than ale. I like the Hyde, but the priceyness is just it being Winchester. Was packed on Saturday when I was there. But the hit or miss nature of the others is what I've experienced too. Been in the "New" Albion a few times, and I liked it...although its usually after many a glass of Scotch. I liked the feel of the Fulflood...a real community feel. Their own beer, as you say, was ok, but an opportunity missed.

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