Mid Wales presents some familiar logistical challenges to pub tickers, mainly concerning distance and opening times. Beer choice though is much improved, as our final destination in Llandrindod Wells would later demonstrate.
En route, we enjoyed a couple of swift halves in Welshpool at the Pheasant and the Talbot. The consistently excellent Salopian brewery once again glittered at the former. The Pheasant was selling bucketloads of real ale to that endangered species, People Drinking in the Pub after Work (though admittedly not as endangered as People Drinking at Lunchtime before going back to Work).
From there it was on to the Old Mill at Llanidloes, formerly a United Services Club. The address is 40-44 High Street but it’s tucked away out of view. We parked outside it and, in the darkness, had to ask someone to show us where it was. The Guide describes the contents as “an eclectic mix of furniture, shelves and bric-a-brac”.
There were three wickets in play- a Green Duck beer obscured by a Marie Curie nurse who refused to move (below) and two from Hopcraft, who seem to produce a conveyer belt of one off or limited edition beers. A full range of their offerings is available in the Hopbunker, Cardiff. Dr John indulged his passion for dark beers with a Dark Moon (4.8%) while I had the Permanent Revolution (3.8%), described as a Red Half IPA. Both were distinctive and served in good condition.
The final target of the night won Wales Pub of the Year 2016 – the Arvon Ale House in Llandrindod Wells. This was a great place to end proceedings after a long and arduous day’s travelling. Only a minute’s walk from our digs, it was the usual shop front arrangement favoured by micropubs. We enjoyed the 5 beers on offer and the free wheeling chat of John, Laura and their customers. The two beers from Swan (Herefordshire) were new to me and decent as was the Mad Dog Third Eye Blind (3.8%) but the highlight was Ragged Glory, a gorgeous 6% IPA from Fownes of Dudley.
There was one customer who didn’t go with the flow of the conversation at the bar and insisted that there were “no Mosques in Ireland” despite being shown all evidence to the contrary. Maybe he was a Man of the Midlands as he seemed to be a Bitterman.
Later on landlord John – a Corkman – whipped out his caman for inspection and very fine it was too. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an impressive hurling stick. Here is damning evidence of the man himself trying to protect his own drink whilst ensuring those on the other side of the bar went thirsty.
The Arvon Ale House is a top pub in a town full of interesting buildings including a magnificent inter-war former Rootes dealership. The picture at the top of the page is with thanks from http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/garage-llandrindod.htm
The names displayed- Commer, Hillman, Humber and Sunbeam -are as resonant to some as Home, Boddington’s and Higson’s are to beer drinkers.