This day started at 05.30 and involved driving over 600 miles through snow and heavy rain to get four ticks in the Good Beer Guide. Any psychiatrists present?
The first pub took over seven hours to reach, after which the sight of a Greene King sign is enough to turn anyone into a gibbering fool or a serial killer.
The Running Stream in Weybourne, Surrey continued to apply its own brand of psychological warfare with a cart full of plastic flowers and reindeer.
But inside it was welcoming, warm and doing a thriving retired diner lunchtime trade. As usual, no sign of GK’s tasty cask mild whilst the Abbot weighs in too heavily when driving. The Ruddles, even in modern-day form, was a better alternative than GK IPA and served in good condition.
That was Surrey tidied up for another year so on to Winchester next and yes, another Greene King pub.
The Queen Inn has only a 50% tie to Greene King however, so is free to stock other beers. From a wide selection including some on gravity, I had a local Broken Bridge Forbidden Fruit (4%). Described as a grapefruit pale, it was a quenching, well balanced beer. It didn’t taste like drinking fruit juice which some beers of this style can.
I like it when a pub keeps its old signs.
Despite the exterior The Angel in Andover was an altogether more basic establishment. And yet another Greene King house.
It looked like a former coaching inn with a courtyard now decorated with murals of Hogarth tribute characters.
The only beer on was Old Speckled Hen, served as good as it can be. The motability scooter count was one but with internal access. The landlady bought his drink over. It is often said in this part of Hampshire that a Saltire makes better viewing than the telly.
Only one other person was drinking cask but the rest were professional drinkers with the faces to prove
Andover is a workmanlike sort of town, one of few places to retain a Wimpy.
That finished Hampshire with one more tick needed to finish Wiltshire. The Shed Alehouse in Pewsey was lovely, built onto the front of a house and a genuine micropub.
Five beers were on – my 360 degrees Citra was very pleasant indeed. If I hadn’t been driving I would have had the Cosmic IPA (5%) from a micro brewery in Bristol.
Another three counties fall to the pink highlighter. Oh, the lunacy of it all.