Chatting approvingly about the beer in the Ring o’Bells, a man on a bar stool heard us and turned round to introduce himself.
That’s how we met Denis, the landlord and Trevor the Schnauzer. Their pub – it’s obviously Trevor’s as much as his, in fact I’m pretty sure Trevor had his own bar stool – is in Wookey in Somerset. Not to be confused with nearby Wooky Hole, home of the famous er… Hole.
The Butcombe was a malty treat while Dr John supped Potholer from Cheddar, home of the famous Gorge. Indeed the brewery there make a cleverly named beer called Gorge Best.
Denis says no one knows where Wookey is and people get the inhabitants mixed up with Star Wars, which sounded plausible to us. Apparently the language of the Wookiee, of whom Chewbacca is one “consists of growling and howls” which was also true of some customers in the Ring o’Bells. But I’ve never seen Star Wars so what do I know? A lovely pub this, with a skittle alley and a warm atmosphere.
Things were finally looking up. It had been a fraught journey south in awful conditions. Then we got off to a double failure in Loughborough. First a closure.
Then a change in opening times.
Closed till 4
Quorn was first to the come to the rescue, with The Royal Oak in a very well pubbed town. Helen, the Forest Green Rovers supporting landlady, persuaded me to try the 4% Vixen. Not my usual preferred beer style but this was a coppery autumnal delight. The brewster drinks it here apparently.
Leicester provided more salvation with the happening Two-Tailed Lion in happening Millstone Lane which we followed with the huge Parcel Yard next to the station. It’s a Steamin’ Billy brewery bar but some clips were turned round and my choice was underwhelming.
Oddly a pub where you pay to play darts, hiring oches out as if they were ten pin bowling lanes.
Not far away in Wygston, owner Rob runs a much cosier pub and prides himself on the beer quality in the Tap & Barrel with good reason.
Five cask beers and a handful of craft keg, all carefully chosen. The best of the latter was a superb IPA from Belfast’s Boundary brewery, new to me. Pentrich Distant Swirls was bursting with fresh fruit flavours. Rob knows how to keep a good pint.
We also found a rather good pub at Oxbrew Witney, tucked away off the high street.
Guess who’d already been.
The pub is run by Aaron and his stepfather, who has the Enid Blytonesque name of Simon Scamp. The Little Ox beers certainly found favour with us. On learning of our origins, one of the trio present said he had been to Shetland after watching the murderous tv series. The real Shetland has had two murders in the last 50 years but that would make for less dramatic television.
We advised that we lived closer to Witney than Lerwick (just) and assured him of our almost entirely innocent motives.