Last week I took leave of Calderdale and headed down to the South Coast for a well deserved holiday. On the way we stopped off at Oxford for a night before spending a further evening in Gloucester seeing a university friend. Our location for the last 4 nights was Weymouth on the Jurassic Coast and included a day trip over to Poole to meet another old friend. Compared to the 8 hour drive back on the Sunday, taking three days to travel the same distance was blissful. Having only a night in the first two locations and the family with me means you can’t always find the best pubs. Oxford can kill a few hours just walking staring up in wonder at the university buildings architecture where as in Gloucester we skipped the slightly run down town centre and head straight to the redeveloped quays area. I’m sure there are decent pubs in Gloucester town centre but it doesn’t overly invite you to find them.
We visited two pubs in Oxford, the first being the Angel and Greyhound, on the outskirts of the town centre. A Youngs Brewery food and drink establishment, it had the usual range of home beers, the guest beers coming from the mainstream craft brewers such as Meantime and Camden Town, myself having one from each brewery and found them perfect decent and well kept beers. The second pub we visited was the Kings Arms, another Youngs pub, located opposite Bodgellian Library in the heart of Oxford University land. These had a similar selection of beers as the Angel and Greyhound, but with a bit more variety on cask, sampling a keg Meantime and a guest cask I’ve forgot, (but was from near our neck of the woods). We missed the main pub district totally as we only discovered it on the way to the park and ride bus, but is a city we’d love to visit again and explore its pubs a bit more.
Moving onto Gloucester we were due to meet friends at Gloucester Quays so spent the day moving through down towards our final location. The first pub we visited was Dr Fosters Liquor Co at the town end of the rejuvenated marine area. With a range of nice drinking areas and good food on offer, this is a nice lunch spot. The beers on offer were a mix of better known brands and local brewers. The boxed cider and three real ales I sampled (all local, but names slip me) were good and the range from a number, style and brewery point of view also pleasing. The next place we visited, where we eventually ended up spending the majority of evening was the Brewhouse and Kitchen at the far end, close to the shopping outlet village. With brewing vessels dominating half the ground floor, pumps in double figures and 8 keg lines on top of it’s more mainstream T-bars. Choice is not a problem here. Bar staff are knowledgeable and friendly as at the previous pub, so ticked a number of boxes already. They serve 12 of their own beers, of which about 6-8 are on the pumps at any point. I sampled their session ale Shedhead, American Pale Ale Down a Pegg and Batsman, a summer ale. All were nice, well kept beers which did a perfect job on a hot day. From the keg lines I had Beavertown Gamma Ray and Meantime Yakima Red, both nice and tasty wrapping up the night nicely after a nice meal at the same venue before a nightcap at the nearby Wetherspoons of one of their craft lagers.
Moving down to the South Coast and Weymouth, the beer disappointed somewhat from a real ale point of view. I’m sure there are some better pubs, but we didn’t find them. We mainly drank around the old Southern harbour, with about ten pubs lining the north side and another 6-7 on the north side. I visited the Royal Oak a couple of times, with it touting its real ale credentials but on the first visit it only had 1 ale on the 4 wickets and that was a mainstream beer, so I moved onto a couple of their 9 boxed ciders, the second visit had a Devon Brewing Company (DBC) on the second pump, Jurassic I think, a decent if unspectacular beer, so not living up to the pub packaging. I also visited Drift and Red Lion in the Brewery Quay square. The latter offered 90 rums, but the ales selections were a mix of mainstream and DBC on the day, the Dundle Door premium ale being the same result as the Jurassic, there was a third beer I’d tried from these I’ve forgot, but very much like the others. Drift is located in the old Devenish Brewery building and has the working original brewery pump behind the bar. These offered a nice range of local and more geographically spread real ales along with some decent keg offering and good cocktails. A relaxed atmosphere throughout the week, good service and well kept beer kept me coming back.