Hop PresshopsHop Press Issue 71 front cover

Issue 71 – October 2011

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EDITORIAL Hop Press index

Budweiser logoAfter well over thirty years of litigation can the battle of the Buds have finally ended for us in a score draw? Milwaukie's finest, the Anheuser-Busch Corporation (now part of the huge InBev global conglomerate) has been supplying its iconic red, black and white labelled bottles to American rednecks since the end of prohibition, when the brand was registered.

Meanwhile, In Czechoslovakia, and now subsequently in the Czech Republic, the Pilsen based Budvar Brewery had been quietly going about their business brewing the pils, identically named after its place of origin.

Budweiser Budvar logoFor decades, after WWII and whilst the Cold War raged, each was happy on their respective continents but with globalisation beers became international brands and a goldmine for the lawyers opened up. Around the globe courts have deliberated on the merits of a prior registration versus a geographic fact. Decisions of trade mark supremacy have gone in both directions in differing countries but for Britain the dispute has rumbled on until it finally ended in the European Court with a declared draw and each logo being allowed. In a masterly understatement the court said: "United Kingdom consumers are well aware of the difference between Budvar's beers and those of Anheuser-Busch, since their tastes, prices and get-ups have always been different."


At the end of September CAMRA welcomed Parliament's Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee Report on Pub Companies. Last year, the preceding Committee offered the PubCos and the industry in general a final opportunity for self-regulated reform. It made clear that, if the industry did not deliver reform within a year, Government Intervention would be necessary.

In June 2011, the Select Committee began its enquiry and considered written and oral evidence from PubCos and organisations. CAMRA's Policy and Public Affairs Committee submitted considerable written evidence and case studies which demonstrated that the Industry had failed to reform, and that statutory intervention was imminently necessary to protect tenants and prevent pub closures. CAMRA Chief Executive Mike Benner also gave oral evidence to the Committee.

Having considered the evidence, the Select Committee recognised: 'the deep-seated problems which lie at the heart of the industry, ' and reported that: 'While the new codes of practice are a step in the right direction, they only address a limited number of areas. In many areas we do not believe that there has been a genuine commitment to reform.'

CAMRA warmly welcomes this, and is keen to see the Government follow through on the Committee's recommendations. CAMRA believes that statutory intervention and regulation will make PubCos more accountable to their tenants and to Parliament. CAMRA believes this would prevent PubCos exploiting both their tenants and their consumers. CAMRA members will be asked to lobby their MPs, to ensure the Government is commitment to statutory intervention.

Mike Benner, CAMRA CEO said:

"Too many of the UK's pubs are blighted by the actions of the large pub companies whose business model has been so reliant on exploiting a position of power to the cost of pub licensees, communities and the consumer."

"The committee's recommendations seek an end to barriers to growth in the pub sector, a culture of inflexibility and artificially inflated beer prices. We now urge the Government to show it's on the consumer's side by following through on its promise to take action on the back of these recommendations."


The end of September also saw the publication of the fifth annual Cask Ale Report. This outlines the health of the cask beer market and its impact on the pub trade in general; its conclusions give much to encourage our campaigning for real ale.

Whilst the total on-trade beer sales continued to fall, in the pub's one-sided battle with the give-away supermarkets, the proportion of the sales that were cask-conditioned ales rose for the third year running and is now back to the proportion of total sales that it occupied more than a decade ago. In fact this year is predicted to see the turnover into actual growth. The percentages of real ale in the total on-trade for the last 13 years, shown here, demonstrate that it is the key rising sector in the licensed trade.

1998 16.1%
1999 14.6%
2000 14.0%
2001 13.5%
2002 13.2%
2003 12.8%
2004 12.5%
2005 12.4%
2006 12.4%
2007 13.1%
2008 14.0%
2009 14.6%
2010 15.0%

Despite the continuing decline in total pubs, the overall proportion of pubs featuring real ales also grew – by 2500 last year – and the number of brews per pub also increased, markedly so in 'gastro' style pubs.

Several chapters give details of what attracts (and deters) drinkers from a bank of handpumps on any bar and the localness of production stands out as a very plus factor, vindicating CAMRA's 'LocAle' initiative. Amongst the more arcane demographic statistics, a table links newspaper readership to real ale preference; the Guardian being the run-away leader as having more than two times the linkage to the cask beer community.

The report is available as a pdf download from: www.caskreport.co.uk its 52 pages provide invaluable insights into the workings of the beer trade and into the 'drivers' and 'barriers' to cask beer sales plus remarkable glimpses of how a real ale drinker arrives at the decision to choose and order a pint.


The closed Rack & MangerThis issue's cover shows a sad image of Greene King's abandoned Rack and Manger, midway between Winchester and Stockbridge. An especially dismal view for your editor as in the '60s, when I first moved into the county and lived in Weeke, this was the daily local of choice (Marstons then). Sic transit…

Pub News Hop Press index

Rob Whatley


There is a new Harvester in Eastleigh, in the Swan Centre. This is the second Harvester in the town, the other being the Ham Farm to the north in Twyford Road. The new outlet is labelled a 'Harvester Salad and Grill' and does not feature real ale. Next to the Ham Farm Harvester is a Travelodge and work has also started on a second such hotel in the town centre on the site of the former Earth Club and Bar, opposite the railway station.

Other former pubs in Eastleigh have also been given new uses. The Leigh Hotel is now a 140-seat Indian restaurant, the Badi Mirchi, following a £380,000 refit. The exterior remains a fine example of brewers' Tudor with the original Strongs portcullis symbols re-exposed. Also in Leigh Road, in the town centre, the one time Mija bar is now a Poppins restaurant.


We are pleased to note that the Welcome Inn, is now open again following a short closure for refurbishment.


In the last Hop Press we mentioned that the Vine in Bursledon had changed hands. Licensees Craig & Sandie Henry tell us that, moving the beers from gravity dispense to the cellar and handpumped service has enabled them to take advantage of the guest ales that they can get through owners Admiral Taverns.

Butlocks Heath

There was a change of hands at the Cottage, Butlocks Heath earlier in the year when Andy Madsen, who has run a number of other pubs in our area over the years, took over this Wadworth house. Regulars' fundraising events recently raised over £3,000 for a Prostate Cancer Charity.


After a somewhat chequered recent history the White Horse at Otterbourne has become part of the Ideal Collection's portfolio. It is due to reopen in November and is promised to offer 'stylish elegance within a rustic setting' as a 'friendly village local.' This company also runs the White Star in Southampton and the Bugle in Hamble.


Another Ideal Collection venue due to reopen in November is the former Cricketers in Bridge Street. After a series of name changes, including the Blonde Beer Café and Mikiki Lounge, the pub, which closed in April, is set to reopen under a new more prosaic name: No 5 Bridge Street.

Wiltshire brewers, Wadworth, are looking to expand the St James Tavern into the adjacent 5 Romsey Road which they have owned for some time..

In Stanmore, Bargate Homes applied to build 14 homes on the site of the New Queens Head. Regulars mounted a campaign to save the pub and more than 300 letters of objection were presented to the council. The application was rejected.

On the outskirts of the city, owners Mitchells and Butlers have sold the Percy Hobbs at Morn Hill to a furniture company, which is planning to open a showroom. For many years the former Whitbread Brewers' Fayre was known as the New Inn, but in 1982 it was renamed in memory of one its longest serving regulars.


Just down the road from the Percy Hobbs there have been a number of different tenants in recent years, at the Cricketers at Easton. In July owners Marston's held an open forum in the village to discuss the future of the pub. The brewery pledged to keep the pub open while it continued to search for a new tenant. Happily we hear that Adam Rainford has now taken up the lease.


Reopened after a much needed refurbishment is the Greene King owned Running Horse. New licensees Hannah Newman and Malcolm Evans are offering customers four cask ales, including a guest ale from the nearby Flower Pots Brewery.


An application was submitted for a change of use for the Rack and Manger to residential accommodation, as a single house. Opposed by the planning authorities, on the grounds of insufficient justifying evidence, the application was subsequently withdrawn. An advertisement was recently published pricing the pub, which has been closed since February, at £500,000+. Our cover picture shows its present sad state.


A similar application was submitted for the John o' Gaunt at Horsebridge to change the public house into three dwellings (1 bungalow and 2 flats). There has been a great deal of local opposition to the plan and CAMRA submitted a response pointing out a number of misleading statements that had been made to support the application. Consideration by the committee was deferred to allow examination of further evidence submitted by the owners, a date for the hearing to recommence is not yet known; meanwhile the pub stays closed. It is noteworthy that the owners are being helped by a Twyford based company of planning advisors who use their successful masterminding of the de-licensing of the Shearers in Owslebury as part of their evidential support!


A few miles to the south, proof that a rural pub can be turned round after a period of closure can be found in Lockerley. The King's Arms only reopened at the start of the year but it has already found its way into the new edition of the Good Food Guide under the management of Chris Donohue and Paul Wigg. Congratulations.


In April an application was made to erect 4 mews houses on the former beer garden of the William IV in Latimer Street. Permission for the scheme was not granted but in July a revised application was made to construct 2 two bedroom units and a one bedroom unit on the same site and this was successful.


Now, as widely reported in both the local and national press, some splendid news from Lymington – permission has been granted to Wetherspoons to open a new outlet, to be named the Six Bells, in a former furniture shop, C Ford and Co, in St Thomas Street. Planners had received 973 objections to the scheme and 110 letters in favour along with a 1,000 signature petition also supporting the scheme.

Planning officers recommended refusal, the case officer's concluding remarks were that: "…the likely high-spirited behaviour of the customers leaving the proposed drinking establishment, particularly in the late evening, would be the cause of anxiety and stress for elderly residents…" Supporters pointed out that the yachtsmen on the quay were frequently high-spirited. It was also, rightly, stressed that behavioural matters were really the concern of the licensing committee not the planners.

Happily the councillors on the planning committee saw through the hysteria and voted 13-7 in favour. Many of the objectors claimed that as a 'destination pub' it would attract trouble to the town. The aspect of this notorious case that we find most depressing is constant branding of Wetherspoons as a 'purveyor of cut-price drinks' – no mention whatever of the Supermarkets, the real villains.

But bad behaviour, not normally associated with Wetherspoon pubs, already seems familiar to Lymingtonians; earlier this year a town centre bar was ordered to restrict its opening hours after police presented the licensing committee with a catalogue of complaints about antisocial behaviour and drunkenness in the early hours. Longs Cellar Bar in the High Street was ordered to close at 12.30 rather than 2am. We understand that an appeal is being made against the decision.

Along the coast at Keyhaven, there could be a voluntary restriction of opening hours at the Gun Inn. Earlier this year councillors agreed to introduce year round charges at a nearby car park. Parking was free between November and February and the pub's management consider that the adverse affect on trade will mean that they will close the pub for about a month from the start of January.

A Lymington pub that is currently closed is the Tollhouse. A fire broke out at the Southampton Road pub in July and an occupant and his dog had to be rescued from the first floor by firefighters. There was some smoke damage to the pub but the blaze was quickly brought under control. A man was arrested on suspicion of arson. Refurbishment work is currently being undertaken at the pub.


Last year the Red Lion in Totton suffered a much more devastating blaze that destroyed the pub. The site of the pub still remains empty and police have closed their investigation into the fire.

We mentioned in the last Hop Press that permission had been granted for alterations at the Testwood in Salisbury Road. However, permission was only granted for part of the plans that had been submitted. But work subsequently carried out at the pub went ahead without discrimination. Owners Greene King were refused a retrospective application for the changes after nearby residents had complained about new floodlighting and an increase in noise from the pub.


Another failed application for retrospective planning permission has been suffered by Butlers Bar and Grill in Fordingbridge. From as far back as June 2009 the owners of the bar have been battling to keep a beer garden, decking and a smoking shelter that had been erected to the back of the premises. An appeal against the original refusal has now been lost.


A few miles north in Burgate, the owners of the Tudor Rose had a more successful outcome in a dispute with planners. The mini golf course in the pub garden was installed in 2008 with only temporary planning permission. Planners have now agreed to let the course remain as long as it is only used between 11am and 7pm.


A game of croquet with flamingos as mallets might be more appropriate at the former Mill House in Lyndhurst. The Chef and Brewer outlet has been renamed the White Rabbit. Alice in Wonderland themed names are used by many businesses in the town as Alice Liddle, who inspired the stories, is buried in the nearby St. Michael & All Angels church. The premises have undergone a major refurbishment and had a range of real ales on offer when we visited.


There have been a number of comings and goings in Pilley. The licensee of the Fleur-de-Lys, Hadie Bradley, has left, as has her brother, Havoir Hughes, who ran the nearby village shop. The shop is currently closed but the pub is now being run by Nick and Alison Cook. They plan to extend the main bar of what is claimed to be one of the oldest pubs in the New Forest.


Dick Cooper and his partner Debbie, took over at the Bridge Tavern, Holbury in mid-September and following refurbishment the pub opened to the public a couple of weeks later. At the present time they are serving two real ales, but Mr Cooper is hoping to extend this to three or even four in the future.


The new licensee of the Falcon Inn, Fawley is Dee Dynham. Another example of a recent trend of a barmaid becoming a landlady, the pub remains much as before with no change in hours and two real ales.


There appears to have been a conclusion in the long running saga to build a pub and hotel on the site of the former Flying Boat in Calshot. The pub was demolished in 2001 and in 2005 permission was granted to build a pub, restaurant and 24 bed hotel on the site. This permission lapsed after the five year time limit during which no development took place. An application to extend permission was refused and now an appeal against that decision has also been dismissed.


The pub situation in Southampton has become a little brighter over the past few months. After a long delay since it was first announced, the Santo Lounge is now open in Shirley Road. It is run by the same company as the Trago Lounge in Portswood. One real ale was on offer when we visited.

Also newly opened is the Turtle Bay Caribbean bar and restaurant in Guildhall Square. These are two examples of a trend towards venues that are attracting people who are going out for a drink but which are not traditional pubs. Readers might like to speculate whether these outlets are pulling drinkers away from the declining number of pubs or are attracting a different audience. Another such venue, Joe Daflo's in Commercial Road, has been renamed The Vestry, reflecting the building's previous use as St Peter's church.

Another name change has occurred in the city with the Boson's Locker reverting to a name that will be familiar to older readers, the Juniper Berry. A search of the internet will reveal the (very) colourful history of the pub under this name. Due to open soon under a new name is the Bevois Castle, which will become the Rockstone. Sadly the nearby Bevois Town remains boarded up and permission has been granted for it to be demolished and replaced by five houses and three flats.

Another well known pub that has reopened after months of uncertainty about its future is the Dolphin in St Denys. The pub has undergone refurbishment and new landlady Lisa Douglas is offering a range of real ales for customers to sample.

On the other side of the Itchen the Obelisk has reopened its doors. It closed in April but has been revived by new landlord Kevin Guerrier with his wife Misa, who are helped to run the Obelisk by their two children. A selection of real ales is available. Owners Enterprise Inns wanted to sell off part of the site for housing but permission has been denied.

The Pensioners in Bedford Place is also under new ownership. The lease has been taken up by Kostas Raftopoulos, who part owns La Margherita restaurant. Now reopened after renovation, the Pensioners has a more airy feel but the only real ale on offer is Greene King IPA. A single handpump is also the situation at another pub under the same ownership, The former Court Jester in Terminus Terrace. It has undergone extensive refurbishment and is now the Antico bar, restaurant and grill.

There is not such good news of the long closed Blacksmith Arms in Romsey Road. Plans have been submitted to covert the listed pub into three houses and build an additional eight homes on the rest of the site. The future of the Woodman in Lordswood is also still uncertain as it has been closed since July.

Two other closed pubs have been put out of their misery after a lingering death. Both the Crown and Sceptre and the Gate in Burgess Road have been demolished. The site of the Crown and Sceptre looks set to feature some greenery and a stone featuring the name of the pub, which was part of the building, now stands as a reminder of what has gone. The site of the Gate is now a car park for the university. Perhaps both of the former pubs should now have their own MySpace pages?

The Ferment Goes On… Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

At the start of 2010 there were around a dozen breweries in the county and we applauded the arrival during the year of a further three – Botley, Flack Manor and Hensting – as evidence for the industry's local vitality. 2011 has already achieved the same success with three more new-borns, others rumoured and several enlarging.

Sherfield Village Brewery logoMuch of this activity has been in the north-east of the county. At Sherfield on Loddon on the A33 Basingstoke to Reading road we now have the Sherfield Village Brewery which produced its first brew (a 4.2% bitter, Hindsight ) in May. Already the brewery has embarked on a whole gamut of beer styles with a very light 3.0% bitter ( Threesome ), two best bitters at 4.4% ( Pewter Suitor ) and at 4.5% ( Foresight ) and a 5.0% chocolate stout ( Pioneer ). The brewery is a five-barrel plant based on a working farm and is the brainchild of Peter Cook, owner, brewer, drayman, sales team and general factotum. Its ethos is firmly committed to CAMRA's concepts of 'Locale.'

In addition to the range of its 'normal' brews SVB are also embarking on a range that they call SOLO – Sherfield on Loddon Original – beers. These will specialise in using New World hops, some of quite uncommon varieties. As an example the 4.7% Hoppy Harrington uses five distinct hops: Admiral and Amarillo for bittering, Galena and Green Bullet as a late addition and Motueka as a dry-hop addition to the cask!

Visit: www.sherfieldvillagebrewery.co.uk

Longdog Brewery logoAnother opening in the north-east is in Basingstoke itself, the Longdog Brewery.

A six-barrel plant that produced its first pint on July 27 th, the brewery is on the Moniton Trading Estate, a small industrial area on the extreme west of Basingstoke near Worting.

Currently there are two regular beers being brewed, Golden Poacher a 3.9% thirst-quenching session bitter hopped with Green Bullet and Brindle Bitter, at 4.2% a more robust brew with Challenger and Goldings hops and with a touch of chocolatey sweetness.

Visit: www.longdogbrewery.co.uk

Andwell Brewery pictureFurther developments in the area are at the now well-established Andwell Brewery. They have just moved a mile or so from North Warnborough to Andwell hamlet itself and into lovely riverside premises converted from a former trout farm fish smokery. In the process the brewing capacity has been doubled from ten to twenty barrels by the installation of a brand new German-built plant.

Visit: www.andwells.com

Vibrant Brewery LogoIn addition to all of this activity in the north of the county our own area has not been idle and we too have a new brewery, in Totton, the Vibrant Forest Brewery has been opened by Kevin Robinson.

This operation, which also produced its first brew in July, is truly a micro – just a one-barrel capacity! Despite this it is already brewing some quite excellent and adventurous beers such as its 4.8% Wheatwave, a cloudy wheat beer that could easily have been brewed in the heart of Bavaria. There is also a ginger beer ( Ginga Ninja, 4.0%), a golden summer beer ( Summerlands, 3.8%), a stout ( Oat Stout, 4.5%), a porter ( Dark Castle, 5.2%) and of course a best bitter ( Vibrant Best, 4.2%).

At such a small scale each brew can only supply four  firkins to any intending outlet so the brewery can so far be said to be a 'proof of concept' rather than a fully-fledged commercial venture.  Given the outstanding feedback received from pubs and recent beer festivals such as those at The Flowerpots and The Cuckoo Inn, we cannot rule out the possibility for a future expansion.

Visit: www.vibrantforest.co.uk

Hensting Brewery logoAnother tiny one-barrel 'hobby micro' Hensting Brewery continues to supply 'one- off' brews to beer festivals whilst developing the farm-based infrastructure needed to realise a 10 barrel brewery. Committed to a DIY and 'grow as you go' approach, new conditioning, steam generation and storage facilities are now ready but not yet in operation. Larger copper, conditioning and fermentation tanks will be purchased in 2012 and growth implemented over a 3 year plan.

Visit: www.henstingbrewery.co.uk (under construction)

Finally, we have news of national success for some of our local brewers in competitions. The Oakleaf Brewery in Gosport triumphed in the summer when their 4.9% lager/bitter transitional beer, I Can't Believe it's not Bitter won the speciality beer class in the Champion Beer of Britain contest at the Great British Beer Festival. At the same event the Triple fff Brewery from Four Marks also took the bronze medal in the bitter category with their 3.8% Alton's Pride.

Tally Ho! Off to Palmers Hop Press index

Pete Simpson

To join the celebrations of CAMRA's 40 th Birthday, invitations to a special evening were kindly extended by Palmers Brewery of Bridport, in Dorset, to representatives of local branches.

Palmer Brewery picture

The evening started with a generous dispense of Tally Ho, their 5.5% abv Old Ale, named Champion Beer for London and South East 2010/11, whilst family member, Cleeves Palmer, summarised the history of the fiercely independent brewery and then invited questions from the guests.

Immediately apparent was the pride taken in the quality of their products, the care and freedom given to their publican tenants, many with decades of service, and the refusal to become just part of a Pubco's guest beer list.

A long standing family brewing concern, with portraits and numerous awards proudly adorning the walls, Palmers are accountable to themselves alone. Already, younger members of the next family generation are being gently brought into the fold to continue the 216 year dynasty. Britain's only thatched brewery is on the Jurassic coast but is certainly not fossilised. Several hundreds of thousands of pounds have been invested in recent years in heat exchangers, cask fillers and other equipment to secure long term continuity and efficiency. Yet, to respect their history, retired equipment has been retained as museum pieces together with many photographs from bygone years.

A complimentary, but comprehensive, brewery tour led by Head Brewer, Darren Batten, followed the introduction before a return to the boardroom, now filled with a mouth watering buffet and 'pottles' of the other fine brews. These were later distributed, with accompanying generous gift bags, to the guests parting for home, guest house or, in one case, a windy West Bay beach for late night consumption. Lifts were even provided to ensure all staying in the vicinity were returned safely.

Palmers, although a thoroughly traditional brewery, embrace modern marketing methods and media – their website is well worth a visit – but it is their products that really speak for themselves. For example, the best English Goldings hops are contracted forward to guarantee supply and there is a policy not to release any ale from the brewery that has not been racked for at least seven days, irrespective of demand, emphasising commitment to quality.

Palmers beers are often on offer in pubs in the Southern Hampshire branch area but Mr Palmer strongly suggested that suitable pubs are always being sought for purchase. However their tied estate is still quite a long way short of Hampshire - the nearest is probably the Thimble Inn in Piddlehinton.

We extend many thanks to Mr Palmer and his staff for their wonderful hospitality to CAMRA.


Competition Crossword Hop Press index

QUETZALCOATL   (printable pdf version here 27KB download)

Crossword Grid

5. Go, by means of black powder (6)
6. Albino polecat with two right feet! (6)
9. Visible round gives time to runner (6)
10. Seedling grown on one advent (5,3)
11. See morning’s fertile Earth (4)
12. Steinbeck’s new “Carry On” novel (7,3)
13. Effect of one Ribena? Not I anyway! (11)
18. Trial of former fairy by humans at last (10)
21. Shoulder evens out under foot (4)
22. It’s hard in the timeless Antarctic, quite lawless (8)
23. Bright sun sank finally, centrally, lizard like (6)
24. Poet’s movement (6)
25. Swindle the Yorkshire Woolen Bank? (6)
1. Yuri – first MENSA cap (8)
2. 10 (about) about tropical insectivore (6)
3. Colonel’s men in Government books (8)
4. Stephen grips eastern antipodes in wild mania (6)
5. Standard academic indulgence (6)
7. Draw a gun, it will stiffen your frame! (3-3)
8. Simultaneous events rolling dice? – Nice con! (11)
14. In Sussex, bowled square on! – Pavilioned (8)
15. Old boys are well hidden (8)
16. Measure has unknown upon unknown, in Roma perhaps? (6)
17. Drop the breather in exercise (6)
19. Monster geese return with other fliers (6)
20. Time to rummage for toy (6)

Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn. Closing date: 31 st December 2011.

Send to:

The Editor, Hop Press, 1 Surbiton Road, Eastleigh, Hants. SO50 4HY

Issue 70 (May 2011) Solution & Winners

Crossword Answers

Fourteen entries but two were let down by single slips (NORI and HINDI). Apologies for a completely extraneous and unwanted clue – ‘13 down’ – that got left in from a previous puzzle, it is my idleness using previous grids as templates and then being a less than perfect proof reader! However this didn’t seem to throw anyone and several even supplied its solution (THIRD WORLD) as extra measure.

Mike Hobbs, Southampton
Chris Neale, Ringwood

Other correct solutions were from:

Marian Bartlett

Kate Chessman

Nigel Cook

Trevor Crowther

Phil Doughty

J E Green

Stephen Harvey

Gary Morse

John True

John Yalden

Walking and Drinking in Romsey Hop Press index

(download pdf file for printing 616kB)

Ray Massey

Thinking of walking in Romsey, I think of the Test, as rivers usually provide good routes for walking. But the Test is a very private river with little public access. Nonetheless these short walks manage to include three stretches of the river plus a length of the old Romsey Canal. First, a short walk through the town centre.

Romsey Town Centre Walk

This brief tour starts, very naturally, at the Market Place, lorded over by Lord Palmerston's statue; an excellent small market town square reminding me very much of Trumpton. Glancing north up Church Street you can just make out the sign of The Abbey Hotel, a very reliable drinking establishment. Courage Best and Directors plus Youngs Bitter are the beers available. You will get a much better view of the Hotel at the end of the first walk.

The Tavern, Romsey
The Tavern

Start to walk east towards the Cornmarket and immediately on your left is The White Horse, Romsey's largest hotel. In the somewhat characterless bar at the rear of the building beers from Flack Manor and Andwell are offered. Previously the bar was in a small heavily timbered room at the front of the building: in my opinion one of the nicest spots in Romsey to have a drink.

Continuing down the Hundred, at the corner of Latimer Street is the Tavern; a pub aimed at the young and musical. In Romsey recently, I poked my nose inside to check that they still sold real ale. The welcoming landlord was cleaning the pipes at the time (early Saturday morning); and yes, the regular real ale was Deuchars IPA, and very nice it was too.

Old House at Home, Romsey
Old House at Home

Leaving The Tavern, ahead of you is the tiny Love Lane. Don't miss it, it leads to probably the best run pub in Romsey – the thatched Old House At Home – a very welcoming Fullers' house; winner of several Fullers' awards, and serving very good quality beer and food, with occasional interesting guests as well. My only slight minus is that I can't get their Chiswick Bitter. But then that's true, unfortunately, of many other local Fullers' pubs.

Olive Tree, Romsey
Olive Tree

Back at The Tavern, the road on the left is Latimer Street. This leads immediately to the Olive Tree, a café/bistro that generally serves real ale, last time I looked it was Thwaites Original. Further up Latimer Street is the William IV, mentioned later on another itinerary. Beyond that is the station.

Continuing ahead down The Hundred, you pass Bertie's, a well-regarded Romsey restaurant, previously a pub, the King's Head. Directly opposite, on the street corner, is another former pub, the Sceptre. This was the last pub to be built in Romsey in 1871. Closing in 1972, it just achieved its centenary. Continue down the Hundred until just beyond the traffic lights is the smartly painted and welcoming Bishop Blaize, a pub vastly improved in recent years. The beers here are Ringwood Best and a guest, often another Hampshire brewed one.

Bishop Blaize, Romsey
Bishop Blaize

Further eastwards you reach the Plaza roundabout where you join the A3090, the main road to Winchester. Beyond two railway bridges is The Sun. This pub has gone through many changes of hands in recent years and has only just reopened.

Romsey River Walk

This time go south from the Market Place, down Bell Street. In a few yards, on the left, in a corner of the Cornmarket is the Tudor Rose a pub with as much history as any in Romsey. For years, this modest pub was a regular in The Good Beer Guide, then it lost its way for a few years. However the new licensees are improving things and their two beers Courage Best & Shepherd Neame Spitfire are usually excellent.

Tudor Rose, Romsey
Tudor Rose

Further down Bell Street is La Parisienne, a French restaurant. This building was originally a pub – The Angel. Perhaps that's why real ales are still sold. Recently there were three – Ringwood Best, London Pride and the very local Double Drop.

Just after the shops end keep slightly right into Middlebridge Street, where a small stream follows the left side of the road. This street was originally the main route into Romsey from the southwest. The road continues to curve slightly right. At about the same time as you become aware of traffic ahead you will see the bay windows of the Tree Tuns. This pub has recently been bought by the owners of the Chesil Rectory in Winchester, who have certainly smartened the place up and got rid of the bareness of the previous regime. The four beers available are Bath Gem, Doom Bar, Ringwood Best and Summer Lightning.

Further down Middlebridge Street you soon merge with the western end of the Romsey by-pass (A3090 again). Fortunately a large cotoneaster hedge shields you from most of the traffic noise until you reach Mainstone Bridge where the road crosses the River Test. The river is a single stream here and very impressive it is too. Just beyond the bridge is the Cromwell Arms, a new incarnation of what has been first a pub, then a vets and a restaurant in the recent past. The pub has just earned itself a place in The Good Beer Guide 2012, it is a smart gastro-pub with two beers from local breweries, often Andwell and Flack Manor.

Back to the river, turn left on a broad gravel track going upstream beside the flowing waters. This is part of the Test Way long distance footpath. Keep beside the river until the buildings of Saddler's Mill. Until recently the six arches of the sluice beneath you were covered by straw-filled sacks every autumn, to protect the salmon as they swam upstream. Nowadays it seems that there are no, or very few, salmon.

Abbey Hotel, Romsey
Abbey Hotel

Cross over the sluice and join a narrow tarmac path between a rough pasture field and a line of cottages. Cross over a small feeder stream onto a small road alongside a park (The Meads). Go past Romsey War Memorial Park entrance, and cross a larger stream to join a quiet residential road with a small ditch on its right edge. Soon, Romsey Abbey looms into sight on the left. At the junction of The Meads and The Abbey you have a choice: Either continue straight ahead, and go under an archway to emerge, surprisingly, back in the Market Place again. Alternatively, turn left and curve north around the bulk of Romsey Abbey. Ahead of you is the imposing frontage of the Abbey Hotel. Left out of the Abbey Hotel returns you in a few yards to the Market Place.

Romsey River Walk – a rural extension

Star Inn, Romsey
Star Inn

For a more rural second part to this walk, turn left before reaching the Abbey Hotel to walk up Church Street, past the Post Office. Just ahead of you, but out of sight around a sharp bend is The Star, a Wadworth pub serving a good range of their beers, this pub is located just outside the gates of the old Strongs brewery site.

Turn right into Portersbridge Street, very soon you reach the William IV; a modest pub serving Flack Manor Double Drop when I visited. Turn left into Station Road towards the station. At the traffic lights continue on Station Road (not Station Approach), and head for a small tunnel, Cupernham Arch, underneath the railway and Romsey Station. This is Canal Walk, and after passing a Poundbury-like development on the left does indeed lead to the old canal.

Veer left alongside the canal with modern housing estates on both sides; the path is well sheltered by large hedges. The houses end just before Fishlake Meadows (a sort of northern Romsey by-pass) crosses over the path and canal. Note that the canal has a gentle flow due to the removal of small locks many years ago. Now the countryside becomes increasingly open, especially on the left hand side. This area is also known as Fishlake Meadows and is an important winter wetland used to hold excess river water.

After a good half mile of very quiet walking, you reach a path crossing, with a flat concrete bridge on the right. Turn left here on a narrow, well-defined but often muddy path. Although remote, this path is clearly well used. When you reach the trees be sure to use the footbridge and boardwalk provided. Soon you reach the river Test; turn left along the bank, there is no other option. After a short walk the path crosses from one bank to the other over a rather graceful modern footbridge. Continue along the path with the river now on your left. Soon the path leaves the river, along another often muddy section beside a high fence. The path then joins a private drive, where you turn right to reach the busy Greatbridge Road (A3057).

Turning right here, the next 300 yards are the worst part of the walk with the pavement very close to the traffic. Soon the road bends left over Great Bridge and the relief is immediate, with good river views both ways. At the end of the bridge is a very small path going upstream by the water's edge. This little path is a gem, though in places the slippery sloping surface does try to catapult you into the water. The river views just get better. Soon you have to leave the river and bend left and right around a small riverside house, past the car park of the next pub. Turn left along a brown drive, and just before the road a useful gap in the hedge leads straight into the front garden of the Duke's Head. There are generally four beers available, when I visited recently I noted Old Hooky and Youngs Special; Ringwood Best, Double Drop and Doom Bar also often feature.

Upon leaving the pub you can either retrace your outward route or for a shorter walk come back along the main Greatbridge Road (there is a 36 bus but so infrequent as to be impractical). I shall describe this shorter option: unfortunately for the first 150 yards there is no footpath. But the road is straight, so at least you can easily be seen. Just before the road bends, a footpath starts on the left, and within a few strides you are back on Great Bridge again, to continue through the bad 300 yards outward section.

When you reach World of Water the pavement moves away from the road and progress is more comfortable. Surprisingly soon you reach the northern outskirts of Romsey again. Ahead is a notorious railway bridge, famous for getting lorries jammed under it. Immediately after is a roundabout where the left fork leads directly to the station and straight ahead leads, via Church Street, back to Romsey town centre. Parked cars along this stretch of narrow road slow the traffic considerably, and make it a bearable walk. Very soon the Abbey is visible over the roofs again, the road bends left and right past The Star, and you are back in the Market Place again.

Maps: Maps are not necessary for these walks but OS 1:25,000, Explorer 131, Romsey, Andover & Test Valley covers them.

Distances: The town centre walk is about a mile, as is the first river walk. The extra section is about 2½ miles out and 1½ miles back.

Photos: Thanks to Jack Massey for them.

New Forest Pub Guide Hop Press index

New Forest Pub Guide front coverIn the last issue of Hop Press we mentioned that the branch was preparing a definitive guide book to the pubs, bars and hotels within the new National Park. It has now been published and is available to all lovers of our county's star attraction.

The 144 page pocket book is printed in full colour throughout and contains details of almost 200 establishments waiting to refresh travellers within the Forest. Each is illustrated and receives a half page of description outlining its character and ambiance, food service, opening times and, essentially of course, the beers that it has to offer. The introductory section has articles on the brewing process and the styles of beer that result and also lists all of the breweries that lie within 25 miles of the Forest's boundaries – breweries that can be classified as meeting CAMRA's Locale criteria.

Sixteen detailed maps and an overall area map help you navigate to the pub of your choice but we have also kept up with the times by including sat-nav coordinates as well.

The Guide is on sale in many pubs in the area – a list is posted on the branch website (www.shantscamra.org.uk/beer/newforest/) – but it can also be obtained by post from either CAMRA's headquarters (www.camra.org.uk), Amazon.co.uk, and direct from the local branch. Cover price is £5.99.

Our local website also has a constantly updated database of the latest information on the pubs in the guide book, tracking the features that inevitably change after any such work is published. A QR code on the book's rear cover gives 'smart-phone' users instant access.

With the autumn upon us, what better time to appreciate the beauty of the Forest's glowing tones, suitably matched by those of the pint in your hand. Or, for the price of just two of those pints, what better Christmas present; even if you only award it to yourself!

Good Beer Guide Hop Press index

Good Beer Guide 2012 front coverPublished in mid-September next year's national guide is now available in the shops or by post (see: www.camra.org.uk).

Britain's 840 real ale breweries are comprehensively listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2012, jointly sponsored by industry bodies Cask Marque and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers). As CAMRA's flagship title, the Guide features over 4,500 urban and rural pubs, giving details of the real ales, food, opening hours, beer gardens, accommodation, transport links, disabled access and family facilities.

The Guide is completely independent, and there is no charge for entry. The Guide is compiled by CAMRA's 130,000 members, who exhaustively update and revise the Guide each year, thereby guaranteeing the reader with the most up to date publication to Britain's best real ale pubs. There are a total of 1,047 new pubs in this year's Guide.


Hop Press Issue number 71. October 2011

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
SO50 4HY
023 8064 2246

© CAMRA Ltd. 2011