- Winter 2017
Milk Street Brewery, near Frome
This seventeen-year old micro-brewery has recently completed a major relocation from its former premises, a small converted cinema behind the Griffin pub, on Milk Street, in Frome to an industrial unit on the Commerce Park industrial and retail estate on the northern edge of Frome, just off the Frome bypass. Meanwhile the former premises are likely to be converted into two two-bedroom private dwellings. Please see main article by Will George.
Twisted Brewing, Westbury
The Twisted range of regular seasonal beers sees the return of Urban Legend, inspired by the wall-art of Bristol. This solid gold-coloured, soft and fruity, 4.3% beer with a refreshing finish features Citra hops from the Yakima Valley. Meanwhile the recipe of the regular session ale, Three & Sixpence (3.6%), has been tweaked with the addition of Mosaic hops. More recently Fly-Half (4.6%) has been re-introduced to coincide with the Six Nations. The flavour consists of hints of chocolate, caramel and toffee balanced with a spicy hop and lingering finish. Meanwhile the brewery continues to retail beers from breweries not often seen in this area. Available at the time of writing were beers from Cross Bay, Lancashire, Nelson Brewery of Chatham and the Isle of Purbeck brewery on the south coast.
Bath and Surrounding Villages
Molloy’s (re-named the Canon), Barton Street, Bath
The Canon, which occupies the same site as the former Molloy’s Irish bar, opened on 17 December. The premises, almost directly opposite the Theatre Royal in the heart of Bath, have been given a £200,000 re-fit. Originally built and used as a church, the bar has been transformed into a modern and stylish hangout. The Canon sees the introduction of super-fast Wi-Fi, a printing station and charging points for mobiles, tablets and laptops whilst on Saturdays the venue will become a sports bar. The eight taps will include craft beers and ciders on regular rotation.
Packhorse, Southstoke, near Bath
Recently saved from permanent closure by a well-organised community buy-out, mainly by locals, this old village pub looks set to re-open in the near future. A planned refurbishment has just been given planning permission. Work should begin in around mid-February. Please see main article by Trevor Cromie.
Royal Oak, Lower Bristol Road, Twerton, Bath
The pub’s plans to open an in-house micro-brewery, which will be called Ralph’s Ruin, are moving a step closer to completion. The brewing equipment has been ordered and, by the time this edition of Pints West hits the pubs, should have been delivered At the time of writing the pub was planning to run a beer festival between Monday 20th and Saturday 26th February, this first it’s organised for some time, and marking the fifth anniversary of landlord Chris Powell taking over the running of the Royal Oak.
Fox Country Restaurant & Grill (formerly Fox & Hounds), Tytherington, near Frome
This old, stone-built pub, just off the southwestern end of the Frome bypass, has recently undergone a major refurbishment. There is no longer a bar; instead there is a “beer wall” offering a choice of boutique and craft beers and ciders, wines and spirits for the customers to explore. In effect beer at the Fox is only available in bottles; the pub’s primary source of business is quality food. As the Fox & Hounds, the pub was once kept by Portsmouth and England footballing legend Wyndham “Windy” Haynes (the “Farmers Boy” and last Frome sporting hero before Jenson Button).
Pub at Wanstrow, Station Road, Wanstrow, near Frome
A new landlord has taken over at this well-supported community pub following the retirement of former landlords and owners Paul and Daria Stevens. Paul and Daria arrived on the scene on 14 December 1999 with a couple of firkins of Cheriton Pots and have been selling real ales kept in immaculate condition ever since. Paul’s outstanding cellarmanship has kept him in the Good Beer Guide continuously for over 35 years, latterly as landlord at The Pub, and previously as landlord of the Crown, Midhurst, in West Sussex. Formerly known as the King William IV, the Railway Inn and the Queen’s Head, The Pub has been trading since 1832. The floor plan consists of a traditional cosy lounge-type bar, which is itself is split between a drinkers area by the bar and a dining area, a public bar where customers can play the unusual pub game Ring-the-Bull, and a frequently used skittle alley. Out back is a small, secluded beer garden. Under Paul the real ale selection consisted of four to five beers, many regularly changing, with Blindman’s, brewed in the nearby village of Leighton since 2002, supplying the regular beer. Meanwhile Daria provided hearty home-cooked food for diners. The Pub has been a genuine success story with strong local support, and provided a real focus for the Wanstrow community. The freehold had been on the market for a number of years but has only recently been sold. We wish Paul and Daria all the best in their long-awaited retirement, and also give our best wishes to the new landlord, who will have hard act to follow.
Cross Guns, Avoncliff, near Bradford-on-Avon
This attractively situated ancient pub, nestled beneath the Kennet & Avon canal and overlooking the river Avon and Avoncliff station, was closed at the time of writing for a major refurbishment. It should re-open on Thursday 1 March. The Cross Guns’ sister pub, the equally ancient Inn at Freshford, which is a little further down river, underwent a similar refurbishment last year and has since re-opened. It is doing well and attracting a good deal of custom. Both pubs are major outlets for Box Steam Brewery, all three of which are under the same ownership.
Rose & Crown, off A36, Limpley Stoke, near Bradford-on-Avon
This pub, which had been a popular stop-off on the A36 for diners, is facing permanent closure. It shut its doors for the last time in 2014. Planning permission has been granted, despite strong opposition from locals, to convert the pub into a day nursery serving the Limpley Stoke and Monkton Farleigh area. Much of the opposition centred around traffic concerns. The pub was famous for a while for being a regular haunt of Harry Patch, dubbed in his later years as Britain’s “Last Fighting Tommy”, who died in 2009 at the age of 111. He was the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War, having fought in the trenches of the Western Front, and was for a short while the oldest man in Europe.
King’s Arms, Monkton Farleigh, near Bradford-on-Avon
Local volunteers who have been running this pub for the last six months have closed up shop. After one final celebratory drink on Saturday 11 February the keys were handed back to owners Punch Taverns, who had agreed to let the villagers run the 150-year-old pub until its previous lease had runs its course. The re-opening of the King’s Arms back in September was met with joy by local residents, who’d provided a good trade for village resident Joy Spiers, who had taken on the role of landlady. Punch had fully supported the local operation to run the King’s Arms. It had been hoped that a new full-time landlord would have been found in the mean time to take over the pub, but unfortunately no one had forward to fill the vacancy by mid-February. Punch Taverns are now looking for a temporary publican to take over the pub to ensure it remains open and trading. The company will then market the pub on a long-term sustainable lease.