Tag Archives: South West

Cobblers, Newent

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Cobblers in Newent is the original of a trio of Cobblers micropubs.   The other two, in Cinderford and Coleford have recently changed hands, as owner Ian decided to focus his attention on his first establishment in Newent which he opened in February 2013.

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It’s a small, friendly arrangement, with a group of loyal regulars. Ales are served from jacket cooled casks that sit at the side of a small bar counter. When I visited, three different ales were on offer, all of them very competitively priced.  There seemed to be a preference for weaker session beers rather than the variety of beers found at many micropubs, but that might just be a reflection on what was on offer when I visited.

Ciders and Perries are also available (the Newent area is famous for being the origin of Perry Pears).

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The interior is small, split-level and furnished with regular tables and chairs.

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I like the way that this place adheres well to the original tenets of the micropub movement: No lager, no keg, and mobile phone use discouraged. A sign on the wall says “We don’t need wi-fi – we talk to each other” !

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A great little micropub, in a lovely small town that I had previously never heard of.

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Beer in Hand, Hereford

Beer in Hand announces itself to the world as a “craft pub”, so I did wonder whether I would be handed a small ceramic teapot to paint, or something.   Or, worse still, might it be one of these bars serving only cold, fizzy “real” ale, but nothing on cask?!!!

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Fortunately, I needn’t have worried – it goes to prove you should not judge a book by its cover. There is a good mix of both cask and craft keg beers, so whether you happen to be a fan of one or the other you will not be disappointed. Beer in Hand is owned and run by Mitchell and Alison of the nearby Odyssey brewing company.

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Beer in Hand is a little on the big side for a micropub. The interior of the pub is divided into two sections: the front room is the larger of the two, and the back room houses the bar and is more intimate, with a few tables. When i visited, Beer in Hand were just opening up on a Wednesday afternoon, and it was in this back section that the people seemed to gravitate to. There is also a fenced off outside drinking area along the side of the building.

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The pub is based in an ex-launderette which, in the 80’s and 90’s was one of the biggest laundries in the country.

The beer offering is split roughly equally between cask and “craft keg”, and there are even quality lagers on offer, so everybody should be happy.

The stillage is a clever affair – I had not seen anything quite like it before. It allows the casks to be on display behind the bar, and beer to be served by gravity, cooled by air conditioning and all without leaving the room!

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The usual micropub bar snacks are available at all times, and pizzas are also available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

A good drinking establishment, which I can imagine getting very busy at the weekends.

The Dog House (formerly Cobblers), Coleford

Coleford is a small town on the top of a hill in Monmouthshire. I was also told that it is at the geographical dead centre of the Forest of Dean!

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Originally part of the Cobblers chain of three micropubs, this micropub has recently changed hands and is now known as The Dog House.

A traditional bar dominates the right hand side of the pub, serving , ales by gravity from jacket cooled casks from a simple single-tier wooden stillage.

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The rest of the pub is made up of three small seating areas.

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The pub organises quiz nights on alternate Wednesdays and also holds regular live music nights. Indeed, I ended up chatting to one of their acts, the legendary “Rob Dylan”!

Courtenay’s (formerly Goldy’s), Tiverton

At the time of writing, Courtenay’s in Tiverton is the only micropub in Devon. It is named after the Courtenay family, one time Earls of Devon, although landlord Duncan does not claim to be descended from them!

It is on a street corner in a quiet part of Tiverton in what was formerly a pet shop. It opened as a micropub (then called Goldy’s) back in August 2012, at which time there were only around 10 other micropubs on the planet!

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Outside, the side street, now called Castle Street, used to be called Frog Street and is interesting and unusual in that it has a small stream running down the middle of it dividing the roadway into two. I was told that every seven years people walk along the street and perform a ceremony that is supposed to keep the stream flowing.

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Inside, Courtenay’s is like a scaled down version of a traditional pub. To the right is a lovely wood-panelled bar, and the dark wood floored saloon is furnished with typical pub furniture.

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Behind the bar is a small metal stillage with space for 4 jacket-cooled casks, nicely integrated into the wooden bar surround. Three ales were on offer when we visited – the fourth one was still settling. As well as the cask ales, Duncan had a selection of around 3 real ciders, plus bottled and canned beers, wines and spirits.  2 pint carry-out of draft ales are also available.

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Courtenay’s is dog friendly, so, being in the Western-most micropub in England (I think!), I took the opportunity to pass Duncan some of the beermats that had been given to me a couple of months earlier by the Tankerton Arms in Whitstable (one of the Eastern-most micropubs). These beermats feature pictures of the Tankerton regulars’ dogs on the reverse side!

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Courtenay’s frequently hosts live music acts, and also open mic evenings.

As with almost every micropub I have visited, it is a great asset to the community. Tiverton and Courtenay’s, you’re lucky to have each other!

The Vaults, Devizes

As I locked my bike to the railings and approached the Vaults, in the centre of Devizes, not far from the Wadworths brewery, I had no reason to suspect that this was anything other than a small to medium sized micropub. Indeed it has the outward appearance of a little wine bar. However, the modest exterior hides a cavernous warren of rooms which tick all the “quirky” boxes even if this place might struggle to call itself “micro”.

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The Vaults is linked to the Kennet & Avon microbrewery in as far as Malcolm, one of the Vaults’ co-owners, also runs the K&A brewery. But the Vaults is certainly operated as an independent establishment and not a brewery “tap” – when I visited, only one of the 6 handpumps was given over to a K&A beer.   So naturally, mine was a pint of K&A’s own Pillbox Pale Ale, which really hit the spot!

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The first room that you enter is about the size of your average micropub: narrow but deep, with several tables, and a traditional bar across the right hand wall. Then Lexi, the bar manager, gave me a tour of the premises, first to a further drinking area beyond the bar:

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and then to two more subterranean rooms, each with their own character.

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And finally I took a peek at the cellar.

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Tasting paddles of 3 x third pints of ale or cider are available. The pub also has a great selection of pies to accompany your drink.

Is this really a micropub? Well, if your definition of a micropub is based purely on size then the answer has to be no. But it appears to tick the other boxes, and I think most micropub fans will find much of interest there.

The Shed alehouse, Pewsey

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The Shed Alehouse opened in August 2015, so it missed the cut for my list of the first 100 micropubs. However, I decided to drop in anyway, for a number of reasons: firstly Pewsey is midway between the pubs on my list in Newbury and Devizes, secondly the owners, Sam and Gord, had kindly offered to donate the proceeds of a firkin of one of their ales to my Alzheimers fund, and lastly, well, isn’t it every man’s fantasy to have a shed with a bar in it?   No? Surely it’s not just me?

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Gord told me that he had brewed beer as a hobby since his teenage years. Then, two years ago he took the opportunity of voluntary redundancy to switch careers and he began brewing commercially from a glorified garden shed, and so “Shed Ales” was born. After success supplying various local pubs, Sam and Gord decided to open their own micropub, partly as another outlet for their own ales but also to showcase ales from other brewers.  Gord’s wife, Sam, still works, but helps out in the micropub as much as she can.  They don’t employ any additional staff at present so the micropub is open limited hours.

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With the exception of the signal box in Cleethorpes, I would hazard a guess that the Shed Alehouse is the tiniest micropub that I have encountered! There’s probably room inside for around 15 to 20 people max.  From the interior photo’s I had seen before visiting I had assumed that the pub was in an actual shed – but it’s actually in a small shop unit in the middle of the small town of Pewsey in Wiltshire but the interior has been cleverly lined with shed panels and other bits and pieces.  The conversion work and making of the furniture was done with help from friends and family.

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The bar is across the rear of the Shed, with a row of 5 handpumps, typically one of these is for one of Shed’s own ales and the other four for ales from other breweries. As with everything else in this pub, the cool room for the beer storage is tiny – the use of vertical extraction and the cask-widge system avoids the need for a stillage and makes the most of this small space.

As well as ales, cider, wines, pilsner and soft drinks are also available.  Take-outs are available in 2 or 4 pint containers.

The Shed is a great little micropub in itself – the novelty shed theme is an added bonus!

The Cow and Cask, Newbury

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The Cow & Cask is run by Ian Batho, who previously had the tenancy of another Newbury pub. “Ah, another disgruntled and ripped of tenant”, I first assumed, but Ian assured me that the brewery that had owned his previous pub had always treated him fairly. His reason for downshifting was for he and his wife Karen to have more time to themselves. Apparently, the micropub brings in less money but Ian and Karen do have more free time.

It’s a one-man operation – so far Ian has not felt the need to hire staff. Karen and her friends regularly provide moral support, but from the other side of the bar!

Ian has created the Cow and Cask in a shop / small business unit near the centre of Newbury, not far from the train and bus stations. Not being on a traditional high street it’s a little hard to find and not necessarily the sort of place you are likely to stumble upon by accident. But clearly word has got around, as the small room was packed with happy and loyal regulars. Unusually for a micropub, there’s free parking right outside.

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Inside, there’s a bar across the far corner with ales served from jacket-cooled casks that sit in a stillage behind the bar.   When I visited there were three cask ales available plus several draught ciders. The usual micropub fayre of scotch eggs, pickled eggs, pork pies, crisps…etc are also on offer.

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The remainder of the room has two (or three? I can’t recall) large-ish regular height tables. It’s a good setup, encouraging conversation between strangers. Although most people there when I visited seemed to know each other, it didn’t feel at all cliquey.

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A great little micropub, in a region where micropubs are few and far between.