Good Beer Guide 2

Alan Edwards offers a second collection of traditional hostelries around the country

After another year in which events in Ecclesia Anglicana will have driven even members of the Band of Hope to drink, a second annual list of pubs in which to find real ale and good food. Fizzy keg or ersatz lager are the alcoholic equivalents of theological liberalism. No listing of pubs with overpriced, undersized food portions.

Castle Hotel Llandovery Once you’ve exhausted the seaside sensuality of Porthcawl (Wales’ answer to Florida) head inland. Revd James always in residence (plus a guest ale). 23 rooms, so a good base to explore Wales of the saints and the Revival. William ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah Williams territory. Explore nearby National Botanic Garden or Carreg Cennen Castle to fuel your ale hunger.

Coastguard, St Margaret’s Bay, Kent. Under the white cliffs of Dover, the nearest pub to France, so a good selection of cheeses and continental lagers in an entente cordiale with micro-brewery English ales. A few miles away is St Peter’s, Folkestone (Ridsdale Judgement), still defending the Catholic faith as surely as the cliffs once defended Kent, before the EU decided Kent’s capital was Lille.

Crown & Falcon, Puckeridge, Herts. A pub since 1530. Pepys bought the 17th c. landlord’s boots for 4 shillings (robbery at current prices) because he’d rubbed his heels wearing new boots. No robbery today; ample food and frequently changing guest ales at fair prices.

The Dragoon, Brampton, Hunts. Follow signs from A14 for RAF Brampton where both Pam Ayres and Alan Edwards once gave distinguished service. The appropriately martial Bombadier bitter is the resident beer. The soldier-saint Cromwell was born in nearby Huntingdon. Also divert to Kimbolton, whose church has a unique Tiffany window.

Ferry Inn, Stromness, Orkney. Easily seen when arriving by ship from Scrabster. A solace for those, like Jonah and Paul, whom the sea hasn’t treated kindly.

Nevill Arms, Medbourne, Rutland. Much of Leicestershire is a desert for FiF folk but this inglenooked, heavily-beamed former coaching inn is a ‘rest within the wilderness.' A ‘murmuring stream' crossed by a ‘rustic bridge’ borders the inn.

The Old Jail, Biggin Hill, Kent. Memories of the Battle of Britain in this cosy pub with a large garden which was their ‘local' for World War Two fighter pilots. Darwin’s Downe House (NT) is a manageable walk or short drive away but a sounder philosophy will probably be found by heading up the A21 to St George’s, Bickley, an ABC parish.

Peel Park Hotel, Accrington (200 yards from A674). Near a football shrine, the old Accrington Stanley ground, the pub has those strong community links which so many Church House reports commend. The resident bitter is, of course, Tetleys. Lunches Weds-Suns.

Rose & Crown, Huish Episcopi, Somerset. After enjoying the medievalism of the Glastonbury Pilgrimage head to this thatched inn (known locally as Eli’s) for an atmosphere in which a medieval peasant would have felt at home. Beer served in a stone-floored tap-room. Meal service comes to an end early evening; they keep to the chronology of the sun here.

Tally Ho! (A338. Mile from Hungerford turn from M4). A scarlet-jacketed fox stands on the counter of this politically incorrectly named provider of excellent food and guest ales to sustain hungry hunters. If you’re travelling London-wards on a Sunday, turn off again at Reading for a 19th c. gem, St Mary’s Castle Street (a proprietary chapel now with CofE Continuing). Betjeman would have loved its BCP-based Protestantism.

Tempest Arms, Elslack, N. Yorks (A56). Having crossed the border from Lancashire, you are now safe in an FiF parish. Take the waters at the nearby holy well, then settle down to good food and beer by the open fire. The fame of the local Black Sheep ale is growing.

Victoria Arms, Beeston, Notts. Apostolic number of real ales usually on tap. Cider lovers and veggies also fare well. Music festivals are held but probably not Gregorian. If you over-indulge, Boots pharmaceutical factory isn’t far.

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