Date: 26 August 2009 - A Sorry Tale

This is a sorry tale of pub closures, pubs with bad beer and pubs with no real ale on.
The pub survey along the A323 from Ash to Aldershot used to encompass at least five pubs with a couple usually having something interesting to try. Now, with the closure of The Nightingale we are deprived of the Hogs Back beers they used to stock and with the demise of The Dover Arms we will never again be able to sample the horror that was Arctic Ale. Although not a regular stop as it often had no ‘real’ available, The Prince of Wales has also gone, and these closures are only the ones since we took to our bikes on Wednesday evenings during the summer. In fairly recent times, also gone from this stretch of the A323 are The Chester Arms, The Cannon, The Kings Head, The Cricketers (just off the main road), The Lord Clyde and The Colin Campbell.
It was therefore with a heavy heart we embarked upon this year visit to the A323, and the persistent rain brought by the remnants of Hurricane Bill did not help our mood.

PubLocationOS Map RefLion Brewery Ash GU12 6BT CommentPV arrived early and settled in to enjoy a beer waiting for the others to arrive. Three handpumps but only Ringwood Best still on. The pretty barmaid failed to fill up the glass but this was the least of PV’s worries; the beer did not clear - indeed it looked like sludge. The smell was bad enough but the taste was indescribable. With no other real available a refund was offered and accepted and the pub vacated shortly after FN and KOC arrived.
Ringwood Best bitter 3.8 £2.90 0 So undrinkable

Then it was off down the road past the dark shape of The Dover Arms. Whilst waiting at the level crossing for a train to pass, ROC arrived and was informed of the futility of coming further. He turned around and headed off to The Bricklayers Arms. Catching up with him at the pub he informed us it was pointless stopping, as there was no real ale available.

PubLocationOS Map RefGreyhound Ash GU12 6LA CommentThe cask news leaflet proudly advertised the ‘specials’ currently available in the Ember Inns pubs. Unfortunately this one had none of them, just a range of standard beers. Still at least they had some real on and it was both very reasonably priced and in good nick.
Courage Best 4.0 £1.99 2.5 Not bad but not good either
Fuller’s London Pride 4.1 £2.40 3 -
Wells Bombardier 4.3 £2.50 3 -

We then tried The Queens Head which turned out to be another pub with no real available this evening, the Hogs Back HOP having just run out.

PubLocationOS Map RefWhite Lion Aldershot GU12 4EA CommentfAt last a real ale pub with real people, two of whom had come back from Manchester to visit old haunts and were overjoyed at finding faces they recognized from the Excelsior Club. KOC had a good chat with them. The rest of us just noticed the Simpsons cartoon character Ned Flanders aka Dave Freeth!
Triple fff Pressed Rat 3.8 £2.70 3 Nice and black
Triple fff Alton’s Pride 3.8 £2.00 3.5 Nearly up to Alton quality
Triple fff Moondance 4.2 £2.90 3 Pronounced flowery taste
Triple fff Apache Rose 4.2 £2.90 2 Getting rather tired
Triple fff Stairway 4.6 £3.00 - Not tried
Yeovil Summerset 4.2 £2.90 3.5 Sharp, zesty and very nice

PubLocationOS Map Ref
Garden Gate Aldershot GU11 3BT
As usual the pub was quite busy and convivial. Cally was keen on holding a beer festival and had a chat about it with PV. Eddie was keen on getting on his bike for a tour with Mengo – this evening’s wet weather had put him off joining us on this survey. KOC was keen on explaining why next weeks proposed route dismayed him. ROC was keen on explaining why we would be going the way proposed. FN was keen to have a couple of beers, PV was keen to have a quiet life. No changes there then.
Greene King IPA 3.7 £2.80 3.5 As good as usual
Greene King Abbot 5.0 £3.10 - Not tried, even by Frank
Everard’s Tiger 4.2 £3.00 3.5 Very nice beer