FIRST VISIT: FRIDAY 1 AUGUST 2014
The Plough is an Arkell’s pub. It’s reasonably undergone a bit of a revamp and image overhaul. It is now known as, to give it its full title, The Plough Inn Ale & Cider House. It’s not quite Arkell’s doing ‘craft’ but it is Arkell’s trying to offer a drinking space for their slightly more discerning customer. It is a nice place. They’ve managed to pull-off the trick of appearing modern but traditional at the same time. There’s lots of ale for sale – although for this visit it was all by Arkell’s and Donnington, who I’m beginning suspect have something to do with Arkell’s. The cider choice seemed reasonably extensive and is served both from handpull and direct from the box. Sadly, I couldn’t see any Circle Cider, which was the reason I’d paid the Plough a visit. I ordered a pint of Arkell’s Experience Wheat. I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers but I was keen to try anything from the Experience range as it’s the brewery’s stab at something a bit less trad than their usual fare.
I briefly sat down at a table. The majority of the clientele were in their 40s. Some of them looked like in their younger days they might have been a bit naughty. Nobody seemed happy to see me but nobody was giving me daggers. The place was too hot and noisy so I went outside. The view from the concrete garden is from quite high vantage point so you are treated to an interesting but not necessarily pleasant view. I needed to urinate. The gents are located outside. I guessed that during the refit the toilets would have been overlooked, as is often the case, so I pushed open the door with a certain sense of dread. Wow! They were lovely and very probably the best smelling toilets I have ever encountered. And the grouting was the most uber of uber-white. It was an absolute joy to take a pee in such an environment .
The Experience Wheat was decent enough and thankfully not too wheaty. I don’t think the UK’s trendier and craftier breweries have to be scared about Arkell’s stealing the cool crown anytime soon but it certainly is an interesting development from Swindon’s big boy brewer. There was nothing else I fancied drinking so I left. I may again return.