Hop Inn
Devizes Road




I was up Old Town as I wanted to visit Magnum Wines to see if they had any stouts worthy of a little project I have planned. As fate would have it I came away with a bottle of Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout. Of course, it would an absolute disgrace if I walked all the way up Vic Hill and didn’t visit the Hop Inn for a beer or three.

Despite being reasonably early on a Thursday afternoon there was already quite a few folk getting tucked into a beer. Thankfully, my favourite leather couch was unoccupied. I looked at the beer line-up but non of them were really calling out to me. I decided to go for a Westport Porter from relatively local boys Malmesbury. I’ve had a few Malmesbury beers in the past – they’re never as bad as I fear but never as good as I hop. The Westport was good. Not stunning but a pretty very enjoyable. So enjoyable that I popped back to bar for a second pint. The second pint tasted as good as the first. I was almost tempted to make it hat-trick but I decided my departing drink should be a bottle of Chouffe.

* * *


A couple of beers with the Swindon Twitter/Untappd massive.

I was the first to arrive. I perused the pumps and decided to go for a pint of Golden Fleece from Settle – it’s yet another beer from Yorkshire created to honour the Tour de France and, more specifically, its visit to Yorkshire. Quite a few people were already tucking into their beverage of choice but thankfully my favourite table was unoccupied. I plonked my ass down on the leather sofa and took a big slurp of my beer. It was okay but perhaps a little to earthy for my liking. My drinking companions arrived shortly before I’d got to the bottom of the glass. They both started with the Ticketybrew Stout and seemed to like it. I decided to give it a miss as I’ve never tried a Ticketybrew beer that I enjoyed.

I went for a pint of Arbor’s Petit Grand. It’s billed as a Saison. I don’t really consider Saison a true style. But trendy brewers and drinkers seem intent on it becoming one. And have arguably succeeded. Even though Saison isn’t a style, Petit Grand sure as hell ain’t a Saison. It’s a pale ale that’s had some elderflower chucked into the mix. It’s good but perhaps just a little too subtle. I prefer Arbor when they throw caution in the bin and experiment with no regard for failure. But I doubt such an approach to every beer you brew is a recipe for a sustainable business.

The beers were going doing swiftly and the chat was flowing freely and the pub was filling up nicely. I decided to make a slight change of direction and have a bottle of Chouffe. I love Chouffe. I much prefer it on draught when in Belgium or the Netherlands but a bottle is always enjoyable enough. It’s just a shame that the Hop Inn doesn’t stock Houblon Chouffe. One of our party had to depart to get home to let his dog out. The other decided to follow my lead and drink a Chouffe. His good lady wife was scheduled to pick him up at 7pm so we figured we had enough time for another drink each. He went for a Flying Dog Raging Bitch. I went for a Nøgne Ø Saison. Yeah, I know I’ve just said the Saison isn’t a style but Nøgne Ø Saison is one of my favourite examples of the (non) style.

When those two drinks were gone it was time for us to get gone. But I was quite ready to call time on this little session so I headed to the Plough on a quest for some Circle Cider.

* * *


I wanted to go to the bottle shop located just around the corner. My girlfriend wanted to go to boring shops to buy boring stuff. We struck a deal: she’d drop me off up Old Town and then go buy her boring stuff and I’d go have a couple of pints and score some bottles and then she’d pick me back up – perfect.

My eye was immediately drawn to the pump clip for Tiny Rebel’s Dirty Stop Out but I decided that it would make a better closing beer than an opener. A couple of the beers on sale were from breweries that I’d never heard of before – Settle & Firebrand. The house ale from Ramsbury and Bristol Beer Factory’s Sunrise completed the line-up. I decided to head into minefield territory on go for Firebrand’s Rye PA (7%). There were a few folk in the pub but thankfully the leather sofa was free so I plonked my ass down there. A radio was quietly telling anyone who cared what was happening in the cricket. The Rye PA was good. When I was about half way down my half pint I was thinking that I should’ve been brave enough to go for a whole pint. I drained the last of the beer and trooped back to the bar. This time I went for a pint of the Settle Classic. It’s a bitter.  I won’t be young forever and there will come a day when all I want to drink is bitter – it happens to us all – so every now and then I like to get in a little bit of practice. The Settle is a good stab at a style that is much maligned and misunderstood.People were coming and going including a postie who had just finished his shift. When I was kid my stepdad was a postie and he was always home before noon and especially so on Saturdays. Posties working until almost 4pm on Saturdays seems like a backward step for society. I figured that I had enough time for another pint (and if I was very lucky a bottle of Chouffe as a chaser). As planned, I ordered the Dirty Stop-Out. It’s a very good beer – nice and stouty and nice and smokey. Some people were feeding the pub dogs pork scratchings. One of dogs farted. It was quite an impressive stench. So impressive that a man began opening and closing the door in attempt to waft away the odour. I couldn’t work out if he felt he was genuinely necessary or if he was just doing it for comic affect. My pint was almost gone and I still hadn’t received the call. I was just about to take the final swig then head to the bar for a Chouffe but my phone starting ringing. Time to hit the bottle shop.

* * *


The Hop Inn has recently been crowned the CAMRA Swindon & North Wilts Pub of the Year 2014, and deservedly so. It’s only been open 18 months but in that time it has managed to sell several hundred different real ales and every one of them, based on my experience and the word on the street, has been in tip top condition. They also sell Freedom Four and Pils, Palm and Vedett Extra White. And they have a tasty little bottle selection which includes La Chouffe, Old Foghorn and a selection from Nøgne Ø. Not too shabby.

It’s a small place. Ideal microbar size I’d imagine. The décor trip is reclaimed wood and exposed brickwork. But it does it well. It’s not wanky and pretentious. It’s relaxed and natural. In the evening it can get pretty rammed – good for them but not so good for a guy like me who usually just wants a quiet corner to read – so I prefer to pop in on a Thursday afternoon. Today, as is the norm, I was faced with five cask choices: the house bitter brewed by Ramsbury, Chennai IPA from Kissingate, Hopfuzz’ The Goldsmith, Arbor Oyster Stout and one other that has unfortunately faded from my memory. I decided to kick off with a pint of Chennai – it was pretty decent and had a very pleasant lingering bitterness. I retired to the leather couch at the back of the pub. The landlord asked if I would like a newspaper to read. I was offered the Times or the Guardian. A small but impressive piece of customer service and it was made all the more welcoming by the fact I wasn’t offered the Sun or the Sport. I flicked through the paper in supped my ale. When the ale was no more I returned to the bar and ordered a pint of the Hopfuzz – it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as tasty as the Chennai. As I idly passed the time some people came and went – the landlord knew them all. The Hopfuzz vanished so I bought an Oyster Stout. For my money Arbor’s Oyster Stout is up there with Hop Back’s Entire Stout as the nation’s greatest everyday all-day stout. Delicious. I visited the gents. They were clean and fresh smelling and had an unusually large number of penises crudely scribbled on the wall – perhaps it’s some sort of tribute to the fact that in a former life the Hop Inn was a sex shop. My cash supplies were depleted but I fancied cracking open the bottle fridge so I nipped out to find a hole in the wall. As requested, the landlord expertly guarded my pint and jacket during my absence. The bottle I went for was Nøgne Ø Saison. I’m pretty sure it was the first saison I tried and it remains a firm favourite, not just of the style but of any beer. It was served with a Nøgne Ø pint glass but a pint glass that only holds 350ml. The bottles of saison are 500ml which means you can have 350 of super clear beer then swoosh up the bottle to get a final 150 of beautiful yeasty murkiness. Lovely. I fancied another but I knew if I did it would be unlikely that I would make it home at a respectable time and in a respectable state. With reluctance I said goodbye. It was a perfect afternoon in the pub.

The Hop Inn is by far the best pub in Swindon and if it wasn’t for the Red Lion in Cricklade it would be the best pub in Wiltshire. Each time I visit I promise myself that I will visit more often. I really need to make good on that promise.


Glue Pot
Emlyn Square


I was a little bit surprised by the number of people in the pub. It wasn’t exactly rammed but it was doing a reasonably brisk trade for 5.30 on a stormy Sunday evening. A group of men were congregated by the table the door. They seemed a little downbeat. It later emerged that one of them was leaving. I’m not sure if he was heading off to war or just moving away but it was obvious that the other folk didn’t expect to see him again anytime soon and they were very sad to him go. I was the only person in the pub who didn’t say goodbye to him. I’m a total outsider. Anyway I had a pint of Entire Stout than headed back into the storm to go catch a bus home.


It was the night of the work’s Xmas Do. I didn’t see the point of heading across to West Swindon to get changed to then head back across to town so I headed straight from work to the pub. The pub was busy. As it should be on a Friday night in December. I secured a pint of Entire Stout then secured my favourite table. I was halfway through the pint when someone asked if they could sit at my table. I’m a nice guy so I said ‘of course’. The guy sat down and began tapping away it his phone and every tap was accompanied by a beep. WTF! You ask to join someone’s table then you invade their solitude with beepbeepfuckingbeep. Not classy. Fortunately he only stayed for a couple of pints then he phoned someone and told them to come and pick him up.

* * *


I’d spent most of the afternoon in the Beehive with a mate. Then I’d done a bit of shopping in town. Then I decided it would be daft not to visit the Glue Pot for a pint of Entire Stout. Most tables were occupied but I managed to secure my space of choice. Someone over in the opposite corner was boasting that he was the current pub chess champion. Everyone with him looked a bit embarrassed. Apparently, he had defeated the true pub chess champion when the true champion had been absolutely trashed and since then the ‘current’ champion had refused to play the previous champion. I once beat a mate at chess then refused to play him again. I don’t think our relationship ever truly recovered. When my pint was finished I fancied another, as is often the way. When my second pint was finished I fancied another, as is often the way, but the place was too noisy so I headed home.

* * *


I had an hour to kill in town and it doesn’t take an hour to buy some bike brake blocks so I popped into the Glue Pot in the hope they’d have Entire Stout on. Doors had been open for 15 minutes but on stepping inside I discovered I was the only customer on the premises. Entire Stout was on so that’s what I ordered. I took a seat at my preferred booth then banged the table leg and spilt about a tenth of the pint. I looked back over towards the bar but on noticing that the staff hadn’t clocked my indiscretion I soaked up the offending ale with a couple of beer mats. The pub stereo was playing what I do believe was the Song Remains The Same version of Dazed & Confused. The barmaid went through the door that leads to the corridor that leads to the Gents and returned with a little set of stepladders. She placed them beside the tasting notes board then clambered up. After she’d neatly written the name of the next beer to arrive the manager told her what to write as a description. When he said straw coloured I decided it was time to leave.

The shop I’d planned to buy my bike brake blocks from was shut. Not just shut but completely closed down. From the state of the window and the faded and neglected sign above the door I think it has probably been closed down for quite a few years. Oh well. I had a quick look in Waterstones but still had twenty minutes to kill so I returned to the Glue Pot for another pint of Entire Stout. This time there were other customers present but no Led Zep on the stereo.

* * *


After a couple of pints of Devils Backbone IPA and a couple of cans of Bengali Tiger I was already experiencing a nice little beer buzz but it felt like it could do with an upgrade.

Before I hit the bar I’d noticed that Entire Stout was on – sorted – but out of courtesy I had cursory glance at the clips on the other seven handles. Five of the cask beers were by Hop Back and the other three were from Downton. Hmmm… there was a Hop Back beer called Hopfest. I didn’t think it would live up to its name but I had to give it a go. Yup, as I suspected, Hopfest failed to live up to its name.

The place was quite. Only myself, the bartender, the manager and three other drinkers were present. The bartender was having a conversation with one of the punters about the forthcoming Swindon Beer Fest. Apparently, they both go every year but only drink cider. Another guy joined in and said that he collected the Beer Fest glasses but he was missing a couple to complete his set. The bartender said she had a few doubles and would help him out if she could. The guy then announced that he doesn’t actually go to the Fest, he just collects the glasses. The look on bartender’s face suggested that her offer of help had just been withdrawn.

Anyway, I had three pints of Entire Stout then left.

Glue Pot ES

* * *


I just scored the new New Model Army album from an actual shop – an actual shop made of concrete and metal and glass, an actual shop where someone was standing behind a counter and took my money and placed my purchase in a little carrier bag – what crazy times we occupy! I felt such an occasion warranted a celebratory pint or two, Admittedly, if I hadn’t managed to score the new New Model Army, which was the reason for venturing into town, I would’ve had to drown my sorrows with a pint of two.

I sat on a wall just round the corner until a couple of minutes after opening time – I don’t want to look too desperate – but I was still the first person through the doors. Six of the eight beers were from pub owners, Hop Back. The two guests were from Downton and St Austell. I decided to start with a pint of the Hop Back Mosaic. I’ve had a few beers that are brewed entirely with Mosaic hops and they have all been pretty fine – the ones from Arbor and Kernel are especially good examples. Sadly, the Hop Back version wasn’t up there with the best. There was nothing particularly wrong with it. It just lacked that little extra something that magician brewers coax and cajole into their beverages. Between gulps of Mosaic I wondered if anybody goes to a pub where there are eight different cask beers but decides to order a pint of St Austell Trelawney. My unspoken question was instantly answered when the barmaid apologised to the three men looking at the beer board then popped a ‘Just missed’ sign next to the listing for Trelawney. Much madness.

Even though I was pretty certain that it was going to be a disappointment I decided to buy a pint of Downton’s German Pale Ale. Brewed with four ‘different’ German hops! Like the Mosaic before it there wasn’t anything wrong with the GPA but it lacked that secret ingredient that lifts a beer into the upper echelons. I suppose you can’t be disappointed when you know something is going to be a disappointment but, yeah, it was disappointing.

There was no Entire Stout so I decided to leave and go to the supermarket to buy a 4-pack of McEwan’s Export then go home and listen to the new New Model Army album…

Glue Pot

* * *


For a Friday evening the place wasn’t exactly doing a brisk trade but it was busy enough that the only available seating was outside, so that’s where I sat. But before sitting outside I ordered a pint of Downton’s Route 66. As the name suggests it is brewed with American hops – don’t know what ones – but as the name doesn’t suggest it is an English Bitter. It was alright but I doubt I’ll bother drinking it again. I popped back to the bar for a pint of Entire Stout, which was fundamentally the reason I’d headed to the Glue Pot. As I sat outside and gazed at the architecture of the Railway Village a realisation dawned on me: It sure as fuck ain’t the best place on the planet but I do actually quite like living in Swindon. With that thought sitting happily in my head I knocked back the last of the stout and left. I was tempted to have another pint but I was starting to feel a little drunk and had a holiday bag to pack when I got home.

At the bus stop I met a woman who announced, without any prior introduction or explanation, that she was ‘going to kill her’. A couple of minutes later I’d discovered that ‘her’ had stolen the bus stop woman’s man. Another couple of minutes later I’d discovered that the bus stop woman had actually dumped her man 6 months ago because he was a drunk and a loser. I didn’t really want to speak to the bus stop woman but I felt I had to ask: No, ‘her’ hadn’t been seeing bus stop woman’s ex for long, in fact she’d only tried to pull him that very evening and hadn’t even been successful. But ‘she still knows he’s my man so I’m going to kill her’. I got the impression that ‘kill her’ meant nothing more than shout at her loudly in the street and maybe throw a packet of crisps at her. Ah, Swindon, I do love you and the crazy folk that you are home to.

* * *


I’d scanned the taps of two Spoons but only found boring shite so I traipsed off to the Glue Pot safe in the knowledge that at the very least I’d be able to down a pint or two of Entire Stout. It was a pleasant surprise to be greeted with a pump clip for Saltaire’s Cascade Pale Ale. Saltaire never used to appear in Swindon but over the last few months I’ve seen them crop up in at least three of the town’s pubs. I ordered a pint and took up residence at the post table. The Cascade was on good form. Very good form. Such good form that the rain stopped and sun started shining. I went back for a second and decided to pair it with a Glue Pot Brunch – sausages, bacon, fried eggs, mushrooms, HP beans and chips (made from real potatoes!) £9.40 for the two. Bargain.

* * *


Once upon a time the Glue Pot was owned by Archer’s (who brewed less than a mile away) but nowadays it is part of the Hop Back stable. It’s a small place: six tables/booths line the perimeter and an additional table has been fashioned around a post that is situated near the centre of the room. There are a few tables outside for when the sun is shining or you need a nicotine hit. The place has a weird almost timeless feel. It doesn’t look like it has had a makeover since the early 80s but it also doesn’t appear rundown or neglected. Simple and understated. A place you can concentrate on beer and chat. The walls play host to framed certificates proclaiming the success of Hop Back beers at CAMRA festivals up and down the country. A big board lists the guest beers (Current, Coming Next and Just Missed) and provides brief tasting notes. There are eight cask lines: four or five of them are reserved for Hop Back beers; a further one or two for fellow Salisbury brewers Downton; the final one or two are for other brewers such as White Horse, Gundog and Dancing Duck. Those who need a lager fix can choose between Staropramen and Holsten, which always makes me smile. The fridge contains Duvel, Leffe Blonde and Chimay Bleue & Blanche. The man behind the bar is more often than not the landlord. I find him to be friendly without actually being friendly but I have heard he’s thrown people out for suggesting his beer isn’t in good condition. I’ve only ever had beer in good condition when I’ve been in the Glue Pot.

I was sitting across the road in a Spoons wondering if the man staring at me was staring at me because I was staring it him or if he was planning to steal my bag when I had a hankering for a pint of Entire Stout. I like Entire Stout – it is very possibly the best sub 5% everyday drinking stout in the UK. Spoons didn’t have any Entire Stout so I decamped to the Glue Pot. Thankfully it was on. I ordered my pint and took a seat at one of the table/booths by the top window – the tables down the side always seem a bit ‘local’ for my liking. My pint of stout was as good as always. Good enough for second. Except I didn’t have a second. At the last second I changed my mind and ordered a pint of Hop Back’s Red Ember, which is brewed with coriander and ginger. It was okay. It was better than I remembered it being. But I should’ve had a second Entire Stout. Live and learn.


Weighbridge Brewhouse
Penzance Drive


I was on the bus home and I made the usual pact with myself: if someone presses the button to stop the bus at the Weighbridge stop I’ll get off and go for a beer but if nobody presses the button I’ll stay on the bus and go home. Someone pressed the button. Me. I’m sure that’s actually against the rules but I got off the bus and went for a beer anyway.

It was changeover time. The lunchers had left and the evening mealers had yet to arrive. A couple were having coffee and two men were sitting at the bar supping pints of lager. There was only one member of staff. Despite the lack of customers she was a hive of industry – restocking fridges with white wine, redressing the red wine shelves, cleaning, answering the phone, serving and throughout it all she remained cheerful. I was hoping Headbanger would be on but sadly it wasn’t. Fortunately there was a new beer called Bramling Cross and as the name suggests it is hopped entirely with Bramling Cross. I love Bramling Cross. The barmaid began the pour but the pump spluttered once or twice and then no more beer was forthcoming. I was heartbroken. But there was no need to be heartbroken. The barmaid popped to the cellar and changed the barrel. After a quick flush of the pipe she half filled a half pint glass, left it to settle for a few seconds then gave it a visual examination then gave it taste test. She smiled and said ‘ it looks good, it taste good’ then began pouring my pint. Excellent customer service. The coffee drinkers had departed so I took their table as it the one that gives you the best opportunity of seeing your enemies, as they enter, before they see you. The beer was very good. Nice and wholesome and juicy with a dusty, dry hop cone finish. Good enough for a second.

* * *


As luck would have it, the bus stop you need when you are heading from Old Town to West Swindon and want to get off at the bike shop is the same stop that you need if you want to visit the Weighbridge. It seemed a bit churlish to get off at that stop and not have a pint. The usual suspects lined the bar but there were a couple of seasonals keeping them company – Headbanger (6.3%) and Seriously Ginger (4.8%). I’m not a fan of ginger in drinks so I opted for the 6.3% beer. On the bar in front of all the hand pulls were little sample pots that contained hops and malts. The jar in front of the Headbanger contained Bramling Cross hops. I asked the barman (who also does some of the brewing) if the jars were placed randomly or if the fact that Bramling Cross was in front of the Headbanger meant that Headbanger contained Bramling Cross. He replied that they were placed randomly but as luck would have it the Bramling Cross had been placed in front of a beer that had been hopped with it (and Willamette). We had a little chat about UK hops and agreed that Bramling Cross was the best of the well established ones but that some of the news boys on the scene were helping to create excellent tasting beers. I took my Bramling Cross hopped beer to a table and took a hearty swig. It was nice. Certainly way nicer than the hastily consumed half I had at the Swindon Beer Festival a couple of weeks ago. The entire pint went down rather beautifully. I was tempted to go for another but didn’t want to be too drunk when I rocked up at the bike shop.

* * *


The route home from the Beer Festival took me right past the door of the Weighbridge so it would’ve been daft not to have popped in for a swift one. I can’t remember what beers they had on but I do remember that there was only one that I hadn’t previously tried. So I tried it. Rock on Ruby is 4.4% red ale that’s brewed with Sterling hops. It was okay. Up on the balcony there was a posh band doing posh cover versions. I found them amusing at first but they quickly did my head in so I decided to step outside and take refuge in the smoking shelter. I stuck my headphones on and began listening to the Allo Darlin’ cover of Darren Hayman’s Wu Tang Clan. The song was about halfway through when a woman sat down beside me and sparked up a cigarette. I glanced towards her and through the dim light and wisps of smoke I could see her mouth move. I took my headphones off just in case she was saying something important. Sadly she wasn’t saying anything important. She was merely apologising for disturbing my solitude. I told her not to worry about it and put my headphones back on. Her mouth moved again. Again I removed my headphones. She informed me that she’d go back inside in a minute or two and leave me in peace. This time I kept my headphones off. She finished her cigarette and then stood up and walked away without saying a word. Weird. I gulped down the rest of my beer and staggered off in the general direction of home.

* * *


The Weighbridge Brewhouse is a bar, restaurant and microbrewery all rolled into one. It’s housed in the old Archer’s brewery near to Swindon’s old railway village. It’s a nice place – quite swanky (for Swindon). The food is good and the menu features such exotica as crocodile, wild boar and kangaroo. There’s a small bar area and a few stools at the bar itself but it’s not the kind of place that inspires you to get drunk and rowdy. A few thoughtful pints is the order of the day. Keg and bottled beer choices are the usual mass market nonsense. Cask beer – 6 lines – is provided by the in-house microbrewery. Regular offerings include a best bitter – Weighbridge Best; a golden – Pooley’s Golden; an old ale – Ant Sally; a hoppy session ale – Brinkworth Village. Occasional brews have included BIPAs, APAs, Pilsners, Winter Warmers, et al.

On my arrival the restaurant was doing a pretty brisk lunchtime trade but the bar area was devoid of punters. I ordered a pint of South Island, which I imagined would be a super hoppy, super fruity NZPA. It was okay but it certainly wasn’t super hoppy and super fruity. It’s brewed entirely with Motueka. It was pleasant enough but I’ve had several other beers that make a far better stab at showcasing Motueka. I was sitting outside on the ‘beer terrace’. I’d taken up residence in the smoking shelter primarily because it is the only place that offered any shade. When my pint was dead I was tempted to phone the bar to ask them if they would bring me a pint as I couldn’t really be assed leaving the shade and going inside. But I didn’t phone. I left the shade and went inside.

Second beer of the day was a pint of Pooley’s Golden. When the Weighbridge first opened Pooley’s was one of the four beers the place sold. It was by far the best of the four – a lovely fruity burst of juicy hops. Sadly, the quality of the hops obtained by the brewery couldn’t be maintained and it consequently faced a period of decline. It was still a good beer but nowhere near as glorious as it originally was. Thankfully, this pint suggested the hop quality has been ramped back up and Pooley’s is returning to its previous lofty heights. While at the bar I enquired about a new beer – Jamaican Ginger Beer. I was informed that it contained ginger, chili an lime (juice, pulp, skin). I was given a little taster and told that if I didn’t like ginger beer it was doubtful if I would like this. It was a very generous sized taster – not far off half of a half pint. I thought it was pretty decent. The ginger, chili and lime were present but reasonably restrained. I took my pint back outside but I knew I would returning soon enough for a pint of the Jamaican.

Outside in my shaded den I was happy in my solitude. It was great place to indulge in some people watching. A couple of lunchtime jogging parties plodded by. I chucked and shook my head as I noticed that in both groups the men made sure they ran in front of the women. A load of cyclists sped (sometimes very slowly) past. Practically every single one of the bikes made strange clunking noises that suggested their bottom brackets needed some serious attention. I guess, like me, those cyclists are having serious problems finding a bike shop who has vacant repair slots at the moment. The restaurant crowd were starting to drift back to work. Some of them must have lunch breaks that last more than two hours. A man walked past wearing tan brogues with purple laces. I instantly decided that he always talked a good project, failed to deliver than bullshitted his way out of the meltdown. I might invest in some purple laces. The first smoker of the day crashed my space. He went to the bother of making a rollie then took two puffs before throwing it to and crushing it underfoot. Another group departed. One of them said that ‘as a Frenchman, I quickly realise every time I go to China that the Chinese really hate the French.’

I returned to the bar and bought my pint of Jamaican. An entire pint of it was even more tasty and refreshing than the taster I’d had… well, duh! It’s a lovely summer beverage. I finished the beer, returned my glass to the bar and sad my goodbyes.

Every time I visit the Weighbridge I always promise that I’ll return far more often than I currently do. For some reason that never happens. Damn crazy fool that I am.

Weighbridge Brewhouse


Dockle Farmhouse
Bridge End Road


We needed to go food shopping but I knew if I didn’t eat beforehand I would end up stabbing someone to death with a baguette while in the supermarket. To the Dockle!

The carpark was rammed. I’d never seen it so busy. I was concerned that the pub was having some sort of Bonfire themed family fun night and little darlings would be running amok but indoors it was all relatively sedate. It would later transpire that the pub next door was having a fireworks display and people who couldn’t be arsed walking there had commandeered a rival pub’s parking facilities.

As seems to be the norm these days in Spoons the cask selection was pretty uninspiring. In the end I settled on a pint of Edinburgh Pale Ale from a brewery called the Edinburgh Brewing Company. Of course, I didn’t realise until I searched on Untappd that the Edinburgh Brewing Company is actually Innis & Gunn. Oh the horror! The beer was shit. We made our food choices and I returned to the bar. The guy before me spoke with a Scottish accent (so I presume he is Scottish). He ordered food and a coffee (as a gnarly old trucker once told ‘Tea’s an Englishman’s drink’) and half of the Whisky cask Thistly Cross Cider). I liked him even though he looked like he was a bit of a psychotic nob. I ordered the food and my now usual food drinks: a pint of Devils Backbone IPA and a can of Bengali Tiger. I’ve tried the DBIPA in all four of Swindon’s Spoons and the Dockle’s is by far the tastiest. Thankfully it was on form. The Bengali Tiger tasted a bit old but was venturing into Barley Wine territory so I was happy enough.

Outside the next door fireworks display was into its grand finale. I noticed some spent fireworks lying on the ground. Then one attached to a metal pole clattered down beside me. Phew! That was a close one. Thankfully, the walk to the car didn’t bring an further near misses.

* * *


A quick lunchtime visit. I started with a pint of the Spoons Fest special from Two Birds. It wasn’t unpleasant but it wasn’t very good. Food wise I settled on the Flaming Dragon, which was a lot tastier and hotter than I was expecting. I liked it. To accompany my curry I had a pint of Devil’s Backbone IPA and a can of Bengali Tiger. The Bengali Tiger did a far better job of cutting through the chili heat.

* * *


I needed food. But I couldn’t be arsed making any. I fancied a beer. But there was nothing in the house that wasn’t being saved for another day. To the Dockle!

I kicked off with a pint of Devils Backbone. It tasted better than it did at the Groves the day before but perhaps not quite as good as it did here at the Dockle on Wednesday. I’m enjoying my research. Lunch was a large beef roast couple with another pint of DBIPA and a can of Bengali Tiger – you can’t forget your old buddies just because there’s a new kid on tap. I fancied a bottle of Lagunitas IPA and a Rogue Amber but decided to be a good boy and go home.

* * *


This week’s Wednesday movie was What We Did On Our Holiday. It wasn’t a film a particularly wanted to see but sometimes you’ve got to do things you don’t want to do. It was a beautiful little movie. One that made my eyes wet quite a few times. A very pleasant surprise.

Today saw the launch of the new Spoons food and beer menu, which meant that BrewDog and Devil’s Backbone were now on (keg) draught and Lagunitas and Rogue were in the bottle fridges. Crazy Craft Times! I had a cursory glance at the cask offerings – they were all dull and uninspiring. I had a look at the keg line-up – the Devil’s Backbone was on but no BrewDog. I ordered a pint of the Devil’s Backbone IPA and pointed at the tap. The bartender looked a tad confused and then went and looked at the clips on the cask beers. I told him it was a keg beer and once again pointed at the tap. He turned round and started looking in the fridges. Once again I informed him that it was a keg beer but the perplexed look upon his face suggested he didn’t know what keg meant. Oh dear. I know someone who works in a different Swindon Spoons and he’s told me that the get quite extensive training (and tastings) when new products are launched – I can only assume that the chap before me had been sick on the day of his training session. I was close to giving in and shouting ‘Just give me a can of fucking Bengali Tiger’ but another member of staff arrived and intervened and I was served a pint of Devil’s Backbone. Phew! Thankfully, it’s a pretty damn tasty beer. It was served way too cold – so cold that I initially felt that I could’ve done with a glove to pick up the glass – but after a couple of minutes sat on the table it was at a perfect temperature and it slipped down beautifully. I won’t bother mentioning that it’s brewed at Bank’s.

But it’s not all about new beer at Spoons today. There’s also some new food on the menu. I had a quick look and decided on the Philly Cheese Steak. I had a happy little moment when I discovered that Devil’s Backbone (and BrewDog) are part of the free drink meal deal. Nice. Sadly, the Philly Cheese Steak was off the menu. Apparently, it had been so popular that the pub’s initial stock had gone by 7pm – a new delivery was arriving at 11pm. We couldn’t be arsed looking at the menu again so opted for the good old Spoons staple that is a Gourmet Beef Burger. The second pint of DB IPA slipped down as deliciously as the first, perhaps even more so – I can see me drinking quite a lot of this in the coming months. Once the food had been despatched I was tempted to go for another pint but decided instead to go for a bottle of Lagunitas IPA. The bartender who had intervened earlier served me. This time it was his turn to look confused. I made it easier for him and said ‘the bottle that has IPA written on it big letters.’ ‘Ah, so that how you pronounce it – La-gun-ee-tas.’ I decided it wasn’t wise to tell him that it’s Spanish for Big Fucking Dog. He asked if I’d like a glass – ‘Of course’. He picked up a half pint tumbler but must have read the look on my face and swiftly replaced it with one of the ‘craft’ glasses. It seems the Dockle isn’t as hot on staff training as the Savoy is. Hey ho!

* * *


Wednesday night is (usually) movie night. This week’s choice was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was great fun. But some of the fight scenes move so fast that it’s almost impossible to make out what it happening. I guess it saves the studios forking out loads of dosh on top class choreography as if it’s all moving superfast any imperfections will go unnoticed. And it assume it reduces the time the fight training ties up an actor’s schedule. Or perhaps I’ve just so old that my eyes and brain can’t keep up with the action. But, yeah, I loved the film.

With the movie done our attention turned to food (and mine to beer). I fancied some of the Yeastie Boys’ Gunnamatta. Sadly, it wasn’t on. But the Nøgne Ø Brown Ale (brewed at Bateman’s) was on. I love Nøgne Ø. I’ve had quite a few of their beers and never had a bad one. Thankfully, the Brown Ale, despite the fact that I’m not a fan of browns, was another winner. Time to order food: veggie burger with bacon and cheese accompanied by a can of Bengali Tiger. I think I’m starting to enjoy Bengali Tiger far more than I will ever be prepared to admit – much like the debut album by the Strokes. Burger and beer dispatched I returned to the bar to get one of the ‘festival specials’ – six beers served from gravity and sold for only £1.49 a pint. When I arrived at the bar there was one member of staff serving and a three people waiting to be served. A manager tried to pretend he was busy by moving bits of paper around, occasionally he’d glance at his customer’s with thinly veiled contempt. As a rule I find managers in Wetherspoons to be excellent and always happy to serve and clear tables and generally work hard. Not this chap. I decided to go for Fermin brewed by Mateo & Bernabe at Shepherd Neame. I also ordered a J2O for my special lady friend and a can of Bengali Tiger. I asked if the can could be left unopened as it would easier to carry it back to my seat. The server’s eyes darted towards the idle manager and she remarked that she wasn’t allowed to sell the cans unopened. Fair enough. The Fermin was mistake. It was grosso. I left half of it on the table as I departed with a cunningly concealed open can of Bengali Tiger.

* * *


I’d only popped in for some breakfast and wasn’t intending on having a beer but I made the mistake of perusing the pump clips and when I noticed they had The Bruery’s Oatmeal Stout (brewed exclusively for Spoons at Caledonia) my fate was sealed. It’s a good stout. Perhaps too rich and sweet for everyday consumption but as an occasional pre-noon treat it works quite well. If you are a fan of bakewell tart smothered in chocolate sauce this could be the beer you’ve been looking for.

* * *


Wetherspoons operates four pubs in Swindon. The Dockle Farmhouse is the only one that’s not in the town centre. And it’s the biggest. As the name suggests, it’s an old farmhouse. The original building was constructed way back in the 1800s. These days it is flanked by two sizeable extensions that were added sometime during the 1980s. The Dockle is effectively two pubs under one roof. The right side, as you look at the pub from the road, is affectionately known as the Butlins End, allows children whereas is the left side is adults only. As I never rock up at the pub with children in tow I always choose the left hand side. I have wandered into the Butlins End just to see if there’s anything different on the bar but each time I’ve had a look it’s always been stocked with just GK beers.

This purpose of this visit was to score some cheap food. Actually, I’ve never been to the Dockle for just a drink. Burns Night was just a few days away so things were getting a bit Scottish. Whisky was on special offer and the food specials were Scottish themed. But there was no Scottish beer. The Stone/Adnams DIPA was on the bar but sitting on top of the pump clip was an ‘Available Soon’ ticket. While I awaited the arrival of the DIPA I ordered a pint of Infusion from Bragdy Conwy – it wasn’t astounding but it was pleasant enough to slake my thirst. For food I ordered a Highland burger, which was a burger that had haggis where you usually find the cheese and bacon. The DIPA still hadn’t arrived so I got a pint of Loddon’s Hullabalo. In June 1993 I was in a band called Hullabaloo. We recorded an album called 25 Years of Avant-Garde Viola Music. The only people who heard the album were the four of us in the band. And my neighbours as we recorded it.

The DIPA didn’t arrive before I departed.


Emlyn Square


A bus drove by without stopping despite a guy beside me flagging out down. It was 15 minutes to the next bus. A pint in the Cricketers! The Saturday clientele is a lot dodgier looking than those who were there the previous Friday. The woman behind the bar was old and eyed me suspiciously. But she poured my pint of Guinness in the recommended pour pause pour style. I took a seat by the entrance door just in case I had to make a hasty exit. The rugger was on the TV. Scotland were trailing to France. Some guy at the bar was repeatedly bemoaning the fact that they wouldn’t serve him in Wetherspoons. Eventually the barwoman said ‘You know you’re banned from them all so I don’t know why you bother.’ I finished my pint and returned my glass to the bar, which seemed to shock and please the guardian of the bar. Everyone else eyed me with an interest that bordered on hatred. To (almost) quote Walt Whitman: It’s probably best if I don’t return.

* * *


This used to be a gay bar. It might still be a gay bar but these days its core clientele appears to be people that have been barred from every other pub in town. It’s a tad run down and jaded looking but not in the shabby chic style that has become so prevalent in the current bar scene. There were two cask handpulls but both were devoid of beer. Carling was also off – apparently it didn’t arrive with that morning’s delivery. The beer choice was Kronenbourg or Guinness. Or Strongbow. The fridge only seemed to contain fruity fizzy ciders. I went for a pint of Guinness. It was part poured then allowed to settle before being topped up. I was passed a pint that had a very impressively sized creamy white head. The barman told me to take a couple of gulps and then he’d top it back up. I took a couple of gulps. He topped it back up. The pub stereo was playing power ballads and power pop hits of the 80s. The sounds were coupled with flashing disco lights. It was just like the last couple of decades hadn’t existed. The Guinness was alright. The barman/landlord was friendly enough. The punters looked dodgy but none of them threatened my life. It certainly wasn’t my most favourite visit to a pub but it passed the ten minutes until my bus home arrived. To quote Walt Whitman: I may again return.


Sir Daniel Arms
Fleet Street


I’d caught an earlier bus than planned so I had a few minutes to kill and I either had to do that killing at the train station or in a Spoons with a beer. I chose to kill it with a Bengali Tiger. The barman, who I think was the manager, asked if I wanted a glass. I replied that I did. He replied that he thought I would say that, which made me wonder why he’d bothered asking. I had no desire to engage him in conversation so I merely smiled in response. I took my beer in a glass to a vacant table. I took a hearty swig then gave the pub a quick sweep to see how many other folk were having a pre-10am alcoholic beverage. A load of men dressed in hi-viz jackets and steel-toecap boots were just finishing off their breakfasts. Most of them also had a pint glass containing beer. A couple of pints with breakfast then a couple more with lunch – it’s no wonder that the majority of construction projects in Swindon never get completed on schedule. I glugged down the last of the Bengali then sauntered off to catch the train to London.

* * *


Downstairs was busy. There was barely an unoccupied table and the tables that were occupied were occupied by dodgy looking reprobates. I ordered a pint of Devils Backbone IPA and a can of Bengali Tiger and took them up to the next level. Upstairs was busy. There was barely an unoccupied table and the tables that were occupied were occupied by OAPs.

I sat down on a couch and swigged my Bengali Tiger while I waited for the DBIPA to gain just a little bit of warmth. I hadn’t planned to visit Sir Dans today. The only pub I was going to visit was the Savoy but when I encountered a bad tasting pint of DBIPA there I decided I needed to visit Sir Dans and see what their DBIPA was tasting like. There are four Spoons in Swindon. The DBIPA tastes pretty damn fine in the Dockle, it tastes okay in the Groves and, as just mentioned, it tastes bad in the Savoy. And now I was sitting in Sir Dans with a pint of DBIPA. It tasted good. Not as good as it tastes in the Dockle but way better than the pint I’d recently had up the road in the Dockle. How can the same keg beer taste so different in four branches of the same pub chain in the same town? Odd.

Sir Dans DBIPA

* * *


Aye, I was very drunk but I really should have known better than go in this place at such an advanced time on a Saturday. I was surprised the door staff let us in especially after I asked ‘Can we come in, please?’ I didn’t bother looking at the beer pumps, I just ordered a can of Bengali Tiger. The place wasn’t very busy for a Saturday night. Men outnumbered woman by about 6 to 1. The atmosphere wasn’t nasty or violent but it certainly didn’t feel like a nice place to be. I was almost drunk enough to be tempted to start dancing but I felt that wouldn’t be fully appreciated by the folk already on the small dancefloor. I looked at the sleazy guys sleazing at the women half their age and I was struck by the sad realisation that a lot of the people present were probably thinking that I was a sleazy guy sleazing at woman half my age. Time to go.

* * *


The continuing quest for Yeastie Boys…

For this visit to Sir Dans I did something that I don’t normally do. I went upstairs. There’s a whole new world up there. Different beers on the bar. And slightly more respectable looking customers. Apart from the people out on the balcony. They are well dodge. Don’t go out there unless you are looking for a fight that ends in death.

There was no Yeastie Boys on so I opted for a Nøgne Ø Brøwn Ale. I’m not usually a big fan of brown ales but I am fan of this beer. It must be the best thing to come out of Wainfleet. I fancied another but my presence was required at home. But only because I was buying chinese takeaway for tea.

* * *


I departed London on the 1536 to Cheltenham. Smooth running meant I touched down in Swindon the correct side of quarter to five. I couldn’t be arsed with the hour long walk home so I decided to get the bus. Fortunately, the route from train station to bus stop goes right past Sir Dan’s… well, it does if you want it to. I rocked up to bar and ordered two cans of Bengali Tiger. I didn’t even bother scanning the taps. The bartender made a well-mannered complaint about having just finished facing them up. I asked if they were selling well and she said ‘yeah’ and smiled and nodded. One can was part-poured into a ‘craft beer glass’ and a second glass was then picked up. I quickly interjected and said I only required one glass. Thankfully the second can was presented to me unopened. Nice. One for the pub and one for the garden when I got home. The place wasn’t busy but all the comfy couches were taken. I selected the seat that allowed me the best opportunity of slipping the unopened can into my bag without being seen by anyone. I doubt anybody would actually bother about me sneaking out a can but I’ve been informed by a staff member of a different Swindon Spoons that all purchases must be consumed on the premises – strictly no takeaway. I’m a nice and thoughtful chap so I wanted to do my best to ensure nobody was embarrassed by my actions.

The actions of two women at the table nearest to mine forced me to drink up quicker than I had initially planned. One of them went to the bar. Then she shouted that she’d ordered the drinks but needed to go pee so her friend would have to go stand at the bar and await their booze. The friend duly obliged. They were both pretty plastered. That’s fine. I have on occasion been plastered in a Spoons. But never when I have been responsible for a young child. I was also pissed off that they didn’t want their drinks to be left unattended but they were happy to leave a child unattended. The child was asleep in a buggy. It was too big to be in a buggy but too young to be left alone. And from the bar it would’ve been impossible to see the child. I waited until the women were reunited with the sleeping child then left. I should have said something. But, ultimately, what would it have achieved? A mouthful of abuse for me and the child would still be left alone the next time the women needed a drink at the same time as one of them needed a pee. Sad.

* * *


Today I became a statistic. Today I scooped Sixpoint in Spoons.

Since Wednesday Twitter has been buzzing with tweets about beer geeks drinking cans of Sixpoint. Most of those beer geeks don’t normally dirty themselves by stepping over the door of a Spoons (or so they so) but for a can of craft USA beer they’ll happily comprise their standards and integrity (and, if they are a fan of Beyoncé, their xtianity). In a bid to justify just how evil Spoons is there has been countless horror tales of the sinister characters that folk have encountered while procuring their can based beverage. Whenever I read those tales I can’t help thinking that those sinister characters are exactly the same folk who have always frequented ‘local pubs’, which perfectly reinforces my belief that Spoons is the new ‘local’. As a famous poet once told me: ‘If you’ve been to the pub and at least one cunt hasn’t threatened to stab you then you haven’t been to a pub.’

As I awaited my turn to purchase a slice of history a guy standing beside me was informed that he wouldn’t be served unless he put on a top. Despite the fact that he had a t-shirt tucked into one of the belt loops of his jeans he politely said ‘Okay, fair enough’ and left. Before he received his ultimatum I thought he was a bit of dick but after he departed I couldn’t help having a strange and grudging admiration for him. He was still a dick but he was a dick who wasn’t prepared to compromise his integrity (perceived or otherwise).

I ordered a can of The Crisp (No one gets to see La Crisp! … Nigel…) and a can of Sweet Action. It would appear that the two for a fiver deal doesn’t truly exist in Swindon as both cans rang through the till at £2.50 each. Same result different formula. I was given two glasses and two unopened cans. Nice. I retired to a comfy couch to record my findings.

The Crisp is a lager/pilsner that clocks in at 5.4%. Due to my former life where I consumed a lot of Stella and Staropramen and Lowenbrau, being Scottish, Tennent’s and McEwan’s lager I still have a soft spot for lagers. Sadly, this wasn’t for me. It was certainly an improvement on the predominant UK brands but it still had next to nothing on the nose and next to nothing on the palate except a slightly oily finish. No. I won’t be drinking it again.

Sweet Action checks in at 5.2% and is described as a cream ale. It smells lovely: like a Thursday afternoon session in the Mikkeller Bar. The flavour is a decent blend of malt and hops but they both get on too well together and I couldn’t help feeling that I would’ve liked one of them to take control and push the beer onto the next level. It’s good but it feels a little too safe and friendly. I’ll possibly have it again but only as an occasional oddity.

Bengali Tiger is the big boy of the threesome and boasts a reasonably impressive 6.4% ABV. After I’d received The Crisp and Sweet Action unopened I decided to buy two cans of BT. The plan was to scoop one in the pub and have one in the sunshine of my garden. Unfortunately, as my eyes were turned towards the rugger both cans were part poured into rather stylish tulip glasses. Bummer. Bengali Tiger is the best of the three but even before we’d tried any of them we all knew that would be the case. It packs a decent juicy hop hit but nothing that several British brewers aren’t already doing and to a better standard. Will I have it again? Yeah, probably. But only if there’s nothing on draught that I fancy. And even then I’ll be more likely to opt for a bottle of Goose Island IPA.

I was only planning on having one of each of the cans but when I noticed that the Sixpoint/Adnams collab was on I thought it would be a gross injustice if I went home before having at least a pint of it. Ah, it was alright. It’s not going to inspire you to write a long and detailed letter to you granny proclaiming its merits but it’s certainly not the kind of beer that makes you feel that western civilisation is an steep and terminal decline. Decent enough.

And then it was time to go home to drink Courage Imperial Russian Stout and listen to cover versions of David Bowie songs. No. Really. It was.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


The Sir Daniel Arms is the only of Swindon’s four Wetherspoons that at the weekend turns into a discotheque. So, unless you like that kind of thing, it’s best avoided at those times. Arguably, Swindon town centre is best avoided at those times. I always find Sir Daniel Arms way too dark, which, admittedly, is occasionally a good thing. And more often than not I’ll see someone lurking in a corner who makes me think of the strip club scene in Beverly Hills Cop. No! I don’t mean the woman who Billy Rosewood kindly gives some money to. And there’s often a load of mothers who think it is acceptable to leave their empty prams and buggies in the middle of the main walkways. It’s a strange place. Even for a Spoons. But sometimes the quest for a certain beer means you have to venture into places you usually avoid. This time I was on a quest for the semi-mythical Stone/Adnams Double IPA. I’d already been into the other two town centre Spoons but had failed to find the DIPA (and subsequently left both places without having a drink) so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Sir Dans had the beer I desired. And they also had Saltaire Blonde and the Sixpoint/Adnams Righteous Ale. Not too shabby at all. Naturally, I ordered a DIPA. I’d heard the stories of it only being sold it halves so I decided to save everyone’s embarrassment and just ordered a half. Subsequently, the barman asked ‘Just a half?’, which suggested he would’ve happily sold me a pint of it but I sensed a trap and decided to stick with my initial sizing. It’s a good beer. I’m not sure I’d be happy paying the standard Stone in the UK price of 4-5 quid a half but at less than £2 for a half I thought it was a reasonable bargain. It has a nice fruity and juicy hop hit but it does finish with a rather annoying lingering sticky dryness. I think a half a time is more than enough and then it’s best to get a pint of something else to perk your palette back up. Half dispatched I returned to the bar and ordered a pint of the Saltaire Blonde. I like Saltaire beers but, although they are starting to make inroads, I don’t find them in my little corner of the world very often. Thankfully, it was another Saltaire success. I was tempted to grab a pint of the Righteous but I’m not especially fond of red ales so I headed to Glue Pot on a quest for Entire Stout.


Regent Street


The Spoon that used to be a cinema. Consequently, there lots of cinema themed ephemera on the walls including a still of Orson Welles in Citizen Cain which greets everyone who goes near the Gents. There also a bit of a library vibe as most of the walls are lined with bookcases which may or may not be home to real books. It’s a basement bar so the only windows are the entrance doors. Strangely the most troglodyte of the pub’s clientele are the ones who lurk by the entrance. I rarely go near the Savoy as it in a part of the centre that houses shops that I have no need to visit. Today it was just as it was the last time I visited – sinister characters up the top level, OAPs down the bottom and Sky News playing silently on the telly.

I was on a quest for Devil’s Backbone IPA. I had it two of the Swindon Spoons and the taste varied quite considerably so I decided for research purposes I should see how it shaped up in the Savoy. The guy behind the bar didn’t seem to know what it was. He claimed he was new. I point to the pump and told him to pour a pint of it. He still seemed unsure. He went out back and returned with a more seasoned barman who began pouring a beer. He said that he didn’t understand why they put ales in kegs. I was going to reply that he didn’t understand it because he was an ignorant dick who didn’t understand anything about beer but I figured that wasn’t a very polite thing to do so I just gave him a thin smile. When the pint was poured I added a can of Bengali on to my order as I knew that the DBIPA would need a little bit of warming up time. The Bengali was as good as always but the DBIPA wasn’t very good at all. Most odd. One beer, three pubs in the same town – one pint great, one acceptable, one yuk. How the fuck is that even possible? Perhaps the barman’s bad vibes assaulted the beer. A lesser mortal would’ve left most of the beer or returned it to the bar. I gulped it down then headed off to another Spoon’s to see how their Devil’s Backbone was tasting.


Groves Company Inn
Fleet Street


Was just walking past so decided to pop in and see if they were selling Devil’s Backbone IPA and the new BrewDog lager. There was no BrewDog but the Devil’s Backbone had pride of place in the middle of one of the keg fonts. As I’d gone to all the trouble of going into the pub I thought it would be a bit daft to leave without having a pint. The obvious choice was a pint of the DBIPA. I had a pint of the DBIPA. It was good but it didn’t seem as good as it did at the Dockle on Wednesday. I will undertake further research at some point in the not too distant future.

* * *


On the train back to Swindon I’d decided that I’d visit a Spoons and have a can of Bengali… actually, I’d decided that I’d visit a Spoons and have two cans of Bengali. But before ordering my cans I had a quick look at the pumps to see if there was anything that piqued my interest. Nope. Two cans of Bengali it was. The bartender twice referred to me as ‘my love’. It didn’t actually annoy me but I did find it odd that a woman half my age was calling me such things. Perhaps I reminded her of her Granddad. She asked if I wanted her to pour them. I replied that there was no need. She left both cans unopened. Nice. One for the pub and one for the garden when I got back home.

* * *


Was just walking past and it seemed a bit rude to not pop in for a can of Bengali.

* * *


We’d been on an early morning run to the tip to dispose of some grass and hedge clippings then popped into town to score some tickets for the Great Dorset Steam Fair and decided we may as well have a Spoons breakfast. I hadn’t planned to get a pint – I was more than happy with just a decaf – but when I spied a beer from a visiting dignitary my fate was sealed. We sat a table near to an elderly gentleman who was dressed in a suit and was drinking a glass of white wine while doing a crossword – how says Spoons are only full of riff-raff? My beer was a pint of Black IPA which was brewed at Caledonia by somebody from Barley Brown’s who are based in Baker City, Oregon, USA – never heard of them. It wasn’t great. It tasted more like a broon ale than a BIPA. It tasted pretty much like everything that comes out of Caledonia. Oh well, never mind, at least the yolks of my fried eggs were runny.

* * *


I had to head into town to get a bus out of town so I decided to stop off for a can of Bengali Tiger. The initial plan had been to go to Sir Dan’s but as I approached the place I could see that all sorts of sinister characters were occupying the outdoor area, so I kept walking. The clientele in the Groves wasn’t much better. As I sat drinking my beer I couldn’t help feeling that I was in a pub that was full old age pensioners who looked like they would beat you up if you happened to announce that John Terry is a bit shit. I kept quiet and left unscathed.

* * *


The quest for Yeastie Boys…

I’d been in earlier in the day and found the bar devoid of Yeastie offerings. I left without buying anything. A few hours had passed since that visit so thought I’d give it another. Nope. Still no Yeastie. And there wasn’t any beers from the visiting dignitaries. I decided to go for a pint of Adnams Red Ale. Stupid boy. I don’t like red ales. I’m sure this is a well made beer but it’s still a red ale. When will I learn. Probably never.

* * *


One of the more modern styled Wetherspoons: light wood and bright lights. You can usually find a decent pint of beer in here but occasionally it is home to nothing but Greene King.

I was in town to do a bit of boring grown-up shopping – a new shower hose and some hoover bags – and decided to pop into the Groves for a burger and a beer. I walked the length of the bar scanning the pump clips and was just about to exit stage left when I arrived at the last pump which housed a clip for one of Spoons’ USA offerings: California Session IPA (4.8%) brewed by Three Weavers & Golden Road at Bank’s. That’d do. California Session IPA is a good thirst quenching ale with a nice blast of peach blossom and citrus upfront but I did find something slightly off-putting in the finish that I couldn’t quite place. But it went down easily enough and I wouldn’t be upset if I had to drink it again

Within 30 minutes I’d entered the pub and scooped and ale and munched a burger and departed. If you ever find yourself in Swindon town centre and need a beer and a bite to eat but you have a limited time budget then the Groves is very probably your best bet.