FIRST VISIT: TUESDAY 5 AUGUST 2014
A reconnaissance mission to scope out the location of the Bankes Arms Beer Festival, which oddly enough takes place at the Bankes Arms. It’s a straightforward enough place to find. But it is along roads that are often travelled and clogged up by sightseers, especially those keen to gaze upon the impressive ruin of Castle Grayskull… um, I mean Corfe Castle. And when you get there the only place to park is a council carpark that charges £.150 an hour.
The pub itself is a fine old building with an impressive view out over Poole Bay. As soon as I stepped inside I was greeted with the greasy odour of deep fat fryers in full fat frying action. Lots of folk were tucking into hearty plates of grub, which I must admit looked pretty tasty.
The bar was sizeable and home to nine handpulls: two were out of action; one housed Deer Stalker from Wiltshire brewery Ramsbury, which I don’t even drink when at home; the final five contained Isle of Purbeck beers, the owners of the Bankes Arms. I was disappointed by the selection but I suppose as the beer festival is only a couple of days away they’d want to save the most exciting guest beers for Thursday‘s Festival opening. I wouldn’t go as far to say they staff were unpleasant but they seemed slightly harangued and harassed and certainly wouldn’t win any ’Most Welcoming Staff’ award. The guy who came out of the kitchen with a huge tray of food and repeatedly shouted a table number until someone claimed their meal was particularly annoying. I ordered a pint of Purbeck’s American Pale – it’s a beer I’ve had a couple of times before and found to be quite decent. All indoors table were fully occupied so I went outside to gaze upon the bay. It was a touch too windy for outside drinking but you can’t blame the pub for that. The festival marquee was in the process of being set up. There was a load of beer casks and associated items sitting on the ground and the sound of banging suggested that the bar itself was still under construction. To my untrained eye I wouldn’t think they’d be ready for opening at 11am on Thursday but I’m sure they know what they are doing and everything will be completed before the first punter turns up. When my pint of APA, which didn’t taste as good as I remembered, was finished I didn’t have any desire to re-enter the pub. I’m not even sure I can be arsed coming back for the festival.