FIRST VISIT: THURSDAY 8 AUGUST 2014
The Royal Standard brews its own beer, which is primarily why I wanted to visit the place. When I arrived I was greeted by the sight of four handpulls: Beach Blonde by Sunny Republic, Stargazer by Yeovil, Dartmoor by St Austell, the fourth was clipless. I ordered a pint of the Sunny Republic. It’s a beer I’ve had before and found to be reasonably decent and much much better than their weird veggie tasting Hop Dog. I asked if food was being served and was handed some menus and given a run through of the specials. The inside of the Royal Standard is nice – clean and tidy, old but not neglected looking. A very pleasant local. We took our beers outside to the patio area. Once we’d decided what we wanted to eat – a burger, gammon & chips and venison chili – I went back inside to place that order and score another pint. I asked the landlord if he had any of their own beer (DT Ales) on as I hoped there might be a gravity barrel lurking somewhere but unfortunately they were DT-less. I decided to go for a pint of the Star Gazer purely because it had a slightly higher ABV than the St Austell – 4 v 3.5%. It was a decently constructed pint and it went down fine. While I was at the bar the landlord told me that he recently got a craft beer tap installed. The first beer on it was Butcombe’s Brunel Atlantic IPA. I felt there were countless better beers and breweries to start off his craft tap but I felt it would be rude to say so. The landlord undoubtedly knows his customers way better than I ever will and it seems unlikely that a keg of Kernel London Sour would be a sensible introduction. I’m not a huge fan of Butcombe but as the landlord had taken the time to point it out to me and give a brief and balanced outline of the differences between cask and keg I felt I should order a pint when the Stargazer was finished. It was pleasant enough. I wouldn’t be upset if I couldn’t ever drink it again but should we ever cross paths in the future I certainly won’t be beating it off with a shitty stick.
The Royal Standard is a nice little boozer and if you are visiting the Jurassic Coast it is certainly worth popping in for a beer or three and, if you are hungry, a bit to eat. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to sample their own beer.
Chaplin’s & Cellar Bar
FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 29 MARCH 2014
Two drinking dens for the price of one!
Chaplin’s and, perhaps more importantly, its Cellar Bar have recently been crowned East Dorset’s CAMRA Pub of the Year for 2014. As you’d expect from a CAMRA POTY there is a decent array of cask ales on sale. But you wouldn’t think so if you paused at the upstairs (Chaplin’s) bar where the only cask ale available was something called Zoo Brew, which I later discovered, by really squinting at the super small print on pump clip art, was brewed in collaboration with Downton Brewery. If you want a cask choice that is greater than one you need to get your ass down to the cellar bar, which, some might say, is where CAMRA members belong.
We walked in and with a perplexed look I stared at the beer offerings. This was definitely the pub I was looking for but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I almost ordered a pint of Red Stripe but decided to opt for the Zoo Brew. There was a nice spring nip in the air so we decided to take our beverages outside. I sat down. I was a bit bewildered. Had the pub won an award for their beer and then decided on a complete change of direction? I wasn’t really sure what was going on…
The beer garden of Chaplin’s is great. Truly great. I won’t do it the injustice of trying to describe it but suffice to say that if I was still the guy I was a couple of decades ago I would be spending most weekends in there bombed out of my head on Lysergic acid diethylamide. It’s nice to encounter a pub that thinks about the ambience of their beer garden in the same way they think about it indoors.
When I’d finished my Zoo Brew (dull but not unpleasant) I popped downstairs to explore the Cellar Bar. My initial impression was that the folk hanging out down there seemed a bit more dodgy looking than their compatriots upstairs. But nobody threatened to shot me or asked if I wanted to buy a stolen telly so I can’t complain. My second impression was what a great little live music venue it is and how much I would love to see the Auto Club play there. My third impression was Ah-ha! This is where the full range of cask beer resides. There were several on hand pull and a couple more on gravity. I didn’t bother counting or paying too much attention to what was on sale as I fancied a Sunny Republic Hop Dog. Perhaps I should’ve took a little longer making a decision as Hop Dog has a weird nutty veggie taste that is interesting for the first few gulps but after that it’s a quite hard going. I believe it is brewed using, the much maligned, Dana hops. Time was taking ticking away and we wanted to eat in the Chicken Shack a few doors along and then we had a 2+ hour journey home. But there was still time for another. I decided to check out their little collection of ‘craft’ bottled beers: Camden Hells, Flying Dog Snake Dog and Raging Bitch, Goose Island IPA, Schneider Weisse number-something-or-other. I opted for a Raging Bitch – £4.25 a bottle.
I need to return and have another explore.