17 March 2014

Bridgnorth & Bewdley

One of the benefits of volunteer work at Oxford CAMRA beer festival is a place on a coach trip some months after the festival. The trip for 2013 helpers was to Bridgnorth and Bewdley on Saturday 15 March, 2014.
Arriving at the Severn Valley Railway station, Bridgnorth


White Lion, Bridgnorth

We eventually arrived in Bridgnorth just before 1pm, having departed Oxford at 10am. Most of the party set off for the Railwaymans Arms but Steve and I walked quickly up the steep hill of Railway Street to reach the High Town.

The first pub we visited was the White Lion in West Castle Street. We made the mistake of entering by the front door and having to push a way through to the bar as the pub was packed with rugby fans watching a Six Nations game on TV.
From the choice of six cask ales, I ordered a Twisted Spire by Hobsons Brewery of Cleobury Mortimer, a distance of about twelve miles.
Hobsons - Twisted Spire
This is a refreshing pale (3.6% ABV) beer with hop flavours and some sweetness. It is named after the twisted spire of St Mary the Virgin church in Cleobury Mortimer. We had taken our beers outside to a sheltered courtyard area with a view of murals of Bridgnorth and the surrounding countryside.
We could also see the door to the Hop & Stagger Brewery, set up by the Hayes family who took over the pub in 2007. Steve had already sampled their Simpson's Special Edition so I ordered a half pint of Hop & Stagger Golden Wander (4.1% ABV) from the brewery tap.

The Old Castle, Bridgnorth

It was only a few yards walk south along West Castle Street to reach a second pub featured in the 2014 Good Beer Guide - the Old Castle.
I was pleased to find another beer from Hobsons Brewery available here and ordered a Town Crier (4.5% ABV), a full flavoured golden ale.
We headed out to the pub's sizeable garden which has elevated views to the west of the town from a platform at its far end.
Garden of the Old Castle, Bridgnorth
The delayed arrival of our coach meant there was less time to explore the town than we had hoped. It was now time to return downhill to Bridgnorth station where I would catch the 3pm coach to Bewdley and Steve would travel there by train.

The Railwaymans Arms, Bridgnorth

 However, there was still time for a beer at the Railwaymans Arms, housed in the refreshment rooms of the Severn Valley Railway station at Bridgnorth.
The well stocked bar offered a good variety of beers including a Black Country ale that I had been eager to taste - Bathams Best Bitter.
Batham's Best Bitter - 2nd handpump from left. Railwaymans Arms, Bridgnorth
Bathams Brewery is based in Brierley Hill. Their best bitter (4.3% ABV) is 'a straw-coloured bitter which initially seems sweet, but a complex dry, hoppy taste soon predominates' and it is deservedly popular.
The interior of the pub features an impressive collection of railway signs and framed posters.
We took our beers outside on the station platform to enjoy the view of working steam and diesel locomotives.
Steve would have more of this view of Bridgnorth station as his train was delayed while I was travelling to Bewdley by coach.

There were fine westward views from the coach towards Ludlow on the way to Bewdley, another town on the river Severn. After a coffee break, I walked to the High Street passing St Anne's parish church.

The Little Pack Horse Inn, Bewdley

Some way along the High Street, is the Little Pack Horse Inn which has a painted sign on the front of the building instead of a hanging sign.
Little Pack Horse Inn, Bewdley
The Little Pack Horse Inn is in the 2014 Good Beer Guide and is a cosy, traditional pub.
Golden ales and 'Ullage' at the Little Pack Horse Inn
This was a chance to catch up with a group from the Oxford CAMRA party and hand out remaining copies of 'Ullage', the West Berkshire CAMRA newsletter. 
As it is brewed nearby, I ordered a Worcestershire Way (3.6% ABV) from Bewdley Brewery. A lovely pale straw colour, it is brewed with First Gold, Celeia  and Fuggles hops. Steve arrived soon afterwards, having  walked from Bewdley railway station, on the other side of the river Severn. It would soon be time to catch the coach at 6pm for the return journey to Oxford. Walking back to Load Street, there were some lovely skies to be seen over the town.
Bewdley, Worcestershire
Thanks to everyone involved for a great day out in Bridgnorth and Bewdley. It's days like these that make volunteer work for the Campaign for Real Ale especially worthwhile.


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