Ideal Landmark city breaks for beer lovers
By Roger Protz, Editor-in-Chief of the Good Beer Guide
A city break and a good beer go hand in hand, so why not plan a visit to some of the best pubs in the country during your break at a marvellous historic Landmark?
In September the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) released its 45th edition of the Good Beer Guide, the UK’s best-selling beer and pub guide. Unlike other travel guides, the Good Beer Guide is entirely based on personal recommendations by local beer-lovers, which are rigorously reviewed by branches and editors. We never charge a fee for listings in order to ensure continued independence.
It is my last edition as Editor-in-Chief, which provides me with a unique opportunity to reflect upon how the world of beer and pubs has changed over the years - most significantly the explosion of brewing and the huge range of real ales now available. When the Guide first started there were just 105 brewing companies listed, and just handful of pubs that served real ale. Today, there are over 1,700 brewers across the UK producing more than 7,500 beers for thousands of fantastic pubs.
How the beer world has changed! Today, in spite of closures, a growing number of pubs clamber to offer the best possible range of real ales - many of which are presented through social events such as mini beer festivals, beer tastings and food and beer matching. Beer is enjoying a level of unprecedented popularity worldwide, and it's never been easier to get a fantastic pint down at the pub.
So cheers to beer this weekend! If you’re planning a visit to one of Landmark’s much-loved properties in Bath, Tewkesbury, Oxford or Colchester, perhaps drop in for a pint at one of the Good Beer Guide recommended pubs. We’ve crafted a selection below. From Grade-II Listed buildings to community pubs and street-corner Victorian tap rooms, there’s a pub for every taste and preference; just like Landmark Trust’s historic buildings.
Whichever of the 198 Landmarks you’re heading for, the Good Beer Guide is a handy companion. We’re pleased to offer Landmarkers an exclusive discount on this hot-off-the-press new edition. Using the code LMTGBG Landmarkers can buy a copy for £10.99 before 30 November 2017* on the CAMRA shop.
Recommended pubs in Bath, the home of Elton House, Beckford’s Tower and Marshal Wade’s House
Beckford's Tower sleeps 4 and is available from £25 pppn
Elton House sleeps 10 and is available from £18 pppn
Elton House, Bath
14 James Street West, BA1 2BX
Refurbishment in 2013 saw the Midland Hotel transformed into a City Pub Company brewpub. The on-site James Street Brewery produces two regular beers, and rotating seasonal beers. Four guests are also available, usually from nearby micros. A large L-shaped bar leads to a dining area and a good-sized beer garden. The upstairs room hosts sports TV, quizzes, comedy and more.
103 Walcot Street, BA1 5BW
Owned by 536 of its regulars, fans and staff following a community buy-out in 2013, the Bell has six regular ales plus three changing guests from micros near and far. Live music is a mainstay, with bands playing Monday and Wednesday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes and, in the separate Love Lounge to the rear, open mic nights take place on Thursday evenings. Features include bar billiards, board games and even a tiny launderette. At the rear is a walled garden with covered seating.
12 Green Street, BA1 2JZ
A classic, unspoilt pub in a 300-year-old building. The three oak-panelled rooms include a superb northern-style drinking lobby. Although it can get crowded, there is often space in the comfortable back bar. Guest beers are generally from local microbreweries, with a stout or porter usually on offer in the winter months. A local farmhouse cider is also available, along with a range of fine wines and malt whiskies. Winter Sunday hours may be longer.
6-7 Queen Street, BA1 1HE
Busy 18th-century free house in the heart of Bath. The six ales include two brewed exclusively by Blindmans. Guest ales come from far and wide, with several mini beer festivals a year. The main bar and the quieter one on the first floor serve the same range of ales. Famous for its sausages and Pieminister pies, the Raven is one of the few pubs in the town serving food on Sunday evening.
23 Vineyards, BA1 5NA
A main outlet for Abbey Ales, this classic town pub was fitted out by Gaskell and Chambers in 1928. Its four small rooms have benches around the walls, wood panelling and roaring fires. The smallest room has a single bench, called Death Row, while the pub itself, which dates from around 1760, is coffin-shaped. Abbey Bellringer is served from the cask and complimentary snuff is available. Cheese night is every Thursday and live music features on Friday from 8.30pm.
Recommended pubs in Tewkesbury, home of St Mary’s Lane and Abbey Gatehouse
St Mary's Lane sleeps 4 and is available from £14 pppn
Abbey Gatehouse sleeps 2 and is available from £36 pppn
Abbey Gatehouse, Tewkesbury
8 Church St, GL20 5PA
Half-timbered Grade II two-bar pub, just off Tewkesbury Cross. At the rear, a barn, which is believed to be the oldest non-ecclesiastical building in this historic town, is used for dining in the summer and serves as a meeting room year round. Good-value home-cooked food is served daily in this popular 15th-century inn, and of particular note are the landlord’s home-baked pies. Live music is performed on Friday and Saturday evenings.
129 High Street, GL20 5JU
Fourteenth-century hostelry with two welcoming rooms, a public bar at the front and the restaurant behind, with timber predominating. Framed photographs of old Tewkesbury adorn the walls. The pub is getting noticed for its excellent, well-priced food, served lunchtimes and evenings. Knowledgeable staff will happily tell you about the resident ghosts. Live music takes place most Sunday evenings and Thursday is quiz night.
50 Church Street, GL20 5SN
Services club near the abbey in a timber-framed building that used to be two pubs. The main lounge area is open to non-members. The venue has a community feel where several clubs hold their meetings and it has a team in the local crib league. Live music every Saturday night. Local CAMRA’s Club of the Year 2015-2017.
94 Church Street, GL20 5RS (between Abbey and Cross)
This well-known landmark is an amalgamation of historic buildings from the 15th and 18th centuries. It has been known as the Royal Hop Pole since a visit in September 1891 from Princess Mary of Teck (Queen Mary, Royal Consort of George V). The pub is mentioned in The Pickwick Papers. Purchased by Wetherspoon, it reopened in 2008, and is a spacious, multi-roomed drinking establishment with a large patio and garden area at the rear.
Tudor House Hotel
51 High Street, GL20 5BH
This delightful Tudor building oozes charm and dignity. The bar offers a selection of eight ales, seven constantly changing. Pub meals are served in the bar and adjoining dining areas. Two outdoor spaces provide a relaxing place to watch the boats on the river behind the pub or you can enjoy a quiet drink in the secret garden.
Recommended pubs in Oxford, home of the Old Parsonage and the Steward's House
The Old Parsonage sleeps 6 and is available from £31 pppn
The Steward's House sleeps 2 and is available from £43 pppn
The Old Parsonage, near Oxford
Lamb & Flag
12 St Giles, OX1 3JS
Grade II-listed building owned by the adjacent St John’s College. Some of the profits from the pub support student scholarships. This is a classic city pub with no music, Wi-Fi or other distractions from friendly conversation. Beers from the South-west feature – the house beer Lamb & Flag Gold (4.5% ABV) is brewed by Palmers of Bridport. It is believed to be the setting for the inn in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure and has other literary links. Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2016 and Cider Pub of the Year 2017.
2 Quarry School Place, Headington Quarry, OX3 8LH
Family-run community pub hosting many pub games’ leagues, including bar billiards and Aunt Sally. The guest ales are varied and regularly come from the Old Bog Brewery (named after the original purpose of the building behind the pub where it was founded). A wide range of bottled beers is stocked. The pub is home to the Headington beer festival in September. A heated decking area and garden lead to the function room. Local CAMRA City Pub of the Year 2016.
14 North Parade Avenue, OX2
Now a free house, this popular Victorian local on a vibrant north Oxford street is a time capsule with two small rooms and many original features. A friendly community pub, it has been run by the same landlords for over 30 years. No intrusive music or mobile phones are permitted. Its fame has even spread to Everest – see the photo on the wall. To the rear is a heated, covered patio.
13 St Ebbes Street, OX1 1PT
Street-corner, single-room, Victorian pub with a bright, airy interior, next to the Museum of Modern Art. Built in 1889 on the site of two earlier pubs, the original Royal Blenheim was a stagecoach. The pub is owned by Everards but leased to the White Horse Brewery. Ten hand-pumps dispense a range of White Horse beers, plus guests (including one from Everards) and a real cider. Good food and bar snacks, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, are served.
Recommended pubs in Colchester, home of Peake's House
Peake's House sleeps 4 and is available from £15 pppn
Peake's House, Colchester
82 Butt Road, CO3 3DA
This award-winning pub offers a wide range of ales, always including at least one dark beer, served from handpump and on gravity. Quiz night is every third Wednesday, and a folk music session is usually held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Darts, bar billiards and BT Sport are available. There is a large, secluded walled garden at the rear and a public car park nearby in Roman Circus Walk.
27 Bergholt Road, CO4 5AA
Large Adnams flagship pub close to the station, with up to eight ales from the brewery’s regular and seasonal range, as well as a variety of guests. Up to six ciders, including Crone’s, are always on. It has a traditional public bar with darts and pool, and a lounge bar with a conservatory. The large beer garden has cycle racks. Excellent home-cooked food is available lunchtimes (no food Sat), with a great-value roast on Sunday.
12 Millers Lane, CO3 0PS
The Live’s reputation continues to grow thanks to the publicans’ great pride in the condition of their real ales and their sausage/pie festivals. Family and dog friendly, it is very welcoming, appealing to a broad demographic with a quiet, homely saloon bar and a public bar offering sports TV, darts, pool and a comprehensive jukebox, as well as a beer garden. Beers are very competitively priced, as is traditional home-cooked food, served lunchtimes each day and Friday and Saturday evenings.
36 Chapel Street South, CO2 7AX
Local CAMRA Pub of the Year 2017, offering up to six real ales and four real ciders. In this community hub with two bars and garden the saloon bar focuses on comfort and relaxation, with the public bar having music, TV sports and plenty of friendly conversation. Contemporary bar food is served until 9pm Monday-Saturday, and Sunday roasts 12-5pm. Brewery tap takeovers are regular events. Well behaved children and dogs are welcome and a plethora of pub games is on offer.
10 North Station Road, CO1 1RB
A proper pub serving five real ales including a house beer, Yorkshire Embassy Blonde, specified by the publicans and brewed by Colchester Brewery. Nine real ciders and a selection of bottled beers are also available. Live music is on Sunday, often accompanied by Yorkshire puddings and roast tatties. It hosts a monthly cheese club, wine clubs and a coffee morning. There is a courtyard garden with turfed outbuildings. Two annual themed beer festivals are held. A four-times local CAMRA Pub of the Year, and a previous county and regional winner.
*This special price can only be claimed on the CAMRA Shop www.shop.camra.org.uk . The code LMTGBG entitles the user to purchase the Good Beer Guide 2018 for £10.99 while stocks last. All orders placed on the CAMRA Shop are subject to our standard postage and packaging costs. Only one promotional code can be redeemed per purchase. Offer runs from 15 September until 30 November 2017.