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IanD

Stourport Ring report

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36 minutes ago, IanD said:

Excellent dinner (pizzas and other stuff) at the Queen's Head (booking probably wise), washed down with some very nice beers.

 

A very enjoyable trip, especially if you like proper pubs that haven't been gastropubbed to within an inch of their lives.

Great report, but I don't think these two sentences belong in the same report!

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Just now, billS said:

Great report, but I don't think these two sentences belong in the same report!

It was one of only two gastropubs (the other being the Kings Head in Worcester, we only ate there becuase the Thai restaurant wes fully booked) and the only one we stayed at all evening (no other choice) as opposed to just eating there -- and the beer was nevertheless very good.

 

Against that there was the Cardinal's Hat, the Black Star, the Duke William, the Bull and Bladder, Ma Pardoes, the Bottle and Glass, the Fountain, and the Weighbridge (later on), which I'd say is an exceptional haul of proper pubs for one week 😉

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Excellent choice of drinking establishments, although there are better pubs in Stourport than Black Star.

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6 minutes ago, eightacre said:

Excellent choice of drinking establishments, although there are better pubs in Stourport than Black Star.

Near the canal?

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A good report, thank you. But.....< adopts trainspotterish mode > .....................

 

You say of the pubs visited that 'the beer was good' but you don't say what the beer was!

 

I only went to the Prince of Wales the once and TBH wasn't too impressed.

When in Brum I'd rather walk into town to the Post Office Vaults or the Wellington.

 

(Or the Craven Arms, paying homage to 'Ambridge' when crossing the canal near the Mailbox)

 

1 hour ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

I wouldn't give the Good Pub Guide house (or boat) room.  Beer quality does not seem to be a criterion.

 

Agreed.

 

And I feel the GBGs days are numbered with the advent of CAMRA's 'What Pub' website,

Edited by Victor Vectis

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5 hours ago, IanD said:

It was one of only two gastropubs (the other being the Kings Head in Worcester, we only ate there becuase the Thai restaurant wes fully booked) and the only one we stayed at all evening (no other choice) as opposed to just eating there -- and the beer was nevertheless very good.

 

Against that there was the Cardinal's Hat, the Black Star, the Duke William, the Bull and Bladder, Ma Pardoes, the Bottle and Glass, the Fountain, and the Weighbridge (later on), which I'd say is an exceptional haul of proper pubs for one week 😉

Good report on the trip and it is a great cruising ring with lots of variety. Also the best variant on the ring is probably via Stourbridge, BCLM and Old Main Line. 

 

The Queen's Head isn't really a gastropub. If it was you wouldn't have had pizza for lunch. It's an ordinary place with delusions of grandeur. However I have never had a bad meal there and it does have half decent beer. It isn't necessarily value for money though as the prices are higher than they really should be for the quality and location. That said there isn't really anywhere else on the Worcs & Birmingham below Tardebigge that I could offer as being obviously better if you want to eat as well as drink. There are many more 'genuine' places though. Above Tardebigge it's disappointing there is nothing at the top of the locks (and you must never be tempted to walk to The Tardebigge pub) but The Weighbridge is properly good with local(ish) ales and home cooked food. Shame it doesn't open until seven. I couldn't sneak a quick pint there last week when I arrived at the marina at 1830 and had to get the 1900 train back home.

 

JP

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13 hours ago, Captain Pegg said:

Above Tardebigge it's disappointing there is nothing at the top of the locks (and you must never be tempted to walk to The Tardebigge pub) but The Weighbridge is properly good with local(ish) ales and home cooked food. Shame it doesn't open until seven. 

 

JP

Clearly this depends what you want from a pub. I have always tried not to stop at the top of Tardebigge due to its remoteness, but when I have The Tardebigge has been quite welcome and the food O.K. although it is just another chain pub. Having said that I do not drink alcohol so I am not in search of real ales, and it would be better if it were nearer to the canal.

 

Are you suggesting that the Weighbridge (Alvechurch Marina) is now a public establishment as when I worked the boats back in the early 1980's it was for boatyard users only - but they did let me and my mate in - or am I thinking of the wrong Weighbridge :captain:

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20 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

I wouldn't give the Good Pub Guide house (or boat) room.  Beer quality does not seem to be a criterion.

 

Good Beer Guide (CAMRA) not Good Pub Guide (obsessed with furnishings)...

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20 hours ago, Victor Vectis said:

A good report, thank you. But.....< adopts trainspotterish mode > .....................

 

You say of the pubs visited that 'the beer was good' but you don't say what the beer was!

 

I only went to the Prince of Wales the once and TBH wasn't too impressed.

When in Brum I'd rather walk into town to the Post Office Vaults or the Wellington.

 

(Or the Craven Arms, paying homage to 'Ambridge' when crossing the canal near the Mailbox)

 

Agreed.

 

And I feel the GBGs days are numbered with the advent of CAMRA's 'What Pub' website,

I didn't list the beers because there were many and I didn't write then down, not being a trainspotter -- also many are likely to change if you go next week. All had multiple beers, all from small breweries -- from memory...

 

Queen's head -- 4 including Salopian

Cardinal's Hat -- 6

Black Star -- 5 (4 from Wye Valley)

Duke William -- 6, all Craddocks

Bull and Bladder -- Batham's Mild and Bitter

Ma Pardoe's -- 4 Old Swan : original, a stronger pale, a very good dark, and NPA (Nethrton Pale Ale)

Fountain -- 4 including good Banks's mild

Weighbridge -- 4 including good Holden's mild

 

In every one we found at least 3 or 4 beers that we liked (different people with different tastes) so there didn't seem much point being more detailed, I'd happily spend an evening in any of them. Except the Bull and Bladder, the bitter was ambrosial and that's all I'd need for days...

 

GBG is much more selective than WhatPub and has a lot more detail of the pubs that are in it.

Edited by IanD

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16 hours ago, Captain Pegg said:

Good report on the trip and it is a great cruising ring with lots of variety. Also the best variant on the ring is probably via Stourbridge, BCLM and Old Main Line. 

 

The Queen's Head isn't really a gastropub. If it was you wouldn't have had pizza for lunch. It's an ordinary place with delusions of grandeur. However I have never had a bad meal there and it does have half decent beer. It isn't necessarily value for money though as the prices are higher than they really should be for the quality and location. That said there isn't really anywhere else on the Worcs & Birmingham below Tardebigge that I could offer as being obviously better if you want to eat as well as drink. There are many more 'genuine' places though. Above Tardebigge it's disappointing there is nothing at the top of the locks (and you must never be tempted to walk to The Tardebigge pub) but The Weighbridge is properly good with local(ish) ales and home cooked food. Shame it doesn't open until seven. I couldn't sneak a quick pint there last week when I arrived at the marina at 1830 and had to get the 1900 train back home.

 

JP

I'd say it places much more emphasis on food than beer, which in my mind makes it a gastropub. But we stayed until closing time plating crib at our table without feeling out of place, so definitely a pub not a restaurant -- and the beer was good and had several choices. Some of us had pizzas for dinner (which were good) others decent upper-class pub food. Weighbridge is good (see last night) but small, and we couldn't try the food because it was fully booked -- but what we saw looked good. After the diners left more drinkers arrived and it turned back into a nice local pub.

2 hours ago, pete harrison said:

Clearly this depends what you want from a pub. I have always tried not to stop at the top of Tardebigge due to its remoteness, but when I have The Tardebigge has been quite welcome and the food O.K. although it is just another chain pub. Having said that I do not drink alcohol so I am not in search of real ales, and it would be better if it were nearer to the canal.

 

Are you suggesting that the Weighbridge (Alvechurch Marina) is now a public establishment as when I worked the boats back in the early 1980's it was for boatyard users only - but they did let me and my mate in - or am I thinking of the wrong Weighbridge :captain:

Weighbridge at Alvechurch Marina is definitely public now, as reported...

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20 hours ago, IanD said:

I'd say it places much more emphasis on food than beer, which in my mind makes it a gastropub. But we stayed until closing time plating crib at our table without feeling out of place, so definitely a pub not a restaurant -- and the beer was good and had several choices. Some of us had pizzas for dinner (which were good) others decent upper-class pub food. Weighbridge is good (see last night) but small, and we couldn't try the food because it was fully booked -- but what we saw looked good. After the diners left more drinkers arrived and it turned back into a nice local pub.

It's certainly a food over beer kind of place. I always think of a gastropub as somewhere that serves high end food cooked by a properly good chef and I don't think the Queen's Head meets that criterion. I've eaten there a few times. 

 

It's also a pub that has pretty much rendered the original house redundant and the business end is a gigantic lean-to which doesn't do much for its character. There aren't really many locals around to drink there, my guess is that most of the clientele drive there from Redditch.

 

They do make some effort with the beer and I had a pint of Bitter Brummie from Birmingham Brewing Co there a couple of weeks ago. It sounded promised but unfortunately it wasn't that great. Whether that was pub or product I don't know since that was the first time I have tried it. I suspect the latter so it could also be the last.

 

One pub on the W&B that does retain it's local feel is the Boat & Railway at Stoke Prior. It's also a last night stop for hirers from Black Prince. Standard Marston's fare and you get what you pay for so it's cheap but that's OK.

 

JP

Edited by Captain Pegg

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Further down the W & B, The Bridge at Tibberton has recently been refurbished and has a new landlord, previously at the Alma in Worcester.  AlthoughI have not yet been in, initial reports are promising.

 

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4 hours ago, Captain Pegg said:

It's certainly a food over beer kind of place. I always think of a gastropub as somewhere that serves high end food cooked by a properly good chef and I don't think the Queen's Head meets that criterion. I've eaten there a few times. 

 

It's also a pub that has pretty much rendered the original house redundant and the business end is a gigantic lean-to which doesn't do much for its character. There aren't really many locals around to drink there, my guess is that most of the clientele drive there from Redditch.

 

They do make some effort with the beer and I had a pint of Bitter Brummie from Birmingham Brewing Co there a couple of weeks ago. It sounded promised but unfortunately it wasn't that great. Whether that was pub or product I don't know since that was the first time I have tried it. I suspect the latter so it could also be the last.

 

One pub on the W&B that does retain it's local feel is the Boat & Railway at Stoke Prior. It's also a last night stop for hirers from Black Prince. Standard Marston's fare and you get what you pay for so it's cheap but that's OK.

 

JP

Also tried the Bitter Brummie and didn't like it -- it wasn't in bad condition, I just didn't like the taste. But they had several others (all well kept) which we did like, so no complaints -- I'd rather have distinctive tasty beers (that may or may not be to particular people's taste) than bland ones which offend nobody but also please nobody.

 

The original use of "gastropub" may indeed have been what you said, but there isn't really another term for "mostly a restaurant but with a minority of pub left" places which are now in the majority, especially outside towns -- what I'd call proper pubs need enough local regular drinking trade to keep them going, which is rare outside towns and cities. In my mind if you can't walk in and get a beer and find somewhere to sit because it's all reserved for diners, it's not a pub any more, it's reaaly a restaurant with a bar that looks like a pub not a restaurant...

 

Not that some of these aren't very nice, the Navigation at Dobcross is an example -- great beer and food but the first time we passed four of us couldn't even go in and sit at the bar. Second time we rang ahead to book and had a splendid evening. Can't blame pubs for going this way to make enough money to keep going, but we're losing something as a consequence.

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Lovely report! I enjoy reading these kind of travel logs. Makes me miss that part of the country! I am curious though that if there were 4 of you on your boat, wouldn't it have been quicker to have one of your crew help the slow boat in front at tardebigge rather than overtake? Unless that was what the other boat preferred? We usually do this when behind a boat with fewer crew that is going slower...unless they decline the offer of course.

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3 minutes ago, Dave123 said:

Lovely report! I enjoy reading these kind of travel logs. Makes me miss that part of the country! I am curious though that if there were 4 of you on your boat, wouldn't it have been quicker to have one of your crew help the slow boat in front at tardebigge rather than overtake? Unless that was what the other boat preferred? We usually do this when behind a boat with fewer crew that is going slower...unless they decline the offer of course.

I think some people appreciate help to speed them up, some people don't like to feel rushed and allow a much faster boat past. Either option seems perfectly reasonable to me.

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2 hours ago, nicknorman said:

I think some people appreciate help to speed them up, some people don't like to feel rushed and allow a much faster boat past. Either option seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Yep!

 

Although we're as fast as most two-person crews in locks, our cruising speed is slow. I always ask following boats to pass, really dislike anyone following me too closely.

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3 hours ago, Dave123 said:

Lovely report! I enjoy reading these kind of travel logs. Makes me miss that part of the country! I am curious though that if there were 4 of you on your boat, wouldn't it have been quicker to have one of your crew help the slow boat in front at tardebigge rather than overtake? Unless that was what the other boat preferred? We usually do this when behind a boat with fewer crew that is going slower...unless they decline the offer of course.

That's exactly what we started by doing, but they were still slow because the sole lady (husband steering) was the meat in the sandwich and didn't really understand how to speed things up with two boats. When we overtook we had 2 on the bank locking with our boat and I stayed back with the other boat following us to help them through, this speeded things up a lot because they were following not leading.

3 hours ago, nicknorman said:

I think some people appreciate help to speed them up, some people don't like to feel rushed and allow a much faster boat past. Either option seems perfectly reasonable to me.

They did appreciate it, they were also booked into the Queen's Head for dinner and we'd both have been late if we'd carried on as we were. When we swapped everything got faster and the lady on her own found it much less effort since I was helping her, in fact her husband passed me a pint of rather nice cool cider as a thank you 🙂

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