- A (Briar) Rose with a couple of thorns -
The afternoon of Wednesday 22nd February saw the Chip Foundation on Black Country duty, reporting in for lunch at the Rose and Crown in Brierley Hill - we needed a good feed after a long ride on the 255 while the Holden's Tara-A-Bitter also proved worth the bus journey. Brierley Hill High Street is its usual busy self despite a sculptural interlude outside the police station, then we say hello to Thomas Hickinbottom's boxer statue as we make our way to the Delph.
- Bitter and Buffaloes at the Bull & Bladder -
Pub paradise awaits for the rest of the afternoon, starting in the Vine on Delph Road (aka the Bull & Bladder). I've eulogised about this place several times before and on this occasion the Bathams Best Bitter is top notch as we sit in a room dedicated to the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (hence the horns over the fireplace). Switching to Netherton we call into the Old Swan (Ma Pardoe's) for some lovely Dark Swan Mild before setting the world - or at least President Trump - to rights from the safety of the Beacon Hotel snug in Sedgley. Dark Ruby Mild with an accompanying cob proves a most appropriate end to a pretty perfect outing!
- Arnold House -
Fast forward a few days to Saturday 25th February as I join Nick in Rugby for the town's 33rd beer festival. The venue this year is Arnold House, a masonic lodge tucked behind the Merchants Inn where my esteemed colleague is already in situ clutching a Russian Imperial Stout. My ale choices include Cornish Crown Special Pale Ale (from Penzance), Electric Bear's Inspector Remorse (a tasty porter from Bath) and Mr Anderson's Mild (my personal favourite, dark and sweet from Rugby's own Atomic Brewery). Nick meanwhile tumbles into a Quagmire, sips a Sly Rye and ends up manhandling a Fallen Angel, hence I grapple with half of Harlot just so he wasn't having all the fun!
- Beaming in the Bell -
The Merchants Inn and the Rugby Tap are must-do pubs when in Rugby and they both ably step up to the mark. The Merchants offers us Bingham Vanilla Stout and a bit of Six Nations action while the Tap micropub is a sanctuary where we meet Twisted Barrel's Beast of a Midlands Mild, nice! A glance in the Good Beer Guide suggests a visit to Hillmorton might be in order so we hop aboard the 3 for a ride around the local estates. The Stag & Pheasant is an interesting old inn not too far from the canal and then the Bell on High Street provides our GBG tick - Draught Bass plays Adnams Ghost Ship here to fuel us for our respective journeys home. Cheers!