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Issue 68 – June 2010

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Hop Press Crossword (June 2010) - unfortunately a printing disaster has led to the printed crossword being incorrect. You can download the correct crossword from here (87kB). And if you downloaded before noon on 29th May, the length of the 'U' clue should be changed to 6.


EDITORIAL Hop Press index

This Editorial is particularly difficult to write – we are right in the middle of an election campaign but by the time this is printed and you are reading it the result will be known. So I must be Delphic in comments that imply foreknowledge of the outcome!

Firstly, before the election got under way, we had the depressing budget. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has attacked the Government's lack of regard for community pubs and responsible beer drinkers following yet another punitive 5% increase in beer duty and the plans to continue increasing beer duty above inflation during coming years.

With nearly 6 pubs a day still closing, CAMRA fears these latest rises will mark the end for even more valued community pubs. Instead of freezing beer duty and helping to protect the nation's well-run community pubs, the Chancellor's last act before the General Election was to impose yet another duty hike. Beer duty has soared by an unprecedented 25% in the last 2 years. Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said on budget day:

'Today's budget is a charter for the large supermarkets who irresponsibly promote alcohol as a loss leader at the expense of our nation's community pubs, real ale and responsible pub goers. CAMRA is totally at a loss in understanding how a Government that recognises the community value of pubs can impose such consistently draconian duty increases.'

'Today's duty increase has stamped down on the survival hopes of community pubs across the UK. This is a further tax raid on responsible beer drinkers and community pubs. It is however a tax raid that will yield little extra money for the Government as any extra beer duty will be outweighed by job losses, pub closures and reduced business taxes.'

As the election campaign got under way CAMRA issued a ‘Beer Drinkers and Pub Goers Charter' and invited all parliamentary candidates to sign up to its pledges. By midway through the campaign over 500 candidates had already signed, by far the biggest fraction, well over 200, being from the Liberal Democrats whilst fewer than 50 were Conservative. Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg was one pledging support. In a statement he said:

‘I am proud to be a signatory to the charter and to help bring attention to the much-needed support required for well-run community pubs, local brewers and consumer rights which all contribute to community life and boost the local economy.'

‘Well-run pubs are important to tackling alcohol misuse, they are not part of the problem. Government policies, such as continually raising duty on beer and refusing to reform the beer tie, have led to a situation in which more than 5 pubs a day are said to be closing. It is hugely important that we stand up for the pub industry during these difficult times.'

‘Liberal Democrats will continue to push for fairer alcohol taxation. We believe it should be levied in such as way to discourage irresponsible drinking but this should not be done at the cost of penalising responsible drinkers and hurting local industries.'

The charter's five main points ask the candidates to pledge to:

  1. Promote the interests of Britain's 15m regular pub goers.
  2. Champion the community importance of well-run pubs.
  3. Support the re-balancing of alcohol taxation to protect well-run community pubs, small brewers and traditional cider producers.
  4. Press for the reform of beer tie arrangements to ensure a fair deal for consumers, allow local brewers to sell their beers to local pubs and to deliver a sustainable future for Britain's pubs.
  5. Seek to address issues of alcohol-related harm through a more targeted, nuanced policy approach that supports pubs which play a positive role in community life and provide a safe and responsible place to enjoy a drink.

The charter can be downloaded in full as a pdf by following the links on the CAMRA website: www.camra.org.uk.

In the last edition we commented on CAMRA's elevation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the status of a ‘super-complainant' and the subsequent lodging of our first ‘super-complaint' – on the anti-competitive practices of the big pub companies.

We were initially quite disappointed that the OFT seemed to dismiss the substance of the complaint and to rule that the pub-co's practices were reasonable. We were not alone in surprise at this outcome, licensee groups, the trade press and many parliamentarians also thought it to be mistaken. Even though it would incur considerable High Court legal costs, it was decided immediately to appeal this wayward decision.

After informing the OFT of this we entered into negotiations with them and in February CAMRA announced that it had reached agreement with the Office of Fair Trading to stay its appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal challenging their initial response to CAMRA's super-complaint of October 2009. CAMRA's appeal is now stayed until Sunday August 1st 2010 to enable the OFT to consider further evidence of anti-competitive behaviour by the large pub owning companies. The OFT will now conduct an open public consultation before reaching a final decision . CAMRA's Chief Exec­utive, Mike Benner, said:

'We are delighted that the OFT has responded to our appeal by agreeing to conduct an open consultation and I encourage all parties to use this opportunity to submit further evidence of anti-competitive practice. The consultation will lead to a new and final decision from the OFT. We are hopeful that on re-examination of the pubs market the OFT will decide to act against anti-competitive behaviour in order to deliver a fair deal for consumers. CAMRA looks forward to working with the OFT to deliver reform of the beer tie so that the pub market works in the interests of consumers.'

Whoa! Not so fast Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

Fast Cask labelThe cover of this edition carries a rather strange, and at first sight, very boring picture – a brewer's cask label, which one would suppose could have no measure of interest to anyone other than the brewer who affixed it. Absolutely not so!

Marstons, the big national brewer, announced at the end of March a new development in beer making that could have a profound impact on the future of cask beer – real ale – throughout the land. It is nothing less than a completely new category of beer, falling between the wholly brewery prepared keg beers and lagers and the cask-conditioned real ales that come to their peak under the cellarman's watchful eye within the pub. Marstons are calling this new product ‘Fast Cask' and say, in essence, that it is a fully cask-conditioned real ale but with all of the conditioning and maturing processes being conducted by and in the brewery. The landlord just receives it and serves it at once exactly as if it were a keg of Fosters.

How is this magic achieved? They have borrowed techniques from such diverse sources as the world's vast pharma­ceutical industry down to French Champagne producers. But before describing them, it would be best to recap on the traditional, classic processes for arriving at a cask of real ale.

After a week or so in fermentation and probably several more weeks maturing in a conditioning tank the beer, still containing plenty of yeast, is racked off into the casks for delivery to the pub. As each cask is filled a pint or two of ‘finings' are added and in some cases a little sugar syrup as well to give the yeast a bit more food. Resting for some days in the pub's cellar the residual yeast in the cask carries on a slow fermentation – much slower than the original ferment because the alcohol content of the beer and the relative lack of fermentable sugars now puts the yeast ‘under stress.' The slow, stressed fermentation tends to produce a different mix of flavour products and it is this differing secondary fermentation that gives cask-conditioned beer its unique character.

When the beer is wanted for sale it must be vented to release the carbon dioxide that the yeast has built up but, in doing this, the gas bubbles inevitably stir the yeast up again and yet another twenty-four hours has to elapse before the finings can settle the yeast down to the bottom again and at last you can get a clear pint. It is hardly surprising that not every publican is willing to take on all this.

So back to Fast Cask. Marstons' aim has been to eliminate entirely the settling process, yet still retaining the action of the yeast. As a bonus, this new technology also eliminates all need for finings – a boon to vegetarians and vegans as finings are a fish based product.

The trick at the heart of the process is to immobilise the yeast into dense pellets that sink rapidly and reliably, even if a cask is moved about. They must also be robust and remain intact, not contributing any particles that can give rise to cloudy beer. This is a system widely used by ‘big pharma' for making many drugs by a variety of fermentation methods. To produce the pellets – which are spherical and about the size of peppercorns – live, fresh yeast is mixed with a slightly acidic alginate gel (made from a seaweed extract) and the beads, almost uniform in size, then form spontaneously. Such beaded yeast has also been used by some Champagne houses to provide an easily discarded yeast charge in the dégorgement prior to final corking.

In Marston's new process, beer to become Fast Cask is taken from the conditioning tank and centrifuged to remove all of the distributed yeast that would require traditional settling if left in. This clear, bright beer is racked into the casks. Meanwhile some new, vigorous yeast is taken from a fermenting vessel and turned into the gel pellets as already described; a measured quantity (about a cupful) is then added to each cask along with a pint or so of sugary priming solution and the cask is bunged up.

These casks are then kept in the brewery's store for a week or so to mature and achieve a secondary fermentation before finally being released to the trade. Arriving at the pub, if they are vented for a few moments to release the accumulated carbon dioxide, they can be put onto immediate sale.

Currently Marstons are experimenting with the system on three different brews: their flagship brand Pedigree, the dark Hobgoblin from their Wychwood brewery and a new 3.6% abv session bitter, only available in this format, to be called English Pale Ale. The licensee can easily distinguish a Fast Cask from the cask‘s labelling, as already shown, but perhaps very much more easily from the fact that it is £7 a barrel more expensive than the normal version! The beers have been available since the end of March.

Why they have invested the time and effort into this project is to many of us a relative mystery; their stated aims are to reach new market areas where cask beer is not presently sold, areas such as “sporting events where the venue is only open on the day of the event” and “pubs with small cellars or with high staff turnover that find handling cask ale difficult.” Stephen Oliver, head of the Marston Beer Company also said that Fast Cask “solves the age-old problem of beer casks being knocked in pub cellars, resulting in cloudy beer.”

Taking just these three specific instances – racked bright beer has been available for centuries to cope satisfactorily with sporting events; if pubs have such transient staff that there is no one capable of stillaging a cask then they have more problems than just not selling real ale; finally, what are we to make of Oliver's strange remark? How many pubs do you know where the beer service is routinely interrupted because casks have been kicked around the cellar – what planet does Mr Oliver inhabit?

One thing can be said with certainty, Fast Cask will present CAMRA with a tough problem. Is it really real ale? Marstons have already jumped the gun by claiming that the system fully meets all the Campaign's definitions, whether the grassroots membership will agree with that is very much an open question. One key problem is the need to centrifuge the beer initially into a bright condition; not only does this remove the initial yeast as intended, but it also has the unfortunate consequence of removing some of the bigger protein molecules that add complexity to the flavour. A second aspect is that it demands total trust in the brewery's integrity, there is no way of telling that the yeast beads have not been added to the beer just moments before dispatch on the dray.

The first samples I have tried, which was of the Wychwood Hobgoblin, a beer I would normally choose when encountering it in a pub, left me in two minds. It was tolerable but perhaps just slightly lower in condition than perfect and also seemed to be lacking a little in both body and ‘mouthfeel.'

It can be said with certainty that this subject will undoubtedly be revisited.

Pub News Hop Press index

Rob Whatley


Quiz nights, themed food nights and music are among the attractions that many publicans use to boost trade. In Winchester however it appears that nights of a literary bent are being used to attract customers. Janet Theodore, licensee of the Hyde Tavern won an innovation award from Admiral Taverns after hosting a book reading club, poetry readings and writers' workshops at the pub. Janet got the inspiration for these and other trade boosting ideas from her experiences of visiting pubs in Ireland.

Not to be outdone, the Black Boy Writing Club, which meets at the Wharf Hill pub celebrated the publication of the first anthology of their work at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, best selling author Simon Singh gave a talk to the Hampshire Sceptics Society at the Roebuck in January.

Any reading on the site of the Stanmore Hotel will, in the future, not have a pint available but perhaps just a cup of lukewarm tea in the common room, as planning permission has finally been granted, after years of opposition, to build a 56 bed care home on the site of the pub, which was demolished last year.

Still standing though is the Heart in Hand , at Highcliffe, after an application to build 12 flats on site was rejected firstly by Winchester planners and then also on appeal.


Just north of Winchester on the A272 at the Crawley crossroads, the Rack and Manger has been closed for some weeks as it changes hands and is refurbished. It will reopen on May 15th under new licensee, Wintonian, David Allen. Greene King have agreed a partial tie release.


East of the city, the new manager of the Horse and Groom in Alresford also aims to join the literary bandwagon by starting a book club, alongside other changes, in a move to improve the reputation of the pub. An attempt to extend the weekend opening hours was rejected last year after complaints from local residents and police. However, some locals were annoyed in March by Ms Stamper's decision to stop the weekly quiz nights, which had been running for more than five years, although she said that they could be reintroduced ‘at a later date.'

Also in Alresford, the Globe on the Lake reopened in January after being shut for almost a year. The new licensee is Sarah Kingston who also runs the Eclipse in Winchester, where she has been for the last 10 years.


We mentioned in the last edition of Pub News that the King's Head at Hursley was closed for refurbishment. It reopened at the end of last year with Harriet Horne in charge. There is a refurbished restaurant, while the skittle alley has been converted to a function room. Local beers from Bowman and Ringwood are among those that feature on the bar along with such favourites as Sharp's Doombar.


Continuing west to Romsey, there are new faces behind the bar at one of the town's best known pubs, the Tudor Rose . Barry Harvey and Lisa Moore had been customers at the town centre pub for a number of years before taking the reins of this, their first pub, at the beginning of March. A couple of weeks earlier an application was made to knock down ancillary buildings at the back at the William IV and build three houses and a maisonette on the land. The pub would remain.


Moving up the Test Valley, planning permission was refused late last year for an extension of the car park of the Malthouse in Timsbury. Planners said that an overwhelming case to extend the car park into a neighbouring field had not been made and that the change would have had a detrimental impact on the landscape.


Further north, the Tally Ho ! at Broughton appeared in the property pages of the local press at the beginning of February with a guide price of £650,000. It was for sale, “…with vacant possession as a going concern and with potential for either residential or commercial use.” Two months on it again appeared in the homes section of the property pages at the much reduced guide price of £495,000. The description was slightly altered to include this very ungrammatical effort: “…this long established Old English Pub which currently operates as a going concern yet offes [sic] considerable commercial scope alternatively it offers great potential, subject to planning permission, for change of use to become a family home.”


An application has been made to build six houses and six flats on the site of the Longmead Arms and adjacent properties in Bishopstoke.


In November last year Eastleigh planners threw out an application to demolish the Station Hotel at Netley, which closed in 2008, and replace it with housing, a shop and office units. A second application was submitted in December, without the shop and offices, to build 14 terraced and semi-detached three-bedroomed homes on the site. Permission was granted in April.


Across Southampton Water, late last year, an application to build a block of 15 flats on land that is part of the Croft , with access via the adjacent Knightstone Grange, was refused by planners. The pub is trading again after a period of closure.


The White Horse , Marchwood, has been bought by the O'Hara family, Bobsy & Pat, who own and run the Lord Nelson, Hythe. It was closed for a while to be refurbished but has reopened and is being run by Zoe O'Hara, Bobsy's Daughter, and Nicky Turtle. As with the Lord Nelson, it will serve a varied range of real ales.

Across the A326, the Bold Forester in Marchwood has reopened after a major refurbishment and is now part of the chain badged as Pub and British Carvery. It is owned by the Orchid Group. The White Swan at Mansbridge is part of the same group.


We mentioned in the last edition of Hop Press that the Langley Tavern had reopened after being closed for more than a year. More good news is that the real ales are proving so popular that a fourth handpump has now been added.


Early last autumn a sign appeared at the Tollhouse, Lymington, stating: “Drink in your pub or buy from a store and lose your pub. Your choice.” In October a further sign appeared saying, “Sorry we have closed. Thank you for your support.” Fortunately the pub reopened in December, now under licensee Keri Ewins, who used to be a customer of the pub and has worked in the licensed trade for a number of years. Keri's father Bill is the proprietor of the pub, which is located on the edge of the town, and her brother Mark is the manager.


Sad news from Milford-on-Sea. White Horse landlord Peter Ogden (65) died in January in Oakhaven Hospice, having been ill for a few weeks before. He had celebrated 25 years at the White Horse last year.

Also in Milford, a new wine bar, Belle Epoque opened on 3 February. Located in a former antique shop in the High Street, it is owned by Michael Halliwell, who previously ran the Old Bank House (now Ask ) in Lymington.

New Milton

Another building that has undergone a transformation is the former Old Barn in New Milton. Following a substantial renovation it has become the Milton Barns , offering a restaurant, tea rooms and accommodation.


A much more unusual change of use is proposed for the Old Thatched House in Shirley. A proposal has been submitted for a change of use to a chiropractor clinic. The pub has been closed for many months, as has the nearby Blacksmiths . With many pubs having closed in recent years, concerns are raised any time a pub is shut, even though it may only be for refurbishment or due to a gap between a licensee leaving and a newcomer taking over. Such worries arose when three pubs close to those above closed recently. However we can report that all three are back with us. The Griffin in Anglesea Road, reopened in March after refurbishment, as did the Malvern in Winchester Road, a couple of months earlier. The Manor in Shirley High Street has also reopened, reverting to its former name of the Shirley Hotel.

One reopening that was celebrated widely by beer lovers was that of the Dolphin , St. Denys. It started trading again in April, after refurbishment, under new manage­ment. Fortunately the reopening went more smoothly than that of the St. Denys Hotel in Aberdeen Road, which suffered from a kitchen fire in December just weeks after its reopening. Fortunately the damage was not too serious and the pub was soon up and running again.

Not far away in Portswood a new venue, Trago Lounge opened in October in what was the former Pizza Hut. It is the eleventh of a chain run by Bristol-based Loungers. Also open again from last autumn is Chambers in London Road, which after many previous name changes in the past, retained is name after this most recent refurbishment and change of ownership. Another refurbishment and reopening was at the Bevois Town . It is run by Ben Hathaway, who also performs as drag queen Lucinda Lashes. The pub includes a stage area for performers and karaoke.

Southampton's other Dolphin, the Dolphin Hotel in the High Street, has its reopening after upgrade planned for May. It has had a 50 per cent increase in rooms, taking them to 90, following extensive building work.

It is not all good news however. Bar Risa , by the Bargate, closed last year as the parent group Regent Inns went into administration and the Southampton venue, along with the Jongleurs comedy club upstairs, was not one of those saved in a rescue package. An application to demolish Zeb Bar , which will be better known to many older readers as the Oddfellows Arms, and replace it with 14 flats was approved late last year. In March applications were made by the estates department of Southampton University to demolish both the Crown and Sceptre and the Gate in Burgess Road. While both pubs have been closed for many months a ‘For Sale' sign is displayed on the Crown and Sceptre and the planning application has now been withdrawn. At the time of writing the decision on the Gate was still pending.

Even when pubs close it is often years before an alternative use is made of the building or site. Five years after the Swallow in Thornhill was demolished, an application has finally been submitted to build three houses and two bungalows on the site. Similarly an application has been submitted to build 10 flats and four houses on the site of the long closed Bridge Tavern in Coxford.

At the start of this edition we noted publicans are working ever harder to attract new customers. At the end of last year Jo Dunn and her husband Dave, who run the Park Inn , Shirley, were rewarded for their efforts when they were presented with the ‘Best Newcomer' in the tenanted pubs category at Wadworth's annual awards ceremony.


Similarly, landlady Karen Wells, of the Chestnut Horse , Easton, captured the ‘Pub of the Year' award against competition from more than 200 other pubs owned by Dorset brewers Hall and Woodhouse.

Congratulations to both of these local award winners, who are helping to make sure that there continues to be a future for good pubs in our area.

Andwell Brewery Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

The first beer from Andwell Brewery, Resolute, was brewed in October 2008. This marked the end of a three year journey from when Adam Komrower first thought about starting a brewery. Adam had a background in food production and also went on a three week brewing course with ‘Brewlab' at Sunderland University.

The brewery is located in an old potato store shed at Lodge Farm, North Warnborough near Hook. Despite being handily close to the M3, the brewery has a rural setting, as confirmed by the sight of a heron fishing in a stream on approaching the brewery when Hop Press visited. It took a lot of work to get the building in a fit state for brewing, including new flooring.

The brewing kit came from the Copper Dragon Brewery, at Skipton in Yorkshire. It was in use in Hampshire within two weeks of it being used at Copper Dragon. It is a ten barrel Bavarian Brewery Tech­nology plant, made in Hungary, the only one of its kind in the UK. There are four fermenting vessels and four conditioning tanks. Once a beer is ready to be sold to customers it is put into casks that were manufactured in the English brewing capital, Burton-upon-Trent. This is worthy of note as many casks used by British brewers are now made abroad, especially in France. Cask purchase is one of the major start-up costs for any new brewery.

The reason that Burton-upon-Trent became a brewing centre was largely the characteristics of its water supply. With the very hard water present in north Hampshire it has to be treated before use to make it more like that found in the midlands – ‘Burtonisation.' The head brewer in charge of this process is Tim Collins, who has more than 20 years experience in the industry.

The floor malted Maris Otter barley, which comes from Warmisnster Maltings, is milled at the brewery. Many varieties of pelletised hops are used to produce a varied portfolio of beers.

Resolute Bitter was named after a town in the Arctic. It is a light amber bitter at 3.8% abv. Gold Muddler is named after a fishing fly used to attract trout. The 3.9% blonde beer is brewed with pale ale malt and has a citrus aroma. King John is a deep amber beer with the colour coming from the addition of crystal malt to pale malt. It has a fruity taste to go with a well rounded bitterness. It is named after a nearby castle from which King John set out for Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta. The latest beer to join the permanent range, Ruddy Darter , first appeared last autumn. Malted rye, along with a combination of English hops, helps to give the beer is distinctive rich fruityness. Its ruby colour matches that of the dragon fly after which it is named.

Alongside these permanent beers a seasonal beer Spring Twist appeared for the second time this year. The use of Fuggles and Cascade hops gave the beer a grassy/citrus nose to celebrate the final arrival of the sunshine. The first three beers are also available in bottles, for which the abv is increased by a few points in each case. Unfortunately they are not bottle conditioned.

Deliveries are made to pubs, direct from the brewery, within a roughly 40 mile radius area encompassing Guildford, Reading, Salisbury, and Southampton, plus the occasional excursion to the Isle of Wight. So look out for them in your local and celebrate a welcome addition to Hampshire's stock of craft brewers.

Andwell Brewing Company logo

Competition Crossword Hop Press index

QUETZALCOATL   (printable pdf version here 87KB download)

Crossword Grid

Alphabetical jigsaw. Solve the clues and fit the answers in where they will go.

A Just a step from England to Italy (9)
B Two mile hole found in IKB's line! (3,6)
    Reserve a fault in small tract (7)
C Imagine, a voice, once broken, unloved (8)
D A bitchy mood about creating split? (9)
E Initially an early summer (5)
F Cinema for Itchy & Scratchy cartoons? (7)
G Steadying spin some corgis copy (10)
H Child's play to skip strong drink (9)
I One key to contraband art (5)
J Those trying regulations (4,5)
K Profitable factory fishing scheme once used by Russians in Scottish waters (9,6)
L Aristocratic first female commoner (4,5)
M Unsafe position for a conciliator to be found in? (6,2,3,4)
N Libidinous less Platonic excursion (2,3,5)


O Rust, reportedly, looking like a cow! (6)
P Gambler (on boat race?) (6)
Q Ask who, in Paris maybe, takes last place (4)
R Replace Sapper's novel (5)
S In His grasp He reshapes worlds (7)
   Standard intercolumniation of two column diameter spacing! But what this has to do with handbag design is a mystery (7)
T Arabic crown in eastern stew (6)
U Randomly tangled without a political slant (6)
    Corrected from '5' on 29/05/2010
V Location back in the EU? Never again! (5)
W Why are new engines starting to fade? (4)
X Waves of unknown fish (5)
Y Young pony evolves in Argyle (8)
Z Balkan head (5)

Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn. Closing date: 1st August 2010.

Send to:

The Editor, Hop Press, 1 Surbiton Road, Eastleigh, Hants. SO50 4HY

Issue 67 (November 2009) Solution & Winners

Crossword Answers

A good entry of 29 for this edition, although one unfortunately was totally anonymous! There were just two with errors, the winners, drawn from the hat, are:

D V Jones, Southampton; Mrs A Stilwell, Southampton.

Other correct entries: Mike Barratt; Frank Bartlett; C F Bussell; David Chessman; Nigel Cook; Myk Cromie; Trevor Crowther; Philip Doughty; W A Dunnings; J. E. Green; Colin Grierson; Derek Harper; Keith Jones; B E Judd; Bill Leadbetter; Nick Milner; Gary Morse; Tim Parkinson; Nigel Parsons; Ron Poole; Stephen Harvey; Robert Stilwell; John Yalden; 'Anon'.

News of the Brews from Ringwood Hop Press index


Hampshire has had just eleven real ale breweries for well over a year now (since the sad collapse of the Hampshire Brewery in Romsey). But, just as the spring bulbs are bursting into bloom, we may be acquiring a whole new wave.

Chronologically, the first to appear was at Upham; at Stakes Farm in Cross Lane, Upham, John McMillan has opened the Upham Brewery and has been brewing there since late last year. The 3½ barrel brewery is presently producing just the one beer, Upham Ale, a 4% abv classic mid-brown bitter.

A few miles away at Botley we have a new 5 barrel set-up, the Botley Brewery in the Old Cooperage, in the Square. Their first brew, Botta's Bitter, a 4.2% abv beer appeared this May and is due to be closely followed by a 4.5% golden ale.

Now to Romsey, where a considerably bigger operation is under construction, the Flack Manor Brewery , a 20 barrel plant at Unit 8 on the Greatbridge Industrial Estate (ironically the next building to the former Hampshire Brewery). This venture is the brainchild of Nigel Welsh and Terry Baker both formerly with Ringwood before the Marston takeover. The brand new, Canadian built equipment revives a traditional ale brewing method, common in the nineteenth century, but now almost lost, ‘double dropping.' The fermentation is conducted in two distinct phases – firstly the beer spends an initial 12-16 hours fermenting in a shallow vessel, called a ‘round' and then it is ‘dropped' into the fermenters proper for the final five days or so. First test brews are due now and, barring any problems, beer should be in pubs by June. First brew will be a 3.7% classic session bitter, Double Drop.

Walking and Drinking (10) Hop Press index

Ray Massey

Walking and Drinking (10)

The Wheatsheaf, Shedfield

The Wheatsheaf at Shedfield has long been a favourite pub of discerning beer drinkers. Originally Marston's, it is now owned by The Flowerpots at Cheriton. So you will not be surprised to find a full range of Flowerpots beers on sale, plus a guest or two, often from Oakleaf brewery. The pub recently gained second place in the local CAMRA branch ‘Pub of the Year' competition.

To be honest the countryside around Shedfield cannot be described as beautiful; but Shedfield Common plus a public footpath across the nearby golf course have, I think, provided a walk of some variety. And I think variety is the keynote of this area. Hopefully the walk shows how piecemeal housing, common land, and small scale farming can fit together. The walk has an optional detour at the end taking you through Shedfield village which has great appeal. The navigation is not easy, but I think it is worth the effort. The choice is yours. Now for the walk.

Shedfield walk mapLeave the pub and turn left down a dip of the busy A334 Botley to Wickham road. Cross over a very small stream and turn left through a chicane into the light woodland of Shedfield Common. Walk diagonally uphill towards a red dog bin on the edge of open land. Here turn half left along the woodland edge towards a second red bin. Cross the road (B2177 Winchester Road) diagonally left to pass a short green metal fence. Head across the common; aiming for a line of white terraced houses with an old red telephone box (TB on map) outside.

Walk uphill (High Street) past the box and turn first right into Heathlands by a footpath sign. Go straight over a small crossroads and down a gravel track. At the bottom turn right opposite Furzedale, onto Shedfield Common again. Here keep left alongside thicket and brambles on a scarcely visible path that soon climbs steeply to an isolated metal gate. This last part of the common seems particularly pleasant to me. Go along the graveled track past a mixture of houses on the left, then bend left onto a larger track to a quiet road (Prickett Hill).

Turn right downhill, then immediately left along Shirrell Farm track, with woods on the left and open farmland on the right. After the entrance to Shirrell Game Farm the track bends left, passes a decaying caravan (Cv on map), bends slightly left, and meets High Street again. Here turn right for about 100 yards past very varied housing, and turn left along a track between Nelson's View and Little Haven.

The track soon leads you out onto open fields again. Turn left at a staggered cross path, by a specimen tree (Tr on map). When you reach the woods, turn right along the field edge, with a green wire fence and woodland now on your left. In the field corner pass through a kissing gate onto a pleasant woodland path that soon curves right and then uphill to join the B2177 road at the end of a high wooden fence. Turn right uphill, passing St. Annes Lane, then immediately turn left along a neat grassy path between a wire fence and a hedge.

In short succession turn left at a path junction, right at a path junction, and straight on at a path crossing. Passing a market garden field on your right, head towards the top of a small valley. Just before you reach the woods, turn left along a smaller path that rises towards a thin belt of trees. Suddenly you are at the edge of a golf course.

On the golf course your route is marked by 3 yellow posts, take care. At the third post ignore a track leading up to a small hill, instead veer right downhill to the end of a car park. Turn left and walk through the car parks, keeping the hotel buildings on your left. Go past the hotel to the Golf Shop sign and then follow either the main drive or a parallel yellow hoggin path. After the tennis courts (TC on map), bend left on the drive and go downhill to join a country lane (Sandy Lane).

Turn left onto the lane, past Shedfield House Dairy, and continue to the main road (A334). Here turn left along a pavement, fortunately well separated from the road itself. Continue along the road for about 500 yards to St. Annes lane. Here you have a decision: either continue along the road for about 300 yards to reach the Wheatsheaf again, or take a tricky but interesting detour through Shedfield village. Be aware that this detour can get very muddy.

Detour: Turn left along the lane, and opposite the entrance to Shedfield Lodge Residential Care Home, cross a decaying stile and go diagonally across an often muddy field to a planked walk in the far corner. Cross the stile beyond the planks, and turn left alongside the wire fence at the woodland edge. Soon the vague path turns diagonally right uphill into the wood; the route is marked by three short planked walkways. Do not be tempted to climb to the fence at the top of the bank ahead. Instead, turn half left and walk parallel to the fence and bank along the very vaguest of paths. Eventually the path climbs the bank, veers right and takes you past a collection of ancient & modern farm machinery. Veer right again and there are two gates ahead of you. Ignore the locked one on the left, and climb over the one on the right (a large block of wood has been helpfully left here) into the churchyard. Go through the laurel arch to an isolated tower. At the tower turn left on a neat hoggin path which leads past the church. In spring the churchyard is a riot of crocuses, snowdrops and small daffodils.

Leave the church by the lych gate and turn right into Church Road. Go past the school and the Shedfield Reading Rooms Social Club, and turn left along the far edge of their car park. Go past a ‘No Ball Games' sign, down an earth path that ends at a simple chicane. More planks take you across a wet area, then turn right around a pond onto a well-marked path. Continue straight on along this path back to the main road at the start of the walk. Turn right along the road, and after a short climb you will be back at the Wheatsheaf.

Maps: The relevant 1:25,000 map for this walk is Explorer 119 (Meon Valley).

Seasons: This is a walk for all seasons, especially spring. Two areas can get muddy: one is just after Furzedale (see the sketch map for an alternative), the other is the detour, where omission is the only solution.

Times: The walk is about 3 miles, so allow about 1½-2 hours, plus about ½ hour for the detour.

Transport: The Winchester–Fareham bus (no 69) goes along the B2177 close by.

Save the Forest Heath Hotel Hop Press index

Forest Heath Hotel The South Hampshire Branch of CAMRA is supporting a campaign to save the Forest Heath Hotel in Sway. The Forest Heath Hotel, shown in the picture in better times, was closed a year ago mainly because of high rental demands and the tied house contract imposed by the then owners, Admiral Taverns and despite four years of effort by the most recent licensee to bring the pub into a viable and profitable state.

The pub has now been acquired by a private developer who is understood to be preparing plans for a change the use to private accommodation and for building development on the surrounding land.

The development proposals are expected run counter to many of the new National Park Authority's policies, as outlined in many strategy papers on such things as maintaining ‘local distinctiveness,' retaining local community facilities, tourism development and retention and enhancement of ‘vibrant communities.'

The Forest Heath Hotel is a Grade II listed building, constructed around 1885 when the railway from London to Bournemouth was built. In recent years the branch has lost several other ‘railway pubs' along this line to developers – the Milton Hotel (latterly the Speckled Trout) in New Milton and the Morant Arms in Brockenhurst are examples.

The pub itself is a rare two bar hotel with eight letting bedrooms. It is the centrepiece of Sway village and was the only true community local within the village. The Hare and Hounds is a mile away and very much a food oriented pub. This leaves just Sway Manor, an upmarket hotel and restaurant, albeit selling real ale, and Sway Working Men's Club, as the only other licensed premises nearby.

The campaign has already drawn letters to the local Lymington Times and an illustrated article in the Southampton Daily Echo. Leaflets will shortly be distributed all households in Sway asking for letters of support in anticipation of the expected planning applications to the New Forest National Park Authority.

Links to the campaign are on our branch website: www.shantscamra.org.uk and also a Facebook Group has been set up – Save the Forest Heath Hotel . This has already signed up 265 members at the time of writing with over 100 other interested parties sending e-mails outside the Facebook Group. E-mail support would be welcomed at: brian@icklecottage.plus.com the electronic address of Brian Hetherington-Ford one of the local activists leading the campaign. They can also be contacted directly on 01590 681696 or 07870 335681.

The campaign is expecting a strong fight. Sway Parish Councillors are initially responding with what can only be described as ‘indifferent annoyance' and little interest could be drawn, despite the impending election, from MP Desmond Swayne, as Sway has just been taken from him by a change of constituency boundary!

Not before time, there is finally a slow awareness growing within the public and, more importantly, government bodies, that the closure wave sweeping the county's pub stock is a becoming a crisis. Many CAMRA branches around the country are reporting successful conclusions to similar campaigns and with your support The Forest Heath Hotel may yet be saved for future generations.

Hop Press Issue number 68. June 2010

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
SO50 4HY
023 8064 2246

© CAMRA Ltd. 2010