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Donnington Run Report

By Andrew Calver-Jones

North Cotswold Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale

 

The Donnington Brewery now brews just a couple of draught beers SBA & BB (having stopped making their Mild XXX a couple of years ago). These are sold through their 15 pubs around the Cotswolds. There were two more, The Merry Mouth which still exists but is now longer owned by Donnington & The Bell at Winchcombe which was sold by itís last landlord & the site converted into a number of houses.

 

A Donnington run traditionally meant visiting all the pubs in a single evening from 6:00 to 10:30 but with the changes in the licensing laws we were able to do it on Saturday 12th July between mid day & ten oíclock. A few of the pubs close after lunch & open again in the evening, so the route wasnít the shortest, but I hope not too far off it.

 

This trip was scheduled to take place last year but that was the weekend after the big flood so the small amount of rain we had meant that this year the weather was on our side. We were able to enjoy our first half in the sunshine outside The Fox at Great Barrington, where our Chairman & I didnít think the beer was at its best but we realised that we had both had the first glasses of the day of BB & SBA respectively, as everyone else enjoyed theirs.

 

I had made a timetable with the help of Excel & Multimap which kept us on time & although at this first pub we seamed to have plenty of time, later on the 22 minutes I had allowed at each pub became harder to keep to as our relaxation levels increased & the beer was consumed more slowly.

 

The Queens Head in Stow was having a problem with their pressurisation unit & the beer was initially coming out of the pumps as if it was lager being served in Spain, but once the glass was full of beer rather than head it turned out to be one of the beers of the day. We had a good lunch at The Fox at Broadwell where again the beer was in fine form.

 

We saw the Westminster Morris men drinking rather than dancing at The Coach & Horses in Longborough, where Connie only had BB on. We got to the The Red Lion at Little Compton just in time to stop the landlady shutting at 3:30 (her husband had said 4:00 when I phoned) where she was kind enough not only to provide us with some beer but some fresh water for my dog Chester.

 

The Black Bear in Moreton in Marsh is quite different from any of the other Donnington pubs & with its many screens showing football making it much more like a chain pub than its country brothers & sisters. It may well be the higher turnover, but the SBA I had there tasted just like I think SBA should.

 

Then to the most northerly of the pubs The New Inn at Willersey, which had a wedding reception on in another room leaving the bar free for us to sit back & relax in. The Coach & Horses Inn at Ganborough like its local name sake also was without SBA as they too didnít have the turnover to justify stocking it.

 

We stopped to admire the peacocks as we passed the brewery (Photo right) on the way to The Golden Ball Inn at Lower Swell, and then on to The Black Horse at Naunton where Peter, the landlord told us how he is related to a number of other current Donnington landlords (Father John, Queens Head, Stow and brother Steve, Coach & Horses, Ganborough). We got to The Farmers Arms, Guiting Power just after they opened at 6:30 to discover the only pub on our trip that wouldnít let Chester in, so he had to stay in the van.

 

We met another Branch member waiting for her tea at The Half Way House at Kineton, before going to The Plough at Ford where Craig provided us with as many sandwiches & more chips than we could eat for our supper. At the Snowshill Arms we looked around the remains of the village fete. Between Stanton & Stanway the mini bus sounded like it had got a flat tyre or at least something trapped underneath it. Steve our driver couldnít see anything, but we limped on to The Mount Inn (Photo right), where he called Cleeve Hill Garage who had hired us the van & within an hour a replacement mini-bus & the RAC had arrived. Some of us decided that we would make our own way home and some went on the new mini-bus.

 

The BB varied in price from £ 2.10 to £ 2.30 & the SBA from £ 2.20 to £ 2.50, which means these beautiful pubs in lovely locations, can all sell a better pint at a better price than you will find in most so-so town pubs.

 

Most of us gave a beer ranking at each pub. An average of these rankings is given below. 1 = superb, 4 = poor, ? = no scores.

 

Pub

 

 

Fox Inn

BB

2.3

Great Barrington

SBA

3.0

Queens Head Inn

BB

1.5

Stow on the Wold

SBA

2.0

Fox Inn

BB

1.5

Broadwell

SBA

2.3

Coach and Horses Inn

BB

3.8

Longborough

 

 

Red Lion Inn

BB

2.3

Little Compton

SBA

2.0

Black Bear Inn

BB

2.0

Moreton in Marsh

SBA

1.0

New Inn

BB

2.5

Willersey

SBA

2.0

Coach and Horses Inn

BB

2.3

Ganborough

 

 

Golden Ball Inn

BB

1.0

Lower Swell

SBA

3.0

Black Horse Inn

BB

3.0

Naunton

SBA

?

Farmers Arms

BB

2.0

Guiting Power

SBA

3.0

Half Way House

BB

2.5

Kineton

SBA

2.0

Plough Inn

BB

2.5

Ford

SBA

2.5

Snowshill Arms

BB

?

Snowshill

SBA

3.0

Mount Inn

BB

2.0

Stanton

SBA

2.5