YOU KNOW the scenario – you’ve arrived in a place you don’t know well and you need to find a fine pint of real ale – and a good lunch.
Here to help you around West Dorset is the new Campaign for Real Ale guide, listing all 273 pubs in the area roughly bounded by Lyme Regis, Sherborne and Lulworth.
Within the packed 64 pages are descriptions of all the pubs, their location, telephone numbers, facilities, opening hours and – most importantly- the real ales they serve.
The centre pages open out to a map of the west of the county, showing towns and villages where real ales are served, while other pages display maps of the principal towns. You won’t get lost with this guide!
One of my favourite West Dorset pubs is the very popular and traditional George Hotel in Bridport’s South Street, described in the guide as an “unspoiled oak-panelled pub at the centre of the town, attracting a mixed clientele. Can get very busy at weekends. Less than a mile from the brewery.” It serves all of Palmers’ outstanding real ales.
In Lyme Regis, the Royal Standard has a good atmosphere, another Palmers house. “Comfortable low-ceilinged 400 year old pub with beachside garden. The interior incorporates stained glass panels, depicting historic events in Lyme. Popular pub meals.”
Country pubs feature throughout, such as the wonderful Shave Cross Inn, described as a “rural thatched pub with small flagstone bar, separate restaurant and second bar in the skittle alley/function room. Caribbean flavoured food. Thatchers cider in summer.” One real ale is from the Dorset Brewing Co. [DBC] at its new Crossways home.
Near the Somerset frontier is the Squirrel Inn at Laymore, on the Beaminster to Chard road, one of those isolated pubs you would never know about, but for guides like this. “Unexpected red brick single bar pub in the middle of nowhere, with good local trade. Reincarnation of an earlier stone-built pub. Well prepared pub food – popular steak night on Wednesdays. August beer festival and ‘Ashen Faggot’ festival in January. Garden has play area.” Those like me who like Otter Bitter should find it at The Squirrel and also a Branscombe Vale beer, with occasional guests from Yeovil and Cottage Breweries.
In many cases, pubs will serve a predictable range of real ales- often from local breweries- but sometimes from faraway places. The new updated guide gives an indication of what brands are served at which pubs- although of course that is always likely to change. You will need the West Dorset CAMRA Pub Guide as an essential companion to any future pub outings.
Buy Pub Guide by post
Buy the updated 2011 West Dorset Pub Guide by post from West Dorset CAMRA at 32 Mellstock Avenue, Dorchester DT1 2BQ.
Send a cheque for £5 [including post and packing] made payable to West Dorset CAMRA.
CAMRA members pay only £4; quote your CAMRA membership number to qualify.
Alternatively, buy a copy over the bar for only £3.99 from the following outlets:
Bridport – Palmers Wine Store and selected pubs;
Dorchester – The Blue Raddle, 9 Church Street;
Lyme Regis – Tourist Information Centre, Town Mill Brewery and selected pubs;
Portland – Royal Portland Arms, Fortuneswell;
Weymouth – Bradburys, St Edmund Street; Londis, Westham Road and the Railway Station news kiosk.
Michel Hooper-Immins belongs to the British Guild of Beer Writers, whose members share “a love of beer and a desire to see its virtues communicated more effectively.” He is a leading member of CAMRA’s Wessex Region, and his name can often be found in The Good Pub Guide.
The editor of this website also works for Watershed PR, one of whose clients is Palmers Brewery. Please note, however, that Michel Hooper-Immins is an experienced journalist who writes about all pubs and brewers in Dorset as he sees fit.
The CAMRA guide is noticed here because it is a very useful book, worth knowing about and buying. And pubs across West Dorset always do need customers!
Just this month The Bottle Inn at Marshwood closed, though it may reopen near Easter.