There’s a lot to be said for holidaying in the UK especially as our fair isles are home to some excellent pubs, so as I was treated to a trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour near Watford for Christmas by Ross, we managed to tie it in with visiting some amazing little places full of character and a variety of ales we’ve never seen up North.
We decided to stay in Amersham in Buckinghamshire – about half an hour away from the studio tour and quite rural and picturesque. It’s a historic little town and its main road features five or six nice pubs.
The Kings Arms on the High Street was where we decided to stay – a gorgeous 500 year old building which is said to have been visited by Oliver Cromwell and also starred as the exterior of the Lucky Boatman in one of my favourite films, Four Weddings and a Funeral.
But on first arrival, we only had chance to see the outside as it wasn’t time to check in so we decided to take a wander around the town.
We saw a sign directing to the Saracens Head which was just off the main street so we decided to pop down and have a look.
It’s a Greene King pub so there wasn’t too much choice in the way of casks, so we both went for a pint of the Ale Fresco which was OK but nothing groundbreaking. But the pub has one big plus point – a really lovely beer garden, and as it was in the mid-20s by this point, it was much appreciated.
So a great looking pub with potential but it’s just a shame the beer choice wasn’t better.
We then headed back to the main street and wandered down to The Swan.
This was a bit more of a swanky establishment. It appears to have been recently refurbished and was a more trendy, gastropub type of pub.
The sun was still beating down and I was in the mood for something a bit lighter so I was chuffed to see Korev, St Austell Brewery’s lager, available. If a lager is good and has a bit of flavour to it, I can enjoy it in moderate doses and as St Austell’s Tribute is one of my favourite tipples, I had to go for it while Ross had London Lager, by Meantime Brewing Co, which wasn’t really his thing.
After we’d got our drinks, we headed out the back where there was a sign to a “hidden beer garden” which was past the terrace and over the car park and was a great little spot. There was plenty of seating and large bushes so you could hide away and feel like it was your own secluded spot!
By this time we were able to check-in at the Kings Arms so headed back up there and went for a wander around the outskirts of the town before heading out for the evening.
We started our first evening at the Kings Arms which has a little terrace area out the back as well as a cosy bar complete with rustic fireplace.
This was my first introduction to Rebellion who would feature quite a lot in our drinking over the next few days. They’re based in nearby Marlow and for my first taster, I went for the Blonde. Meanwhile, Ross had Lighthouse by Suffolk-based Adnams, who would again crop up time and time again.
Our next stop off was The Elephant and Castle just down the road. This again benefited from an excellent beer garden and I had my second St Austell drink of the day – Tribute this time while Ross had Lion by Hook Norton, who I’ve heard of from my day job but never tried any of their stuff before. We didn’t stay here very long though – by this time we were hungry and there was only one pub in the village serving food on a Sunday night, which was the Swan – where we’d been in the hidden beer garden earlier on in the day.
But we weren’t too disappointed visiting the same pub twice as it was a chance to try another Rebellion offering – this time the IPA. I absolutely loved it. It was such a good beer, quite different to the usual IPAs, and even Ross (who generally dodges any pale ales) enjoyed it.
After dining, we popped across the road to The Eagle. Compared to the modern, polished look of The Swan, this is much more traditional and more our type of pub,
It was cosy, friendly and a great place to spend a few hours. I started with Adnams’ Ghost Ship while Ross went for Lock Keeper’s Launch Ale by Haresfoot, followed by Doom Bar by Sharp’s for both of us.
After this, we decided to call it a night to leave some options for the following night!
Our morning of day two was spent at the Harry Potter Studio Tour where there was no beer, apart from Butterbeer (which was horrible). But in the afternoon, we drove over to Marlow where we were planning a walk along the Thames. But on the way, we spotted signs for the Rebellion Brewery, and after sampling a few of their wares, decided to pop in.
It’s mainly a shop where you can buy beers in various bottle sizes and it also has three of their beers available to try, free of charge. As I was driving, I didn’t partake but Ross sampled all of them (Snookered, Blonde and IPA). We then bought a few sets of bottles to take home and I also got myself a litre bottle of the IPA. It was about £3.50 for the litre, so cheaper than most of the pints we’d had so far!
On our return to Amersham, we went for dinner at The Crown. This is the sister pub of the Kings Arms and also has links to Four Weddings – the interior was used for the Lucky Boatman – it has been redecorated in the twenty years since the film came out!
I decided to start with a cider (Mortimers Orchard by Westons) while Ross had Summer Daze by Malt the Brewery followed by a Summer Daze for me and Rebellion’s Snookered while we ate.
As we had a long drive in the morning, we didn’t make it a late one and just went back to the Kings Arms for a final drink – a Rebellion Blonde and Adnam’s Lighthouse for Ross.
Amersham is a great little spot to visit if you’re into traditional and historic pubs and I only wish we’d had a few more days to go to some places outside the town and in the surrounding areas. Being used to northern prices, some of the beers seem very expensive but I don’t think we had a bad drink the whole time we were there and it was great to sample so many local breweries that I’ve never come across before.
Oh and the litre of IPA is gone already. Wish we’d bought more!