I am sorry not to have posted anything here for several months. It has been quite an eventful time for Abingdon pubs.
The Fitzharris Arms has closed down, currently boarded up and sold to Tesco. This was a community pub serving an area of Abingdon without any other pubs close by. The nearest pub is the Spread Eagle which is over half a mile away. See This Abingdon Blog for photos of the Fitzharris in its sad closed down state.
The Nags Head also closed after christmas and is currently boarded up.
The Plough was up for sale and I understand an offer has been made on it. There are several rumours going around town about the buyer and what the intention is, but it seems unlikely to remain as a traditional pub.
The Ox closed down briefly, but appears to have reopened again. I have heard that it is now selling good real ale such as Timothy Taylor Landlord Bitter, but I have not yet had chance to check for myself. If true, then this would be excellent for Abingdon to have a freehouse free of Greene King’s control of most Abingdon pubs.
The Black Swan I believe has changed management and has signs on the window applying for a change in license involving making the bar smaller and removing some fixed seating.
The Blue Boar which has been something of a desert for real ale has been reported as occasionally having real ale available.
The Brewery Tap has reached an agreement with Greene King allowing two handpumps to be free of tie. As part of CAMRA LocAle scheme, it is expected that at least one of these will have a local beer on most of the time. The other four handpumps are from Greene King’s range of guests, and currently include a good range of different ales including two from Brew Dog. They are holding a blues, brews and jazz festival on March 25th-27th.
The White Horse, also a Greene King pub continues to have an interesting range of guest beers.
The Stocks Bar (Crown & Thistle Hotel) also continues to vary its range, mainly from the Marstons group of breweries including Ringwood, Jennings, Wychwood and Brakspear.
The Old Anchor (yet another Greene King pub) always serves its 3 Greene King beers in good condition, but it is likely that landlady Leslie will be leaving in a few months when Greene King find new tenants. Over the last few years several excellent beer festivals have been held there, and you always get a friendly welcome. This is one of Abingdon’s picture postcard pubs, being one of the first sights you get of Abingdon when travelling up the Thames. I hope that it will continue as a pub.
The King’s Head & Bell had its first Winter Beer festival last weekend. This include 16 beers with about half coming from Hook Norton’s range, some local beers from Vale, White Horse and Abingdon’s Loose Cannon, and the Steam Brewery. This was held upstairs in the King Charles’ Room and combined with the Rugby being shown on TV Friday and Saturday and a folk music session on Sunday had a really good friendly pub atmosphere.
The Broad Face have managed to recover and restore the original lost pub sign that was taken down in 2001, and plans to reinstate it soon. They are also holding their first beer festival on 1st-3rd April coinciding with Abingdon Arts Festival. Also remember they have live jazz music every Sunday afternoon as well as live bands most fridays.
Sorry not to mention every pub… The Spread Eagle, Punch Bowl and Cross Keys are always worth a visit. The Prince of Wales just outside Abingdon in Shippon always has 6 real ales, a new dining room, open fireplace and a friendly environment.