Old Anchor has reopened

The Anchor on the Wharf in Abingdon, reopened this evening. It had been closed for just over a month since 10th March when the previous tenants overstretched themselves trying to run the Broad Face at the same time.

The pub is very similar to how it was before it closed, with 5 real ales (Morland Original, Old Speckled Hen, London Glory, Timothy Taylors, Al Fresco). The ones I tried (Timmy Taylors and Al Fresco) were in good condition. The Moose’s head over the bar has gone.

The blackboards are advertising Tapas food, which I hope to try out next week.

This pub is a great asset to Abingdon with its picture postcard view over the Thames and location in the historic part of Abingdon near St. Helens Church. I hope that the new tenants can build on the good work done in recent years at the Anchor, that local Abingdonians will be supportive and proud of the great pubs we now have in Abingdon.

Abingdon is becoming a top place in the county for good pubs: We saw the Nags Head on the Bridge reopen last autumn with an amazing selection of eight well kept ales, good food, wine and a program of live music. The Broad Face reopened with a top Swiss chef. The Brewery Tap was awarded town & country pub of the year by the Oxford branch of the Campaign for Real Ale and always has good ales, good food, quarterly beer festivals and live music events. The Cross Keys recently had a beer festival with an excellent range of beers and ciders, and has a regular program of live music. The Kings Head & Bell has 4 real ales that change every few days, hosts a monday night music session and many events in the King Charles’s function room. Other pubs worth visiting include the Punch Bowl, Spread Eagle, Stocks Bar (at the Crown & Thistle), the Harp on Stert Street (which often has Loose Cannon beers), the White Horse, Wagon & Horses and Railway Inn near Culham and the Prince of Wales in Shippon which has a large selection of real ales, ciders and events.

On a negative side, Greene King have rcently been applying for planning permission to change many of the distinctive Abingdon pub signs into more corporate Greene King branded signs, with some pubs already having their signs changed. The most alarming ones are The White Horse on Ock Street and the Broad Face. Both of these pubs are very visible high profile pubs in Abingdon with historic significance and it would be a shame for them to lose their individual pub signs. Please check out the district council planning permission web site and leave a comment there with your opinions.

White Horse planning applications: P12/V2476/A and P12/V2477/LB
Broad Face applications: P13/V0429/LB and P13/V0428/A

Save British Beer

The beer duty escalator was introduced by the last Government in 2008, and is currently in place until 2014/15. It means that beer duty is automatically increased by 2% above inflation every single year which in this year’s budget meant the beer duty on beer rose by 5%. On top of this you are paying 20% VAT, whereas other European countries have a reduced VAT rate for the hospitality industry as they can see how it benefits their economy. As a result, tax on beer has gone up by over 40% since 2008. You now pay over a third of your pint on tax.

In the last few budgets when the chancellor said he is making no changes to tax on beer, he has meant that he is following the previous governments policy where duty is increase by 2% above inflation. In Abingdon, this has meant that pubs that used to charge 3.20 a pint are now having to charge 3.30 a pint since the budget last month.

Any more increases in beer duty will increase the pressure on pubs already struggling to survive and damage the long term ability of the beer and pub sector to continue contributing over 6 billion a year in duty and VAT, and over 21 billion to the UKs GDP.

You can help persuade the government that this is a bad thing for the UK economy and the national heritage of British cask conditioned beer which is unique to Britain by signing the petition at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29664 or read more about it at saveyourpint.co.uk. If 100,000 people sign the petition it will then be debated in the house of commons and have a good chance of being changed. At the moment about 30,000 people have signed it, so it needs a few more to reach the required number.

Save Your Pint - Sign the E-Petition

Brewery Tap Beer Festival Preview

We are now into beer festival season in Abingdon on Thames. Last weekend we enjoyed The Cross Keys beer festival, where the first drink to sell out was Bristol Port Cider, and next week The Broad Face has a beer and music festival (6th-8th April). However this weekend sees probably the largest beer festival ever held in Abingdon on Thames. The Brewery Tap’s Spring Beer and Cider (and pies and music) festival.

There are several beers here never before seen in Abingdon on Thames, including the launch of Abingdon’s Loose Cannon Brewery’s Blonde ale; three new beers from The recently opened Aylesbury Brewhouse and the launch of XT Brewery’s Number 6. The complete list of ales and ciders along with tasting notes can be found here.

There will live music from Rascals of Rythmn on Friday evening, Big Blues Band on Saturday and George Haslam’s Swingtime band on Sunday at 5pm.

The Festival runs from Friday March 25th to Sunday March 27th.

Kings Head & Bell’s 2nd Summer Beer Festival

The King’s Head and Bell on East St. Helen’s Street is holding its 2nd Summer Beer Festival this weekend. On Saturday, the Hook Norton draymen (Taffy and Roger Hughes) brought their shire horses to the pub. On Sunday afternoon, Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers will be doing some dancing and playing music from 2pm.

Hook Norton Dray (Picture borrowed from Kings Head and Bell facebook page)

There is a good range of 20 real ales outside (and 4 more at the bar). Many of them are from local breweries including:

From further afield are:

There are also 5 real ciders.

I haven’t tried everything yet, but probably the Hooky Flagship is my favourite so far.

You can also see more pictures of the horses on The Abingdon Blog