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.

Quick Round up of Abingdon Pub / Brewery News

Loose Cannon Brewery

The Loose Cannon Brewery is now selling Abingdon Bridge and Loose Cannon Pale in pint bottles. Currently available from the brewery shop in Suffolk Way off Drayton Road, at 2/bottle or case of 12 for 21.50. You can of course still buy it directly from the conditioning tanks in plastic PET bottles (1,2 or 3 litre), 5 liter mini cask, 18 and 36 pint polypins or 72 pint firkins. Please support our local brewery, which reintroduced the brewing tradition back to Abingdon following the closure of the Morland Brewery.

The Old Anchor

The Old Anchor on St. Helen’s Wharf is now running under new management. The new managers have good plans to refurbish it. Currently it is serving 3 beers in good condition from the Greene King range (Morland Original, Speckled Hen and London Glory). With the Nags Head still closed, this is the only pub where you can sit outside with a view of the river.

Brewery Tap

The Brewery Tap is now serving 5 real ciders. Unlike other pubs that just have cardboard box polypins on the counter serving at room temperature, The Tap has them in the cellar at a cool temperature being served through the beer fonts. The range includes ever popular and strong Old Rosie and the sweeter Thistle Cross. The beer range continues to be the best in Abingdon and you can now get a real time update of what is on the bar and what is coming soon in the cellar by logging into yourround.co.uk. This site if you register can also send you email alerts when a beer is changed.

Kings Head & Bell

The King’s Head & Bell on East St. Helen’s Street is having a beer festival on August bank holiday weekend (27th-29th August). They always have a range of 4 real ales, which change frequently, but mainly includes beers from Hook Norton, Box Steam, Loose Cannon and Adnams.

The Ox

Work has begun on The Ox on Oxford Road to turn it into a Tesco Direct. This is despite the fact that no planning permission has been applied for and it is close to an existing convenience store which may go out of business if next door to a Tesco Direct. There is more on this on the Abingdon blog including a lot of comments from concerned residents, and some of our town councillors are investigating what if anything can be done to stop it, though it seems at the moment that Tesco’s are not doing anything illegal. This is almost exactly the same as what happened earlier this year at The Fitzharris arms.

Blue Boar

The Blue Boar on bath street is now serving a good pint of Adnams Southwold Bitter. For several years no real ale had been available in this historic pub and this is a good sign of things to come.

Added Ingredients

Added ingredients in Stert street sells a range of bottled beers from local brewery, The Compass Brewery.

The Plough

Continues to be open, but with no real ale. I think it is still for sale, but its future seems uncertain.

Nags Head

No news on this. As far as I can see from the Land Registry, Punch Taverns still own the lease, and there are no for-sale or to-let signs on it making it difficult for anyone who did want to take it over from even knowing who to contact! I understand there are several interested people who want to take it over and turn it back into a thriving pub with its wonderful beer garden in the middle of the Thames.

Other pubs

No specific news, but other pubs including The Punch Bowl, Spread Eagle, Broad Face, Stocks Bar, White Horse and Cross Keys continue to serve beer in good condition and are worth a visit. Also if you don’t mind a walk or short cycle ride I can also recommend The Prince Of Wales in Shippon (6 real ales including beer from local Shotover Brewery), The Flowing Well in Sunningwell (a recent change of management with 3 well served beers from Greene King guest range and a lovely beer garden) and The Crown in Marcham which has real ales not seen elsewhere in this area.

Loose Cannon Pale Ale Trials

The Loose Cannon Brewery in Abingdon in Suffolk Way has just finished brewing a new beer.

As with the Abingdon Bridge when it was launched last year, Will Laithwaite the owner and head brewer has made two different recipies, currently known as Trial Brew 1 and Trial Brew 2. They are made from the same malt and yeast but use different hops.

  • Trial Brew 1: Made with Fuggles and Goldings Hops: Smooth, almost sweet, delicate, slightly spicy
  • Trial Brew 2: Made with Challenger and Pioneer Hops: Lemon/Gratefruit citrus aroma.
Handpump serving Loose Cannon Pale Ale at the brewery

Both trials can be sampled at the brewery shop, which is at the brewery in Suffolk Way.

You can also buy both of the Pale Ale trials as well as Abingdon Bridge in various sizes including 1 and 2 Litre bottles, mini-casks, polypins and Firkins.

We took a few litres back to our office to get the opinions of our colleagues. The reaction to each trial seems quite mixed. Both are very drinkable and different people seem to prefer different ones. Personally my vote is for Trial Brew 2 as it has a more complex taste, but brew 1 has more traditional English hops.

Bottles of Loose Cannon Pale Ale trial to try at home (or work!).

At the moment it is not being served in any Abingdon pub, but hopefully some of them will start stocking it in the next week or two. In the meantime, I recommend visiting the brewery to try it out. The brewery shop is open weekdays from 8am-6pm and Saturdays 9am-5pm.

The Cricketer’s Arms in Littleworth has both of the Pale Ale trials as well as Abingdon Bridge at their Beer & Sausage Festival this weekend, which features 14 mainly local real ales and 2 real ciders. More information can be found at www2.cricketers-arms.co.uk/beer_and_sausage_festival

October Issue of Oxford Drinker Available

Oxford Drinker, Issue 64.The October Issue of The Oxford Drinker, the newsletter of the Oxford branch of CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) is now available.

You can pick up a free copy from most good pubs in the area. There are currently copies in the Brewery Tap, The White Horse and The Loose Cannon Brewery shop. They should appear in other pubs during the next week (deliveries rely on volunteers to take them to pubs in their spare time).


Articles of interest to Abingdonians in this issue include:

  • Abingdon’s Loose Cannon Brewery
  • Report from Old Anchor Beer Festival
  • Oxford City Pub of The Year shortlist
  • Publication of new Good Beer Guide 2011, including new entries from the Oxford branch area
  • Preview of The Oxford Beer Festival
  • Welcome report from the new Oxford CAMRA branch chairman
  • List of Beer Festivals

If you can’t wait to get a hardcopy, then you can also read it online as a PDF file from the Oxford CAMRA web site

Abingdon Brewed Beer available

After much anticipation over recent months, the Brewery Tap on Ock Street is the first pub to take deliveries of beer from the new Loose Cannon Brewery, Abingdon’s first commercial brewery since the Morland Brewery was closed 10 years ago.

The pub will be serving two beers: Abingdon Bridge Trial 1 and Abingdon Bridge Trial 2. The beer is currently settling, and should be ready to serve on Wednesday. A discount on these beers will be offered to CAMRA members on presentation of your membership card.

The brewer is looking for informed opinions of the two brews.

The Brewery Tap in Abingdon, is one the five contenders for the CAMRA Oxford Branch’s Town and Country pub of the year. More information can be found in the August issue of The Oxford Drinker, which you can pick up in most good pubs in town, or as a PDF on the Oxford CAMRA web site. To vote for the pub of the year you must visit each of the 5 pubs and get a form stamped, and return to Oxford CAMRA with your vote. The forms can be picked up in any of the 5 pubs. The other pubs are The Eagle in Witney. Cricketer’s Arms in Littleworth, Queen’s Head in Eynsham and The Morris Clown in Bampton.