2022 Update

I realised that it has been over 4 years since this site was updated. So here is a quick run down of what has changed in that time.

New Pubs / Bars

The Cowshed opened this week in the former Added Ingredients shop on Stert Street. This is a micro pub selling 3 cask beers on draught and a selection of interesting cans and bottles, including many local breweries such as Love Beer, Little Ox and White Horse Brewery. You can drink on the premises or buy to take away. You can see more information on the Abingdon Blog.

The Tipsy Mercer opened on the High Street in March 2019. It is a cocktail bar, but also has 3 keg beers normally including one of my favourite beers… Yabba Dabba Doo from Little Ox. They have live music upstairs most Saturday evenings.

The Old Chemist opened briefly during 2019 in the former Smith’s chemist shop and promised to be an interesting combination of gin house, smokehouse. The back room was decorated as a library (the building used to be Abingdon Library a long time ago). Unfortunately it closed down in December 2019 after a dangerous form of asbestos was found in the basement and has been boarded up ever since. See this Oxford Mail article for more information.

Changes to Existing Pubs

Most other pubs managed somehow to survive the Covid lockdowns between March 2020 and December 2021, which were particularly bad for the hospitality industry with an assortment of rules and regulations such as not being able to drink unless you had a substantial meal, and very little financial support from the government.

The Nags Head was taken over by Brakspear in 2019 and was closed for refurbishment for several months, opening just in time to have to close again for the lockdown. It is up and running now, and apart from a change of beers to include Breakspear beers has not changed that much. It still has the best riverside location around, good food, and live music on Friday evenings.

The Kings Head & Bell was refurbished in 2019 which included extending the conservatory with a retractable roof and a new menu of mainly Pizza and Burgers. Typically has 2 real ales from Loose Cannon.

The Broad Face got a new manageress Kealey in 2020, who redecorated it in a more feminine way. It has Abingdon’s largest selection of real ales with 8 hand pumps that change regularly, good food and occasional live music.

The Punchbowl has been through quite a few changes of management, and was closed for quite a while during lockdown. Being a wet pub not serving food can not have been easy during lockdown. It is open at the moment and is pretty much the same as before with front and back bars, serving two cask beers – Morland Original and a guest (currently Rocking Rudolph).

The Old Anchor has rebranded as a music venue. During the lockdown, landlady Jaci built a custom stage for musicians to play on. It is now only open for music events, offering a range of bottled beers from Greene King. Events include Open Mic every Wednesday Evening, Sunday afternoon music from 4pm, and bands most Friday and some Saturday nights. The venue provides an outlet for new original musicians to perform, unlike many other places which mainly tend to have cover bands or one person + guitar cover acts.

The Brewery Tap got through the lockdown by offering take-away Sunday lunches and is now back to its normal self with busy dining sessions, selection of 5 real ales from local breweries, beer wall with keg beers and ciders and a selection of bottles including some interesting Belgian beers. They have live music of varied styles on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

The Spread Eagle on Northcourt used the lockdown to build some outdoor garden “pods”, but got into some trouble with the authorities during lockdown dining rules so was not able to use them immediately. They have a selection of real ales usually including some from Abingdon’s own Loose Cannon Brewery and a great menu. During the summer months they had live music outside on Sunday afternoons.

The Loose Cannon Brewery expanded their tap room, which is now open most afternoons and evenings and hosts events such as Quiz Nights, Comedy Club, Live Music, football, Craft Fairs, etc. You can buy beer to drink on the premises, or to take away.

Other pubs that are still open and are similar to how they were pre-lockdown include White Horse, Grapes, Narrows, Midget, Crown & Thistle, Blue Boar, Black Swan, Boundary House, College Oak.

Beer Festivals this weekend (May bank holiday) around Abingdon

This weekend (May bank holiday 5th-7th May) there are two beer festivals near to Abingdon, as well as morris dancing in town on Saturday.

Waggon and Horses, Culham

This is their first beer festival since the pub reopened last year. It is about 2 miles from Abingdon, which is a short cycle ride and not too far to walk and also has a car park. The beer list is:

  • Village Idiot 4.1%
  • Hi Ho Silver 4.3%
  • Zebedee 4.7%
  • Abandon Ship 4.2%
  • Oxford Scholar 4.5%
  • Cotswold Lion 4.2%
  • Broke Piston 5%
  • Adnams Southwold Bitter 3.7%
  • Black Sheep Bitter 3.8%
  • Hook Norton Bitter 3.6%
  • Smuggler 4.1%
  • Abingdon Bridge 3.6%

On Saturday there is music from the Dirty Earth Band in the evening.
On Sunday music from The Bembos in the afternoon and The Headington Hillbillies in the evening.
On Monday, music form Sub-Way in the afternoon.

Prince of Wales, Shippon

Another great pub within walking or cycling distance from Abingdon is having their 2nd beer festival between 4th and 6th of May with 20 ales from within a 30 mile radius of the pub and 10 ciders. Festival starts at 5pm on Friday

There is also morris dancing there this evening (thursday 3rd May) with Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers and Speckled Hen.

Mr. Hemmings Day of Dance

Mr. Hemmings Traditional Abingdon Morris dancers along with 7 visiting morris sides will be dancing in Abingdon this Saturday (5th May). This is an annual event celebrating the birthday of Tom Hemmings who was a prominent Abingdon Morris dancer in the early 20th century.

Dancing starts at the White Horse at 10:30am, working down Ock Street to Cross Keys and then into the town center where dancing will take place on the market place and outside town center pubs (Swan, Kings Head & Bell, Punch Bowl, Harp (former Plough on Station Yard).

2012 Beer Festivals in Abingdon-on-Thames

The first of this year’s beer festivals in Abingdon starts this evening (Friday 24th February 2012) at The Kings Head & Bell. There will also be a folk music session on Sunday afternoon starting around 3pm. Please come along with an instrument to join in with, or a song to sing, or come along to listen. The beer list is at the bottom of this post.

More beer festivals coming up in Abingdon in the next few months include:

  • 16th-18th March: The Cross Keys Spring Beer Festival
  • 23rd-25th March: The Brewery Tap Springtime Beer Festival
  • 6th-8th April: Broad Face Easter Beer Festival
  • 4th-7th May: Waggon & Horses in Culham, May Bank Holiday Beer Festival. It is worth making the short trip to Culham to visit this pub which has recently reopened as a freehouse with a good range of local beers.

Continue reading

More Abingdon Beer Festivals

Despite recent pub closures (Fitzharris, Ox, Nags Head and Plough), Abingdon is still a good place for pubs and real ale with many of the still open pubs offering a good range of real ales in good condition and frequent beer festivals. Following on from the recent beer festival at the Cross Keys, there are 3 more local pub beer festivals coming up in the next few months. Continue reading