Today we the first reasonably warm day of spring, so jolly t-shirt on and off to the River Itchen for a walk to spot ducks, swans and hopefully trout. I always feel so happy to see tasty brown trout swimming in the river running through what is pretty much central Winchester. Sadly, as The Editor and I are getting jolly pictures of ducks a screaming pain suddenly starts shooting down my back and leg. Seriously painful, I assure you. We needed to sit down somewhere (a pub) whilst my Dihydrocodeine kicked in and ideally have some muscle relaxants too (booze). The Bishop on the Bridge was easily within pained staggering distance.
The Bishop on the Bridge is a reasonably smart Fuller’s pub right opposite the city mill. If you’ve been worthy and done the tourist-thing there the BotB is a good place to go and recover your dissolute sensibilities again. Fuller’s boozers can usually be relied upon to have decent real ales kept in good condition and sometimes they have good food too.
The BotB sources all their meat from one of Hampshire finest, Laverstoke Park Farm. This is undeniably a Good Thing, and the quality of their raw ingredients have infused those bar snacks we’ve eaten there with a definite pleasing character. Go for the Scotch eggs or the plates of charcuterie for a snack. There are plenty of main courses that tempt too, and one of these days I’ll get around to falling for that temptation and actually have a meal there. Today we wanted beer.
The Editor chose the best Fuller’s beer we’ve had in ages: Brit Hop. Flavoured with eight varieties of British hops it has a brilliantly refreshing bitterness that, when coupled with its light, pleasing alcohol level (4.1%), made it the perfect beer for a warmish spring day. This beer enlivened my senses whilst the Dihydrocodeine was doing the opposite and so I felt distinctly jolly as the pain of my back subsided.
I had a pint of George Gale Spring Sprinter. This was also a light beer of refreshing bitterness, but it didn’t have the vivacity and directness of the Brit Hop. It had a slight hint of muddiness to it, but ignoring that it was not a terribly characterful beer – the kind of thing that you could knock back all afternoon without thinking about it too much. As far as beers of that idiom go it was vastly preferable to almost any fizzy lager, but as far as quality beer experiences go the Brit Hop left it back at the miserable end of winter.
It’s worth pointing out these beers were both in sparkling good condition. Real Ale is a delicate beast that requires careful treatment to maintain it in a drinkable state; most publicans simply cannot be bothered which is why every pint of London Pride you’ve had outside a Fuller’s pub has been disgusting. They clearly made the effort to keep things in top nick at the Bishop on the Bridge which, if it wasn’t for my desire to get home for more painkillers, would have made refusing a second pint a serious effort.
Nice location, good food and top beer – the Bishop on the Bridge undoubtedly merits a place on you list of destination boozers should you find yourself in Winchester and suddenly get a terrible thirst on. Jolly place!