Crawling 3: Bewdley
May 29, 2022
After the successful mini-crawl in Stratford last week my wife and I decided to pop over to little Bewdley for a follow up. Bewdley is a tiny little town on the River Severn. Population of 9,470. Due to its location, with settlements on both sides of the river it’s become a popular tourist destination. Especially on sunny days, which is what I thought we’d get. However, I woke up and it was cloudy and 12 degrees. Which almost worked in our favour as the town wasn’t as busy as it normally would be. Despite being a tiny town it has a shit load of pubs and most of them are great.
PUB #1: Bewdley Brewery
Due to the brewery only being open for three hours on Sunday we hit it first. After a lengthy delay trying to sort out parking. The car park is a Just Park one so it has no facility to pay by card, which in 2022 is fucking ridiculous. I tried downloading the app and it didn’t work. My wife tried, it didn’t work. We ended up calling a friend who paid on their app from a hundred miles away. Just Park fucking sucks. £6.60 for 24 hours though, so at least we were rinsed here like we were in Stratford.
This may be one of my favourite tap rooms ever. They have a huge range of beers, basically everything the Bewdley Brewery make. The bar is bright with plenty of seating. The toilets are immaculate.
It’s clean and neat but also has so much character without just plastering the walls with crap. There’s the hops, the barrels, the random stuffed toys and on the walls around various historical maps and posters about Bewdley’s history. I could have spent the entire day in here going through the brewery’s range. I had the William Mucklow’s Dark Mild, which is brilliant ****. My wife had a half of Sevenside Stout, which I’ve had before and is also brilliant. Worcestershire Way is their most popular beer and finds its way into a lot of local pubs. It’s pretty good too.
What a sensational start to the crawl. The parking problems long forgotten and everyone raving about the brewery. Even my daughter who’s come along for the ride, had half of the cider and is showing off her card tricks with a deck picked up from one of the shelves full of games. I’m sat here writing about this place and I’m desperate to go back!
Here are some suitably artistic views of the bridge that crosses the Severn.
So you can see what a pretty little town this is. If you’re doing the tourist thing in middle England this should definitely be on your list of places to visit. I’ve lived my whole life half an hours drive from here and I’m annoyed with myself for never visiting before. It’s wonderful, in spite of the uneven floor, which could be challenging after a few pints.
PUB #2: The Great Western
An 11-minute walk, including crossing the bridge, takes us to our second venue; the Great Western. It’s the most ale-centric pub in town but is a little out of the way from the centre. You can drive there if you want to but then you miss out on the bridge. This is a beautiful old pub, 180 years old. Lots of strange angles and nooks and crannies. We sat upstairs, which has a load of sofas. Maria and I sat on little stools. There was a dartboard behind us and an old fireplace. I felt really at home. Behind the bar there was the gaffer and his young apprentice. They sorted us out with drinks and snacks. I had a Ludlow Blonde, which was good but on the turn. ***½. My wife bought a pork pie, which we ate with mustard and Branston pickle.
As with the brewery this is the kind of place I could relax in for a few hours. It was worth the walk across the bridge. Everyone felt very chilled out in here and I like a laid back vibe, which is why we’re drinking in Bewdley on a Sunday afternoon!
PUB #3: Cock & Magpie Inn
Back across the bridge and down to the riverside tourist area for pub three. I gave the group a list of choices including the karaoke bar.
We settled into the first one on the row; the Cock & Magpie, which feels like it belongs in London. A small central bar, which has a kitchen on the back of it and rooms on either side of it. The beer choice in here was notably different with prominent ales being the kind you can get anywhere like Shipyard and Camden Hells. I went with a Hobgoblin IPA, as it’s the only beer I’d not had on Untappd. It was ok but following the previous two pubs it didn’t really compare. This is for the tourists. Most people were eating and a load of people outside were eating fish and chips from the chippy next door. It’s bang on the river and I imagine at peak season it gets very busy in here. I liked it but could have loved it if they’d been more ambitious with the beer selection.
PUB #4: The Mug House Inn
This is a very similar pub to the Cock & Magpie, just a bit further along by the river and bigger inside. This is the only place that asked my daughter for ID. They had table service and were very polite but the pub was full of dogs. I don’t mind a dog friendly pub but it’s more restaurant than pub and to have a restaurant full of dogs is pretty horrible to be honest.
We were sat by the fireplace, which presumably is in operation in the winter months unless the coal and kindling is just for show.
Apologies to the waitress for getting her in shot here but my camera was having a wobble after I’d been demonstrating the macro lens. This being the “Mug House” we have mugs hanging from the ceiling. I regretted ordering a full pint of Titanic Plum Porter because it prolonged our stay. The others clearly wanted to move on. Not the best experience we had all day and the table service is a bit weird considering the bar wasn’t busy. Either they’re stuck in Covid times or this is basically just a restaurant that I mistook for a pub.
This is one for the ‘Gram.
PUB #5: The Real Ale Tavern
This is the other pub I was really looking forward to. The RAT is a Black Country Ales pub so naturally their range is sensational. They also did the bar food with pork pies, sausage rolls and cobs. It’s a long, thin pub with the toilets way in the back and the bar taking up roughly a quarter of the place. The beer selection alone was enough to lure me in. I didn’t have a Black Country Ales beer, although they’re all good, and instead opted for a AJ’s Ales Platinum Pale Ale, because I’m pretty sure it’s a limited release for the Queen’s jubilee. AJ’s Ales are from Walsall and that’s a brewery to track down. This was very decent, ***¼. If you ever find yourself in a Black Country Ales pub it is your duty to have a Pig on the Wall, which is their mild. It’s tremendous.
I could have stayed in here for 3-4 hours. Much like the brewery and the Great Western. A third sensational pub on our day out. Also, look at that for a pub carpet! Lovely. This could and should have been the end of our little crusade but we were right next to the Spoons and the ladies wanted desserts.
PUB #6: The George Hotel (Wetherspoons)
I can only assume this is a converted hotel as the front of it feels like a reception before you step into the bar itself at the back. Out the side is a converted garden, which is full of tables. The outdoor smoking area alongside the building just beyond these doors.
It’s a Wetherspoons so you know what you’re getting. The service was quick and efficient and cheap. A round in here was two quid less than everywhere else. The atmosphere was awful though. Everyone packed in here for cheap drinks and the typical Spoons experience. I made the mistake of ordering a second beer on the app. The first one; Rooster’s Fort Smith was really good, ***½, and lulled me into a false sense of security. The second one, JW Lees Gold Ale, was pants. Presumably they shipped a bunch of out of date beer down from Manchester and this was chucked in for good measure.
Bewdley is a beautiful place, ideal for day-out tourism. It has a bunch of lovely riverside dining experiences and we found ourselves three exceptional boozers. Black Country Ales are easily my favourite chain pub. Their hit rate, on their own beer, is outstanding and they always have interesting guest beers. The Bewdley Brewery itself is a brilliant tap room. Legitimately my favourite tap room I’ve ever been to. The Great Western is a lovely old boozer, nicely tucked out of the way and a hidden gem. It’s a trio of huge hits that made our day out in Bewdley a lovely time.
Bewdley has a lot of pubs. It reminds me of how towns used to be before people stopped going to pubs as much. We didn’t get to the Horn & Trumpet, the White Swan, The Courtyard, The Arches or the Retreat Bar. All these pubs are central and there’s the Bewdley Inn, formally the Black Boy, on the way to the Great Western. That’s 12 pubs in the town centre. TWELVE!