Another week, another brewery. The West Midlands is awash with them. Tonight I ventured out to the southern tip of Warwickshire and the village of Whichford. Voted County Pub of the Year 2012 by CAMRA Warwickshire my hopes were high.
Firstly, before I begin on the pub and the beer, those of you who have read my previous posts will note that I have been full of praise for nearly every place I have visited and every beer I have consumed. Tonight I have a few gripes.
The Norman Knight has an idyllic location. Sat opposite the village green it is a lovely building. A Norman knight (!!??) sits on his horse outside and a suit of armour stands up on your left as you enter the pub. Inside the pub is full of lovely wooden benches, nooks and crannies and a lovely rustic atmosphere. So what's my problem you may well ask. Firstly, one of my pet hates. The pub was fairly quiet and nobody was waiting to be served but it took me a full five minutes to order a pint. The reasons were numerous. In order to be seen by the barman I had to gatecrash a group of people standing at the bar with no intention of moving from their spot so someone could reach the bar and ask for a pint. Aaarrgh. Secondly, when I did give up and just barge in the barman disappeared to try and locate some missing menus along with two other members of staff leaving the bar unattended. After returning from his fruitless search he preceded to stand around doing nothing for a further minute before looking to see if anyone was waiting.
Needless to say, my mood was not good when I ordered my pint. Patriot began brewing in 2010 with a small four barrel plant and it is located next to the pub. Tonight they only had two of their beers available, the Kiwi (4.1%ABV) and the Settle For Bronze (4.0%ABV). No indication from the pump clips as to the style of each beer so I settled for the bronze. It looked quite pleasant with a small head and a lovely bronzed appearance (the clue is in the name). By the time I sat down the head had disappeared and it had rather a flat taste. I'd heard beers referred to as dishwater before but not often come across them. I won't be quite so harsh on this beer but it did nothing for me. The taste was slightly sweet with a little bitterness coming through but it was decidedly flat and lifeless.
Upon leaving the pub I was very disappointed. The outside garden is beautiful and the village is lovely. I was expecting the pub and the beer to match the surroundings but sadly it didn't. Perhaps I just caught it on a bad day. However, I will not be returning to find out.
Upon my return to Stratford-on-Avon my mood improved considerably with a pint of Sadler's Thin Ice at the Golden Bee. This was my least favourite beer when I did my brewing experience at this lovely brewery near Stourbridge, West Midlands. However, I have had it a couple of times since and it is beautiful. Hoppy with citrus flavours bursting through it is both refreshing and tasty and the opposite of my earlier beer of the evening.