Last week I went to the Coach and Horses at Weatheroak Hill. That pub was the original home of the Weatheroak Brewery when it began in 1997. In 2007 the brewery required new premises due to expansion and in 2008 it ended up in the village of Studley, a few miles to the south of the original home. This year it acquired the Nags Head, a pub very close to the industrial unit that houses the brewery and thereby serving as the brewery tap. The Coach and Horses still had the space to house a brewery and this gave birth to the Weatheroak Hill Brewery.
Tonight I ventured out to Studley to visit the Weatheroak Brewery tap, now renamed The Victoria Works (http://www.the-victoria-works.co.uk), to make a comparison with the Coach and Horses. To be fair, the pubs seem to be catering for a different crowd. The Coach and Horses had a modern dining area and comfortable bar. The Victoria Works is a real drinkers pub but it still has plenty of comfort. Entering from the car park the lounge area to the left had comfortable leather sofas and solid wooden tables. The bar was arrived at by stepping down a few steps and it had plenty of reading material. A rack of newspapers, a shelf of CAMRA Good Beer Guides and plenty of CAMRA lealfets as well as the latest copy of Pint Taken, the Worcestershire County CAMRA newsletter. This is my kind of pub. The full range of Weatheroak beers was available along with a guest ale (tonight it was Lager It Ain't from the Cannon Royall Brewery).
The pub beat the Coach and Horses by a fraction then but what about the beer? I had 5 to choose from and the Victoria Works (4.3% ABV) was advertising itself as a champion beer at a local beer festival in 2010 so that's what I chose. It was pale coloured but packed with hops giving it a delightful bitter taste. It had a very clear appearance and a lovely smooth finish. Same strength as the WHB I tried at the Weatheroak Hill brewery but a totally different beer.
Last week I was more than happy with the Coach and Horses. A delightful pub with good beer. Tonight I went to a pub I would love as my local. Excellent beer, comfortable surroundings and totally unpretentious. If I had to choose to revisit only one of them, then the Victoria Works would win on all counts. Very highly recommended.