My first tour of Chichester pubs was in the form of a themed pub crawl following the old Roman walls and thereby avoiding the Wetherspoons pub that I particularly hated at the time. You can read this first review here. For this second review I will take you into the (much improved) Spoons but be warned - I am having a moan in this post about other pubs.
First up is the Richmond, a strange looking building at the head of the Chichester Canal basin. The pub has a single bar on the top level with outside seating to the front and at the back you go down to the lower level for more outdoor seating with a view of the canal basin. There is also a serving hatch from the bar to the front garden so there is no need to actually go in the pub. However, then you would miss the two large TV screens and the pool table. The pub is a few hundreds yards to the south of the main train station so easy to find. The beer is unspectacular to say the least with Doom Bar or Hop Back Summer Lightning your choices. The former you see everywhere and the latter used to be a very nice pint but I'm not sure what has happened to it. Obviously it is the wise choice out of the two beers here but it wasn't on particularly good form. Perhaps you would be wiser to visit the coffee bar in the snug on the lower level which opens at 8.00.am and save your alcohol consumption for later.
After the Richmond I headed back to the station and entered the Globe, adjacent to the train station on the northern side of the tracks. This pub is a large open-plan sports bar with pool table. Lots of open floor space. This pub does display the Cask Marque sign so I was expecting a decent pint at least. How wrong could I possibly be? Why do pubs like this bother to sell real ale. They obviously have no interest in it. The bar person was of the grunting variety who told me they vary the cask ales but only one was available. The Doom Bar pump clip was turned round. Thank heavens. That is what I thought until I tasted the Plucking Pheasant (5.0% ABV) from the local Gribble brewery but was more plucking unpleasant. This place sums up so many pubs that advertise 'we sell real ales' without really caring about them. They are either merchants of Doom Bar or they sell something 'different' without knowing that 'different' can often mean crap. This beer was awful and it made me wish for the pint of Doom Bar I suffered last week. I was also feeling a pang of jealousy at the other people in the pub with their nice cool pints of lager. Let's face it, anyone trying real ale for the first time in this place would never touch it again. As an active member of CAMRA I try to check out local pubs (hence the purpose of this little trip) but I'm beginning to wonder why I bother and also why CAMRA bothers to be proud of the fact that nearly every pub serves real ale nowadays. How many actually serve 'drinkable' real ale? Anyway, this is one pub I need not bother about entering again and I quickly moved on.
I needed something to cheer me up now so I went to the Belle Isle. This cafe/restaurant/bar is not your normal real ale paradise but you will be pleasantly surprised.
The place is located across the road from the side of the Dolphin & Anchor, the Wetherspoons pub that sits opposite Chichester cathedral. This place knows a good brewery and this evening there was something from Rudgate, Ilkley and Bristol Beer Factory. The Nova I have enjoyed before so I chose a half of the Rudgate Jorvik Blonde (3.8% ABV) and half of the Ilkley Rosa Ostara (4.6% ABV). I do love this place but both the beers were too warm for my liking. The Jorvik Blonde was lemony and floral and a bit light in flavour to be honest. The Rosa Ostara is described as a rose petal pale ale and is one of their experimental beers. It had a light amber colour and it is brewed with actual rose petals. I found it to have a bit of an earthy taste as well as the more obvious fragrant notes. It wasn't bad but not one I could consume lots of. It has to be said though that this place is a 'must visit' destination for any fan of really great beer and the food is excellent too.
After the Belle Isle, I walked over the road to the Dolphin & Anchor. Yes I do have issues with this pub in that I always feel claustrophobic in here when it is busy as the tables are packed in too closely together. However, the pub is taking real ale and local brewers very seriously with monthly 'meet the brewer' events as well as selling some excellent locales on a regular basis. Thankfully it was quiet this evening and I was able to enjoy two first class pints served at a perfect temperature. I had only tried Adnams Ghost Ship (4.5% ABV) in bottles before but I can now confirm it is a tremendous cask beer too. A refreshing hoppy pale ale. Class in a glass. I was also able to enjoy a pint of Langham Saison (3.9% ABV), my favourite cask ale of 2014, and I am glad to report it is still fantastic.
That was it for this second visit to Chichester. Next time I will be visiting the rebranded / the reopened and the refurbished along with some others that will hopefully be better than what I suffered earlier this evening.
Until then, cheers.