Try something new in January they say. What a fab idea. The puritans feel we should abstain from alcohol for a month and it seems they are trying to come up with some catchy slogan every month nowadays to encourage people to be miserable. Dryanuary is just the start. Personally I'd much rather try and drink January dry because brewers, who are not the wealthiest of individuals, cannot afford to stop brewing for a month and publicans, who are probably earning less than the minimum wage in many cases, certainly can't afford to close their pub and jet off to sunnier climes. So to combat the puritanical voices Tryanuary was launched last year and pubs and brewers embraced it as did many beer drinkers. This year it will, I'm sure, be embraced by many more.
Combining Tryanuary with my plan for 2016 to drink more in pubs and less at home I ventured out last night to the unique village of Bosham, the old part of which is nestled on the banks of a tidal inlet of Chichester Harbour. Yes it is tidal so parking on Shore Road with high tide approaching will prove to be a bad move as you will come back to a very wet car. The village actually dates back to Roman times and is mentioned in the Bayeux Tapestry with a meeting between Harold and Edward the Confessor in 1064 at the church.
The first pub I visited was Anchor Bleu, not far at all from the aforementioned church. It is a 2km walk from Bosham railway station which is located inland in what the locals call New Bosham to distinguish itself from Old Bosham. The main difference between 'Old' and 'New' are the house prices. You enter the pub via the High Street but it has a terrace at the back overlooking the picturesque harbour. This is my first visit to this pub but it has always been very popular with visitors and it has a good local following too and there were a fair number of people in there for a dark, chilly, January evening. Low ceilings, a real fire, a mix of flagstone and wooden floors all make for a cosy warm atmosphere. The regular beers are Ringwood Forty Niner (4.9% ABV), Otter Ale (4.5% ABV) and Pots Bitter (3.8% ABV) from Hampshire micro Flowerpots. The guest was Woodfordes Wherry (3.8% ABV) which is always a pleasure to see in these parts. I tried this and the Otter Ale and both were pleasant easy drinking bitters, especially the Wherry.
I left the Anchor Bleu and retraced my steps to the station popping in the two pubs I had passed earlier. The Berkeley Arms is still in the old part of Bosham about half way back and it is a former Gales house now owned by Fullers. This is a Cask Marque pub so I was able to tick this off on my Cask Marque pub trail after searching out the certificate with the code to scan. I tried the Gales Seafarers (3.8% ABV) for the first time as well as my old favourite, HSB (4.8% ABV). London Pride was also available. The Seafarers was perfectly drinkable but the HSB was superior despite not being on the very best form. The pub is very pleasant and minimalist. The bar area to the right as you enter had plenty of wood. Floors, painted wall panels, benches and tables, low chairs and high chairs. This pub was very quiet last night which made for a somewhat stark atmosphere. The pub is usually visited by a pizza van on Tuesday evenings though which I'm sure is very popular. Warmth is provided by two open log fires. The garden at the front is very pretty in summer and everything about the pub is neat and tidy and generally immaculate.
The final pub, the White Swan, is a former 18th century coaching inn situated on the main A259 coastal road on the roundabout a couple of hundred yards from the railway station. This pub was closed for a while a couple of years ago but it is now a smart pub with modern yet comfortable decor with a good local following as was evident last night. There is an old bread oven in the restaurant which makes a nice feature. It is not operational but the pub does make its own bread elsewhere (in the kitchen I assume). The bar area has the feel of a village local with a good area for darts tucked away to the right. Round to your left you come into a relaxing lounge area before encountering a large dining area. I was looking forward to trying one of their guest ales, Castle Rock Red Riding Hood, a 4.3% ABV American red. It smelled off and one taste confirmed the worst. Instead I had a very pleasant pint of Dark Star Hophead (3.8% ABV). The other choices were Hopback Summer Lightning and Island Yachtsmans Ale, a beer from the Isle of Wight. The only complaint about this pub is having to answer a quiz question to enter the correct toilet. Am I a cob or a pen? I made my guess and a peek round the door showed I had made the right choice. Phew. There was a warning on the cistern above the urinals for customers to settle their tabs by the end of January. A very generous pub indeed offering credit. Hopefully they will collect everything they are owed.
The pubs of Bosham all proved to be well worth a visit so a good start to Tryanuary and 2016. I will endeavour to visit a few more new pubs this month although a minor operation in the middle of the month may mean taking a week off. So everyone please go out and support your local pubs this month and every month. You know it makes sense.