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A Jolly good lunch

Off to the Jolly (The Jolly Farmer at Cookham Dean) for a pint of Brakspear’s Bitter.  I’ve always enjoyed Brakspear’s ever since I moved to the Reading area in 1975.  It seemed like the end of an era when the Henley Brewery closed down in 2002 – but it came back, and since mid-2004 it has been brewed at the Wychwood brewery in Witney.  And it tastes as good as I remember it tasting in the pubs in Henley all those years ago – mind you, my memory isn’t as good as…er, what did I come in here for?   The reason it still tastes like it used to is probably because they moved all the brewing equipment from the Henley Brewery to Wychwood – and somebody told me that they also transport the water from Henley as well.  Click this link for more details of the Brakspear Brewery history.

According to Andrew Jefford of the Financial Times, Brakspear Bitter is “Perhaps the greatest beer in the world at 3.4% abv”.  I know this because it is written in big letters on the beermats, and is on Brakspear’s website home page – although there they manage to omit the “perhaps”!  Anyway, they may be right – it’s certainly a lovely drop of beer, and worth going out of your way for…as is The Jolly Farmer – a “proper” country pub – flagstone floors, log fire, etc.  Apparently, it is owned by the locals – they banded together and bought the place in order to keep it as it is.  I’ll try and find out more about this, as it seems to be an excellent way of preserving the character of a local pub.

Anyway, to lunch, and the other great staple of the British pub (as well as good beer) – the Ploughman’s Lunch.  Now, the varieties of Ploughman’s Lunch are as many as those of the beer that we use to wash them down.  At its best, the PL is the perfect accompaniment to a good British bitter; at its worst it can spoil even the best pint.  So, I think I’ll include reports on the PLs as well as the beer in future.  For the record, the Jolly’s PL was OK but not outstanding – no pickled onion for a start.  I’m sure everybody has their own idea of what makes the perfect Ploughman’s – I’m going to give it some thought – more on this another time.

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