Keep it simple. Four pubs. All in the Mill Road area of Cambridge.
I'm rather fond of the pubs around here, set into streets of terraced houses. Imagine living here! It would take me forever to get home each night, diverted by these cosy, welcoming watering holes.
The Live and Let Live on Mawson Road was the first stop. The interior is wood on almost every surface. It's like being in someone's secret drinking den in a big shed. The Oakham Asylum here was so fresh I stuck with it. Someone in the gang had the first pickled eggs of the day. Unfortunately for us this pub closes after lunchtime on a Saturday so we had to move on.
The rain had long passed so we could sit in the massive beer garden at The Cambridge Blue. From the front a double-fronted terraced building. Once inside it sprawls out the back into a huge beer garden.
All the beers we drank here were served by gravity from the cask; Thornbridge Branta, and Oakham X-Terminator IIPA being particularly outstanding today.
More eggs were consumed. These being chilli eggs that had been dyed blue.
The beer garden was very busy. It was a little unsettling when some of the folk climbing over the fence via a shortcut from Mill Road cemetery looked a bit cadaverous or indeed, zombie-like. The staff here must be used to beer tourists as not only were we asked where we'd travelled from but the next group at the bar were also.
The Kingston Arms is in the next street. We wanted some real chips. I wanted Jaipur with my chips. Others wanted Crouch Vale Brewers Gold with their chips. This is another pub set into a row of terraced houses. It has a reputation for great food. I just had chips. Of course.
I should mention here that there's a fantastic offie named Bacchanalia on Mill Road. Sells bottles from all over the world and also has cask ales to takeaway. I should have brought a growler as they had Oakham Williamette for sale. Instead I got a Stone Double Bastard, a Crooked Line Detour IIPA, Dead Guy Ale Whiskey and some other bottles I forget.
Final stop on the tour was The Devonshire Arms. We were running out of time and sobriety here, so one pint of some Milton brews before a short wobbly stroll to the railway station.
The Soft Boys, Syd Barrett, Blue Pickled Eggs and great pubs. Cambridge, I'm Insanely Jealous of You.
Oxfordshire. Get yourself to Oxfordshire. Some of my favourite places in England are in this county. The Chiltern Hills, The Ridgeway, the vale of the White Horse. You can now add Lovibonds brewery and Bix Bottom to my list.
Somewhere in the valley of Bix Bottom are the ruins of a church that featured in the 70s Tigon horror flick Blood On Satan's Claw. Now, Chap is a fan of British horror from 1970 to 1980. If you don't trip over a bottle of beer in his home bar the chances are you'll be tripping over a DVD or a pre-certification VHS. Unspeakable acts on celluloid were performed in this ruin and it was where Angel Blake met her demise via a pitchfork.
The only claws spotted on this visit were attached to circling Red Kites (I counted sixteen). Experience noted, it was now time to slake one's thirst.
Down the road is Henley On Thames and 69 IPA. I'd been missing this kegged wonder from Lovibonds for a few months. I'd enjoyed the Henley Gold (wheat beer) and Dark (porter) but was gagging to try the recently controversial IPA. The controversy was around the 69 trade mark; apparently drinks giant Diageo were worried their customers wouldn't know the difference between beer and their whisky.
Turning off the Market Place and near a car park you'll find yourself at the brewery tap. A quick chat with Chief Zymurgist himself, Jeff Rosenmeier about Bix Bottom, the legend of Griffydam and Cafe Bruxelles in Leicester whilst I eyed up the beer taps. Gold, Dark, 69 IPA and Gold Reserve were on. The 69 went down (ahem) with a fresh US hop punch. Refreshing and easy drinking for its 6.9% abv.
It was rude to stay and have another as one of us was driving so I had a couple of Lovibonds Growlers filled for takeout, two litres of Dark and four litres of 69. Back home we could drain the Growlers and stick on another DVD. After the IPA was sunk we moved straight onto the Henley Dark. Gorgeous chocolate flavours with hints of smoke and cracked black pepper.
Lovibonds is a couple of hours drive from home but I'll definitely be returning next time I'm in Oxfordshire.
Lovibonds Brewery Rear of 19-21 Market Place Henley-on-Thames RG9 2AA