Sunday 7th September 2014
This was a first time visit to this pub and we certainly arrived in Stratford with a certain amount of style. Linda and I travelled down from Birmingham on the Shakespeare Express. This train runs on Summer Sundays from Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street stations to Stratford twice so it is possible to have either a long stay or a short visit of just over an hour in the town.
The train runs outwards via Henley-in-Arden with the locomotive operating with its tender in front, so this journey is not particularly quick. This is because there is no turntable at Stratford. The return is by way of Solihull and is much faster with the locomotive running normally chimney-first.
Please see the photograph of “Castle” Class no. 5043 named “Earl of Mount Edgcumbe” running round the train at Birmingham Snow Hill prior to our journey. It was built in March 1936.
However there is some bad news. When researching this article I noticed that by 2015 the pub was no longer open on a Sunday with the exception of the River Festival and prior to a Bank Holiday Monday. Well, that narrows it down to just two dates when the train is also running.
It seem inexplicable to me, bearing in mind the popularity of the town on summer Sundays. I’m really glad we used it on this particular day.
The pub opened at 15.00 on Christmas Eve 2013. It is the idea of Bill O’Brien, a former printer, who was inspired by the micropubs of Kent where he had holidayed with his wife Debbie. The day-to-day running of the pub is entrusted to Manager Phil. The premises were formally a health food shop and when we called in the sun was streaming in through the large front windows.
On entering we noticed there were four tall wooden tables in a row on the left surrounded with high chairs of the same wood. Beyond that we saw the stillage area. Here casks and glasses are positioned on three levels. The casks all have jackets and have an internal cooling system. We thought that the beers were at the right temperature even though it was quite a hot day.
On the other (right) site there were two more of these tables followed by a wall-mounted shelf with five stools.
Beyond this there were three fridges. The rear wall was covered by pump clips of past beers, a very typical feature of micropubs. Although there is a small counter in front of the service area this is not a bar, just a place to position glasses whilst decanting the beer from the barrels; the pub operates table service.
There is one regular beer: Uley (Dursley, Gloucestershire) Pig’s Ear (5.0%) and usually two to four others. On this occasion there were three: Bateman’s (Wainfleet Lincolnshire) XXXB (4.5%), Adnam’s (Southwold, Suffolk) Lighthouse (3.4%) and Byatt’s (Coventry) XK Dark (3.5%).
There is also cider, but regrettably I failed to note which. I thought the wine list was particularly adventurous for a micropub.
There are the usual snacks like scratchings, nuts and Kettle crisps.
The pub was CAMRA Shakespeare Summer Pub of the Season in 2014. It has disabled access. A thoroughly pleasant place to while away a few hours should you find yourself in Stratford upon Avon.
The Stratford Ale House, 12B Greenhill Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks., CV37 6LF
Tel: 07746 807966
Open: Monday-Friday 13.00-20.00 or later; Saturday 12.00-20.00 or later. Sunday: Closed
To access the town centre from the railway station you have to walk along Greenhill Street. You will find the pub on the left-hand side about 400 metres from the station. There is a regular service of trains from Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street. There is also a route to Leamington Spa. These trains are operated by London Midland. Also there are a few trains daily to London Marylebone via Leamington Spa and Banbury operated by Chiltern Railways.