Thursday 10th July 2014
This was the second brew pub in the ever-advancing Brewhouse and Kitchen chain. It opened on Thursday May 8th 2014, so BeerVisits were again quick off the mark to visit a new brewery. The first pub in the chain was established in Portsmouth and there is now an article on that on this website. Each of the individual pubs produces its own range of beers on an in-house brewery.
The pub is an extended version of a former pub. Its location is on the corner of the new Brewery Square shopping, eating and drinking complex.
This has been forged out of the property of the former Eldridge Pope brewery and already contains a Premier Inn along with several shops and restaurants.
The main brewery building is on its way to become the Old Brewery Hotel, which will be a 4-star establishment.
This pub existed prior to its present incarnation although it wasn’t particularly old. To understand its origins needs an explanation of role of the nearby Dorchester South railway station. When the London & South Western Railway was extended from Southampton to Dorchester it went into a terminus. Later the company extended to line to Weymouth running over the Great Western Railway.
Stay with this as it is relevant to the Brewhouse and Kitchen. To connect with the GWR the L&SWR built a very sharp curve that began just before the existing station. It had a new platform but in the direction towards London, trains had to run forward and then back into the old terminal station. This was because a new platform would have cut off access to the goods yard alongside the old station.
This rather odd arrangement continued until 1970 when the goods yard closed and a new platform was built. I well remember this station in the 1960s when all of the trains were steam-hauled. A result of the rebuilding a large amount of land was released although all of the railway buildings were knocked down except for one, the Station Master’s House.
Just beyond the station towards London there was rail access to the private sidings of the Eldridge Pope Brewery and in 1989 this company, which was then still brewing, opened the Station Master’s House pub in the old building. It had mixed success although at times was rather down at heel. This mirrors the more recent history of this brewery.
Eldridge Pope brewery has its origins in 1837 when the Eldridge family took on the Green Dragon pub in Dorchester. In 1846 it was the brewery of Eldridge Mason & Co. 1870 saw Mason selling his interest to Edwin Pope, thus the brewery’s title. Expansion continued and the brew house building that still exists was designed and constructed by W R Crickmay & Sons. It opened in 1881.
The famous Huntsman trade mark was established in 1921. This well-respected brewery continued well into the 1990s. Its good name was enhanced by its flagship bottled beer “Thomas Hardy’s Ale” which was 12% abv and was originally designed to be laid down like a fine wine.
Sadly it was not to last. A disastrous decision by the board in 1996 separated the pubs from the brewery. This became the Thomas Hardy Brewery and the pubs continued under the Eldridge Pope name. The brewery’s owners purchased Burtonwood Brewery in 1998, merging the two into company named Thomas Hardy Burtonwood. Brewing at Dorchester had finished and its site closed in 1983.
In 2004 an entrepreneur, Michael Cannon, purchased the pubs, which were doing quite badly. He turned the company around and in 2007 sold them on to Marston’s for £155 million. A profit of just around 280% in just over three years.
So in conclusion, in just 11 years, the brewery was closed, the pubs were separated, run badly and then sold on, Eldridge Pope beers are no more and replaced by Marston’s products. How very, very sad and yet it didn’t have to be that way, so thank goodness for Brewhouse and Kitchen.
They took over the former Station Master’s House and expanded it considerably. Assuming that you enter from the station approach the first thing you will see is the bar on the right with a large area in front of it in two directions. This seems to be used for drinkers and / or dining. The brewery is located in this area on the Weymouth Road side. The rest of the pub, on the opposite side is a more or less a big dining room. There are large gardens on two sides and these provide a lot of extra room in the summer months.
As mentioned previously there is a range of beers brewed, unique to each pub, yet not all are on at the same time. Here is what was on offer when I visited: Crickmay (4.2%), traditional bitter; Judge Jeffreys (4.5%), a single hop blond; Station Master’s Ale, a session bitter; Mayor of Casterbridge (4.8%), a porter; Nine Stones (3.8%), a blonde ale and Maiden Castle (4.3%), an amber ale.
There are another seven beers in the core range that could have been on the pumps that day. In addition there was one guest beer in the form of Gyle 59 (Thorncombe, Dorset) Pale & Bitter (5.0%). The eighth hand pump dispensed Twisted Cider (Sherborne, Dorset) Misty Cider (6.0%).
Naturally there is a full menu and because of its location this is a very reachable pub.
Brewhouse & Kitchen, 17 Weymouth Avenue, Dorchester DT1 1QY. Tel: 01305 265551
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11.00-23.00; Friday 11.00-00.30;
Saturday 09.00-00.30; Sunday 09.00-22.30
The pub is at the end of the Dorchester South station approach road. This is served by a
half-hourly service of trains running from London Waterloo to Weymouth via Southampton and Bournemouth. These trains are hourly on Sundays.
It is less than ten minutes walk from Dorchester West station. This is served by trains from Bristol to Weymouth via Bath and Yeovil. These are about every two hours and are much less frequent on Sundays.
There are several bus stands in front of the South station with services to local areas, the town centre and along the coast to Bridport, Lyme Regis and Honiton.