Guest blog from Roy Duffield
This post is brought to you by Roy Duffield, AKA the Drinking Traveller. Roy has travelled to over 60 countries, drunk more than his fair share of real ale, and also writes for Brighton-based travel company, Holiday & Adventure. He hopes you enjoyed reading this post, and that you enjoy visiting the New Forest and tasting its beer even more.
When one thinks of real ales in the New Forest, the Ringwood Brewery springs immediately to mind. For those who know their Hampshire beers, Ringwood is the undisputed king. All of the beers here at the Hotel TerraVina are Ringwood born and brewed.
We also recommend that visitors to the New Forest visit the Royal Oak in Fritham, because there is nothing quite like sampling a pint of Ringwood real ale, fresh out of the barrel. The Royal Oak, nestled at a crossroads in the heart of the New Forest and less than an hour’s cycle from TerraVina, is one of the oldest pubs in Hampshire, dating back to the 1600s and complete with thatched roof and red brick stylings. Lovely hosts, Neil and Pauline, will make you feel more than welcome and can advise you on the best of their ale selection.
Ringwood’s classic is their “Best Bitter”, but they have also made their name with Old Thumper – 1988’s “Champion Beer of Britain”, Boondoggle – a blonde – and this writer’s personal favourite: Fortyniner. If you’re visiting the New Forest this summer, be sure to also look out for Lovey Warne (June), Shipyard IPA (July) and Bold Forester (August).
The Ringwood Brewery is located in the historic town of…you guessed it, Ringwood. The store is open from 9:30am until 5pm and you can visit the Ringwood website for more information on day tours and group tours of the brewery.
Now Ringwood might be king, but that doesn’t mean it is the only great brewery in Hampshire, or even in the New Forest. Oh no, there are many, and they are all competing for the crown.
Second on our list is the Downton Brewery, located in Downton, Wiltshire, just outside the New Forest – though the beers it produces are readily available throughout the Forest itself. A relative “newbie” on the Hampshire brewing scene, Downton was only established in 2003. However, in that short space of time it has amassed a selection of six core, award-winning beers that include the famous Chimera IPA, Honey Blonde, and the aptly named “New Forest Ale”. They are also celebrating their 10 year anniversary with the release of Downton X, a spicy amber ale that is only one of almost 20 additional, speciality beers. Yes, this is no small operation!
Red Shoot Brewery
The Red Shoot is another great pub in the New Forest area. But what makes it special is that it also has its own brewery – not to be confused with the Ringwood brewery, with which it shares the town of Ringwood.
The pub serves Wadworth ales, as well as its own selection, which includes New Forest Gold, Tom Tipple – probably their most popular beer – and “Red White & Brew” – a hoppy, zesty golden ale brewed specially for the Royal Wedding and kept on by popular demand. This one is perfect for those long, hot, summer afternoons in a New Forest beer garden.
The Red Shoot can be found on Toms Lane, Linwod, Ringwood, BH24 3QT and even has its own campsite. Don’t miss the annual beer festivals in July and October, as well as a weekly pub quiz every Thursday, and frequent live music.
Vibrant Forest Brewery
The little known Vibrant Forest Brewery is actually located in the town of Totton, directly on the borders of the New Forest, so we’ll let that one slide. Despite being relatively small, Vibrant Forest are fast making a name for themselves on the beer festival circuit, with their flagship ale, Ginger Ninja, and others, doing the rounds of the UK. Expect to hear more from these guys!
For their full selection, visit: http://www.vibrantforest.co.uk/Beers/beers.htm
New Forest Cider
“What’s that?” I hear you ask. “Cider? On a list of New Forest real ales?”
Well, while there are few beers in the Hampshire region that could compete with the four listed above, I felt it would be unfair not to mention the New Forest Cider brewery in Burley. I am working on the premise that a lover of real ale will also be able to appreciate a good cider. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Anyway, their delicious ciders are second to none for miles around and are brewed using traditional West Country processes. They also make a Perry, which this writer is, again, very fond of. Plus their ciders can be purchased in a traditional two-and-a-half litre “flagon”. The farm shop and stable gallery can be found on Pound Lane in Burley – only 20 minutes drive from the Hotel.
More real ales and pubs in the New Forest
Though brewed outside the New Forest in nearby Winchester, Batch Brew is a new range of exceptional craft beers which are distributed throughout the pubs in the area. If you get a chance to try one, do it!
In addition to those mentioned above, see this full list of real ale pubs in the New Forest: