The two pubs on this year’s cider trip should need no introduction. The Square and Compass, Worth Matravers (squareandcompasspub.co.uk) is on the CAMRA National inventory and was the National Cider Pub of the Year in 2008. The extensive range of ciders served from the serving hatch of this rustic country pub are complemented by those produced by the owners themselves, including Sat Down Be Cider and Eve’s Idea. These can be enjoyed whilst exploring the artefacts from the Jurassic Coast in the adjoining museum, taking in the marvellous views to be had from the front garden or sampling one of the pasties from the simplistic menu which is befitting for the pub and location. For those wishing to sample the ale then this is home to Hattie Browns Brewery whose beers are always available along with a number of guests, all on gravity dispense. This is one of only five pubs to have appeared in every issue of the Good Beer Guide and for a more detailed description see Andy Brown’s feature in last November’s issue of What’s Brewing.
Every day is a cider festival at the second stop on this tour - The Castle Inn, West Lulworth (thecastleinn-lulworthcove.co.uk) which was the National Cider Pub of the Year in 2014 and a finalist in the two years since. More than forty ciders are on offer from across all of the traditional cider producing regions and these are complimented by several guest ales, mainly sourced from local breweries. The pub’s website provides an up to date list of the beers and ciders which are available at the time. It sits in an idyllic setting and the stepped back garden provides a quiet retreat to enjoy the drinks and take in the scenery of the surrounding Dorset hills. The interior is homely and cosy while a good choice of bar meals at reasonable prices will satisfy those with a hearty appetite.