One of the oldest breweries in the country – heads to Hall & Woodhouse, Blandford (hall-woodhouse.co.uk) which can trace its origins back to 1777, when Charles Hall created Ansty Brewery in the village from which it took its name. The brewery adopted its present name in 1847 when Charles’ son went into business with George Woodhouse while their badger logo was first used in 1875, becoming their trademark in 1900 when the brewery moved closer to its current location. The company has remained within the Hall/Woodhouse families throughout, acquiring the King & Barnes brand name and estate in 2000 and, despite the sale of a number of pubs in recent years, still owns well over 200 outlets across the south. While their range of bottled beers are a familiar sight in supermarkets all over the country, its cask ales are no longer sold to the free trade, so this trip should be popular with those who cannot get to one of their pubs to sample cask conditioned First Call, Firsty Ferret or Tanglefoot to name but a few.
The brewery is kindly providing a complimentary buffet during the visit and a trip will also be made on Friday evening. The journey home on both of these tours will include a stop at The Woodpecker in Spetisbury (woodpeckerspetisbury.co.uk). This welcoming village pub was originally owned by Hall & Woodhouse and called The Drax Arms until it was sold to Swanky’s Pub Company some ten years ago, changing to its current name a short time later. Four locally sourced real ales and a good selection of cider can be found at this free house which has collected a number of local CAMRA awards in recent years. Those looking for great beer with a friendly atmosphere and traditional pub games such as bar billiards and Shove Ha’penny will not be disappointed.