Sunday, 1 May 2016

Crown Inn, Woolhope, Herefordshire

As a frequent visitor to Herefordshire and the wider Three Counties area since the early 1980's, I've often found it something of a disappointment that in a county so strongly associated with the traditions of cidermaking, so few of the pubs offer much in the way of high quality local cider and perry. The ciders from Westons of Much Marcle, the county's major regional producer, have always been relatively common, but the smaller producers of high quality traditional cider and perry, of which there are now many, have often been hard to find outside of a handful of rural pubs and farmshops.

I'm pleased to say that things have improved a little in recent years, with several pubs in the county specialising in ciders from the Three Counties, and many more offering at least something from one or more of the smaller local producers. The Crown Inn at Woolhope has been a notable exception in this regard for several years now. In fact the Crown specialises in Herefordshire ciders and perries as well as the best local beers and fabulous locally sourced food. There can't be too many pubs which offer a separate cider and perry menu alongside the food and wine, an entirely local selection that even includes their own home-pressed 'Kings' cider and perry. It's for this reason that I was more than happy to return to the Crown for an excellent Sunday lunch recently.

Even if cider isn't to your taste, a diversion down the narrow winding roads to Woolhope and the attractive whitewashed Crown Inn is highly recommended, particularly in the summer when the garden, overlooked by St George's church, really comes into its own. Watch out for the local wildlife though, I very nearly had my lunch stolen by a particularly cheeky Blackbird the first time I visited the pub. Yes, even the birds love it at the Crown Inn.

The attention to detail at the Crown Inn extends to a luxury heated and covered smoking shelter at the rear of the pub (below). This space also houses the pubs Table Football, a Dartboard, and Herefordshire's local pub game Quoits. The Crown's Quoits board is a fairly typical concrete example, the standard for boards in the nearby Hereford city league. Painted in the traditional red and green and seated on a steel frame, netted to catch stray Quoits. The table is brought inside and positioned at the Darts oche for more serious play, but a set of Quoits are available from the bar for casual summertime games.

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