And so to Bedford

A group of us visited the town in January. We started at noon in Pilgrim’s Progress, a busy town centre Wetherspoon’s pub, presumably named for John Bunyan who is an important figure in the town’s history. Good selection of ales, though one of our number was disappointed that the current Wetherspoon’s London beer festival did not extend as far as Bedfordshire! The pizzas looked very tasty.

We then moved on to the Kings Arms, a Greene King pub whose custom was increased considerably on our arrival. Reverend James was the popular beer choice here.

Next up was the Three Cups, another Greene King pub, but leased by White Park Brewery and with a choice of seven guest ales. This was one of the best pubs on the trip: wood panelled and dating from the 1770s. It was also quite busy. Then many customers all left at once and we realised they were off to the nearby Bedford rugby club ground.

The Castle, a 19th century red brick pub, was a stone’s throw from the Three Cups. The Wells Eagle IPA was sound. The friendly bar staff were disappointed that we were only staying for one.

By this stage in the day there had been talk of micropubs and additional pubs not on the itinerary (Beerfly Bottle Shop etc.). Several restless participants decided to go off piste for a while. We all reassembled in due course at the Brewhouse and Kitchen in the High Street. This modern establishment, which was once a bank then a Wetherspoon’s, offers craft keg beers as well as cask. Their food menu was quite popular with our group.

All the pubs we visited featured in the 2018 Good Beer Guide, apart from the Bear just across the road from the Brewhouse. This is a long-standing Bedford pub that has recently reverted to its original name. It offers four ales and attracts a younger crowd. Consequently it is the local CAMRA young members’ pub of the year for 2018.
Our final pub was the Wellington Arms, a street corner local with twelve ales on offer. One of the best pubs on the trip, though it was extremely busy when we arrived, including a large contingent in brightly striped blazers. They turned out to be the away supporters from Dorking rugby club.

An assortment of seventeen people came along on the day. The tour was well researched and very enjoyable. In the past the organiser, Aidan Kerrigan, has also run trips to Norwich, Peterborough, Oxford, Cambridge and Portsmouth & Southsea. Cheap rail fares and proximity to London influence the choice of destination. Trains from Blackfriars to Bedford (Thameslink) run every half-hour and the journey takes around an hour.
Peter Campbell

Editor’s note:
Aidan’s trips are not arranged on behalf of any particular organisation, although a large number of the participants come from the Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood (SPBW) and CAMRA.