Sandford Park Alehouse
Food 6 / 10
Drink 9 /10
Atmos 8 / 10
Sandford Park Alehouse Decent pub food and a seemingly never-ending selection of perfectly kept beer.
The Longer Read The Sandford is something of a rarity these days. It’s a pub that’s owned by somebody who loves pubs and sells what customers want. If you want to drop in for a few pints of traditional bitter after work, try the latest Cloudwater Double IPA. Or settle in for a night of Lambic and Gueze, the SPA is perfect.
Beer drinkers are particularly well catered for. There are nine real ales (plus one cider) on hand-pull. These change daily, but always include Mad Goose, Butty Bach and Citra. Citra being one of the best hoppy beers in the country. Prices have been as low as £2.50 a pint (are savings being passed on to the customer here? Buy that man a drink!). But you can usually expect to pay between £2.90 and £3.40 for real ale.
Keg Beers at The Sandford Park Alehouse
Drinks on keg (twelve beers, two ciders) are also changed regularly, and usually include everything from sweet cherry Lambic to imperial stout. Local breweries are represented, but The Sandford has avoided the trap of thinking all local beers are good because they are local. So, thankfully only the good ones. Behind the bar, fridges full of bottles from (mostly) Belgium, Germany, and America are available.
Wines aren’t bad at all, and spirits are good quality and keenly priced, but even the beer-phobic should ask for a recommendation and try a few free tasters. Just ask!
Food at Sandford Park Alehouse
Sandford Park Alehouse food on offer is simple but usually good quality. The Fish and Chips (£7.95) are reliable in-town options. The Sausage and Mash (£7.95) bangers are great quality, coming from The Farmhouse on the High Street. The food is popular, but humble. Not a gastro pub by any means. The focus is on the beer, and that focus has really paid off. The pub gets extremely busy at weekends.
When the weather perks up, the beer garden is usually full. The service is pretty good, occasionally CAMRA surly, and never slow. If you drop in on a weekday afternoon, you might think the pub was only used by the older, traditional type of real ale drinker. Head down on Thursday or Friday night however, and you’ll realise that the Sandford Park Alehouse is populated with everyone from students, to suits, friends playing board games. Or playing on what might be Gloucestershire’s last remaining bar billiards table). There’s a friendly mix of first timers and familiar faces. It’s a testament to the quality, and the price range.
It’s hard to suggest an exact equal in Cheltenham. Bottle of Sauce is similarly buzzy, albeit with a much more limited range of beers. Honourable mentions for the Kemble Brewery Inn and Jolly Brewmaster, also CAMRA pubs.