Withy is an olde worlde word for willow, or so I am told, but all I was weeping over on my recent visit to the Withy Arms in Bamber Bridge was the fact I could only have a pair of pints.
Possibly due to the recent brightening weather, I don’t know, but the Peerless Knee Buckler IPA currently flowing from the taps of this stylish but cosy Station Road pub is a serious contender for my pint of the year so far.
Hailing from Birkenhead, this golden lovely threw off the scent of brown sugar and dried orange, packed a toffee nutty bready tang in the body and left my mouth fruity, dry and gasping for the next sup.
A gulp which at no point proved overlong in coming, and in the twinkling of an eye the bottom of a barrel glass appeared and my shoulders sank.
A tough act to follow, and although a fair cask selection was on offer nothing leapt out at me as a worthy successor.
So ditching pump for tap, a total change of tack next found me lip to lip with a pot of scrumpy.
Cloudy and flat as a fluke, with a smoky earthy orchard aroma, this is serious cider (with a 7.3% wallop up its sleeve). A mouth-filling over ripe apple flavour floods the mouth on contact, sweet, again smoky, but with enough tang to keep the whole from being over rich.
Nicely dry post gulp, definitely one to sip and savour.
The pub itself is definitely a pleasant place to spend time. Having visited its Leyland sibling last year – which boasts an outdoor space unrivalled in the area but internally is just a little sterile – was not sure just what to expect but came away pleasantly surprised.
Chic but nicely higgledy piggledy, the lighting was soft, the music muted, and the furnishings comfortable.
The food is a fairly big part of the package, but the Withy Arms team pull off the trick of coming over as a pub that takes grub seriously rather than a bistro which grudgingly opens its door to drinkers.
This column is not about dining as such, but am always happy to give a nod where the nosh merits one, and this did.
The menu is simple, tends to the Man vs Food approach, and the quality is evident in every bite. Not terribly cheap, I should add, but fairly priced.
At just under the fiver four huge crackling crisp fried chicken strips would have made a fine main for most sane humans, and if the pub’s £7.99 ‘Famous’ burger is as well-known as its name suggests, it is rightfully so. Huge, opulent, juicy and delicious.
Well worth a Withit I mean visit.