PINT TO PINT
The Wyndham Arms, Salisbury
Early doors. There’s a palpable sense of indulgence in being the first in a pub just after it has opened for its lunchtime session. I almost feel devotional as I stand before the brick-built, wooden-topped bar in The Wyndham Arms, watching the bartender pouring me a pint of gold-flecked Summer Lightning.
The Wyndham is a historic place. It was here in 1987 that Hop Back started brewing in the cellar, and a year later when founder John Gilbert came up with Summer Lightning. This appetising, citrusy, refreshing golden ale kicked off a nationwide thirst for beers that looked like lager but tasted like ale.
As I take great gulps of this magical beer, hard winter sunlight streams in through the windows. There’s a murmur of television news in the corner. After serving me, the bartender returns to his newspaper, turning the pages slowly. The mood of the pub is tranquil, a considerate contrast to the muted noise of cars roaring past on the A36 outside.
My mood of contemplation in the company of a great pint is helped by the fact that The Wyndham itself is a rather beautiful building, a classic Victorian street-corner boozer with a painted plaster relief of a green man, wreathed with hops and barley, above its front door.
Inside, there are three drinking spaces, their walls papered with award certificates, framed prints and newspaper articles – plus a painting of the pub.
I return to the bar. Six cask beers are available, all from Hop Back, which now brews in nearby Downton. But it’s another Summer Lightning for me. The slow tick-tock of the mood in the pub is heightened by the entrance of a local, who parks himself on a stool at the bar and orders a pint of Hop Back Crop Circle. He nods to me and begins to meditate on the glass in front of him.
More enter: a trio of office workers, a couple and their dog, a student of beer history. They’re here to enjoy each other’s company, or just take some time to commune with themselves over a pint.
Like I said: devotional.