Sunday 17th March 2013
Taunton isn't the greatest town in the UK for good pubs and beer. It must have been better once, but those days are gone. Yet, despite that rather gloomy assessment, there are some pockets of resistance against the tide of keg outlets. In my mind the best pub that I have visited in Taunton over the years is the Plough. Since I first came across it over ten years ago, and right up to this visit, it has been consistently good.
I tried to research its history but I can't tell you a lot. I saw one reference to it opening in 1939 which I thought was a very unusual year for a pub to open, unless it was a large roadhouse on a new housing estate, which it most certainly isn't! However there is no mention of it in the 1919 census, so that could be right. Of course, it could have been renamed; who knows?
Before you go in please notice the self-standing inn sign on the busy pavement; maybe the road wasn't quite so wide when it was erected. To enter the pub you go along the alleyway at its side as the front door is now closed. This arrangement means you have make a 180 degree turn inside to get to the bar.
This part of the pub is long, narrow and has much charm. At the front is a nice fireplace that still sees use on colder days and a piano. I think this is the best part of the pub. Old photographs and other artefacts cover the walls and what seating there is comes in a mixture of wooden and upholstered.
At the rear it is completely different, having three rooms at differing levels. Personally, I think they are a bit claustrophobic, but I have used them when the main bar room is busy.
This is a pub dedicated to imbibing pleasures and because its location in the west, cider is very prominent. But first, let's have a look at the beers. They were: Otter (Honiton, Devon) Amber (4.0%); Yeovil Brewery (Yeovil, Somerset) Summerset (4.1%); Quantock (Wellington, Somerset) Stout (4.5%) and RCH (West Hewish, Somerset) Pitchfork (4.3%). As can be seen, the policy is to resource locally from Somerset or adjacent counties. All of these beers are served directly from casks in the bar fitted with a cooling system.
The cider list is even more extensive with the following being offered: Thatcher's (Sandford, Somerset) Heritage (4.9%); Orchard Pig (Glastonbury) Philosopher (6.0%), Explorer (4.5%) and Forest Fruits (4.0%), a fruit flavoured cider. There was also Rich's (Highbridge, Somerset) Farmhouse cider (6.0%); Tricky (Churchinford, Somerset) Dry (6.5%); Fosseway (Shepton Mallet) Somerset Glory (6.0%); Sheppy's (Bradford-on-Tone, Somerset) Farmhouse cider (6.0%); West Croft (Highbridge) Janet's Jungle Juice (6.0%) and finally Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Raspberry Twist (4.0%), another one with added fruit flavour.
Food is offered most of the time. The menu consists mostly of Pies of various varieties and toasted granary bread sandwiches of many sorts.
With fear of repetition, please note this is a great pub.
The Plough Inn, 75 Station Road, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1PB. Tel: 01823 324404
Open: Monday to Wednesday 11.00-24.00; Thursday 11.00-01.00;
Friday and Saturday 11.00-03.00; Sunday 11.00-01.00
The pub is in Station Road on the way from the railway station into the town centre. Many buses come along this road. It is about 200 yards (metres) to the South entrance of the station and around 300 yards (metres) to the main entrance (north) Trains are operated by First Great Western from London through Taunton to Exeter, Plymouth and Cornwall. They also operate local trains. Cross-Country trains also operate down to the far west and north to Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, York, Newcastle and Scotland.