County Stat Attack Week 40 - Hampshire

Into the South of England this week and the affluent and historic county of Hampshire, the third largest county in the United Kingdom. Populated for at least 14,000 years according to archaeological finds and a key part of Roman Britain where the chief town was Venta Belgarum, now Winchester, a city that has had a rich and long history and is well worth a beery visit. The name Hampshire derives from its now largest settlement Southampton previously Hamtun. It is believed to be the earliest settlement of Britain where there was a land bridge to Europe due to low sea levels and populated by Mesolithic Hunter Gatherers, now known as Pompey fans. The earliest evidence of agriculture being practiced in Britain was in the county. Hampshire became the centre of the Kingdom of Wessex after the Roman withdrawal and was part of the Anglo Saxon change of being part of Britain to the foundation on England. Winchester became the capital of Wessex and was the home of King Alfred the Great. By the time of the Norman Conquest the centre of administration had moved to London.

The county is bordered to the south by the English Channel and the Solent, separating it from the Isle of Wight. Within its boundaries it contains the areas of Hampshire Downs, New Forest, South Hampshire lowlands, South Downs, Low Weald and heathlands. The Itchen and the Test are the main rivers, flowing south and known for Trout fishing. There are important natural harbours along the coast principally at Southampton and Portsmouth.

The largest settlements are Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Eastleigh and Gosport.

On Ratebeer we have a total of 70 Breweries 48 currently active and 22 closed. 14 of these are Client / Commissioner Breweries. The largest output we have is Vibrant Forest of Hardley (Est 2011) with 148 beers.

The oldest currently active brewery we have is Ringwood Brewery of Ringwood (Est 1978), relatively young in brewing terms but were a successful independent brewery who sold out to Marston’s in 2007 and are now part of Carlsberg Marston’s but are still brewing on the edge of the New Forest. The oldest independent brewery is Flowerpots Brewery of Cheriton (Est 1993).

The oldest brewery we have for the county is Gales of Horndean (Est 1847). George Gale & Son was a very successful and well thought of brewery for many years producing favourites beers such as HSB and Prize Old Ale. The Brewery was sold to Fullers in 2006 and immediately closed and are now part of the Japanese Asahi stable.

In the 2020 Ratebeer awards the Best Brewery went to Vibrant Forest and the Best Beer Vibrant Forest Umbral Abyss (11.5%), no award was made for new brewery.

The Top 10 beers in Hampshire are –

  1. Vibrant Forest Umbral Abyss (11.5%)
  2. Vibrant Forest Stygian Abyss
  3. Vibrant Forest Black October
  4. Vibrant Forest Umbral Abyss R
  5. Vibrant Forest Bourbon October
  6. Vibrant Forest Amorph
  7. Vibrant Forest Salted Liquorice Stout
  8. Staggeringly Good Sourpod – Imperial Triple Fruited Gose – Mango, Raspberry, Vanilla
  9. Fallen Acorn Sith Faced
  10. Unity Black is Beautiful

The Top Bars / Pubs in Hampshire are –

  1. Dancing Man, Southampton – 86
  2. Bookshop Alehouse, Southampton – 84
  3. South Western Arms, Southampton – 81
  4. Belgium & Blues, Southampton – 80
  5. Guide Dog, Southampton – 79
  6. Steam Town Brew Co, Eastleigh – 76
  7. Flowerpots Inn, Cheriton – 76
  8. Junction Inn, Southampton – 75
  9. Hyde Tavern, Winchester – 75

There is also a highly rated Bottle Shop in the County –

  1. Bitter Virtue, Southampton – 97

The Top 5 Raters of Beers from Hampshire are –

  1. @SaintMatty
  2. @BeardedAvenger
  3. @fonefan
  4. @SilkTork
  5. @imdownthepub

You will require a healthy 61 beers to ease into the Top 50 for Hampshire.

The Ratebeerian with the most ratings who resides in Hampshire is –
@SilkTork Who I am pleased to say is still rating away and who I have had the pleasure of meeting a few times.


Hampshire is not a county I know too well and I certainly didn’t know it was our third largest, until I read Glen’s piece on the county. I have only been a few times, football in Pompey and catching, or disembarking cruises in Southampton being the reasons. Never been down there for a holiday and a proper look around.

54 Beer rates @ 3.18 from 18 breweries, 4 of which have ceased to exist. No ciders, although I have had 2 beers from Mr Whitehead’s Cidery, Mead and Sake have not been taken. It is my 15th lowest scoring county by totals and sits just below half-way quality score wise.

Top Beers (sad reflection of the county)

Gale’s Jubilee Ale 4.2 3.38 8/21/2015
Ringwood Old Thumper (Bottle) (UK) 3.8 3.21 4/17/2012
Irving Iron Duke 3.8 3.32 3/18/2017
Suthwyk Skew Sunshine Ale 3.8 3.07 10/10/2019

The Old Thumper rating must have been on a day I was feeling generous.

Ringwood lead the way total wise on the beer front with 14, Bowman is on 6, Suthwyk 5 and Tripple FFF with 4.

My place reviews only come to 6 with 2 of those bottle shops (Bitter Virtue and Southwick Brewhouse) both visited on the way to pick up a cruise ship. The other 4 are pubs in Portsmouth. Sorry nothing witty or pithy to say about the county apart from my football team falling so low I might have to visit Eastleigh this season!



Another favoured county for me, no beer festivals unfortunately but plenty of decent days out, not long been back from another week there staying near the lovely city of Winchester. Banbury is pretty central and there is very little to choose where our closest coast location is, in actual fact its near Weston Super Mud but no-one wants to go there so it’s due south to Hampshire, we also have a direct rail link to Southampton, if you can afford it, on Cross Country.

I hadn’t really had many beers in Southampton before a couple of years back, I couldn’t believe how it had improved and link that to Winchester, it makes a decent combo. I have had beers in Portsmouth but I haven’t done the city justice really, needs a re-visit, same with Gosport. All this and the beautiful pubs in the wonderful New Forest and it all adds up.

Football wise, been to Fratton Park lots, it’s a very traditional ground down some back streets with pubs on the corners all stoutly defended by the locals but achievable. Some bloke keeps ringing a bell encouraging his mates to chant Play up Pompey, drives you mad after a while. Used to go to the Dell but haven’t been to the new ground, nor the new cricket ground either, would love to do that. I have done the South Downs Way, starting at Winchester, ending in Eastbourne, lovely walking.

I’m quite pleased with my 5th place for Hampshire with 263 beers tried. Years ago the Landlord of the Swan in Banbury who was the brother of the owner of Hampshire Brewery so we used to get all their beers quite regularly, mostly pretty ordinary it has to be said but handy all the same. I’ve managed to bag 39 different Breweries placing me 3rd in that chart. Hampshire is 25th in my list of English counties with an average of 3.23, that’s okay.

The Breweries I have had most beers from are –

  1. Vibrant Forest Brewery – 28
  2. Itchen Valley Brewery – 21
  3. Fallen Acorn Brewing Co – 19
  4. Hampshire Brewery – 19
  5. Ringwood Brewery – 18
  6. Triple fff Brewery – 18

I have given a score of 4 or over to 14 beers from Hampshire, the best being –

  1. Triple fff Jabberwocky – 4.5
  2. Cheriton Village Elder – 4.3
  3. Ringwood XXXX Porter – 4.3
  4. Bowman Quiver – 4.2
  5. Ringwood Fortyniner (Cask) – 4.1 (Before the sell out!)
  6. Hampshire Wild Thing – 4.1
  7. Oakleaf Blake’s Gosport Bitter – 4.1
  8. Unity Collision – 4.1

The Hampshire Breweries with the highest averages for me are –

  1. Flowerpot Brewery – 3.567
  2. Vibrant Forest Brewery – 3.543
  3. Fallen Acorn – 3.505
  4. Triple fff Brewery – 3.456
  5. Steam Town Brew Co – 3.4

I have reviewed 32 places in Hampshire putting it in 15th place in my list of English counties for places. Thought it might be higher. My favourites are –

  1. Overdraft, Winchester – 82
  2. Dancing Man, Southampton – 78
  3. Bookshop Alehouse, Southampton – 78
  4. Beards & Boards, Southampton – 78
  5. Belgium & Blues, Southampton – 76
  6. Ten Tun Tap House, Alton – 76

Portsmouth with Southsea really needs to get done properly, a bit of a stretch to suggest a Ratebeer day out there probably, not really central.


All too few Hampshire beers for me. (22) And that would be even lower were it not for Vibrant Forest who dominate my top ten.
|Vibrant Forest Umbral Abyss|3.8|
|Vibrant Forest Necropolis|3.7
|Red Cat Mr M’s Porter|3.7
|Test Dun Stout|3.7|
|Vibrant Forest Chinook|3.6|
|Vibrant Forest Salted Liquorice Stout|3.5|
|Unity Collision|3.5|3.6|10/30/2017||
|Vibrant Forest Outlander|3.5|
|Unity Congregate|3.5|
|Vibrant Forest Kick-Start|3.4|

I recall some liquid lunches in Winchester and a pleasant holiday in the New Forest but well before RB days. But it is a place I need to revisit (aren’t they all?)


Forgot to mention that the home of Portsmouth FC backwards is ‘Krap Nott Arf’.



Have 40 rates from Hampshire. Know Basingstoke well as my wife is from there.

My top rates from Hampshire both at 4.1 are:
Gale’s Prize Old Ale (1920s - 2006) the 2003 Vintage as my rating #5000.
Gospel Green Original Cyder - Kentish Dosage

There are 8 active cideries listed for Hampshire, with Mr Whitehead’s Cider having the highest cider count at 42. The top 5 for Hampshire cider and cidery raters are:

HampshireCider Ratings



409 Hants ticks for #2.

My top beers are as follows:

Plus #1 in respect of Breweries:

Top Numbers being:

Unity - 70
Vibrant Forest - 39
Red Cat - 29
Staggeringly Good - 27
Fallen Acorn - 24

One mead from one meadery and then 6 ciders from 3 cideries.

50 Places rated. The Top 10 being:

Based on the their current beer range the PoW would score less but haven’t been there since Feb 2020. Surprised to see the Fulflood Arms there.

The one place I really need to get to is Southampton but it’sa place I rarely go to. I’ve only visited Bitter Virtue. And a Yates prior to the 2006 Hamsphire Senior Cup Final (Farnborough 1 - 0 Basingstoke).

Also need to get to the new micropub/hotel bar in Farnborough: Goat in the Garden.
However there are suggestions that it’s guest only even though it’s advertised as a pub. Presumably licencing related.

Portsmouth’s a great place for a weekend break. Need to get down there again… or more specifically get to Gosport again now that there is a new brewery with swanky looking tap: Powder Monkey. Also need to tick of Newtown Brewery there which may need to be at a beer festival as their beers are not widely available unless on at the Queen Hotel in town.

The remaining two breweries I then need to tick off are Brockenhurst (one beer brewed at a hotel for their bar) and Future Brew (Southampton Uni students contract brewing).


I love Hampshire, although I find it increasing hard to get to these days. I’ve had 39 beers from Hampshire (not enough for the leaderboard unfortunately) with four beers at 4 and above:

Possibly my only county where the (joint) top beer is a mild. That’s pretty cool.

I’ve tried 12 Hampshire breweries, all still active. The most rated are Vibrant Forest (16) and Ringwood (6), with all other breweries & cideries at only 1 or 2 beers (or ciders).

I haven’t actually been rating in Hampshire for years - the last few times I’ve been there have either been for football in which case I was with others & didn’t pick the pubs, or on a family trip where there wasn’t any time. So I only have seven places in Southampton, and they don’t really reflect the craft beer mini-revolution in the county*. Top places are:

I know that the Guide Dog divides opinion. It’s pretty traditional and maybe not a place to take your mum** but the beer tends to be spot on. I had the best pint of Fullers ESB in my life here.

*There is supposed to be a BrewDog opening in Basingstoke at some point. I still can’t get my head around that.
**I once took my mum to the Guide Dog, many years ago. She took one look and walked back out.


IIRC the list of forthcoming venues on BD’s website no longer includes Basingrad.

Not surprising. I thought that was a pretty bold leap for them.

Just 5 Hampshire rates for me:

But from 5 breweries, so I’m at least making an effort on that front! Remember having a couple of Vibrant Forest beers years ago at the Shrewsbury Beer Festival and thinking they were very decent, but then they went off my radar until recently, definitely one to look out for. As are Staggeringly Good & Unity based on my limited experience. Not so much Andwell & Ringwood.

It’s another long-distance county for me, and I’ve made very few trips there - sounds like Southampton is worth a go, maybe tie it in with some cricket or football. But let’s face it, I’ll go to Manchester or Birmingham instead, much nearer!

Most of the new ones are franchises I believe so franchisee may well have pulled out.

I think the Lincoln one is/was due to be a Reds BBQ franchise. The building it’s due to be in is still up for sale or lease so not convinced about that one either.

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Ok. Let’s get one thing clear from the start. I have absolutely no connection with Hampshire – apart from being raised as an avid supporter of their cricket team. [ In fact I believe I was first taken to see them play before my first birthday ! ]

Now to the beer. I have only rated 7 Hampshire beers, from 5 breweries. [ 2 each from Vibrant Forest and Ringwood – 1 for the others ]

Highest rated beers are
Fallen Acorn Sith Faced 3.8
Vibrant Forest Black Forest Porter 3.7

Looking at my own records now, I’ve drunk 34 Hampshire beers, from 12 breweries.
Ringwood has the most beers sampled with 12.

Not rated any places in the county. In fact the only time I’ve drunk there would probably be in Southampton about 30 years ago.

I have been to watch Hampshire at home – but not at any ground that they still play on ! Occasional visits to Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. None of the matches very memorable.

Bus spotting visits to Hampshire have not been particularly exciting either. Though I do believe I rode on a Bournemouth trolleybus at a very tender age.


I have not set foot in England since January 2020 so I am really missing it, and my beloved Hampshire in particular. One positive about living abroad is you really notice the changes when you go back 2 or 3 times a year. I am sure I have some catching up to do on how the beer scene is these days.


And yet you are still leading the way for Hampshire :grinning: :+1:

I have tried 108 Hampshire beers, the best of which are these:

I just loved Fallen Acorn The Valley Of Ghost, my rate was higher than others, but I have a real soft spot for chocolate and cherry.

My 108 beer are from 20 breweries. The breweries I have had the most beers from are:

Brewery Count
Staggeringly Good 19
Unity Brewing 15
Fallen Acorn 15

My top rated Hampshire breweries are:

Brewery Rate
Staggeringly Good 3.73
Unity 3.71
Fallen Acorn 3.71

The only place I have rated in person is Golden Pot in Eversley

The other was for an online shop.


Right, I’m playing catch up, the category is county stats, I’m in the 4 zone and I’m going to play… (let’s see who gets that reference).

I’ve had 56 rates from Hampshire, making it my 17th most-rated county, but leaving me (as usual!) just outside the top 50. My top-rated brews are rather pleasingly from 6 different breweries:

I haven’t tried the Marstons reduced-strength version of Old Thumper yet, but I suspect it will not score as highly as the original!

My rates have cone from 16 breweries and 3 cideries. My most-rated are Ringwood (10), and Fallen Acorn (7). Vibrant Forest with 6 rates is, somewhat to my surprise, my 4th highest-rated brewery (5+ rates) at 3.65.

I’ve only rated two places, neither of which are worth mentioning here (a 'Spoons & a Marstons/Ringwood tied house).

It’s a county I’ve been to a lot, as it’s one of the nearer coastal counties to home.It’s very attractive in an understated way - the New Forest is lovely if you can get away from the crowds (and avoid the Lyndhurst traffic), and seeing the farm animals wandering freely through the centre of Brockenhurst is always surreal! But there’s plenty that should be celebrated outside the forest too - the hilly areas in the north and the east of the county are beautiful but seemingly forgotten. Townwise, I do always enjoy going to both Winchester and Christchurch, whilst on the coast Hurst Castle and the Portsmouth waterfront are really interesting and well worth a visit.

The highest point is Pilot Hill in the far north west of the county (not far from Newbury), at 286m above sea level. It’s just a short walk along a pleasant ridge from the Berkshire highest point - it’s a nice are for walking too.

I’ve done one long distance walk at least partly in Hampshire - the Three Castles Path from Windsor to Winchester (which oddly I afterwards discovered was designed by a work colleague’s Dad). It wasn’t my favourite path I’m afraid (sorry Clare’s Dad!) but we extended the end a bit to partake in an odd beery tradition - the Wayfarer’s Dole.

The Wayfarer’s Dole has been provided by the beautiful Hospital of St Cross (an old religious institution) to refresh weary travellers since the 12th century. Essentially you turn up at the porter’s office, state that you are a weary traveller and ask for refreshment. You then get given a (nowadays very small) portion of bread and beer, nowadays served on the Hospital’s own rather lovely earthenware crockery (in the old days the beer was served in a horn!).

The staff at the hospital are all really lovely, and were quite taken with the fact that we’d actually walked from Windsor (rather than their usual “weary” travellers who just stroll out from WInchester). They told us that the beer used to be a special one made just for the hospital (and donated free) by Gales; however since the Fullers takeover it had been replaced by London Pride (although to be fair to Fullers, apparently still donated - I wonder if Asahi will continue to be so charitable though?).

I loved finding a beery custom that was nearly 900 years old & happily donated some cash to keep it going - does anyone know of an older beery custom?


Alfred’s Brewery now brew a beer for them. The Wayfarer’s Ale. Down on UT as a Mild. Not on here yet.

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Aiiee, I obviously timed my visit badly. Would have loved a mild at the end of a long walk! Glad it’s not London Pride any more, anyway!

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