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Beer of the Week (w/e 19th May 2019) with Aqualung on the Pub Forum

The Royal Blenheim, Oxford Central, Oxford

13 St Ebbes Street
Oxford
OX1 1PT
Phone: 01865242355

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Blackthorn _ left this review about The Royal Blenheim

Tucked away down a side street, but nonetheless just a short stroll from Oxford’s main thoroughfare, this is a substantial brick built pub on a street corner, and whilst it doesn’t look anything particularly remarkable from the outside, there was an exceptionally large range of beers available.

Internally it’s one single L-shape room with a reasonably contemporary appearance, although more in a refurbished way than anything to extreme. Wood strip is on the majority of the floor with some chequered tiling elsewhere, whilst the ceiling was a deep blue colour. Taupe wood panelling was on much of the walls as well as some green wallpaper in places and padded bench seating ran around much of the perimeter. A porch with some stained glass made something of a feature in one corner and there were several pictures of Oxford boat crews on the walls as well as some black and white sketches and a few random quotes painted on the beams such as “There’s always time for one more pint” which was attributed to Inspector Morse. A few tatty plants on the window sills completed the interior decorations, although there was also a projector screen at one end, which looked a little out of place. Although not in use, it had yet to be rolled up for some reason, and we passed by earlier in the day when the rugby was being screened and the pub looked to be full to capacity.

I counted no less than ten pumps on the bar, although a nearby chalkboard actually listed twelve, so perhaps there were a couple more somewhere. On this visit they consisted of Titanic Plum Porter, Titanic Cheery Dark, White Horse Bitter, White Horse Wayland Smithy, White Horse Village Idiot, Everards Tiger, Saltaire Amarillo, Wingle Rambler, White Horse Show Pony RPA, Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout, Longman American Pale Ale and Longman Old Man. After that lot, the cider choice was a little disappointing with just Stowford Press. Overall with it’s friendly staff and good beer choice, this is well worth seeking out.

On 16th November 2018 - rating: 7
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Bucking Fastard left this review about The Royal Blenheim

ORIGINAL REVIEW June 2013

The exterior pub signage carries so many references to The White Horse Brewery that it would be easy to mistake this for the pubs name.It's a Project William pub with Everards owning the freehold and showcasing White Horse beers.The street corner local is quite small inside,open plan, with some floor tiling around the bar,a raised section to the right with it's own darts alcove and a mix of traditional furniture.Two flat screen were featuring limited overs cricket at low volume.
Nine handpumps greet the real ale drinker and on my trip this meant Everards Amber Mild,White Horse Brewery Bitter, Village Idiot and Wayland Smithy,a Weston Scrumpy cider,York Guzzler and three Welsh ales all of which were "available soon" from Breconshire Brewery and Bragdy Nant.The barman was a taff and I suspect this is a popular drinking hole for our Welsh cousins.
Quiz night on Wednesday and a wide selection of reasonable priced pub grub,jackets £4.65,mains £7-9,lead to the feeling this doesnt feature high in tourist guides,it's all very relaxed.
Project William pubs really shine when the brewer they showcase is at the top of the brewing game,it's therefore a shame that White Horse produce rather run of the mill brews IMHO,with only three on and better choices from the guests.Worth including on a crawl however given the focus on real ale and it's listing in the 2013 GBG.

UPDATE

When I heard the news that Titanic would takeover from White Horse,I started salivating.However the reality on the ground is that although Titanic have the lease on this Everards Project William pub ,they have passed the management back to White Horse.After an uninspiring refurb a new tenant has taken over ,but he seemed very unenthusiastic about the superb Titanic range of real ales and much more wedded to the insipid indifference from the White Horse Brewery. Consequently you may well find just Titanic Plum Porter on handpump,supplemented by their Stout and Cherry Dark on keg.Captain Smith may show up on cask from time to time but Iceberg has been black balled.White Horse still have 3 handpumps allocated to them.Until Titanic sort this situation out and start to really showcase their wares ,I'm dropping the rating .A full range of Titanic ales ,and less indifferent guests would make this a 9,and the destination real ale pub in Oxford,a city with a very poor real ale scene at present.

On 18th May 2018 - rating: 7
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Thuck Phat left this review about The Royal Blenheim

There is already much written below on the pub itself which I won't repeat other than to say that it does feel like a recent, modern refurbishment.
The key is that Titanic are taking over from White Horse as the Project William partners and this is already in evidence. Beers on were: Titanic Plum Porter and Captain Smiths, White Village Idiot and By George Bitter, Wayland Smithy, Shotover Poets Tipple, Everards Tiger, Dark Star The Original and an appalling Luna Star Gazer. The Plum Porter was very good but Iceberg or White Star may have been more appropriate for a warm evening.
In addition to the handpumps there are 9 keg taps on the wall behind the bar but with the Titanic offerings on cask these didn't get a look in.
Clearly our visit was as the pub was mid-transition but with a full Titanic takeover this will become the first, and likely last, visit in oxford.

On 14th May 2018 - rating: 9
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Ian Mapp left this review about The Royal Blenheim

Not come across White Horse Brewery before.

Went for a Waylands Smithy for the simple reason I had walked past it on the Ridgeway a couple of years ago!

Beer was in good condition. Pub was a nice victorian single room. Only thing not to like was the soft rock piped in for ambiance.

Visit blogged at http://bit.ly/2tFIpRz

On 27th July 2017 - rating: 5
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Tris C left this review about The Royal Blenheim

Rebuilt in 1898, this is now in effect the tap for the White Horse Brewery. It's hidden away out of sight of tourists, though is probably the unofficial watering hole for students at neighbouring Pembroke College and possibly those drawn from Christ Church College on the other side of St. Aldates; our PuG crawl was undertaken during the university holiday.
As described below, with a return visit made about a month later. This is a rather boring pub and the presence of returning students probably won't make for a great atmosphere either. In effect you go here for the beer where you are spoilt for choice, but have to be a fan of White Horse ales. This pub shows sport, albeit with the sound down and can attract the odd rum character.
Ale choice aside, this isn't one of Oxford's best and doesn't really warrant a special trip.

On 6th September 2016 - rating: 5
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Steve of N21 left this review about The Royal Blenheim

A very pleasant traditional back street drinkers pub close to the Gallery of Modern Art which is actually not that far from the madness of Queen Street and Cornmarket Street but far enough to avoid it being blighted by the tourist hordes.
It benefits from a good internal layout with a large tiled area for vertical drinking in front of the bar and then some pew and leather sofa seating on a slightly raised area around the windowed walls. And then an additional carpeted seating area around the back of the bar. The large windows makes the main bar section light and airy and there are plenty of period Oxford prints and photographs to give some character.
The key selling point of the Royal Blenheim is the ten real ale hand pumps which focus on the local White Horse Brewery beers. There were six of these on for our visit along with Everards Stateside Rye, St Austell Trelawny and Colchester Brewery Jack Spitty.
The first White Horse brew I went for was on the turn, but this was replaced for another without fuss by the Landlady and the clip immediately reversed.
Like others I wouldn’t go out of my way to find White Horse beers , but this place has so much more going for it that I would not hesitate to search out the pub again.

On 15th August 2016 - rating: 8
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Real Ale Ray left this review about The Royal Blenheim

Tucked away from Oxford's main thoroughfare, this pub is more of a local drinker's establishment. I found the manageress to be very welcoming and friendly and as far as to say, she liked a bit of humour. The pub was also quite spacious and had some decent seating areas. The pub also had a substantial range of ales across ten handpumps. I settled on a decent pint of Village Idiot from White Horse Brewery. I would definitely stay longer on a second visit.

On 29th July 2016 - rating: 8
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Aqualung . left this review about The Royal Blenheim

This is a small corner pub well described below with a wooden floored bar area and a small carpeted snug behind the bar. It was quiet on my Tuesday afternoon visit. I wasn't aware of TV screens in here so if there were any they must have been turned off.
I'm not a great fan of White Horse beers especially compared to other breweries involved in Project William. There were four of their beers on, three from Colchester, a cider, St Austell Liquid Sunshine and Everard's Three Tigers. I didn't look at the choice in detail but did get the impression that they were mostly bitters around the 4% ABV mark. I don't see the point of having guest ales where they are all similar. I went for the Colchester Metropolis which at £3.80 seemed like daylight robbery to me but this is central Oxford and I wasn't expecting it to be cheap. To be fair I noticed later on a menu that the White Horse regular beers were between £3.00 and £3.40.
If this is the best that Oxford can come up with nowadays I can see why I'm not keen on the city but still thought this was worth a look. At least it didn't have any tourists or students!

On 27th June 2016 - no rating submitted
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Quinno _ left this review about The Royal Blenheim

Well the Welsh landlord and his quirky ways have moved on. Popped in the other evening, not much change beyond a bit of the rugby memorabilia having gone. All pumps operational – 4x White Horse, 2x Navigation, 1x WSB, 1x Everards and Westons Family Reserve cider. My White Horse Camarillo was in decent nick but not quite as good as I’d have expected from previous (which was high). Most ales now £3.70pp which means that one of the old USPs of getting your beer a bit cheaper has been lost (though compared to the Kings Head it’s still cheap!). Still a must-visit in Oxford though.

January 2014
Christmas revisit; things much the same as my previous review two years back. Ten pumps, with eight on. Both my Dancing Duck Indian Porter and Ramsbury Rum Truffle were in excellent shape. Fair to say the licensee can divide opinion, he seemed a bit more subdued than on my previous visit but did start to warm up when a proper stereotype Oxbridge posho turned up with a cryptic crossword at the bar. Not a particularly noisy pub and I did notice an unusual amount of people quietly reading, plus a darts alcove by the far wall. Still the best bet in the immediate city centre for my ale money. Rated 9

July 2011
A newly-opened White Horse brewery pub, leased from Everards under their magnanimous Project William scheme. Nine ales and Westons scrumpy over ten pumps, three White Horse ales are always on as well as an Everards beer (a fairly undemanding stipulation of the agreement) with the rest dedicated to interesting micros. Unusually, ales can be purchased in pints, halves, thirds and two thirds, though given the fantastically reasonable prices for OX1 you may as well just do pints – all White Horse ales were under £3pp on my visit. The BARMOPS system of grading the beers was simple and effective. The pub’s interior has been given the once-over and is relatively bland compared to other OX1 pubs (just one large room, ostensibly) but given that it acts as a form of tourist repellent then it is fine by me. The service and welcome is top-notch, the slightly crackers Welsh landlord is quite a wit and we enjoyed some top-drawer banter (yes, that word) with him over our pints. A quick mention of the comedy Chuck Norris notice in the gents – see pic posted above - which sums up his Valleys sense of humour rather well. The Welshness probably explains why the pub is a big rugby venue, with football not catered for (including the results coming in). Indeed a rugby match was being shown on the large screen when we were there. I really enjoyed my stay here (we extended it beyond a single pint) and would have happily sat here for the rest of the afternoon had there not been other pubs to crawl. I will certainly be back on this showing and so should you. Rated 9.

On 22nd August 2014 - rating: 8
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Oggwyn Great left this review about The Royal Blenheim

Pub is pretty well described in the previous reviews , it is a little off the beaten track so is not full of tourists and not many students either , it has the feeling of a decent local boozer . The large TV was showing the England v Argentina rugby (the pub is a Football free zone)with plenty of banter coming from the Welsh landlord winding up his English locals .
The real ales available on my visit were Everards Amber Mild , York Guzzler , Great Orme Welsh Black and three from White Horse , Village Idiot , Wayland Smithy and Bitter , the Village Idiot and Wayland Smithy were fine and the Great Orme Welsh Black a beer of the day contender .
I really enjoyed my visit here its better than a lot of Oxfords more famous pubs .

On 9th June 2013 - no rating submitted
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