Find out about the beer and food we sampled on the second South Hants Hop Social meet up at the new Overdraft craft ale bar in Winchester.
It’s not often you can go somewhere decent for a few drinks and a bite to eat and come home with change from £30, especially in Winchester.
I did just that last night on our second South Hants Hop Social meet up in Winchester. And no, it didn’t include a trip to Wetherspoon’s.
We started off with a couple of drinks at the Albion pub. Right by the train station, it’s the ideal meeting place.
If you like your cask ales, you’ll love the Albion. Part of the nearby Flower Pots Brewery stable, it serves their core range, plus their seasonal specials and the odd guest beer from other breweries.
I had a pint of “Goodens Gold” (4.8%) – Flower Pot’s classic golden ale – while I kept an eye out for Andy and then Ben, two Hop Social first timers.
I also had a half of the seasonal brew “Autumn Blaze” (5.2%). Malty and sweet, I could easily have had a few more if we’d been sticking around.
However, the purpose of tonight’s meet up was to check out the new Overdraft craft ale bar in Jury Street, which opened a few weeks ago as a sister venue to Overdraft in Shirley, Southampton. So we supped up and headed towards the city centre.
Down to Overdraft
Overdraft in Winchester shares many characteristics with its Southampton venue.
Firstly, there’s the selection of around 15 craft ales and real ales on cask and keg, as well a few more in cans and bottles (along with a good selection of boxed ciders and a few spirits and other drink options).
The music – regular live acts and DJs playing vinyl – and simple, minimalist decor is also similar to its sister micropub. Yet, it feels like more of a bar than a micropub here in Winchester, especially when you consider this space used to be a restaurant rather than a bank like Overdraft in Shirley.
Another difference is there’s food in the form of Mexican tacos on offer, something I was keen to report back to Tiff about so I could persuade her to visit with me next time.
There were only two casks ales ready from the nine casks on the stillage the bar, both priced at £3.90 a pint. I opted for a pint of Vibrant Forest “Cydonia” (4.7%), a quaffable fruity and hoppy American red ale.
One of the advantages of many craft keg beers over cask is that breweries don’t have to worry about picking up the empty kegs. That means adventurous venues like Overdraft can bring in draught beers from breweries from further afield with kegs. I find that some beers are more suited to keg dispense too.
Tonight, keg beers from the likes of Newport’s Tiny Rebel and Falmouth’s Verdant were joined by a couple of relatively well-known international beers from Devil’s Peak Brewing Company – a South African brewery that brews in the UK – and Kona, a Hawaiian brewery part-owned by global beer giant AB Inbev. Kona now brews most of its beer on the US mainland, leading to two Californians suing the brewery earlier this year for misleading consumers with its packaging.
Hampshire was still represented on the keg taps by Southampton’s Unity Brewing Co, which usually doesn’t produce beer for casks.
I stuck with red ale for my next drink, “Drop” (4.3%) from Bath’s Electric Bear Brewing Co. This was enjoyable, but I reckon I’d prefer it more on cask with a bit less fizz. I followed up with the Devil’s Peak “Cut and Run” (5%).
Like most places, keg beers are slightly more expensive than cask at Overdraft.
In the meantime, I ordered a couple of chicken tacos (£6). In all, there are seven varieties of taco on the menu (including three veggie choices). There’s also a couple more options on the specials board, which changes weekly.
Seating’s quite limited in the main part of the venue, but there’s a few benches near the kitchen at the back and lots of shelving to perch at with your food next to the bar. Upstairs, there’s more seating with table service.
We decided to perch with our food, which is fine as it’s easy enough to eat tacos standing up between sips of beer. Served with Mexican cheese, a mellow yellow sauce (salsa amarilla), a sprinkling of chopped onion with a slice of fresh lime and a helping of tomato salsa, they were juicy and delicious. The fresh and fluffy tortilla was especially fine.
Ross also treated us to a side of tortilla chips (£3.75). These make a sturdy alternative to the average pub snack if you want something lighter.
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My next drink – a Tiny Rebel “Stay Puft” (5.2%) – was the perfect dessert for my tacos. This is a porter made with marshmallows and lactose, named after the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It’s rich and malty with a creamy mouthfeel – blooming lovely really. And very sweet – a half was just right.
I stayed on the rare ingredients tip with Red Cat Brewing’s “Ginger Hazzard” (4%) on cask next. I wasn’t really keen on the ginger in this one. But it was worth sampling.
Then, as the staff called last orders, I went back to a hoppy pale ale on keg with the DEYA “Steady Rolling Man” (5.2%).
Good value and different
I love doing pub crawls of Winchester’s traditional pubs. But the beer selection can get a bit drab from time to time.
Not so at Overdraft.
With such a good variety of keg and cask beers, as well as delicious good-value food, it’s easy to spend a few hours here sipping beers from near and far. And, if you do fancy a bit of a pub crawl, Overdraft is sure to offer different beers to the other venues in town.
Info: Overdraft is at 5A Jewry Street, Winchester, SO23 8RZ. Call 01962 866358. Open 12-11pm Monday to Saturday and 12-10.30pm on Sundays.