The Butchers Arms (BA), Sheepscombe will celebrate its tenth year in succession of entry into the Good Beer Guide 2022, the annual publication of the Campaign for Real Ale. (The only other Stroud district pub to have been in the GBG for the last ten years is the Crown and Sceptre Stroud, which is probably the longest continuous entry since 2010). The BA gained entry in 2013 and has consistently been seen by the local Stroud CAMRA as serving good quality ale as well as a wide diverse range from across the UK. Since April 2021 when pubs re-opened the BA has hosted 57 different ales from 23 breweries and from 51% of English Counties (14 – if there are 27 counties in total) and at least one brewery from Scotland and Wales. It manages this feat with only two guest ale pumps which change constantly, rarely more than one barrel of each before a new one is tapped.
The managers, Sharon and Mark, who work for a small pub company, Heartstone Inns, (8 pubs currently) have committed themselves to proving a wide range of ales since 2-3 years after they took over the pub in 2007 and had settled in to their new life. From 2010 they began to work to gain the commendation of the local Stroud CAMRA group and was selected for their first entry in January 2012 (the selection takes place in January of the previous year for entry). Although the pub company established an agreement with St Austell Brewery to serve all their pubs regularly for a reduced price the BA managers have managed to persuade their owners that it in the interest of Heartstone Inns for the BA to have more flexibility over ale choice as being in the Good Beer Guide also enhances the company.
The managers have committed themselves in recent times to three local breweries for whom they order directly, The Bristol Beer Factory, the Battledown Brewery, Cheltenham and the new Fresh Standard Brewery from Minchinhampton. They rely, for the rest of their ales, on a local Distributor ‘The Beer Agent’ (Tony Hodder) from whom they have purchased ales for most of their time here. He travels widely across the country sourcing a wide range of ales from small and medium sized breweries.
While the BA is in large part a destination pub, with its popular stone façade, village pub low ceilings, four small rooms along its length, popular reliable food menu and good service it is also able to enhance its attraction with its ever-changing range of ales which encourages people to return and imbibe new ale flavours. It also has a bar pump dedicated to real cider, either Gert Lush from Gert Cider, another local Gloucestershire brewery and the Sahara from Perry’s Cider in Somerset close to where the joint publican Sharon was brought up.