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From its rolling hills to its wooded river valleys, Monmouthshire is a delight to explore and has numerous decent watering holes. If you’re seeking trendy bars, you’ll probably need to look elsewhere (try heading south to Cardiff) but if you enjoy a good pint of real ale in a country boozer, Monmouthshire will delight you.
One of Wales’ wealthiest areas, it sports a mix of ‘proper’ pubs (hunting prints on the walls, dogs sprawled by the fire) and sympathetically restyled destination hostelries with an appealing menu as well as a homely bar. Either way, top-drawer regional beers and ciders are a priority.
A grandly proportioned former coaching inn, The Beaufort has been lovingly run by Eliot and Jana Lewis for over a decade. Settle in the lounge (flagstone floors, oak beams, inglenook fireplace) or the self-styled ‘country bar’, where you can rub shoulders with the locals over a pint of Brains Reverend James.
The Boat’s beer garden has river views and there are plenty of lovely walks to be had in the surrounding woodlands. Real ales, ciders and perries feature strongly; check their website for a list of what’s on tap. Typically you’ll find ales from the Wye Valley Brewery and local ciders from Gillow, Gwynt y Ddraig and the like.
Four centuries old and still going strong, this ‘proper’ country pub’s rambling rooms boast flagstone floors, roaring fires and antiques aplenty. The location in the wooded valley of the Mounton Brook is delightful, and there’s a suntrap outdoor seating area for finer days. Tip-top real ales and cider too.
There are views of the Wye Valley from The Fountain’s beer garden, while its interior is all stone floors and exposed beams. A freehouse, it offers an interesting selection of real ales from Brains Reverend James to Whittington’s Cats Whiskers. It also holds two beer festivals each year.
A homely, stone-built 13th-century inn set deep in the countryside not far from Offa’s Dyke, Hunter’s Moon is an ideal place to sample HPA and Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery. Otherwise, choose Addlestones and Kingstone Press draught ciders or fine wines from Tanners of Shrewsbury.
This award-winning country pub sits close to the Offa’s Dyke footpath and has lovely views from its beer garden. Regular offerings include beers from Kingstone Brewery in Tintern, Wye Valley Brewery and the Tudor Brewery in Abergavenny. There are excellent ciders too, from the likes of Westons and Ty Gwyn.
A traditional charmer, The Lion comprises two rooms replete with exposed beams and open fires. Expect superb ales including draught favourites such as Butcombe Bitter, Wye Valley Butty Bach and Felin Foel Double Dragon. Otherwise sup Springfield cider or Raglan Cider Mill Tawny Owl perry.
Run by the Key family for 45 years, The Nag’s Head sports a hotchpotch of memorabilia and pictures, with farming implements hanging from its oak beams. Ales include Brains Reverend James and SA, Sharp’s Doom Bar and a regularly rotated guest beer. The river Usk is a short walk away.
This friendly, open-plan freehouse has up to five handpumps and at least one ale tapped straight from the barrel in the summer. Regular offerings include Wye Valley Hereford Pale Ale and Rhymney Bitter, but you’ll also find ever-changing guest brews plus a decent selection of malt whiskies.
Reputedly the oldest public house in Wales, the Skirrid’s history goes back to the Norman Conquest. Some of its past is believed to linger, and its ghosts have even ‘appeared’ on TV’s Most Haunted. Fireplaces, a pool table and friendly staff are among its more earthly charms. Beers come from Wychwood, Tetley and Ushers.