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Great Tew, Oxfordshire The Falkland Arms is an oddity within Wadworth's tied estate. It is one of only two pubs in the brewer's 250-strong estate...

Great Tew, Oxfordshire The Falkland Arms is an oddity within Wadworth's tied estate. It is one of only two pubs in the brewer's 250-strong estate that is given an almost free rein to decide which beers to stock. Wadworth acquired the picturesque 16th-century pub in the early 1990s and because it had such a renowned reputation for the range and quality of its cask ales, the company decided to leave well alone. Sarah-Jane Courage and Paul Batlow-Heal have been at the pub for almost four years and during that time have reinforced the Falkland's reputation for serving cask ale. There are eight beer engines on the bar and it is Sarah-Jane's job to make sure the beer is in tip-top condition. Her first experience of looking after a cellar was at a small pub in Taunton when the boss was taken ill and Sarah-Jane was press-ganged into service. When he returned to work, he taught Sarah-Jane all that he knew about cellar management and she hasn't looked back since. She says: "I just love it and that was why it was so wonderful to get the job here ­ one of the advantages is that you get to taste the beer before anyone else." Those tastings have grown in number as the pub has expanded its beer portfolio. Generally, the Cotswold pub has three Wadworth beers on tap ­ Henry's IPA, 6X and JCB, and more are added depending on the time of year and the Devizes brewer's seasonal ale programme. Augmenting these is a list that is almost akin to a who's who of the brewery world, with classic beers from family brewers as well as micros in abundance. Anywhere between 15 and 30 nine-gallon barrels of guest beers are supplied each month. A regular event in July is the pub's beer festival, which featured 26 ales last year. Both Sarah-Jane and Paul trained as chefs and she believes that the hygiene training that was drummed into them during their time in the kitchens has helped reinforce the importance of ensuring that the same standards are met in the cellar. She believes licensees are taking more care with cask ale than ever before, which coupled with consistency in quality of the beers coming out of the brewery gates, is luring drinkers back to cask. However, one aspect of cask ale, namely that it is still considered a male drink, may take longer to dispel. She says with a laugh: "If a male member of staff is on duty, customers tend to ask him about the beers rather than me.

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