My Pub: The Star, Godalming, Surrey

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Shiny happy people: Will Jago Johnson, Bert Thomson, Megan Pattinson, Emma McClave, Andy Mounsey and Maroula Dawkins (l-r)
Shiny happy people: Will Jago Johnson, Bert Thomson, Megan Pattinson, Emma McClave, Andy Mounsey and Maroula Dawkins (l-r)
Great British Pub Awards finalist the Star in the commuter belt of Godalming, near Guildford, is renowned for its cider offer and lovely garden facilities too. Licensee Andy Mounsey tells us more

Facts 'n' stats

Name: The Star

Address: 17 Church Street, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1EL

Licensee: Andrew Mounsey

Wet:dry split: 85:15

Tenure: 25-year leasehold

The pub

We took on the Star in November 2017. It has been a popular watering hole since 1832 and it’s longevity is largely due to its faithfulness to being a traditional English pub. Our focus is on our product; real ales and real ciders are the backbone of our business.

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For a small town centre pub, we create a big impact and have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to use every inch of available space. Our main bar is now too small to cope with our popularity, so a big part of our refurbishment has been creating a second bar in our garden lounge.

Specialising in cider and rum, it serves as an overflow, but doubles as a bar for private functions. Our urban garden has been nominated for awards – and won – and is one of the most popular spots in town when the sun is out.

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The publican

I’ve always known that the pub trade was for me. I was born in the sight of five breweries in Burton-on-Trent and my family rejoice in telling me that they always knew I would be a publican.

I got my first bar job when I was 18 and have racked up 15 years’ experience and have been awarded a Master Cellarman award. One of my first pub jobs was at the Star and I always knew one day I would take it on.

Seven years ago I met my fiancée Emma and she has been working with me for the past five years. When we were offered the opportunity to buy the lease for the Star we knew it was fate. We spent four years managing the Star for the outgoing landlord. Building up the business, planning and preparing for the day we got the keys. It was worth the wait, as soon as it was ours we got to work on our refurbishment.

We did it in stages, which meant we didn’t have to close the pub, it was hard work but worth it.

Role of honour

  • Surrey Hants Borders Cider and Perry CAMRA Pub of the Year every year since 2013
  • Surrey Cider CAMRA Pub of the Year 2018
  • Finalists for the Great British Pub of the Year in the Cider category in 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Finalists for the Great British Pub of the Year in the Garden category 2018
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The drink

The Star is delighted to have 10 to 15 ales on offer at all times. We source our ales from across the UK.

They range from traditional best bitters to porters, milds and stouts, refreshing hoppy beers, to thirst quenching pale ales. If that’s not enough for you, we also have an outstanding range of over 50 different ciders.

In both our bars, we stock real ciders, perries and pyders, and complement this with an extensive array of sparkling, fruity and bottled ciders. We also stock a Vintage Brut Cyder from local cider maker, Gospel Green.

With advice from a local wine merchant, we have recently updated our wine menu and are getting some fabulous feedback about our new selection.

Rum is the new gin. Our new rum bar stocks more than 35 different rums, some of them over 15 years old.

The food

Serving a full menu at lunchtime, a bar bites menu in the evening, from Monday to Saturday, you can experience some of the best burgers in town and traditional pub classics.

On a Sunday, our chef cooks an outrageously fabulous [and generous] roast. The pork belly is slow roasted with fennel and onion and our chef ’s home-made gravy is talk of the town, all accompanied by locally sourced fresh seasonal vegetables.

On the menu

  • Goats’ cheese and beetroot Star salad: fresh garden salad with home-made coleslaw, topped with goats’ cheese and beetroot – £8.50
  • Mexican burger: home-made burger with chilli, guacamole, cheese, jalapeños and sour cream, served with chunky chips, garden salad and homemade coleslaw – £10.50
  • Vegan All Out burger: made from seitan wheat, served with vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, gherkin and burger relish – £10 (The Star is only one of two UK stockists at the time of publication)
  • Ultimate Ploughman’s: comes with a selection of cheese and honey roast ham, and a mixture of pickles and relishes, gherkin and pickled onion, a toasted baguette with butter – £9.95
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The team

One of the keys to our success is our team. To be able to talk to customers knowledgeably about all the different products we have available takes passion and dedication.

Our management team have been with us from the start and we rely on them to deliver our vision. We train our staff on every aspect of the business and encourage them to take nationally recognised qualifications but, most importantly, they can all pour the perfect pint.

Events

We host four cider festivals over the warmer months and three ale festivals – at Easter, Halloween and Christmas. We are always involved in local town celebration days throughout the year, o­ffering a beer and cider tent on the high street.

I’m a massive rugby fan and have developed a good rugby trade, the Six Nations always makes February and March a great time of year. But, by far, the main event of the year is our Halloween party. After 10 years of collecting props and decorations, the two-week process preparing for Halloween transforms the Star into a ghoulish nightmare.

Our patrons spend just as long preparing and building their costumes, it really is something to behold.

Star garden refit 1

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