• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Masons Arms beer festival is perfect opportunity to celebrate 25 years

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 6, 2022

Real ale fans are looking forward to visiting The Masons Arms in Headington for its 19th annual beer festival.

It’s the perfect opportunity for landlord Chris Meeson and his family to celebrate 25 years running the pub in Quarry School Place.

The Masons Arms is a free house – it is not tied to any brewery – so Mr Meeson focuses on bringing in as many interesting real ales as possible.

Read again: Masons Arms plans annual beer festival

The festival, which runs at the pub from Friday to Sunday, gives Mr Meeson the chance to introduce local drinkers to beers they have never sampled before.

Oxford Mail:

He said earlier: “There will be 50 different beers, music and food.

“The beers come from all over the UK and some of them customers have not heard of before.”

The pub itself is 150 years old this year, having been built in 1872 by Allsopps brewery although it was later taken over by Halls before becoming a free house.

It has been run by only four families since 1928, with Cliff Gurle arriving in 1966 and retiring just before the Meeson family arrived.

The Meeson family has deep roots in the licensed trade around Headington, as Chris Meeson’s grandfather and great-grandfather from around 1900 rad the Britannia and the Chequers.

Oxford Mail:

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Chris’s aunt and uncle Cynthia and Maurice Jacobs once had the tenancy of The White Hart in Old Headington, where Chris started working around 1989.

Mr Meeson told The Oxford Drinker, the magazine of city branch of real ale group CAMRA: “When they sold up I went on a Carlsberg-Tetley training course to be a manager, and my first posting was to Parker’s, now the Angel and Greyhound but back then a cocktail bar.

“While still with Carlsberg-Tetley I took over the Chequers in Headington Quarry and then the Antiquity Hall (now the Oxford Retreat and formerly the Nag’s Head).

Oxford Mail:

“I then managed the White Hart in Old Headington before coming here, because I fancied having a go.

“Pubs were thriving back then, but we have since lost the Crown and Thistle, the Quarry Gate, the Shotover Arms (now McDonald’s) and the Fox on the Barton estate, and that’s just in Headington. The pubs I worked in before coming here were very different, but I wanted to keep the Masons as an old-fashioned pub, the kind of pub I like to drink in myself.”

The focus at the Masons is very much the beer – there’s no food served, so it is what is known in the trade as a ‘wet pub’.

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Oxford Mail:

A major part of the pub’s success is down to its focus on real ale, and it has been named Oxford CAMRA City Pub of the Year on numerous occasions, and an unbroken listing in the Good Beer Guide from 2005 to the present day.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF