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Beer and Burger Bonanza at The Bridge Inn, Topsham – by Lauren Heath


The road between Clyst St George and Topsham holds many talented local businesses – Naturalmat, Sapphire Spaces, Amos Lighting and now even the operations for Good Game. Two more of these is the successful Darts Farm and the unique and historic The Bridge Inn pub.

On the back of some playground chat whilst dropping the kids off at school, the business minded ladies at both The Butchers at Darts and The Bridge Inn decided they should do a joint event, especially considering they are so close together. The Bridge Inn already holds ticket-only USA banjo infused music evenings and occasional evenings with Darts Farm providing the fish and chips for customers within their beautiful long brewhouse.

So on a lovely weekday summer’s eve in July, we ventured down to our favourite local pub for The Butchers at Darts Farm and The Bridge inn’s Burger and Beer evening.

It was a community feeling affair; it’s an incredible space filled with treasure, trinkets and furniture and all customers sitting together with friends as well as strangers (you know the saying – ‘arrive as strangers, leave as friends’), all chatting and wondering of the foodie delights ahead.

Caroline, the current owner, told us a bit about the history of this beautiful end of their pink pub. Their history page states:

It is thought there was a dwelling on this site as early as 1086, in the time of the Domesday Book. The stonemasons responsible for the construction of Exeter Cathedral may have lodged here.

The present building you see is substantially 16th Century, but the actual date of the different parts varies considerably. Unlike today, much building in the past was piecemeal, with new rooms added as necessary. Most of the fabric is local stone, but the old brewhouse at the rear is traditional Devon cob. This has the remains of the hop drying floor, and is adjacent to a large brewing chimney.

Great-grandfather was William John Gibbings from Clyst St. George. He moved into the Inn in 1897, and our family has been there ever since. The current licensee is Caroline Cheffers-Heard, his Great Grand-daughter. She is the fourth generation, her daughter Riannon will be the fifth, and Amelia, born in April 2008, will be the sixth generation.

Outside The Butchers at Darts were cooking up a storm on the Big Green Egg, with burgers galore; thankfully the weather was kind, gifting us a glorious Thursday evening.

Beers and burgers were paired up, with Caroline explaining each pairing as we went along and Alastair telling us about the meat and their flavours. We were served sizeable ‘mini’ burgers with generous servings of local ales:

  • Pork burger with Clyst St Mary’s very own Powderkeg Speakeasy
  • Duck burger with Jollyboat’s Thunder
  • Lamb burger with Branscombe Vale’s Summa That

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The big finale was a steak burger with Exmoor’s Beast. This mouthful was served with delightfully fresh salads, and we ventured outside at this point to sit on a bench and enjoy the end of the evening al-fresco.

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The burgers were absolutely delicious, juicy and flavoursome and of course the meat is all locally reared or sourced and expertly prepared by the Butchers at Darts.

The business is family run and based within Darts Farm; brothers Philip and Alastair are Master Butchers, which is not a common title and it means they can choose the right animal by feeling and handling it live on the farm – they even judge competitions. ‘Their knowledge and expertise of breeding, rearing, sourcing, maturing and butchering the best livestock enables us to provide you with the highest quality meat which you can trust.’ Becky, wife to Alastair, takes care of marketing side of the business and was delighted to be able to organise this event and there are plans for more so keep an eye out!

Here’s a peek inside the pub; there are two rooms indoors and both well behaved dogs and children are welcome, but noisy mobile phones are not. Don’t come here if you’re expecting lagers – this pub serves some wines and spirits but are very well known and loved for their fantastic local ales straight from the barrel with an ever changing beer menu being updated on their Facebook page each week. Food-wise they simply serve Chunk’s pasties or ploughmans with local cheese or meats.

If the weather is beautiful enough, you can be served out of the hatch (pictured top left) and sit on the benches enjoying the view!

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So keep an eye out for more joint ventures with these two brilliant examples of what makes local businesses special. If you can’t wait for an event, pop to the pub for a pint and make sure you drop in at the butchers for your burgers to cook at home!

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