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Published September 26th 2020
Step back in time several centuries to enjoy a fine ale
If you like your pubs with a touch of history, then the Bird in Hand will be very much to your liking. The evidence is plain to see as soon as you notice the imposing, white-fronted pub on the edge of the small rural village of Austrey, in North Warwickshire, close to the boundaries with neighbouring Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The evidence is in the form of the thatched roof which is testimony to how long the 15th-century building has been serving the needs of its local parishioners. The Bird in Hand also retains many of its original features inside, as I discovered on my first ever visit to this welcoming, family-run hostelry. The car park is adjacent to a sizeable beer garden which also offers views of the village's picturesque 14th-century church next door. A large marquee lies at the rear of the garden, which is dotted with well spaced out tables to comply with social distancing guidelines due to Covid-19.
Unfortunately, it was too cold to enjoy this outdoor area on the day I visited with a couple of friends. The same restrictions have also resulted in a one-way system within the spacious interior, with entry through the rear of the pub near the car park and the exit via the normal front door. There is a very attractive main lounge/bar area with well spaced out tables and seats where guests can have a meal or just enjoy a drink or two. Guests can also choose to occupy other rooms if they wish, including a bar with a television, a semi-private snug with views out over the sun terrace and beer garden, a separate restaurant which goes by the name of The Bird Table, and a couple of secluded alcoves for people wanting to ensure even greater social distancing.
The relaxed atmosphere of the Marston's owned pub is enhanced by the excellent range of beers and real ales available. This includes two permanent ales, Marston's Pedigree and Banks Mild, plus a current range of five guest ales which, on the day I visited, consisted of Sunbeam, Hobgoblin Gold, Boondoggle, Wainwrights, and Old Empire IPA. We all chose pints of the refreshing Sunbeam which worked out at exactly £4 a pint.
Due to Covid-19, the Bird in Hand's opening hours are restricted, including an enforced 10pm curfew. On Mondays the pub opens from 5pm, on Tuesday to Thursday, the opening hours are midday to 2pm, and then 5pm to 10pm, while on Friday, Saturday and Sunday it is open all day from 12 noon.