A place where friendliness is on tap

A place where friendliness is on tap

A place where friendliness is on tap

A family-friendly taphouse in Portchester is on a mission to support its community – from serving local beers, sausages and bread rolls to providing a safe, happy haven for anyone in need.

Welcoming children and dogs and hosting lively events nights with more than 60 types of craft beer and real ales, Portcullis Taphouse in Portchester Precinct is already a go-to place for locals.

And owner Phil Stenning is hoping that warm atmosphere and feeling of escape will come to mean even more as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

“I don’t think we have seen the worst part of the crisis yet,” says Phil.

“That’s why supporting local continues to be so important – particularly in the coming months as we see people having to prioritise their luxuries.

“I’m a firm believer that people will always want somewhere they can go to escape reality. That was one of the reasons my wife Sheryl and I wanted to set up a traditional feeling pub. We have no TVs and screens – it’s a nice escape for people to come and have a drink and forget about the world.

“We laid on free cheeseboards every Sunday in winter as a thank you to the regulars who supported us and joined us every week, and they went down so well that through the summer we’ve been doing a Bangers and Beers barbecue every Sunday.

“We’re next to Twells butchers, and Maurice makes really good homemade sausages. We have three different flavours, including one he made especially for us called the Pork-cullis, a traditional, secret recipe sausage.

“We use the local bakery for our rolls, so anyone who comes along is supporting three local businesses in one place.”

Phil and Sheryl love the family atmosphere at the taphouse, and all four of their children help out in some way or another – from Phil’s two older boys who collect glasses to the couple’s small son and daughter who help stock the cold drinks fridge.

“We’re a child friendly pub so people bring they kids down who are a similar age to ours; they all end up playing out front in the pedestrianised precinct. It’s nice and quiet there. There’s a great family atmosphere, and we love people to bring their dogs, too.

“Vinyl nights are on Wednesdays or Thursdays. We have an old record player set up on the bar and people bring their favourite vinyls and introduce people to new music. We’ve had all sorts – rock, classical, psychedelic – all sorts of music from bands I’ve never heard of but are now on my regular playlists.”

The Portcullis Taphouse offers both beer and cider to drink in and takeaway, as well as wines, spirits and cocktails – and with 10 taps, six keg beers, four casks, and another 30-40 beers in the fridge, the selection is always changing.

As well as bringing in beers from across the world, Phil also showcases a variety of local brews, and his new mobile bar takes the taphouse offering out to events across the area.

“I’ve got lots of ideas in the pipeline,” says Phil.

“I’d like to be part of helping to bring Portchester a bit more up to date – the precinct is a great space that could be used for all sorts of things – maybe street food stalls or ‘live at the bandstand’ type things.

“I would love to see lively family orientated daytime events going on there. That sense of community is so important – and we will all need that even more, I think.

“There are tense times ahead, but we’ll keep providing the safe, happy haven that we do. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep people coming in.

“We’re a welcome distraction in people’s lives, and I’ve loved standing behind the bar watching people make new friendships.

“It’s such a small bar, the concentration is on beer and conversation. People come in on their own and soon join in with others, and some who used to come in alone now come in together.

“It’s exciting to be making that difference to our local community.”