Kent has a long connection with beer; holidaymakers before us flocked here to pick the hops and get a short break in the country at the same time.
Today beer lovers can make their own pilgrimage around the micropubs of Kent, which champion real ale in quirky outlets.
Landlords have taken advantage of the simpler licensing laws introduced a couple of years ago, and set up hostelries in former fishing huts, florists and bakeries. The pub is usually no bigger than a living room; fruit machines, TVs and juke boxes are banned; and lager is a dirty word.
At the latest count there were 28 micropubs in Kent, many clustered on the coast – BERNADETTE JOHN gives us eight to try during your holiday.
Don’t forget, you can find a holiday to the Kent coast here: https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/caravan-park-holidays/uk/kent
The Firkin Alehouse, Folkestone
Definitely cosy with seats for just 17, though it can cram in 35 on their feet. One for true enthusiasts – it was voted Camra branch pub of the year for 2014. And landlord Neil King runs homebrew competitions for customers to bring their beer for tasting and judging. You’ll find three ales on during the week and four at the weekend, as well as four ciders and wine for the non-beer drinkers.
Open Tues to Thurs 12pm to 9pm; Fri/Sat 12pm to 10pm; Sun 12pm to 4pm.
Kipps’ Ale House, Folkestone
All ales come from micro-breweries, and you’ll find between three and six to taste when you visit. This is bigger than most micropubs – more cafe size – and has a bigger range including wines, Belgian and Trappist ales, and “excellent cake”. Sunday afternoons bring live music, and there’s a fortnightly quiz. Set in the cobbled Old High Street in the town’s Creative Quarter.
Open from 12pm every day to 10pm, and 11pm at the weekend.
The Just Reproach, Deal
Head here at the weekend for Five Beer Friday, when you may also stumble upon one of the occasional music events. On other nights there’s four beers on offer, as well as wine, cider and a warmed spiced cider in winter. Snack on home-made pickled onions and pork scratchings. No mobile ‘phones allowed – the graveyard of devices nailed to the wall drives the point home.
Open every lunchtime, and every evening except Sunday, closing at 9pm on a school night and 11pm on Friday.
The Conqueror Alehouse, Ramsgate
“There’s an occasional reggae night when I dust off my old vinyl,” says landlord Colin Aris. Otherwise the entertainment comes in old sea dog tales – the walls are adorned with pictures of the pub’s namesake, a paddle steamer, and its crew. Aris’ grandfather Walter Henry Curtis was the skipper when it plied the route to France around 1900. Ales come mainly from Kent breweries. Get there early for one of 15 seats in this former florists’ shop. Open every lunchtime except Mon, and from 5.30pm to 9.30pm Tuesday to Saturday.
Harbour Arms, Margate
Truly a seaside pub – it sits right on the harbour arm, and the interior reflects its origins as two fishermens’ huts. You’ll find local and national beers here, with favourites being Ravening Wolf from the Wantsum Brewery, Incubus from Hopdaemon Brewery, and Text Book from the Old School Brewery. Soak it up with local pork and chilli rolls.
Open every day, 12pm to 11.30pm.
Bake and Ale House, Westgate on Sea
A former bakery shop, it can squeeze in 30 but you might find another 20 standing outside at its popular Friday meat raffles. Its walls are pasted with old cake recipes, and owner Pete Williams hosts pie making competitions. Beers are top notch – it’s been awarded Thanet pub of the year by Camra. There’s a choice of three to five real ales at any time, sourced from around 75 breweries and microbreweries.
Open Tuesday to Sunday lunchtimes, and from 5.30pm to 9pm, although a good crowd will see it open until 10pm or 11pm.
The Tankerton Arms, Tankerton
This one time tattoo parlour serves up no pain, just the pleasure of “real ale and real conversation”. Most of the ales are sourced from Kentish microbreweries – stock changes every few days and the blackboard is posted on Facebook to show what’s on offer. Bench seating and chest height tables encourage the conversation with new found friends.
Open lunchtimes Tuesday to Sunday, and evenings from 5pm to 9pm or 11pm at weekends.
The Black Dog, Whitstable
Five real ales on offer will be sourced from microbreweries around the UK, and landlord’s favourites Oakham’s Brewery, Dark Star, The Kent Brewery and Mighty Oak make a regular appearance. There’s also a choice of eight local farmhouse ciders. Interior is wacky gothic. Bar snacks run to Scotch eggs and pork pies from the local butcher, and spinach & feta samosas.
Open every day from 12pm to 11.30pm, and to midnight from Thursday to Saturday.
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