When our eldest son was at the University of Kent, we’d drive down to Canterbury once a term on a Sunday, pick him up and drive to Whitstable for the afternoon. We generally went for a walk, through the lovely town, and along the seafront, with fish and chips, and ice cream the priority rather than beer. However, on the evening before his graduation ceremony, we stayed at a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Whitstable and spent the evening at the Ship Centurion on the High Street, a ‘traditional real ale pub’.
Somehow seven years have passed since that evening, but we headed there yesterday with friends, who live in Bromley and for whom Whitstable is a regular weekend destination, and for one of whom a summer pub crawl in the town is now a regular annual event.
My mate acted as the guided tour for the modest pub crawl yesterday, with the focus on newer establishments. First up was The Handsome Sam micropub (3 Canterbury Road, Whitstable, CT5 4HJ)
It’s a double-fronted micropub, and double-height inside although not too deep, with an air-conditioned ‘Beer Tent’ which had four casks of real ale on. Brown Cow, Janus Pale, Firebrick and Ringwood 49er (can’t quite read the brewery names on the photo I took!!) – being a blonde and three amber/copper ales. Not a mahoosive choice of ales it has to be said, although the beers we had were more than acceptable. Several tasks from Mighty Oak Brewery were amongst those waiting for collection.
We headed further into town, passing the wonderfully art-deco JWD pub named after local ex-resident ‘The Peter Cushing’, and a couple of Shepherd Neame pubs (the town has many of these!), and the aforementioned Ship Centurion.
We headed into craft beer emporium ‘The Twelve Taps’ (102 High Street, Whitstable, CT5 1AZ). No prizes for guessing how many key kegs they had on tap! And all of the dozen kegs were lined up in plain view on the wall behind the bar.
A goodly collection of cask ales was on offer, ranging from pale ales and a gose, to a double stout, from breweries including Wiper & True, Weird Beard, Kent’s own Time and Tide. An interesting contrast to The Handsome Sam – 12 kegs of widely different craft beer, compared to 4 casks of real ale that weren’t all that different to each other.
The 3x 1/3rd beer flights give you the opportunity to try different beers, and their pricing structure made it attractive for the higher gravity beer. The Time and Tide’s ‘Smugglers Stout’ and ‘Double Stout’ complemented their ‘Smuggler’s Sour’ gose nicely.
A sit-down fish and chip lunch a few doors down followed, although truth be told, a bag of chips might have been a better option, as it was a big portion that left us a bit bloated!
Next up was ‘The Black Dog’ (66 High Street, Whitstable, CT5 1BB). A long, narrow micropub, decorated in a bizarre faux-Victoriana style, with any manner of strange objects and pictures on the wall. Almost enough to distract us from the dentally-challenged, obese, bermuda-short wearing drinker holding forth at the bar. Almost enough.
Five different beers drawn from the cask from the cold room behind the bar were available, with Boutilliers ‘1845 Porter’ (all the way from Faversham) going down nicely.
With that fish and chip lunch still sitting heavily on our stomachs, we decided to stretch our legs and stretched them all the way along the sea front to ‘The Tankerton Arms'(139b Tankerton Road, Tankerton, CT5 2AW).
An interesting location, as the pub is some way out of the town centre, and you wouldn’t normally expect to see a micropub in such a suburban location. Another narrow and long pub, I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what we had to drink, but it was a dark ale, which is of course a Good Thing, and it went down well.
What didn’t go down quite so well was the fact that the bus fare for the four of us into Canterbury to get the train cost more than the taxi from Canterbury! (The Farnham/Rainham stretch of the line to Whitstable was being replaced by a 45minute replacement bus service (on a Saturday FFS!) and we had opted for a 100% train journey to Canterbury rather than the trip to Whitstable with the bus element.)
So, certainly big changes for the real ale/craft beer drinker in Whitstable, who has these 4 new(ish) real ale/craft beer options, a JWD, a couple of other free houses, and several Shepherd Neame pubs from which to choose.
Roll on the full summer pub crawl, which I plan to make this year.