Since the latest Beer Guide came out at the end of August I’ve been to another forty micropubs, and a good hundred overall, with mixed feelings. Their best feature, chatty owners and locals, can also mean they’re not great places to visit if you want a bit of time to yourself.
One of my bugbears about micros, limited opening hours, had scuppered a number of plans to visit One Inn The Wood before family visits to Tunbridge Wells. To be fair, if more sensible hours means you get served by a cheerful owner the tighter hours are probably a price worth paying.
I’ve read consistently good things about the Petts Wood micro, which had just that bit more of a lived-in feel, as well as better beer, than the average micro.
Apart from the colourful use of beer barrels for outdoor seating, it won’t look a lot different from the micros of Thanet or Merseyside. Internally, the seating is very comfortable, and reminds me of the 39 Steps in Broadstairs. This certainly is a place to while away the hours with a book (or CAMRA newsletter).
The beer range is close to perfect. Most micros seem to work to a range of three, plus ciders; Inn in the Wood had five, spread across the range of styles and strengths.
Half a dozen middle-aged blokes (and a rather younger barman) were making good inroads into that range at 2pm on a wet Tuesday in a suburb of a bigger suburb (Bromley). Thinking about it, it’s the ciders I rarely see drunk in micros.
I really should have had the Gadds, but I’ve enjoyed every Cloudwater beer I’ve encountered across the country. This was as cloudy as promised but luckily I don’t drink with my eye (NBSS 4).
Depending on your viewpoint, it has a great/horrifying line in toilet humour.
Petts Wood itself is a particularly attractive early 20th century suburb, comparable to Harborne, with its own bit of National Trust woodland. The Sovereign of the Seas is a consistently good Spoons too.
You may not be surprised to hear that I spent my birthday overnight near here a few years ago. The Travelodge in Sidcup High Street is a gem, with a Waitrose, Chinese takeaway and a top Spoons (Tailor’s Chalk) on the doorstep.
Apart from the Spoons and the micro, an unlikely clutch of Beer Guide entries includes Orpington Liberal Club, another of South-East London’s club gems.
NB I nearly called this Perfection and Paranoia. While admiring some of the architecture around the micro, I took a photo of this gem, complete with Toby badge;
As I walked back to the station a friendly member of staff rushed out and asked why I was taking photos. She seemed happy with my excuse of being retiredmartin, but I did feel a bit uncomfortable. This happened to me in Gravesend too, and Cathy Price reports a similar experiences in Red Lioness. Any ideas why the paranoia ?