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 bug bears 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 ?


  1. Could there e a concern that you might be from an estate agency? Publicans aren’t always the first to know that a pubco might be putting their pub on the market, especially if it’s a ‘block trade’.



  2. I always ask before I take any photos Martin, I’ve never been refused although often the bar staff do not want to be photographed. I assume for various reasons, from simple lack of self confidence or just having a bad hair day through to working while they are on the pan crack.


  3. Like you Martin, I’ve got mixed feelings about micros, although they do provide variety and, normally, consistently good beer. I applaud them for what they are doing, and for their support of local beers, but on the whole I prefer to go for a more established pub, when visiting a new town; providing there’s a decent one to be found, of course. To a certain extent micro-pubs could end up becoming a “distress choice” for CAMRA members, when on unfamiliar territory; a bit like Wetherspoon’s are for many.

    I haven’t purchased a Good Beer Guide since 2013, but I get the impression many CAMRA branches are selecting Guide entries, along similar lines. Either that, or “Let’s support the newly-opened micro, because it’s championing local beers, and we like its atmosphere. ”

    Fortunately I’ve heard good reports about the One in the Wood from fellow CAMRA members, even though Petts Wood is slightly outside our branch area. It’s a pub I ought to get to; especially as it’s probably the nearest micro-pub to where I live.


    1. Same here Paul. I’ve no problem with Beer Guide selection as beer has nearly always been good. If I had to choose a micro or a Spoons with same quality beer I may well opt for the Spoons though, unless J feel like raiding the CAMRA newsletter supplies !


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