I took my nearly-octogenarian in-laws on a pub crawl round their home town* on Sunday.  They loved it, but then they were drinking 7% beers by the end.

To be fair to what I’ll now call RTW,  it looked at its  very best.  The modern town is quite functional, but there’s enough hilly streets on the way down to the Pantiles to continually divert your attention, which I like a lot. It’s the Common that the town should be better known for however.

There’s a fair few good locals at the top of the lanes as well, notably the Grove and Royal Oak, both proper pubs with good Harveys. Until a few years ago the town had a handful of solid but unexceptional pubs, with the Royal Oak the standout.

No great multi-beer free houses , and village pubs like the Windmill in Sevenoaks Weald were where you went for your Burning Sky or craft keg.

Paul Bailey started telling us about the improving beer scene, and has some good reviews of town pubs here and here. Surprisingly perhaps the genteel Pantiles itself seems to be the focus of some of the improvement, with the Ragged Trousers and Pantiles Tap  providing great contrast to the more traditional Fullers pub.

Ragged Trousers

Resisting calls for a drink in the Ragged Trousers (very good but done it), our first destination was a stiff walk up the hill towards Mount Edgcumbe.

The Mount Edgcumbe looks like a hotel, and was packed with Sunday diners, but that couldn’t diminish a pubby enough atmosphere. Built around the sandstone outcrops of the Common, the views inside and out made this feel a posh version of Mansfields’s White Lion.

My in-laws had never been here before, and they didn’t stay long with no space inside and a rocky beer garden feeling colder than the centre.  A pub for summer proper. We managed a decent half of Pig and Porter (NBSS 3).

Walking back to town en route to Fuggles, we passed the major tourist attraction for many Japanese visitors (I was told);

I’d been impressed with Fuggles at Christmas.  In fact I was  confident enough to just order one of each of the cask beers I saw, to avoid that tedious discussion about styles, colours and strengths.  I reserved the stronger keg Beavertown for Mrs RM of course.

This is a very relaxed place to try beers from across the spectrum of styles.  Food is simple and secondary, and I reckon this deserves all the plaudits than it gets, though it was packed on Sunday.

There was a good mix of ages in Fuggles.  As with IndyMan and Café Beermoth, I see plenty of evidence that older drinkers enjoy stronger beers as much as the youngsters, and possibly know how to appreciate them more.

Next time, Paul, I will visit the Pantile Tap !

* Actually they live in Southborough. It’s an adjacent town with spectacular views over the Weald of Kent but a depressing stock of pubs. I don’t think they’re going to be opening a micropub there either.


  1. I’m pleased the pub reviews I did of RTW came in handy, Martin. Glad you enjoyed Fuggles; it certainly offers a great mix of both cask and craft-keg. The beer quality wasn’t so good at the Pantiles Tap, when I called in about six weeks ago, but it may just have been a temporary blip. The Tap still isn’t listed on WhatPub, so there’s no chance to post NBSS scores.

    The Ragged Trousers is always worth a look in, but I like the re-vamped Duke of York, which offers Fuller’s beers at their best. If you catch it at the right time, the Bedford is also worth a visit, and I see you’ve already discovered the delights of the Grove Tavern and the Royal Oak.

    Next time you’re down this way – sans famille, do give me a shout, as it would be great to meet up for a chat and a few jars. Paul.

    Ps. I have never seen the rather strange plastic toy shrine. Where is it?


  2. Paul the toy shrine is on Hanover Road the one that runs up the side of Tescos. The Pantiles Tap is on Whats Pub? it is just that not everyone can see it but some can. I know this because there are NBSS scores against it and when I try to set it up a new I get a duplicate key error. still trying to figure it out when I get the time.


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