Nick from Erlangen doesn’t keep an active blog, but his twitter account is one of the best photographic accounts of current UK pubs I’ve seen, along with Alan Winfield and BRAPA. We’ve compared notes on our favourite pub towns, and I’ve still got work to do to persuade him of the merits of Mansfield and Macclesfield.
We agree on the Isle of Thanet though, and I met Nick briefly while mopping up a few pubs in East Kent this week. There’s few better places to convene than the Yard of Ale.
St Peters is an attractive little suburb of Broadstairs that I know quite well as my teenage son goes skateboarding here occasionally.
Apparently only Corby and Aintree have better skateparks; they are virtual beer deserts of course, but Broadstairs has one of the CAMRA’s four Pub of the Year finalists, and a fair few others worth a visit, including the Four Candles micro down the road.
The Yard of Ale has all the usual micro features, including £3 pints, but the seating is some of the best and that helps it feel less claustrophobic than some. Straw bales, flagstones and solid wood rather distract you from its former use by the local undertakers. Not quite Dead Poets in Holbrook, but one of the great pub atmospheres.
The beer range was as good as you could hope for. Gadds, Titanic, Oakham and Dancing Duck are reliable brewers and that board gives a good choice of styles and strengths. Because I cannot tell a lie, I can’t tell you it was quite the best beer in Thanet, but it was certainly good enough. Better palates than mine were more generous.
As in all micros you’re sitting drinking with the owner, or at least Alan from Rawmarsh was when I tuned into his conversation on Middlesbrough micros.
I quickly turned into pub-bore mode with Allan (not his real name no doubt) myself to discuss a changing Doncaster, and the pubby claim to fame of Rawmarsh – none, though it is quite close to the famed Prince of Wales in Greasbrough.
Allan was visiting all the micros and National inventory pubs, and making a fine job of it. Simon Everitt and I will hope he leaves the Beer Guide to ourselves and the mysterious Duncan, as a retired man with a free bus pass is dangerous competition.
Many ludicrous words were spoken. As they say, you had to be there. Nick turned up 20 minutes into a bewildering conversation about lime cordial and quickly got us back onto CAMRA approved conversation about real ale.
It’s rare I spent more than an hour in one pub, but only the call of the famed Loop bus and Nick’s hunt for hops in St Peters could get us to leave.
Follow Nick and Alan. Visit Thanet.
Nick is very probably the world expert on Thanet pubs at this moment, and that’s something to be. The pace of change, started by the first micropubs only five years ago, isn’t stopping any time soon.