There’s no case I won’t take on.  Except the case for Maidenhead (until a resident comes on here and challenges me to discover its hidden allure).

All of our other towns have their merits, even Ashford.  And nearly all pubs have some appeal, although an Ember Inn in Maidenhead (is there such a creature ?) would stretch my good cheer.

I struggle to name an irredeemable beer either; at some point I’ll have had a very good pint of Doom Bar, Arkells 3B, Batemans XB, even Greene King IPA.  It’s the home-brew that most often disappoints.

And as we know;

There’s nowt such thing as bad beer, it’s just they that keep it that spoil it”  Brad, The Furnace

There’s not much love for Shepherd Neame in the blogs I read, but again I’ve enjoyed excellent (and dull) pints of Master Brew  (Four Horseshoes, Whitstable) and Spitfitre (Stratford Spoons) over the years.

Increasingly though, their pubs tend toward homogenised eateries with a focus on their extensive range of “foreign” lagers brewed under licence, as was the case in the Imperial at Christmas.

With the closure of the Four Horseshoes, it’s a struggle to think of classic Sheps pubs, beyond the very basic Northern Belle in Margate and the Bear in Faversham itself.

The Chequers in Doddington is pretty good though.


It’s tucked away south of the M2 between Sittingbourne and Faversham in a way that makes casual visits difficult for folk heading for Thanet.  There’s an Edwardian estate and gardens in the village, and decent unchallenging walks (i.e. you can’t see the Grain oil refineries from here).

Most of the custom appeared to be from visitors to the gruesome tourist attraction being advertised up the hill;


I thought micro pubs were bad, but not even a date for that forthcoming event. Nice setting though.


No such problems at the Chequers, whose opening times are prominently displayed on the wall;


I’ll gloss over the fact those aren’t the hours you’ll find in the Beer Guide or WhatPub; the lady was a model of apology when I phoned up to check before a second wasted journey.

Keeping up the theme of the month, this is a welcoming, unfussy place, with a slightly old-fashioned restaurant being largely ignored in favour of a particularly cosy bar (Pint & Pubs would recognise the spirit of the Hoops in Barton here).


A good mix of folk (and dogs) in the bar, and decent bench seating, but not much drama to speak of apart from the inevitable pub blogger spectacularly failing to find the Gents (maddeningly, in the restaurant side).

A simple choice of beers, and a Master Brew as clear, cool and tasty as I’ve had in years (NBSS 3.5).  Almost Brakspear quality.  Served in a proper glass, too.

This is one of the few traditional pubs entering the GBG this year, with micros dominating across East Kent.  It’s good to see beer quality still winning out, and good to see that Sheps can still knock out decent beer, even if some licensees can’t keep it or sell it.

8 thoughts on “IN DEFENCE OF SHEPS

  1. I could have sworn Master Brew had got weaker over the years, but, no, it’s 3.7% in the 2002 GBG as well. I think, as with many beers, the bottled version is a bit stronger, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The last time I had a Master Brew was when we tucked in to the big Shep’s hotel in Broadstairs for supper, just about a year ago now. That was after a 10-hour drive across Germany, Belgium, France, and Fanet. It was a good first beer of the day in those circumstances. But I couldn’t drink a second, had to switch to their nitro stout.

    And then we switched pubs, of course. But it’s a good place to eat in a pinch.

    I first rather liked it, a couple of years ago, when I first encountered it. But now it seems like Doom Bar Plus, just too *empty* of any redeeming character.


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