I occasionally get odd requests from readers of the blog. You know, write about the worst pub in the UK, tell us about hopping rates, show us what your in-laws look like*.
Well here you go, this is the Father-in-Law from Tunbridge Wells, England’s most unlikely capital of craft. There’s a Beavertown amongst those beers below, you know.
Trips to the in-laws always take the following form;
- 07:00 retiredmartin wakes at 7am and urges family members to get up quickly
- 10:30 Leave house
- 10:35 Return to house to check door
- 11:30 Stuck in traffic at Dartford Crossing
- 12.30 Arrive late
- 13:00 Traditional roast, irrespective of day or weather
- 13.30 Mrs RM has drunk two gin & tonics and a large glass of red by now
- 14:00 – 14:30 retiredmartin going stir crazy trying to get out of house
- 15:00 – 17:00 “Walk” of approx. 0.5 miles and pub visit, often a GBG newbie
- 17:30 Chocolate cake for tea
- 18:00 Leave in order to enjoy traffic chaos at Dartford Crossing
It’s a beautiful part of the world, as Paul Bailey will tell you, but I rarely get to see it on our visits. This is the view from Mount Ephraim over the Pantiles. Compared to Waterbeach, it’s the Alps.
Two new Beer Guide entries in t’Wells to liven our visit, including a tremendously hilly walk from Rusthall into town.
Excitingly, we start from the Toad Rock Retreat in Denny Bottom, proving once again the joy of English place names.
Worryingly, even Mrs RM didn’t seem to have ever been to Toad Rock, despite having kept the pubs in Wells in business single-handedly in her (late) teens if you believe her.
If a pub was based in as distinctive a setting as this in East Anglia, it would be overrun on a sunny lunchtime.
But clearly the Toad Rock loses out a bit to the even more impressive settings at High Rocks and Mount Edgcumbe.
It’s a pleasant and unfussy pub.
With an equally unfussy beer range.
Only a sip for me, just enough to tick the pubs (my rules), but various relations declared the beer very good, so I’ll declare it NBSS 3. It was certainly well presented. And no, they didn’t have the Black Sheep.
Perhaps not to the Pub Curmudgeon spec for proper pubs,
But we did find a large area of armchairs for a family chat about ill relatives. That wasn’t hard, we’d missed the lunch session.
My intention was to walk through Rusthall Common into town, but we found out the hard way that would have involved both acrobatics and trespass, so we stuck to the A264.
Our locals claimed no knowledge of the George, either, despite a prominent position on the A26 next to the legendary Sankey’s.
Despite more sofas, this was pubbier than the Toad, with a crowd of young professionals who you thought really ought to have been working at 3pm on a weekday.
Chatting to the cheery barman revealed the George is linked to the craft-friendly Ragged Trousers and Sussex Arms that I enjoyed this year. That cheery barman and melancholy music choice (New Order’s Brotherhood) should have given it away.
A scary beer range, but there’s no shortage of custom round here for good pubs.
Mrs RM’s father had his first Larkins (very good), Mrs RM stuck to the evil keg from Beavertown. I just got to drive them home for chocolate cake.
*The last one is a complete lie.