I mentioned my visit to Ramsgate
in an earlier post and rather than bore you with, "We went here and drank this"
I'll stick to a few basics which illustrate a bigger picture. Ramsgate has a lot of friendly pubs and friendly people. Every pub we went in to had someone keen to talk to us. OK Nick is an American and attracts the "nutter on the bus" types, but even allowing for that, we did rather well on the chatting front. It was like being in pubs of yesteryear, with very mixed clientèles making the visit pleasant by including us. Perhaps it is that inclusiveness that is most missing from pubs nowadays as the market has fragmented and segmented into particular types sticking to particular pubs.
Secondly - and this is important - we didn't get a bad pint. In two tiny micropubs, including one in which we were the first customers, the beer was cool and well conditioned. That's important. That's not to say I liked every beer. I didn't. I particularly disliked and was disappointed by the so called replacement for Ind Coope Draught Burton Ale
, also called Draught Burton Ale by Burton Bridge Brewery, which tasted nothing at all like the original and left me fuming about it, but that happens. This was in the second micropub of the day, the Hovelling Boat Inn
which was simply superb. We were immediately included in the shouted banter with locals, one of whom travels frequently from Northampton just to be there. It is that good. Thirdly the prices. It wasn't uppermost in our minds, but most beers were around the £3 a pint mark which is pretty damn good for that part of the world.
Local beers were to the fore. Most beers were unashamedly brown. One landlord told us bluntly, but kindly that he didn't like golden ales. Well I might not agree, but at least what was on was good. I was particularly impressed by Gadds and by Westerham, but really, nothing was that bad at all. I liked the Ravensgate Arms
where we exchanged good natured banter with the many bearded denizens, the Queens Head with its ornate front and craft keg, the Artillery Arms
which could almost be described as a micropub and my favourite of them all the Montefiore Arms
with its square bar, characterful locals, excellent Gadd's beer and a great atmosphere. I asked the landlady if a taxi could be ordered for me around 45 minutes before I needed it. "Best get one right away"
she said "It's Bingo night!"
Great stuff. I didn't enjoy the 35 minutes wait at the deserted station though.
Sometimes, as a pub man, I despair, but a visit to Ramsgate with its great pubs, good beer and above all smashing people, was a real tonic
The other great thing about micropubs is selling simple things like filled rolls and pork pies. Just what you need, though in fact it was a local baker that sorted me out with a whopping corned beef and tomato crusty cob for £1.55. Splendid.
Worryingly the largest Wetherspoons in the UK is being built on the seashore. Hope that doesn't bugger it all up!