22 February 2010 (Monday) - On The Beer

A lazy morning spent firstly with a bit of BattleStar Galactica and then exchanging insults on Facebook. At first sight the weather seemed against a trip to Maidstone, but then if I stayed in every time it rained, I’d never leave the house.

To Maidstone, which for no adequately explored reason had been chosen as the venue for this year’s February pub crawl. Three of us met up at Ashford railway station and shook off the rain. A relatively uneventful twenty minutes saw us at Maidstone East and having met up with Terry we were off to pub #1

The Druid’s Arms is a Greene King pub, and in drinking circles it is traditional to be scathing of Greene King. I don’t know why? I’ve never understood this attitude. The Druids Arms was a fine pub. Six different ales on the hand pump, including two I’d never seen before. As this was early in the day’s drinking we just had one here – a pint of “Flanker’s Tackle”, chosen for the rude name. The only criticism I’d make of this place was that the service was a tad slow, but the chap did apologize for this.

It’s a good town centre pub – ideal for popping into whilst ‘er indoors TM does shopping. In the final analysis this place the place scores 8/10.

Up the hill to the Rifle Volunteers, which isn’t somewhere you’d find by chance. We had to search it out – it’s a pub which I had been told that I would either love or hate. A Goacher’s pub, with three fine Goacher’s ales on. I had a pint of the stout, and then another pint of the stout. Others of our party had the mild and the light ale whilst we waited for the late comers of our party to catch up with us.

I think it fair to say that “Daddies Little Angel TM ” did feel a little out of place in there, but this traditional old boozer reminded me of the pub where my Dad used to drink over forty years ago. It’s stormed into that hallowed group of pubs to which I award 9/10, and I can’t help but think I’ll be going back soon.

And then round the corner to the Swan. Because of its location in Maidstone, this is a pub I’ve visited before. One of the very few Shepherd Neame pubs that actually has an ale selection, and it did seem odd having the autumn seasonal (Late Red) in February, but the ale is well kept, and a pint of Kent’s Best slipped down as well. The sandwiches here are excellent – you can’t beat a ham butty. I’ve visited this place before and have previously scored it 8/10, and today’s visit confirms that score.

It was at this point we said goodbye to some of our number, and we carried on to the Flower Pot. I had intended this to be the highlight of the day, and the ale selection was wonderful. And the staff seemed friendly. But the barmaid waited until “Daddies Little Angel TM ” popped out for a cigarette, at which time she came over and announced (rather rudely) that she wouldn’t be serving her any more drink.

Why is it that so many pubs that obviously make the effort to attract the real ale drinker have such attitude? Blakes in Dover is just the same. I walked into the place scoring it 9/10, and walked out scoring it 0/10. In all honesty I feel I must recommend the serious pub-o-phile visits the place, but I won’t again.

By now we’d had an elegant sufficiency. And I’d had a gallon of ale as well, and so we staggered back to the train station smoking our cigars. That’s two cigars I’ve had this year, which is a lot for me. And then we spotted the White Rabbit. This wasn’t on our original list of destinations, but it had started raining again so we popped in to dry off over a pint of the Harvey’s. It’s a rather posh place with lots of nooks and crannies. Whilst pleasant enough, it’s not really my cup of tea, but I’ll score it 7/10 which is (on my scale) better than average.

We then said goodbye to Terry who was in pursuit of chips and took the waiting train home, via the KFC. The original plan for the day was to be home some time in the late afternoon. We got home at 10.30pm, with us seriously wondering where the time had gone.

I do like my February pub crawls – same time next year….?

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