James Viner tells you what’s happening when and where and picks two of his favourite must-visit watering holes
We’re lucky enough to have a flourishing drinks scene here in Tunbridge Wells thanks to a dynamic selection of craft beer pubs and bars that are guaranteed to quench all types of tastes. So it makes perfect sense for them to put on a four-day celebratory beer event as part of the town’s month long food festival doesn’t it?
Running from Thursday to Sunday a plethora of pubs and bars will be showcasing their finest ales and brews and also staging talks, pop ups and takeovers – such as Siren’s at the The Ragged Trousers on The Pantiles. You can also find out about the area’s history of beer making and indulge in a number of home brew classes, rare barrel tastings and walking tours.
In total there are nine of our finest establishments and microbreweries taking part and they include Sankey’s, The Royal Oak, The Beer Boutique and the Pig and Porter brewery. Further details can be found at the Royal Tunbridge Wells together website but in the meantime here’s a little bit more about two of my favourite watering holes….
The Pantiles Tap:
Nearly four years after its foundation, The Pantiles Tap is still the HQ of Hops in the heart of historic Tunbridge Wells. Walk in just after opening time and you’ll see a row of bar stools at this comfy, welcoming bar, ready and waiting for the daily arrival of regulars and visiting beer day-trippers. Take one look at the beer choice on the blackboard and you’ll see why they flock here. How about sampling a jug of Cloudwater’s Belgian IPA, or why not just kick back and relax with a pint of Chapeau’s Slip Stream Session bitter? The choice is yours. Sixteen taps with the UK’s finest kegged beers and ciders, plus a 16-product strong ‘Wall of Cider’ and lots of delectable bottled and canned delights in their well-stocked fridge. This is an essential stop when visiting The Pantiles. Watch out for this weekend’s Tap Takeover with East London’s Signature Brew Co. Grab a Yeastie Boys’ Pot Kettle Black porter, or maybe a Lilley’s Somerset cider, and you’re set for a good time.
39 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5TE
01892 530397; @Thepantilestap
Fuggles Beer Café & Bottle Shop:
In a town that those in the know are beginning to call ‘Beervana’, Fuggles is a bravura beacon of beer love and a thoroughly modern drinking experience. It’s now almost impossible to imagine it as the run-down old pound shop it was until 2013. This centrally-located and friendly pub and café boasts 22 draught ales, beers and ciders with the emphasis on the tastiest products Blighty and Belgium has to offer. The beers are very well-cared for indeed, making it one of the limited number of busy pubs (besides Bristol’s Small Bar, London’s The Southampton Arms and a handful of others), where I might risk buying a pint without sampling it first . Rest assured that turnover on cask and keg is lightening fast here. Naturally there are regular tap takeovers, and the bar also has a fine selection of spirits (especially gins) and wines. And then there’s the scrumptious food, which runs to toasted sandwiches, meat and cheese platters, ploughman’s lunch and sides such as toothsome beer sticks. The adventurous bottle list alone is worth getting excited about – it can extend to 100, and is never less than 80. In short, it’s an exciting place to be, so make sure you pay it a visit over the beer festival weekend – oh and pop September 26 in your diary too as its sister site in Tonbridge will be hosting Brasserie de la Senne’s articulate and passionate brewer Yvan De Baets. Cheers!
28 Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2AP
01892 457739; @FugglesBeerCafe
Find out more info at tunbridgewellstogether.co.uk or follow the #TWbeer hashtag on Twitter.
Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine