Published: 11:30, 12 June 2020
I’ve spent a lifetime supporting local pubs. From my first underage visit, all those years ago, to my last visit, on the day lockdown rules came into force, I’ve pumped more than my fair share of hard-earned cash into some brilliant local boozers, and a few god-damned awful ones as well.
The current enforced exclusion has already broken my previous record for avoiding a pub by more than 10 weeks.
But, there has never been a more important time to support the brewing trade than right now – the pressure on pubs is immense and I hope, like me, you’ve been doing whatever you can to buy takeaways in either solid or liquid form.
Now, I’m not claiming to have any influence at a higher level or even to be a seer of any note, but I did review Kent's best pub gardens last week and now it looks as if pubs with outdoor seating areas could reopen in as little as 10 days’ time.
If this does come to pass then it is, of course, fantastic news but until this glorious day arrives we must continue offering whatever support we can.
With this in mind, I took my own advice and decided to sample both a takeaway and a delivery service from two small, independent Kent breweries.
The produce of both was in great demand from pubs prior to lockdown but with this vital supply source severed due to the virus each has had to re-think and adapt its supply model by going even more direct - straight to the consumer.
So I took delivery of a wonderful case of cans from the Iron Pier Brewery, Gravesend and took a drive to Flimwell, near Bewl Water, to collect a box of bottles from Cellar Head.
There are four members of the Secret Drinker household in lockdown, but on advice the SD hound isn’t allowed beer, so the tasting panel is reduced to three.
In the box from Iron Pier there were 12 440ml cans:3 x Rosherville Red 4.8%; 3 x Session IPA 4.2%; 3 x Keller Queen 4.4%; 3 x Breezy Day IPA 6.4%.
In the box from Cellar Head there were 12 500ml bottles: 4 x Single Hop Pale Ale 4.6%; 4 x Session Pale Ale 4.2%; 4 x Amber Ale 4.0%.
Now, I want to make it clear the full tasting session took place over two days and I can assure you it was very thorough.
You really must try some of these beers for yourself so I won’t give too much away, and besides, what do Mrs SD and the SD Apprentice really know about proper beer?
Two out of three voted Rosherville Red the No.1 choice, the other opted for Cellar Head’s Single Hop. Things we could agree on were that each Iron Pier beer had more carbonation than any of those from Cellar Head, also all the Pier’s brews were cloudier than any of Cellar Heads. Although two of us voted the Red No.1, it was the only beer Mrs SD really couldn’t drink.
Which all goes to show, it’s a matter of personal taste. However, one thing I can assure you is that if you get beer from either of these breweries you’re not going to be disappointed.
Both have adapted to offer greater quantities of beer for delivery or takeaway, but both are equally keen to reopen their taprooms just as soon as they’re allowed.
Although they accept it will present some challenges as their incredible popularity ahead of lockdown means they will need to find ways to restrict numbers to maintain social distancing.
Of course, beers from other breweries are available, so enjoy whichever you decide to try – but please do everything possible to back our Love Your Local campaign and support Kent’s breweries and pubs through the remainder of lockdown.