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Kent's top pubs for a real ale on St George’s Day including the New Inn, Canterbury and the 10:50 From Victoria in Strood


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St George's Day started out in the 13th century as a national day of feasting and English folk have been raising a glass to our patron saint on April 23 ever since.

Although it's said that St George was born in Turkey, died in Israel and never actually visited these shores - not even to quench his thirst with a quick pint after bashing up the dragon - that won't stop us celebrating the best of English beer.

Salute St George on Saturday, April 23
Salute St George on Saturday, April 23

Kent's CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) members have just voted these pubs to be the best in the county, so we think they will be the perfect spots to sip a half or two this St George’s Day - plus keep reading to find out Secret Drinker's recommendation.

THE BERRY, Deal

If you fancy a taste of something different, you might want to stop off at The Berry.

This traditional family-run pub backs onto the beach and serves an ever-changing rotation of real ales, craft beers and ciders. Cherry-picking the most unique selections from across the country, some of the current offerings include a strawberry cider from Snailsbank in Herefordshire and the Deal Patchwork pale ale from the town’s own Time and Tide brewery.

There is also a refreshing choice of alcohol-free cans for designated drivers. With a small sun-kissed beer garden and just a seafront stroll from Walmer Castle, it’s easy to see why this pub has won CAMRA’s Deal, Dover, Sandwich and District Branch Pub of The Year 2022 for the 10th time.

The Berry can be found at 23 Canada Road, Walmer, CT14 7EQ. Open on Saturdays from noon to 11pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

The bar at The Berry pub in Walmer, Deal, is lined with real ales and craft beers. Picture: The Berry on Facebook
The bar at The Berry pub in Walmer, Deal, is lined with real ales and craft beers. Picture: The Berry on Facebook

THE BOWL INN, near Ashford

Frequently featured in the Good Beer Guide, the Bowl Inn prides itself on its locally sourced beers and ales.

Fans of Kentish ales will undoubtedly find their favourite pints from nearby breweries, including the Hopfuzz Brewery in Hythe, Breakwater Brewery in Dover and Hopdaemon Brewery in Newnham near Sittingbourne, in this 18th century free house.

You can also enjoy Anno gin from Marden, BEARDspoon cider from Sellindge, Chapel Down bubbles from Tenterden and snacks from Kent Crisps - all nestled in the North Downs’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Bowl Inn truly offers the best of Kent.

The Bowl Inn can be found at The Street, Hastingleigh, TN25 5HU. Open on Saturdays from noon to 9pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

The Bowl Inn, near Ashford, uses food and drink from many local producers. Picture: The Bowl Inn
The Bowl Inn, near Ashford, uses food and drink from many local producers. Picture: The Bowl Inn

THE COMPASS ALEHOUSE, Gravesend

For the perfect blend of contemporary and traditional, the Compass Alehouse is worth a visit.

Boasting the title of Gravesend’s first micropub, this fun bar serves a range of local cask ales from the likes of Angels and Demons near Dover and the Old Dairy Brewery in Tenterden.

However, despite bringing the town’s selection of watering holes up-to-date, this micropub is taking punters back in time for St George’s Day with a celebration of the English holiday and William Shakespeare’s birthday where there will be accordion music, free potage, poems, recitals and a special English whisky flight - as well as some great Kentish pints, of course.

The Compass Alehouse can be found at 7 Manor Road, Gravesend, DA12 1AA. Open this Saturday from 2pm to 10pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

John Warden opened The Compass Alehouse, Gravesend, in 2014. Picture: Tony Jones
John Warden opened The Compass Alehouse, Gravesend, in 2014. Picture: Tony Jones

LARKINS’ ALEHOUSE, Cranbrook

Variety is, as they say, the spice of life, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Larkins’ Alehouse.

Not only does this family-run micropub offer plenty of local cask ales from the likes of Pig and Porter in Tunbridge Wells and Gadds in Ramsgate, but customers can also choose from Kent ciders, craft beer on tap or in cans, wine, vodka, gin, soft drinks and even pickled eggs and onions!

For those after a more substantial bite, you can also order yourself cheese or ham rolls, sausage rolls and pork pies, all served with a homemade chutney - perfect to enjoy in the beer garden if the weather is pleasant.

Larkins’ Alehouse can be found at 7 High Street, Cranbrook, TN17 3EB. Open on Saturdays from noon to 10.30pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

Larkin's Alehouse in Cranbrook has plenty of food and drink optons to keep customers happy.
Larkin's Alehouse in Cranbrook has plenty of food and drink optons to keep customers happy.

THE NELSON ARMS, Tonbridge

This pub is a true community hub for locals, who saved it from being converted into housing and caught the attention of landlord Matthew Rudd.

Matthew, who also runs The Windmill in Sevenoaks with his wife Emma, stepped in to take over the Nelson Arms and turned it into a newly-refurbished boozer with 10 cask ales on tap.

Enjoy a pint of Brewers Reserve from West Malling’s Kent Brewery or Oatmeal Stout from Ramsgate’s Gadds, or perhaps a tipple from further afield such as Sussex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk, as you soak up the weekend sun on the beer terrace.

Nelson Arms can be found at 19 Cromer Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1UP. Open on Saturdays from noon to 11.30pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

Matthew Rudd, pictured, saved The Nelson Arms in Tonbridge from being sold to developers. Picture: Andy Jones
Matthew Rudd, pictured, saved The Nelson Arms in Tonbridge from being sold to developers. Picture: Andy Jones

THE NEW INN, Canterbury

Just a short walk from Canterbury’s many shops, restaurants and the picturesque river that flows through the city is The New Inn.

Serving as many ales and craft beers as you could wish for, from a combination of draught taps, cellar casks and cold cans, as well as some fruity summer ciders, you won’t be short of choices here.

Sip on some different drinks from across the country, including Shere Drop from Surrey, Lemon Dream from Shrewsbury and Cherry Moon from Ashford, and celebrate England’s great breweries.

The New Inn can be found at 19 Havelock Street, Canterbury, CT1 1NP. Open on Saturdays from noon to 12.30am. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

The New Inn landlady Katrina Maclean is welcoming punters this St George's Day.
The New Inn landlady Katrina Maclean is welcoming punters this St George's Day.

THE 10:50 FROM VICTORIA, Strood

Easily spotted from the train to and from London Victoria, hence the name, this quirky micropub is the perfect spot for a more intimate drink.

Tucked away under a railway arch in Strood, this eccentric bar is full of railway memorabilia and has old-fashioned railway station decor, giving a nod to its unique location.

The micropub serves a regular number of Kentish ales and ciders, but also introduces new flavours to its punters on a weekly basis. You can sit back and relax in the large and vibrant beer garden, complete with benches and beach huts, but be aware there are a few rules - it’s over 18s only, so don’t bring your kids along to this one, and it advertises as being cash only so you might want to stop at an ATM on the way.

The 10:50 from Victoria can be found at the rear of 37-39 North Street, Rochester, ME2 4SJ. Open on Saturdays from 3pm to 10pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

The 10.50 from Victoria is a micropub that can be spotted by communters on the train in and out of London. Picture: Simon Hildrew
The 10.50 from Victoria is a micropub that can be spotted by communters on the train in and out of London. Picture: Simon Hildrew

THE THREE TUNS, near Sittingbourne

After 12 years in the CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, the Three Tuns has finally won the Swale Pub of the Year award, and it’s not really all that surprising.

With its traditional black-and-white exterior and range of ales and ciders from across the county, this charming pub is a great place for a countryside pint.

It also boasts a fabulous menu of food, including warm ciabattas, shortcrust pies, burgers and pub boards, to wash down with your beer.

There are even treats for your four-legged friends, so don’t be afraid to bring your pup along for a tub of dog-friendly ice cream.

The Three Tuns can be found at The Street, Lower Halstow, ME9 7DY. Open on Saturdays from noon to 11pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

The Three Tuns is a pretty pub in a beautiful countryside location, Picture: Simon Hildrew
The Three Tuns is a pretty pub in a beautiful countryside location, Picture: Simon Hildrew

THE TWO HALVES, Margate

With spectacular sea views over the sandy beach, it’s no wonder people enjoy stopping off for a coastal pitstop at the Two Halves.

This micropub has been a staple of the seafront since 2015 with its constantly rotating range of drinks, which have in the past included Khyber Pass IPA from Oakham Ales in Peterborough and Broken Drum bitter from The Mighty Oak Brewing Company in Essex.

The Two Halves prides itself on having no screens inside the pub so if you’re looking for a quiet drink and some conversation on the Thanet coast, this is the place to be.

The Two Halves can be found at 2 Marine Drive, Margate, CT9 1DJ. Open on Saturdays from 1pm to 10.30pm. Find out more details, including full opening times, here.

The Two Halves, Margate, is Thanet's micropub that looks out over the seafront. Picture: Gary Browne
The Two Halves, Margate, is Thanet's micropub that looks out over the seafront. Picture: Gary Browne

AND WHERE DOES SECRET DRINKER RECOMMEND?

The Style and Winch, Maidstone

A list for St George’s Day and no mention for our county town, surely not?

I feel duty bound to make a special plea for a proper Maidstone town centre boozer. One of the most traditional pubs you’re ever likely to visit, the Style and Winch on Union Street is the perfect place to raise a toast to our patron saint as all the locals will proudly join you.

And, as well as enjoying the hospitality (ie. gently abusive banter) you can be confident you will be served a superbly kept pint of real English beer at a decent price. ‘Cry God for Harry, England, and St George!’

As traditional as it’s possible to be, The Style and Winch on Union Street is a proper town centre boozer. Picture: Secret Drinker
As traditional as it’s possible to be, The Style and Winch on Union Street is a proper town centre boozer. Picture: Secret Drinker

The Style and Winch can be found at 72 Union Street, Maidstone, ME14 1ED. Open on Saturdays from 10am to midnight. Find out more details, including full opening times, here. And click here for Secret Drinker's full review.

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