After spending most of Saturday in Tunbridge Wells, I ended up returning there for a few drinks on Wednesday night. It was a CAMRA social evening and we were supposed to be going to the Brecknock Arms, at Bells Yew Green - just across the border into Sussex.
For those not in the know, the Brecknock is owned by Harveys of Lewes, who are not only one of my favourite breweries, but also brew some fantastic beers as well. The majority of their pubs are unspoilt, with many retaining a traditional public bar. The Brecknock is no exception, and as an added bonus is easy to get to by train. We were therefore all looking forward to an evening there, especially as they would have Harveys superb Old Ale on sale. Unfortunately the pub closed temporarily just after New Year, to allow some sensitive rennovation work to take place, but as is the tendency with building work, the project had over-run by several days. We didn't know about the building work at the time the social was first organised, but fortunately our membership secretary found out prior to our scheduled visit, and thanks to e-mail was able to alert members that the pub would not be open.
A walk round some of the pubs of Tunbridge Wells was put forward as an alternative - hence my second trip around a few of the town's hostelries in less than a week. The majority of the members started off in the peculiarly-named Ragged Trousers, a pleasant, but rather non-descript bar situated in the famous Pantiles area of the town. From what I later learnt I am somewhat glad that myself and a friend missed out on this establishment due to us bnoarding the wrong train! (Apparently the beer quality wasn't all it could be.)
We met up with the rest of our colleagues at the nearby Duke of York, a cosy corner pub, also in the Pantiles area, which was selling Bombardier, GK Abbot plus Harveys Best. Most of us stuck to the latter, which was in fine form. I am glad to report that the Duke of York has reverted to its original name after a spell as "Chaplins". As far as I know, the director and silent film star had no connection with either the pub or the town, so like many locals I was particularly pleased when this in-appropriate name was dropped. The other nice thing about the DoY was that there was no noisy and obtrusive music to disturb our conversation. Definitely a pub to go back to!
From the DoY we made our way up to the Grove, a fine old locals' pub, situated in the "village" area of Tunbridge Wells. Although they had a seasonal beer from Everards on offer ("Sleighbells"), most of us stuck to the Timothy Taylor's Landlord, which was excellent. The beer was so good in fact that we ended up spending what remained of the evening in the Grove.
Whilst it would have been nice to have sampled some Harveys Old, we all had a very enjoyable evening. I shall look forward to visiting the Brecknock on another occaision to see what changes have been made, and also to see what seasonal ales are on offer.