|Photo by Jon Collins - West Kent CAMRA|
A couple of WhatsApp messages from my local CAMRA branch alerted me to a hastily arranged night out in Tonbridge, so keen to catch up with a few of my friends I decided to bite the bullet and show my face.
It was an early start, but I assured my wife that an early kick-off would mean an early return home. As I walked towards the front door she had that look which said “I don’t believe you.” She obviously knows me rather too well, which is hardly surprising after 32 years of marriage, but she also knows that I am unlikely to arrive back home three sheets to the wind; especially on a “school night.” I told her I would see her later, and headed off towards the Forester’s Arms; our pre-arranged meeting point.
This is a new award, which recognises the work and enthusiasm put in by licensees in order to improve the pubs in their charge, throughout the West Kent CAMRA branch area. In the Forester’s case, landlord Tyson Marshall has turned around what was once a pub to be avoided. In the space of just over a year he has transformed the pub into a very pleasant place to drink in and socialise at.
I was the second to last of our group to arrive, and I found the rest of the party sat at a long table in front of the window. I ordered myself a pint of Whitstable Bay Pale and went over to join them. Not long afterwards Tyson came over with a couple of delicious-looking, pizzas for us to share. I reluctantly declined, having just had a quite filling meal, but I was sorely tempted.
The pub was reasonably busy, with a good mixed crowd, and for a Monday night this was good to see. The beer too was in good condition and I was particularly impressed with the Whitstable Bay Pale; scoring it at 3.5 NBSS. For those who fancied something a little different, Spitfire Gold and Woodforde’s Wherry were also on sale.
I gave the 4.0% Black Gold a miss, as I am not a fan of Black IPA's, but can report that the 4.5% Citra Single-hop Ale was excellent, pale in colour and bursting with flavours from this wonderful aromatic hop (3.0 NBSS). I didn't get to chat to the brewer, who had driven over specially from West Malling, but several members did.
|Fuggles - Tonbridge|
A group of us moved on to Fuggles after, but I only stayed for one beer; a 3.6% Green- Hop Ale called Thirteen Pale Ale, from Downlands Brewery. I left shortly after 10pm, and true to my word was back indoors by 10.30pm. Despite my early homecoming, Mrs PBT’s still hadn’t waited up for me and instead was tucked up fast asleep in bed.