The pub/bar in question is the Beer Seller, a well-stocked free house on Tonbridge High Street, offering gravity dispensed, cask beer, alongside traditional cider, and several craft offerings. Occupying the former premises of John Angell, in Tonbridge High Street, the Beer Seller opened its doors to an eager public, in December 2018, and quickly became a welcome addition to the town’s beer scene.lower false ceiling, constructed out of corrugated iron sheeting, along with a new stone-flagged floor.
It all looked very kitsch, and one local licensee, who shall remain nameless, nicknamed it “Bethlehem.” Unfortunately, that name did find favour, in a light-hearted sort of way, with several members of the local CAMRA branch! It's worth noting, that John Angell Jeweller & Goldsmith was an old family business, which was established in 1830. It ceased trading mid-way through 2017, and as a mark of respect to the building’s long heritage, the old name was left up above the door. I would have preferred the new owners to have tried to preserve something of the internal heritage as well, such as the counter and some of the jewellery display cabinets, rather than giving the place such a dramatic transformation, but that’s just me!
The new owners followed the example of their existing pub, by offering gravity dispensed cask beers, straight from casks, housed houses in a specially constructed, chilled cellar room, just behind the serving area. Here a “beer wall” arrangement allowed the cask beers to be via taps, which protruded through the wall. Other taps, allowed lagers, ciders, and craft keg beers to be served from the same location. Also, in common with the Halfway House, the philosophy was to keep things local as much as possible, sourcing cask ales, ciders and other drinks from producers based in Kent or Sussex. Cellar Head, Gadd’s, Goacher’s, Long Man and Tonbridge supplied the core range of beers, alongside classic session beer, Adnam’s Southwold. These were complemented by guest ales, again sourced locally, wherever possible. Draught lagers were also local brewed, with Helles Belles from Westerham Brewery and Curious Brew from Ashford, amongst the regulars.
I wouldn’t say I was much of a regular at the pub, although it was always a handy and welcoming place to pop in for a quick pint, particularly given its prominent location on Tonbridge High Street. It was only the only pub locally to regularly stock Goacher’s Gold Star, a well-hopped, draught pale ale, brewed by the oldest of Kent’s small, independent brewers. Despite its relatively high 5.1% abv, Gold Star is dangerously drinkable, and the fact it will no longer be available in the town, is a sad loss.
Whether a new buyer can be found for the business, or whether someone different wants to take the place on, is also pure conjecture. I suspect neither will happen, given the economic straits the country finds itself in, and unfortunately, I also suspect that the closure of this pleasant, quirky and much-loved establishment will not be the last within the hospitality trade.