Friday 26th February 2016
I arrived outside this new micropub at six minutes past one and entered the premises. Linda went to park the car and joined me a few minutes later. Inside there were four staff and four customers. The significance of this is that I was their fifth customer as the pub officially opened at 13.00 that day. Actually I believe they had a bit of a pre-opening do the night before.
This venture is owned by Lance Grist and Neil King. Neil is the name behind the Firkin Alehouse in Folkestone which opened in November 2012 (See article in BeerVisits). The pub will be run on a day to day basis by Mitch Doran. They were all present on this auspicious day. Every few minutes another customer, or two, arrived and just before we left I counted 22 in the room, plus staff.
I don’t want you to regard the following as a criticism of this hostelry, but they say that these small establishments are bringing the art of conversation back in to pubs.
Well, there was a point when it was impossible here to start a conversation. There were two customers, one each in groups either side of us, who were extremely loud. We were not able to compete with them without shouting ourselves, which would have been counter-productive. However, don’t let this put you off; I’m sure it will be OK in future.
By now we had been joined by Chris, local beer and pub aficionado from Ashford. The pub has a modern look with a mixture of tall and low tables and loose chair. Lots of light flood in through the window and that gives the pub an airy feel. There is table service but also a small counter at the rear on the right. On the left side wall there are some paintings depicting the activities of smugglers on Romney Marsh.
The beer is fetched from a cool room on the left at the rear. The details of the beers (and other drinks) are to be found on a large blackboard on the right wall. There were four beers offered: Kent Brewery (Birling, Kent) Session Pale (3.7%); Tonbridge Brewery (East Peckham, Kent) Blonde Ambition (4.2%); Dark Star (Partridge Green, West Sussex) and Kelham Island (Sheffield, South Yorkshire) Bète Noir (5.5%). These beers will always be changing.
For cider fans there was a good selection, with three from local manufacturers: Kentish Pip (Bekesbourne, Kent) Vintage Pip (6.0%); Dudda’s Tun (Doddington, Kent) Cherry Cider (4.0%) and Kent Cider Co (Oare, Kent) Vimto Cider (!) (5.5%). There was also Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Family Reserve (5.0%).
There is a selection of wine including Prosecco, also soft drinks and packaged snacks. This is a worthy addition to the Kentish micropubs ranks. This is just the sort of small town that can benefit from this kind of operation. I wish it well and hope to return soon.
Smugglers’ Alehouse, 10 St Lawrence Court, High Street, New Romney, Kent
Tel: 07712 354733
Hours: Monday-Thursday 12.00-21.00, Friday-Saturday 12.00-22.00; Sunday 12.00-16.00
Buses are the 11 from Ashford which runs hourly but not always, from Monday to Saturday, not Sunday. The other route is the 100 / 101 from Dover via Folkestone, Hythe and continues on to Hastings. This runs half hourly to this part of New Romney on Monday to Saturday. It is more frequent from the Ship Hotel down the High Street. It also runs hourly to the Ship on Sundays.
A novel way to arrive here is by the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. The station is just under a mile away, about 20 minutes walk if you’re fit. You need to check their timetable as it varies according to the date of travel.