Friday 7th March 2014
This was the first time I'd been to this pub-restaurant but Linda, who was with me this day, had visited previously. We had just left the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club Beer Festival and were just five minutes away from Cullins Yard, so it had to be done. Its sign actually says that it's Cullins Yard Wine Bar, Bistro and Brackery, what ever that may be! It opened in 2000, as far as I can ascertain.
As far as the beer drinker is concerned the big news came in January 2012 when a small brewery was installed in an out-building. It was made by SW Fabrications of Honiton, Devon and looking at photographs of it I believe it is a 2.5 barrel plant. Apart from supplying the occasional beer festival the beer is either bottled for independent off-licences or sold on draught in the pub.
The brewery is named Tír Dhá Ghlas as this is the Gaelic name of the owner's home town in Ireland. It is more often referred to in English, which is Terryglass. Believe it or not, it is pronounced the same way in both languages. There is not a long list of beers produced here as I can only find record of six different brews since they opened, although I understand they rotate around this core range.
We walked into the premises via a door near the brewery. It leads directly to a yard that is full of "objects"; there is no other way to put it.
There is shed that has been made to look like a garage from the early 20th century. There is a statue of a pirate standing outside! There are many odd things in the yard but it was nothing compared with the decor inside the building.
It seems there is not a space that hasn't been covered with a picture, sign, ornament, object or piece of bric á brac. The effect is quite amazing and there are some themes amongst the vast collection. Not surprisingly there is nautical, with models of ships, posters, ships' wheels and more.
The restaurant building was once a ship's workshop for the Dover Harbour Board. There is a section with a collection of woodworking tools which may have come from this source.
Old breweries also feature with many old signs including some from Leney's, the old local brewer. There is another section that displays armaments including some muskets and rifles with bayonets. There are even a couple of machine guns. Another wall displays photographs of old Dover. The ceiling has dozens of hanging flags and advertising lanterns.
Where we entered the restaurant was into the conservatory where there were a few people dining. We turned right in to the main bar room. Near to the bar there were several tables where you could just stop for drink. We settled at a table that was opposite the brightly illuminated juke box; you don't see them very often, nowadays. The two bars are very interesting as they are shaped like wooden dinghies, and probably are! There is further dining area up a few steps towards the facilities and kitchen.
There are only three hand pumps and two of them dispense beers from Adnam's of Southwold, Suffolk. They were Lighthouse (3.4%) and Broadside (4.7%). However the real reason why we were here was on the third pump and it was Tír Dhá Ghlas Pig's Ear (3.7%). It was a light English style bitter and we both liked it. The pump clip said it was a summer ale. I guess it turned out to be popular and so is now brewed all year round.
The pub is noted for its Scotch Whiskies and it holds a fantastic selection. Its menu is renowned and it is in the Top Ten Coastal Seafood and Fish Restaurants list. Outside there is a large outside dining and drinking area overlooking the dock with views across to historic Snargate Street on the other side of Wellington Dock.
There are lots of reasons to visit this unusual pub-restaurant and not least of these is that you are unlikely to find the beers of the Tír Dhá Ghlas Brewery anywhere else.
Cullins Yard, 11 Cambridge Road, Dover CT17 9BY. Tel: 01304 211666
From Dover Priory station the best way to get here is as follows. Leave the station and walk up the Station approach to Folkestone Road. Continue down to the roundabout but before you get there cross to the other side of the road. At the roundabout cross York Street and immediately turn right. Continue along here until you arrive at the next roundabout. Turn left and cross Townwall Street via the subway. You will now be in New Bridge. Almost immediately you are at a small roundabout. Turn right in to Cambridge Road.
Walk along the outside wall of the De Bradelei Wharf Shopping Centre until you arrive at the pub at the end of it.
Dover station is served by an hourly HiSpeed train from London St Pancras.
Other (slower) trains come from London Charing Cross and London Victoria.