Friday 7th February 2014
I called in to this likeable micropub after visiting the CAMRA Winter Ales Festival at the Old Town Hall around the corner. I realise that it probably wasn't the best time to try it out for the first time but, in reality, it was a good visit. It was very busy when I walked in, yet the customers thinned out soon after. I hope it wasn't because of me! I have gone there since and it was also very full, a testament to its popularity no doubt.
I ordered a pint and grabbed a standing place alongside an up-ended barrel which doubled as a table. One very commendable feature that afternoon was that there were up to four members of staff serving the thirsty punters. I was served by Trish who is one of the co-owners along with partner Steve. As she had a moment she explained that she is involved with the nearby Ripple Steam Brewery and that there was always one of their beers on sale here.
The pub opened its doors on 10th October 2013. The premises were formerly occupied by an optician and the internal layout is similar to many micropubs. Near the street are high tables that are characteristic of these small boozers, simply because they are so practical. On the left, half way down is the aforementioned barrel and there is a very small table. On the right there is some normal size seating.
There is a brightly lit corridor from the main room with the washing and cleaning area on the left and the "cellar" is to be found on the right. The usual facilities are to be found at the end. The decor in the pub is rather varied. On the right there a number of framed photographs which I believe are of Dover and its shipping; I haven't been able to get close enough to check. Above the barrel on the left there is a rather bizarre mask of a grinning (or maybe grimacing?) man; odd!
There were four beers on offer and they were: Millis (South Darenth, Kent) Gravesend Guzzler (3.7%), Penpont (Launceston, Cornwall) Cornish Arvor Red Ale (4.0%), Loddon (Dunsden Green, Oxfordshire) Gravesend Shrimpers (4.1%) (This beer is exclusively brewed for the AVS beer wholesale company) and finally Elephant School Brewing (Brentwood, Essex) Cookies & Cream Stout (4.5%) (This brewery is an offshoot of the Brentwood Brewery created to brew more experimental beers than the parent). Incidentally it is possible to order 3 X third pints of either beer or cider.
I'm sure you're remembering I said there was always a beer from the Ripple Steam; but please read on. I had the Penpont beer, simply because I had never had one from this brewery. Trish asked me what I thought of it and I had to say that although it was in reasonable condition, I really didn't like it as it was far too malty for my palate. I was told that they had just put on Ripple Steam (Sutton-by-Dover, Kent) Black IPA (5.8%) but had not got round to putting up the sign yet. She offered to replace the Cornish beer with that; I couldn't refuse!
They certainly had a lot of cider with the following available. From Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) there were Family Reserve (5.0%); Rosie's Pig (4.3%) and Raspberry Twist (4.0%). From the same county there was Abrahall's (Bishops Frome) Slack Alice (4.6%).
More local products were offered in the form of Kentish Pip (Bekesbourne, Kent) Ginger Spiced Cider (6.0%) and Dudda's Tun (Doddington, Kent) Cheery Old Dudda's Cherry Cider (5.0%).
There is food offered in the form of a cheese board with pickles. They also have Pork Pies, Scotch Eggs and Picked Eggs. Normal packaged pub snacks are available in the form of crisps (from the Kent Crisp Co), peanuts and pork scratchings.
Wine is available and they also sell soft drinks along with tea and coffee.
This is a brilliant little pub that must be checked out if you're in the area.
The Rack of Ale, 7 Park Place, Dover CT16 1DF. Tel: 077 030 59201
Open: Monday to Saturday 12.00-22.30; Sunday 13.00-22.30
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, turn left into Priory Road. Cross to other side via the zebra crossing and continue in the same direction. The High Street joins on the right. At the Old Town Hall, turn right into Park Place. You will find the pub on left about 150 metres along.
Dover Priory station is served by an hourly HiSpeed train from London St Pancras.
Other (slower) trains come from London Charing Cross and London Victoria.