Monday 24th March 2014
I think you have to be of a certain age to realise that the title of this micro pub is a play on words of an old TV series called Tales of the Unexpected. Nevertheless I think it stands up even if you're not so old to remember the program, as it is a good name anyway. It is apposite also, because owner Carl Hilliard tends to stock beers from around the country rather than concentrating on Kentish brewers, as many others do.
The pub is located in the Westbrook area of Margate and opened in August 2013. It's housed in what was an antiques shop although for many years before that it was a fishmonger's. I walked through the main room and on towards the bar area. It appears that these were probably two rooms at one time as I passed through a narrower section before arriving at the bar. Carl was on duty and I ordered a beer from Strathaven Ales which come from a small village in the country to the South West of Glasgow, truly an ale of the unexpected!
I understand that you will normally find Carl or his other half Nancy, behind the bar. I got into a conversation with a gentleman sitting opposite who had visited all of the micro pubs in East and Southern Kent. He told me pretty well what he thought of them. Mostly I concurred with him, yet occasionally I had better experiences than he had.
I think he liked his pubs to be simple and straightforward. Some of them are definitely a bit grander than others when it comes to furnishings and decor because, put simply, there are many concepts within the same genre. Owners present their pubs as they want them to be, and that is what is so good about these watering holes. Every one is completely individual.
The pub I was in is a very good example of this, as the area where I was standing made me think I was in an old Beer House. I can just remember a few of them. There are bare walls and the bench against the wall my conversational fellow drinker was sitting on, is reminiscent of those old pubs. There are old enamel signs on display and on the wall behind the bar the single shelf for glasses made me think of those long gone hostelries.
The main drinking area is the larger room at the front of the building. Here there are varnished wooden tables, chairs and benches.
I particularly liked the "wallpaper" which is a collection of old maps from this country and around the world. With no section being the same as another certainly makes it interesting. If I was a regular visitor I would want to sit in all of the seats and study them closely!
Another fascinating object parked in this room was an old bicycle with an advertisement plate for the pub on it. The chain was a bit rusty but the tyres seemed pumped up. I wonder if Carl uses it to get home after he closes the pub?
High up on walls there are a collection of brewery publicity items, mostly ceramic and below them is a display of the pump clips of beers already dispensed here.
Carl gets the beer from the cool room which is accessed from behind the bar.
These are what he offered when I visited: Naylor's (Crosshills, West Yorks) Merry England (5.0%); Strathaven Ale (Strathclyde, Scotland) Duchess Anne (3.9%) and Titanic (Burslem, Staffs) Ship of Dreams (4.5%). There were two ciders from Abrahall's Cider (Bishops Frome, Worcestershire): Thundering Molly (5.2%) and Slack Alice (4.6%).
He also sells bottles of the Belgian Leffe beer and wines by the glass. In addition he has Biddenden Vineyards (Biddenden, Kent) Gribble Bridge White in a full bottle along with Cava.
Fruit juices are available and also a large range of packaged snacks at a very reasonable price.
This is a great pub that is easily accessible if you are in the area, so there is no excuse not to visit.
Ales of the Unexpected, 105 Canterbury Road, Westbrook, Margate, Kent CT9 5AX
Tel: 07958 647753
Open: Monday-Saturday 12.00-15.00, 17.00-22.00; Sunday 12.00-15.30
The pub is opposite the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital and the bus stops of that name are less than 100 metres from its front door. The following routes pass by and connect it to many Thanet destinations and also Canterbury: 8, 8A, 8X, 32, 33, 34, 34A and 36. Between them they provide 12 buses per hour on weekdays to the centre of the town. Obviously there are less in the evenings and on Sundays.
Margate station has two trains per hour from London Victoria via Chatham and Faversham.
There is also one fast HiSpeed train per hour from London St Pancras via Ashford and Canterbury West. This is on weekdays, less on Sundays.
Margate station is just under ten minutes walk from the pub. Coming out of the station building, go to the left and in the corner find and walk down Albert Road. At the end turn left into Canterbury Road and after about five minutes you will see the pub on the left.