Tuesday 9th September 2014
The micropub phenomenon began in East Kent and it is here that has the greatest concentration of them. Most towns have one and some have more. One of these is Dover which boasts no less than four! Please note that this total applies at the time of writing this piece; there could be even more by the time you read this!
This member of the species was born on 13th August 2014 so was less than a month old when I visited. The site was formerly a pub/ bar/ bistro named Pier Three. It served cask beers but somehow it passed me by. Actually it was probably the other way round. It closed around December 2013. Prior to that the premises were Mandy’s Tea Rooms.
The Mash Tun is operated by Peter and Kathryn Garstin, who are well known in these parts as a result of their stewardship of several award-winning pubs in the past.
They first came to my notice when they were running the excellent Yew Tree in the village of Barfreston. Unfortunately the location could not support a full-service pub and it closed in February 2010. Some good news; the village’s drought ended in August 2014 with the opening of The Wrong Turn, a micropub. Please see separate article in BeerVisits.
After the Yew Tree they moved on to Blakes of Dover, a bistro with a bar in the cellar. This had previously been commended many times with a lot of awards. They continued the high standards reached before them and it was a very good place for a pint of cask beer. Then the opportunity of this location in Bench Street became available and the rest was history, as they say.
I have to say the pub looks enticing even from the street. The traditional sign board over the frontage and shading tree make it appear very attractive; you just have to go in. And what a treat it is once you have crossed the threshold. Possibly the most notable aspect is how comfortable it all is. On the left is a low table surrounded by a three-piece red leather suite. On the wall behind is a shelf for upright drinkers.
Inside the etched window there runs a bench seat with cushions. After the table along the left side of the room is a French Dresser followed by a espresso coffee machine, only the real stuff served here! This is next to the wine rack. In front of these is the pulpit; literally so, as that was its original purpose in a church. It is over 200 years old and is utilised as the serving counter.
On the right of the entrance door you firstly encounter a piano, which is actually used, sometimes. Next you will find a grandfather clock. Beyond this the pub narrows because of the presence of the cool room on the left. In this section there are four tall round tables surrounded by stools and high chairs. On the wall is another dresser containing plates and glasses.
Mention of the cool room leads me on to the beer available on that day. There was a choice of Adnam’s (Southwold, Suffolk) Topaz (4.0%); Hopdaemon (Newnham, Kent) Golden Braid (3.7%) and from a very long way away, Highland Brewing (Swannay, Orkney) Orkney IPA (4.8%).
There was even more cider with six represented. However should you have visited the pub in 2015, and later, you would find a lot more, 12 seemingly the norm. Recognition for this came in the form of winning CAMRA Dover Cider Pub of the Year 2015. This was eclipsed when it won the CAMRA Kent Cider Pub of the Year 2015 award.
Back to September 2014, my visit discovered that the following ciders to be on offer: Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Old Rosie (7.3%); Kentish Pip (Bekesbourne, Kent) Medium Dry (5.0%) and their Pip the Elder (4.8%). Finally there were three from Abrahall’s Cider (Bishops Frome, Worcestershire): AM (6.5%), Lily the Pink (4.5%) and Slack Alice (4.6%).
They sell Salted and Dry Roasted Peanuts along with Pork Scratchings. Yet there are also some more exotic snacks such as Biltong, Herb & Garlic Olives, Peeled Roasted Chestnuts, Spicy Pickled Eggs and Onions. These were on the snack menu when I visited and the selection could change.
This pub is a very worthy addition the flourishing Dover micropub scene and should be visited if you are in or near the town.
The Mash Tun, 3 Bench Street, Dover CT16 1JH, Kent. Tel: 01304 219590
Open: Wednesday to Saturday 12.00-22.00; Sunday 12.00-16.00. Closed: Monday-Tuesday
Dover Priory station is well served by South Eastern trains from London St Pancras via Stratford International, Ashford and Folkestone. There are also trains from London Charing Cross but they are substantially slower.
From the station walk up Station Approach and continue in the same direction along Folkestone Road. At some time cross to the other side. At the roundabout use the crossing and go down Worthington Street passing the Lanes micropub on the right. At the junction with Biggin Street, turn right. This becomes Canon Street. Pass Wetherspoon’s Eight Bells on the right. Cross the Market Square to King Street. This leads to Bench Street and the Mash Tun can be found on the right before the pedestrian subway.