CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Dover Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - February 18, 2002

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Flotilla & Firkin, 1 Bench Street, Dover, Kent

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Five Bells, Dover Road, Ringwould, Kent

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Marquis of Granby, Alkham Valley Road, Alkham, Kent

Since I'm spending most of my time in the North these days I thought I'd better write one more column about Southern pubs before starting off on my voluminous Yorkshire accounts. So this week I'll talk about three distinctly different pubs in and around Dover.

The Flotilla & Firkin is another one of those firkin' pubs festooned with posters and signs displaying so many firkin' jokes it makes you want to firkin' explode. Still, this particular Dover centre Firkin isn't too bad for a firkin' -- er, Firkin pub. The food was fairly average when we stopped in for lunch, but at least we could get pints of Ind Coope Burton Ale (4.8% ABV, Marston, Thompson, & Evershed, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire) which, once again, weren't bad for a Firkin pub. It's quite easy to get Burton Ale wrong, and it's always a bitter disappointment when you get a bad pint. So the pleasant hoppiness was a relief, especially after spending the morning climbing up the tower turrets and castle moat walks of Dover Castle and exploring galleries with medieval toilets, finally emerging into a town centre pub with one's shoes smelling of urolite.

North of Dover on the A258 is a tiny village called Ringwould, a place you wouldn't probably find yourself unless you were looking up old friends, as we were. No, that's not fair -- the 2000-year-old village of Ringwould is famous for its weekend market -- well, at least to the citizens of Ringwould and nearby Kingsdown and Ripple. And a few people in Dover probably know about Ringwould as well. My, I'm making the place sound unduly enticing, aren't I?

Anyway, in the village of Ringwould is the Five Bells, an unusual pub which doesn't open until 3:00 in the afternoon. Built in 1729 as a farm, the building was licensed in 1784 to sell ales and ciders. It's still a fairly simple, basic pub with only one real ale on in the summer months. On the hot day we visited it was quite cool inside with pleasant greenery out back and a pleasant cat in the window. (His name is Tigger, in case you happen to meet him or he offers to buy a pint.) Our pints of Bass Ale (4.4% ABV, Bass Brewers Ltd., Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire) weren't the best pints we've had, but I'm sure they're the best pints of real ale you can get in Ringwould.

To the west of Dover heading toward Folkestone is the picturesque Dour Valley, which doesn't seem dour at all. If you follow the Alkham Valley Road you'll reach the lovely village of Alkham, an oasis of greenery and flowers among the chalk hills. Here you'll find the Marquis of Granby, a pub which is basically a restaurant specialising in fish and seafood. The food is quite good here and the menu is immense, and they do have plenty of meat and vegetarian choices as well. This is one of my mother's favourite places to have lunch.

But the Marquis of Granby is worth mentioning in this column because of its extremely fine pint of London Pride (4.1% ABV, Fuller, Smith, and Turner, London ) This is an excellent, superb example of the brew which is worth travelling to Alkham to taste. The pub area itself is very small, with the emphasis on dining at the tables. But if you can find yourself one of the two or three stools, cosy up to the bar, and have a chat with the friendly staff, I'm certain you'll thoroughly enjoy your pint.

The first time we stopped in here I'd just had a brie baguette in celebration of Bastille Day Eve. The nice crisp flavour of London Pride follows a nice sharp brie perfectly. It must be that unique Fuller's taste: a flat taste plane in the middle of the circle of flavours. A biére français, non? Goes perfectly avec un sandwich fromage...

Built in 1810, the Marquis of Granby originally served as the Village Inn, where auctions of wood and properties were conducted. Later on it served as the village shop and post office. Now it's a fine eating establishment and one of the extremely few worthy temples of London Pride outside of London.