Welcome to CAMRA West Kent

This website is for CAMRA members who have an interest in the West Kent Branch.

The branch area includes the towns of Edenbridge, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Westerham.

 


Be Involved in Judging Kent COTY

There are only three entries in the Kent Club of the Year 2022 competition this year so members from all over the county can judge the clubs. The three are:
    Dartford Working Men’s Club, Dartford
    Marden Village Club, Marden
    Royal British Legion Club, Leigh
Judging involves visiting each club, completing the standard Club of the Year judging form, and returning the results by the end of July. All of the clubs are easily accessed by train. If you’d like to take part in judging please email Jeff Tucker at jeff.tucker047@gmail.com  and he will provide all the details. Please note that you must do all three clubs and submit your scores for each for any scores to be included.


Could You ‘Adopt a Pub’?

This was suggested at the AGM last weekend. As you know, we try to keep an eye on the pubs in our branch but we have a limited number of active members and some pubs are in rural areas that are harder to monitor unless you live nearby. Hence we would like to ask if you could help by adopting a pub. All it requires is to report to the branch occasionally how the pub is doing, how is the beer range and quality, any changes of ownership or cellarman, etc. Not an onerous task to report if it’s your local or one of them. If you can update the pub details on WhatPub.com so much the better – there is a link to enable any changes to be notified to the branch. Many thanks if you can do this.

 
Be Involved in Judging Kent POTY

Members from the west of the county judge pubs in the east and vice versa. If you’re interested in judging the East Kent pubs email me back for voting forms and guidance. Please note that you must do all five pubs and submit your scores for each pub for any scores to be included. campaign@camrawestkent.org.uk
     

                             

 


ANNOUNCING 2022 PUB OF THE YEAR

Thank you to all of you who voted in the 2022 Pub of the Year, Cider Pub of the Year & Club of the Year competitions this year.

Having informed the winners we are now pleased to be able to inform you of the full results as follows:

Pub of the Year 2022
WinnerNelson Arms, Tonbridge
Runners upFuggles Beer Cafe and The George, both Tunbridge Wells

Cider Pub of the Year 2022
Nelson Arms, Tonbridge

Club of the Year 2022
Royal British Legion Club, Leigh

Congratulations to all of our worthy winners and please keep supporting them and all of our great pubs and clubs.

We’ll share pictures of the presentation of the winners’ certificates after the ceremonies are completed.

 


STOP PRESS

Check out the PUB CHAT page for news on some recent bus trips taken by intrepid West Kent members … prepare to be amazed !!

 


 

 THINGS ARE HOTTING UP ! (March-22)

Much of life is heading back to ‘normal’ so check-out the latest Branch Diary for details on the many events and festivals taking place over the next few months. A good time to catch-up with friends and help our local pubs bounce-back from lockdown.

Some important branch meetings for your diary:

Sunday 27th March – Good Beer Guide Selection Meeting at which we review our surveys of nominated pubs in the branch to choose those that go into GBG 2023. 2pm at the Beer Seller, Tonbridge in the upstairs meeting room. This is an important meeting that members should make every effort to attend. If you’re involved in surveying pubs for GBG please make sure your survey form(s) are available at the meeting.

Sunday 3rd April West Kent CAMRA Branch Annual General Meeting at Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club, 1 Sandrock Road, TW, 2pm with a free buffet to follow. All members welcome and encouraged to attend.

Tuesday 10th May – Branch Business Meeting at the George, TW at 7.30pm (to incorporate a special event to be revealed later) – please note the earlier time following a vote on starting time at the last meeting.

Come along to branch meetings and get involved in the running of your local CAMRA branch.

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GETTING BACK TO NORMAL … ? (JAN-22)

There are signs that things are very slowly returning to normal – whatever ‘normal’ is! The reality will be that the hospitality business and especially pubs still have a long way to go to reach the pre-pandemic position. Many pubs are still working to restricted hours and there are still many drinkers who are still nervous about going out to pubs. Unfortunately this may well lead to more ‘casualties’ and further pub closures, especially if the pubcos try to re-coup past rents too quickly. So the sooner the ‘normal’ arrives the beter for many of our pubs.

WK CAMRA have returned to social events and details of these and other events and beer festivals can be found on the Branch Diary page. If you are happy to attend please give your support to all events and local beer festivals, pubs and local breweries.


Vote for Your POTY, CPOTY & COTY

We want to hear your opinion in order to choose our Pub of the Year 2022, Cider Pub of the Year 2022 and Club of the Year 2022.

1. Pub of the Year (POTY)

We invite you to nominate your 1st, 2nd & 3rd choice of pub for West Kent Pub of the Year based on the combined criteria of atmosphere, decor, welcome and service, level of community focus, value for money and most importantly, quality of beer and cider.

Whilst it is likely that the Pub of the Year contenders would appear in the current 2022 Good Beer Guide, you are free to vote for your top three pubs from any in the West Kent area.

2) Cider Pub of the Year (CPOTY)

In addition to POTY, you can also nominate one pub for Cider Pub of the Year. Please ensure that you nominate your Cider Pub of the Year separately. We have received a low number of votes for this in previous years and would dearly love to have a number of nominations that meet the criteria; which is that the pub must serve a real cider or perry.

3) Club of the Year (COTY)

Finally if you visit a club or clubs in the branch serving real ale or real cider you can also nominate your choice for Club of the Year (please nominate one only).

So please make your contribution to the process by email to campaign@camrawestkent.org.uk by Monday, 31st January. We will then be in a position to present the well-deserved awards for the winner and runners-up later in the year.


New Blog

A new travel blog has been started by beer author, Mikey Swann, to record his journeys around the country’s most weird, wondrous and historic pubs. Find it here: https://wwhpubsuk.blogspot.com/
 

Belated Christmas Gifts Anyone?

Sorry this suggestion reaches you too late for stocking fillers but member, Trevor Davis recommends the DVD ‘Roll Out the Barrel: A collection of entertaining short dramas, humorous trade films, perceptive documentaries and archival newsreel items, presenting a history of the British boozer’. It’s a fascinating look for those interested in social change, social history and the norms and values of pub culture. The Workingmen’s club in Sheffield is unbelievably different apparently. Buy it here: https://shop.bfi.org.uk/roll-out-the-barrel-the-british-pub-on-film-2-dvd-set.html
 

Pub Walks

For those of you who enjoy a pub walk, Shepherd Neame Brewery have published 14 of them around their pubs ranging from about 2½– 6 miles. The Bush, Blackbird & Thrush in East Peckham is included in our branch. The walking guides can be found in the pubs or online here: https://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/walks

 

 


 

West Kent Branch Returns to Socialising

We’ve hastily agreed our first social after lockdown at the Halfway House Beer Festival, Brenchley next Saturday, 28th August from 1pm or thereabouts. Bus service 297 runs from TW station via the town centre, Pembury and Matfield. The recommended bus is at 12.15 arriving at about 12.50 outside the pub. There is also an earlier one at 10.45 (check HH opening time) and a later one at 14.15 for latecomers. Return buses at about 16.50 & 18.20. Meet at the bus stop, on the bus or at the pub. This is always a great event.
 

 

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Vote For Your Champion Beer of Britain 2021

Details here: https://cbob.camra.org.uk/

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‘AND THE WINNER IS ….’

With that nasty COVID-19 interfering with all aspects of our lives the little matter of who won the Region’s Pub of the Year (POTY) accolade for 2020 unfortunately got left to one side. With all the uncertainty over when pubs could open and the social distancing requirements once they did it has not been possible to have any formal presentations. The plan is to have a one-on-one presentation of certificates to the various winners and something more celebratory once restrictions (notice how we’ve stopped say ‘when this is all over’ !!), with full “press coverage” and photos.

BUT in the meantime below are the winners of the West Kent Region’s Pub of the Year for 2020 (drum roll please):

PUB OF THE YEAR 2020          THE NELSON ARMS, TONBRIDGE

RUNNER-UP         THE GEORGE, TUNBRIDGE WELLS

CIDER POTY 2020                      THE NELSON ARMS, TONBRIDGE

RUNNER-UP         THE BEER SELLER, TONBRIDGE

CLUB OF THE YEAR 2020        THE CONSTITUTIONAL CLUB, TUNBRIDGE WELLS

RUNNER-UP         ROYAL BRITISH LEGION CLUB, LEIGH

Congratulations to all our winners and we look forward to some real celebrations as soon as we can.

 


SOME GOOD NEWS AMONG THE GLOOM !!

LOCAL PUBS & BREWERS OFFERING TAKE-AWAY

LOCAL BREWERS NOW OFFERING TAKE-AWAY SERVICE

Like a beacon shining out through the darkness some of our local brewers are now able to offer a take-away or delivery service. Clearly with restrictions to comply with COVID-19 requirements but as at 27th March the following services are available (obviously check all details directly with the brewers concerned).

 

  • Pig & Porter, TW – has reopened for deliveries of 5 litre mini kegs £20 each or 3 for £50 www.pigandporter.co.uk
  • Cellar Head – has re-introduced click and collect from the brewery and also does delivery within 15 miles via website / credit card £25 min. www.cellarheadbrewing.com 
  • Tonbridge – take-away or delivery / pre-order on 01622 871239 www.tonbridgebrewery.co.uk
  • Westerham – has re-introduced click and collect as well as delivery service. Extensive range of beers in various containers, other drinks and bar snacks, delivery within 20 miles (30 minutes) are free over £80 – pre-order on website www.westerhambrewery.co.uk
  • Alpha State – 5lt mini kegs and bottles, free local delivery to most TN and some ME postcodes www.alphastatebeer.com
  • Good Things Brewing at Eridge – takeaway cans and refills (bring a container) from the brewery shop https://goodthingsbrewing.co/
  • Larkins – takeaway 5 litre mini casks, polypins and mini-pins phone to order 01892 870328 www.larkinsbrewery.co.uk
  • Titsey Brewery (Near Tatsfield) Call Craig on 07850 914189. May suit members in the general Sevenoaks/Westerham area, located behind the Botley Hill Inn is just over the border in Surrey.

If you know of any other Brewers locally offering a Take-Away or Delivery service please let us know.

 

Free Brew2You app 

CAMRA’s new beer ordering app is now ready to download and use. Ordering beer, cider or perry directly to your doorstep couldn’t be simpler. Just download the app, search for your favourite drink within your local area and order it to your door with just a click of a button.   
www.brew2you.co.uk

 


Sign the Petition to Save Pubs by Cutting Taxes on Them

It’s very easy to do at: https://www.longlivethelocal.pub/


Pub News – Potential Community Pubs in Our Branch

The Royal Oak, Crockham Hill community purchase campaign is progressing well. Locals have agreed a price subject to the results of surveys and are currently negotiating with the vendors for repairs etc. to be carried out prior to completion. They have received help from the Plunkett Foundation and held a packed village meeting on 4th October with over 100 villagers to discuss purchasing the Royal Oak on behalf of the community via a Community Benefit Scheme. Since then they have raised 50% of their goal in support pledges so still have a way to go, but the enthusiasm in the community is encouraging. A new tenants’ agreement has been discussed and agreed in principle with the current tenants and plans have begun for improvements to the building and the way the pub business is run following acquisition. If you want to be involved, pledge money or keep informed email Stuart Wilkie at help@save-royal-oak.co.uk

The Fox & Hounds, Toys Hill is currently closed and is also the subject of a community purchase campaign as reported recently in the Courier newspaper. Not much info on this one yet but we hope to be able to shed more light soon. If you want to support the campaign please email Micaela West at micaelawest@btinternet.com

The Stanhope Arms, Brasted is subject of a possible community interest in purchasing and there is to be a meeting in the village hall on 12th February.


Westerham Brewery Visit – Sunday 3rd November

On our recent Branch Visit to Westerham 16 hardy souls travelled by 401 bus being picked up at various stops along the way.  But then the walk from the bus stop on the A25 is not the easiest, or safest !!  There is a footpath along the A25 but as soon as you walk down the A233 Beggars Lane there is only an overgrown verge to walk on or the road which can be quite busy.

On arrival we found that we had given tables set among the conditioning tanks.  Unfortunately the brewer, Robert Wicks, was not able to be there but we were well looked after by his staff.  On offer were five of their cask ales along with four more on keg.  In the car park outside there was a “street food” van providing snacks and more substantial meals. After a pleasant couple of hours we made our way back to the bus stop where we caught a 401 to Chipstead for a comfort break at the Bricklayers Arms which is a Harvey’s pub.  As well as their regular beers we were able to partake of the Old and Bonfire Boy which were both in excellent condition.  We then caught the last 401 bus back to Tunbridge Wells.


Remember the Farmer’s in Sevenoaks ?

As you may know the much-loved Farmer’s pub in Sevenoaks, opposite the railway station, closed its doors for the last time in January 2006 and was knocked down by its new owners, a property company, despite fierce opposition.  Since then the site has remained derelict, although two planning permissions were granted to build flats and retail units. The Sevenoaks Society did its best to help save the pub, objecting to both applications; the original one, to demolish it, was turned down by Sevenoaks District Council, but overturned on appeal – as was the second, for a revised scheme.

The Society has sought to persuade the Council to take action, but despite their efforts, the concerns of many in the town, and the discussions between the developers and the Council, no progress has been made.  So they have launched a campaign that some of our members may wish to support by signing a petition urging the Council to purchase the site, and develop a scheme of their own, to include an element of much-needed social housing. We can’t bring the pub back. But the derelict site is an eyesore at a key gateway to the town and more importantly it represents an opportunity to provide residential accommodation in town, helping to meet the government’s assessment of our housing need, rather than build on the Green Belt. 
The petition may be signed on-line (using Sevenoaks District Council’s E-petition page on their web-site): https://sevenoaks.moderngov.co.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=42 There is also a paper petition that can be obtained from Keith Wade – see below.
Anyone who signs must have a home or work address in Sevenoaks District.  They have over 500 signatures so far but need 1000 plus for the matter to be debated in full Council.

Further Request
Keith Wade, who brought this issue to our attention, is writing a book on the pubs of Sevenoaks. The Farmer’s will feature large, so if anyone has any stories to tell, or any information or images of interest, he would love to hear from them. He’s also trying to pin down the exact date of the pub’s demolition. kwc@keithwadeconsulting.co.uk

 


40 Years “At Anchor” !

A party from West Kent CAMRA recently visited Barry at The Anchor in Sevenoaks to celebrate his 40th “birthday” at the pub. Quite an achievement! Our picture shows branch chairman Trevor presenting Barry with a caricature to commemorate the occasion.


More Accolades for Harvey’s

A double presentation was recently made to Miles Jenner, Head Brewer at multiple award-winning Harvey’s brewery in Lewes, East Sussex.

A coach full of West Kent CAMRA volunteers who served over 14,000 pints of beer at the 8th annual Spa Valley Railway beer and cider festival in October 2018, the largest and most successful to date, were greeted by Miles in the brewery yard who then proceeded to provide an engaging and entertaining tour of the brewery culminating in the tasting of a range of Harvey’s fine cask ales in the racking room.

Emerging into the spring sunshine Craig Beeson, West Kent vice chair and festival organiser, presented Miles with a Gold Award certificate for Bonfire Boy, having been voted “Beer Of The Festival” by the public who chose from over 200 beers available. The three day festival is now one of the largest to be held in the south east and unique with its three locations as well as beers being available on the train, and will feature other favourites from Harvey’s this year. This award for the Lewes brewery is very appropriate for a town with a renowned reputation for its Bonfire Night celebrations!

Craig was joined by Ian Hodge, BLO for Harvey’s, who on behalf of CAMRA officially presented Miles with the Silver Award certificate for Harvey’s Old Ale in the Old Ales/Strong Milds category in the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition at the GBBF Winterfest held in Norwich in February.

We would like to thank Miles for his hospitality and the time and effort he devoted to making the occasion so enjoyable and look forward to welcoming Harvey’s beers among the 200 to be available at the 2019 festival in Tunbridge Wells to be held over the three days 18th-20th October. Any volunteers able to help at the festival or in organising it would be most welcome.

The easiest ways to help CAMRA West Kent?

The number 1, easiest, but most important thing that CAMRA members can do to help any branch is to enter pub and beer scores via WhatPub. If you enter scores for pubs that you try they will get fed back to the relevant branch, and will be used for deciding which pubs go in the Good Beer Guide. The menu on the left contains a guide to Beer Scoring, or follow the WhatPub link above to go direct. 

Branch Volunteering
We really need more active, campaigning members on the branch committee to spread the workload . We’re all volunteers as you know, so if you want to be more involved let us know or come to our branch meetings and get involved. Also put your hand-up and volunteer to help at the events the branch organise, especially the Beer Festival at the Spa Valley Railway – always good fun and a great way to get involved.