Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Bar Review - The Black Dog

Whitstable's Newest Micro Pub

Shepherd Neame Brewery is now one of the big boys of brewing, and on the company's Kentish home turf you can't throw a stick without hitting one of their pubs.
Don't get me wrong, I've always liked Shepherd Neame ale. It's far preferable to the horse p*ss passed off as beer made by some of the multi nationals.

The Black Dog Pub

It's just that, in the south eastern corner of England, there could perhaps be more variety - particularly in a county as famous as Kent is for its hops.

Whitstable's newest pub, The Black Dog, goes to some lengths to redress this, with a small, carefully chosen, revolving selection of ales and a quirky character all of its own.

Whitstable has, or at least had, a tradition for small one-room pubs. At one time there was a small bar on almost every corner. Virtually all are now closed, but The Black Dog is very much in this vein. 
The premises, still owned by Mike McWilliam, whose venture The Black Dog is, were at one time a small gallery, and more recently a café.

There is one small bar at the end of the room, with a few taps. That's pretty much it. And the taps are just for show. Giving our order to the barman he promptly ducked behind a partition to pour the pints direct form the barrel. 

I've not seen that in a boozer for about 20 years.

We tried a slightly flowery pale ale - Dark Star's Hophead, and a really rather excellent dry hopped fruity brown ale, Altered States from Kent Brewery - not an outfit I'd heard of before.

One of the most appealing aspects of enjoying real ale is the opportunity it affords to always try interesting beers that otherwise you would not have been aware of.

There was also a ginger infused cider on tap, but I was called back to HQ to attend to the roast before we could order our 3rd round!

The Black Dog Pub

Led Zeppelin fans amongst you will have clocked the name - on a trip to the gents I noticed that the room had been christened "The Jimmy Page Suite." Excellent.

The pub also had a "Monty" Toby jug behind the bar, what more could you ask for in a battleship cruiser?

I'm actually looking forward to seeing my parents again (they live down the road) just so I can nip back in to The Black Dog to see what they have on.

The Black Dog Pub
No pub is complete without a bust of Monty...
As my chum Ollie quipped, "this is the perfect bar for a lost weekend." Well it would be impolite not to work your way through The Black Dog's ale selection.

There's no website, but you can stay abreast of the pub's latest news on Facebook.

Better yet, if you're in Whitstable pop in. The address is:

66, The High Street
Whitstable
Kent
CT5 1BB

As Black Dog have commented on their FB page, "Drink local - easy said, easy done." Pubs only stay open if people frequent them. Luckily that's easy to do in this part of the world.

It makes a refreshing change to see a pub like this again. The next time I'm there I'll raise a glass to the renaissance of the Whitstable small pub. I wish Mike and his team every success.

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