Sunday 2 November 2014

The Old Jail, Westerham

The Lovely Jemma's parents live in leafy Biggin Hill, right on the border of London and Kent. When visiting we often take a walk around the surrounding countryside. Biggin Hill is in the London borough of Bromley but walking through the rolling fields it feels a million miles away from the big smog of the capital. There are plenty of pubs in the surrounding area for the thirsty rambler, including the Queens Head and the Aperfield Inn, both of which I've written about previously. Be careful when going into the Queen's Head though, as humble man of the people and millionaire city banker Nigel Farage lives in the area, and you may just find him in the pub necking 100 pints in one sitting or whatever down to earth activity the papers are portraying him doing.

When on our walks there is one pub we frequent more than others, mainly because it's just far enough to make the walk worthwhile but not long enough to get me whining like a little girl who has dropped her ice cream down a drain. The Old Jail is a Enterprise inn with a comfortable countryside feel inside, all low beams and old wooden furniture, and a sizeable beer garden outside. I think the reason I haven't written about this pub is that it's a bit, well, "vanilla." The ales are in good nick but the selection doesn't get any more exciting than Harvey's Best Bitter, and the food is good but I'm writing about pubs, not restaurants. It's certainly a nice place to stop if you happen to be in the area but it's not worth making a special journey for. However last week they held a beer festival which is just about noteworthy enough to write about, and quite frankly it's been a quiet week for blog content.

My heart sank a little when the beer list posted on their Facebook page included Doom Bar and Bombardier, but I also noticed there were a couple of local Westerham Brewery beers on which I hadn't tried before so I headed down. The festival setup was quite jolly, with a decent food tent and some arts and crafts stalls. After nosing around the stalls and buying some delicious home made salad dressing, I popped to the back of the garden, where the beers where being served in a hidden corner behind fencing. The beers seemed to be the shameful secret rather than the main event. The Westerham Brews were available so I tried their Bonfire and Hop Bomb. The Bonfire was very pleasant, a solid best bitter perfect for a slightly chilly autumn afternoon. The Hop Bomb was OK but it had a slight sourness to it which I didn't find appealing. I also tried a Sharps Special which despite my low expectations was actually pretty good, a strong bitter which would easily warm the soul on a long autumn night.

Despite the slight chill the sunshine was out and we enjoyed hog roast sandwiches along with the beer. There was a good turn out and hopefully it will encourage the Jail to do more beer fests in the future as it was pretty good overall. It always pleases me to see pubs doing these community days, and if some local traders and breweries get some business out of it all the better. Cheers.

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