Despite my fondness for seaside towns no matter how dreary and a well reviewed micropub I'd never made the half hour journey from my house down to Gravesend. I rectified this a few weeks ago with a visit to the town and the pubs that feature in the Good Beer Guide 2017. After a strangely scenic journey through the industrial heart of Kent, and passing through Crayford station reminding me that I really need to visit the Penny Farthing micropub at some point, I arrived at Gravesend on a grey, drizzly day ready for a pint.
First stop was the micropub Compass Alehouse. I'm still a big fan of the micropub concept, enjoying all the ones I have visited. They may follow the same basic formula but it's a good one - communal (usually bench) seating, no music, no gamblers, good selection of well kept local ales and a knowledgeable and friendly owner. The Compass didn't stray far from this formula at all, although there was a fridge of craft beers available as an alternative to the ale. I enjoyed a half of Hackney Kapow! and Tonbridge Rustic which were both in good nick, and enjoyed a chat with the owner about the trials and tribulations of opening a micropub as I'm hoping to open my own one day. At 1pm on a Friday there were only two other customers in so there wasn't much atmosphere, but I'm sure it's much more exciting on a busy evening. Overall I really enjoyed my visit and can thoroughly recommend a visit.
The next pub up was The Jolly Drayman. With its low beams and cosy corners it had the feel of a country pub but plonked into the middle of a busy town. It was livelier than the micropub with a large group of regulars hogging the bar - always annoying when you have to barge through the middle of their group to order a drink. After perusing a selection of reliable if dull brown bitters I took my Black Sheep Riggwelter and retreated to a quiet corner. The beer was in good condition if unexciting. I'd be happy enough to have this pub as a local as it does everything a pub should do with no fuss, but I don't think it's worth a special trip.
I made my way down to the waterfront to the Three Daws, which has a excellent location right on the water overlooking the two historic piers. Sadly the weather wasn't nice enough to sit outdoors so I took a seat inside the slightly shabby but charming pub. Plenty of ales were on offer but unfortunately I ended up choosing a bit of a duffer with the Guinea Guzzler. I completed missed it was from the Millius brewery, had I known I wouldn't of ordered it as I'm not too impressed with their beers. The beer may have been underwhelming but the burger I ordered for lunch was excellent, well cooked and seasoned and served with plenty of chips. It more than made up for the below average pint. The pub was heaving with other punters enjoying the food, which hopefully indicates a consistent kitchen here. Well worth a visit for a pint and some grub.
I popped next door into the Rum Puncheon, which was deserted. The staff seemed surprised to see me there, and despite the seven or so hand-pumps, only one ale was on. Sadly it wasn't a particularly inspiring ale, in fact I can't even remember what it was! I ended up having a half of Lagunitas IPA, an always reliable fruity IPA. It may be a mass produced macro beer and lost all its trendiness but I still enjoy the hoppy goodness that won me over when I first tried it years ago. The pub was going for a more classy feel than the others I'd visited in Gravesend, but as I was the only punter the atmosphere felt a bit cold. I'd like to revisit when things are busier - and when there is more ale on!
Inevitably a Wetherspoons had been recommended in the GBG so my last pub was the The Robert Pocock. A large pub spread over two levels, it's yer average Wetherspoons furnishing and punters wise. The beer festival was on and I tried a Mild The Gap, a rather good mild brewed by Hook Norton in collaboration with an Italian brewery. It hit the spot. Overall I enjoyed my time in Gravesend, although I was there on a Friday afternoon, I hear things can sometimes get a little unsavoury on a Friday or Saturday night! I won't be rushing back to find out.