Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Ladies Mile, Brighton

A purpose-built estate pub, the Ladies Mile dates from c. 1934. The central gable with relief carving roundel of horse-riding figure accompanied by hounds explains the name: the land was once a measured terrain for female equestrians. A projecting colonnade produces a pleasing deco curvature to the front elevation. The continental coalescence of graceful curvature, geometrical patterns and sleek lines we now call Art Deco found its British apotheosis in Odeon cinemas and certain London underground stations but was not favoured for pubs. The design of ‘improved’ interwar public houses typically tended towards Brewers’ Tudor and neo-Georgian, producing comfortably conservative and nostalgic visions of ‘Merrie England’ and the Coaching Era, so surviving pub interior deco work such as that found at the Ladies Mile is particularly rare.

The central Saloon Bar vestibule and left-side disused Public Bar entrance (now a fire-escape) both retain fine brass plates and curved-cornered windows. Another ex-door on the right denotes that the pub was originally built with three separate bars; the internal walls were knocked through to create one lengthy room c. 1967/8. Marking the old divisions is a couple of back-to-back original fireplaces in grey marble; three of the four sides bear a carved horse-rider panel in the quality wood surround.

A horse rider motif again appears in the central panel of the long, gently curving counter. Although original, this counter now runs the full length of the pub though the old wall divisions and it would appear that that the central part was truncated and the two ends re-situated to create what we now see.
The back-fittings are mostly original although the gantry is a 1960s addition. The Art Deco statuette as a counter-top centrepiece is some 18 inches high and inscribed with the maker’s name, Roche. The banquette seating with its statuettes was probably fitted in 1960 when the pub was acquired by the Brighton-based brewery, Tamplins. At each end of the pub the toilets retain their deco doors; the interiors of the Gents and Ladies on the left are largely intact. But by far the most striking feature appears above your head on entering the pub: a six-sided stained-glass skylight in red, lime and gold.

Also visit the right-side free-standing brick-built function hall with barrel-vaulted roof. The front lobby retains its terrazzo floor and many original features of the toilets. The main room was once divided by a folding wall. Both the bar-back and counter are also original but the latter lies under a 1960s re-fronting.

The Ladies Mile, 2 Mackie Avenue, Patcham, Brighton, BN1 8RA.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Anchor Springs Undercurrent

Although Rip Tide is by far the best-selling Anchor Springs beer, I agree with brewer Frank McCabe that Undercurrent is superior in comparison. At 1045° OG and 4.2% ABV, Undercurrent is a bronze/light-copper coloured traditional English bitter with a modern twist. Brewed with pale, crystal, amber and chocolate malts, Target is used for the bittering hop, then East Kent Goldings and, finally, Cascade and Fuggles. The nose is hoppy with chocolate in the first taste; a deliciously nutty palate predominates giving way to Frank’s trademark, a lingering bitter finish.

Find it at the brewery tap, the Good Beer Guide-listed Crown, 29 High Street, Littlehampton, West Sussex.

Anchor Springs: a range of quality premium beers to suit different palates for the discerning drinker.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Tribute to Chas Saunders

Crawley-based Chas Saunders (pictured left) made such an impression on me by his geniality and enormous enthusiasm (a feeling, I suspect, shared by all who met him), I am incredulous, thinking back, that we met on only a few occasions and the first of those was as recent as 23 January 2010. That was the date of my pub heritage tour of Brighton. Chas introduced himself to me as we sat at the bar of the Quadrant, and in a generous gesture I later discovered to be typical, pulled out from his raincoat pocket a present for me – a sheaf of papers on which he’d photocopied pictures of all of the pubs on my tour, annotated with notes on their histories. We then avidly discussed pub history for the duration of our stay. Chas was, after all, a self-styled Pubologist and it was through his Pubology website  - - that I had first heard of him.

From that point we entered into a correspondence, almost always on the topic of beer and pubs, except for the occasional digression into Gods. Chas’s letters were works of art in themselves, as shown by the composite image below. Photocopied onto them was Chas’s Pubology business card as a header followed by pictures of pubs and assorted illustrations arrayed around the fine calligraphy. These letters were full of optimism, enthusiasm and humour – “Amidst much pubbing, beer festivals etc. I have been to Battle of Hastings re-creation. The Bloody Normans won again! Wonderful show but NO beer tent. English Heritage Indeed!” To receive an envelope addressed with that unmistakable slanted but precise penmanship always filled me with enormous anticipatory pleasure at such delights contained within.

Even when Chas’s letters began to remark on his illness, they lost little of their optimism – “Beer is part of my medication!” he wrote to me in February this year. It therefore came as a shock when I received the news that Chas had passed away peacefully at home on 9 June, aged 77, surrounded by his many projects. Charles Edward Saunders, cartoonist, author, jazz drummer, inventor of board games, real ale lover and, of course, Pubologist, while it saddens me to think that I will never again receive another of your letters, I will always derive great pleasure from re-reading those that I have.

Our thoughts at this time go to his family and friends.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A Sensational Array of Beverages

I have Simon Bridger’s exclamation of surprise to thank for the title of this Blog. Simon just happened to be the chap standing next to me yesterday afternoon at the bar of the Evening Star, Brighton, for the “Day of the Collaborations”. Facing us, lined up along the seven hand pumps was, well, a sensational array of beverages. The collaborative beers I found time to try were the Dark Star-Thornbridge Thornstar (4.7%); Dark Star-Redemption London Brick (6.0%); Dark Star-Odell Smoked Porter (5.4%); and Dark Star M&M Special Porter (Mocha Version, 6.5%), this being a collaboration between Dark Star Head Brewer, Mark Tranter, and beer-writer Melissa Cole; I also had the multi-collaborative Brodie’s Noisome Cru (8.8% and see ), plus Dark Star’s monthly-special Carafa Jade (5.0% with German Carafa barley malt and New Zealand Pacific Jade hops) and Magic Rock Dark Arts Surreal Stout (6.0%), this last one being from a newly-opened brewery in Huddersfield and I believe the Evening Star has showcased the whole range of this brewery’s beers over the last few days. See

For those of you following this Blog from outside of the UK (and my stats tell me there’s quite a few of you), the Evening Star, run by Matt and Karen Wickham, is a Dark Star brewery pub just a few hundred yards from Brighton train station. Dark Star Brewing is at Partridge Green, West Sussex and it was in the cellar of the Evening Star that this brewery originally started life, back in 1994. People come from far and wide to visit the Evening Star, and while this “Day of the Collaborations” was a rather special occasion, the presence of beers such as those from Magic Rock is what marks out the pub as being on the cutting edge of new developments on the real ale scene. The Sussex Branches of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) have bestowed on the Evening Star the award of Sussex CAMRA Pub of the Year 2011, and deservedly so. Let’s drink to that.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Anchor Springs Rip Tide

Rip Tide is by far and away the best-selling beer from the Littlehampton-based brewery, Anchor Springs. Customers at the nearby brewery tap, The Crown, cannot seem to get enough of it and brewer Frank McCabe is hard-pressed to keep up with the demand. And the beer’s appeal is not only to immediately local tastes. This was the second beer to sell out at the Crawley Beer Festival on 25th June. Responding to the SOS call for replenishments Frank kindly went to the brewery at 8.00 on that Saturday night and prepared two tubs each of Rip Tide, IPA and L. A. Gold (two of the other Anchor Springs beers) for collection.

The simple secret of Rip Tide’s appeal is that is it so damn-drinkable. One pint is nowhere near enough as I can personally testify. This copper-coloured beer is brewed with pale, crystal, amber and chocolate malts. It has an OG (original gravity) of 1045° brought down to 4.1% ABV (alcohol by volume) to lock in the complex flavours. East Kent Goldings is used as the bittering hop with Cascade, then Fuggles at the end. The beer has a malty caramel nose with a slight hint of liqueur. The first taste is sweet and lightly hopped, with distinct milk chocolate notes, well balanced by flavours of fruit cake and burnt caramel, leading to a lingering bitter finish.

Anchor Springs: a range of quality premium beers to suit different palates for the discerning drinker.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company, Golden Ticket

The company opened last year at the Spa Brewery, 18H Chapman Way, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on a 10-barrel plant purchased from Advance Bottling UK Ltd. The equipment was originally installed at the Forrester & Firkin brewpub at Stafford (1994-99) before being used by Acorn Brewery, Barnsley. Company owner, Simon Lewis, an experienced drinks marketing specialist, developed his brewing skills by taking a Brewlab course at Sunderland and receiving help and advice from Purity Brewery. Simon highlights in particular the invaluable experience bought into the team by Ian Dorman, who was one of the four founders, in November 1982, of the original Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company Ltd. This operated until 1983 at the Grange Brewery, Grange Road, Rusthall. After merging with the Ashford Brewery (Units 125/126 Ellingham Way, Ashford, Kent), it reopened at the same Grange Road site in 1984. Acquired by Sapphire Ltd. in October 1985, it closed the following year. The plant and site were acquired by the Docherty family for the setting up of their Larkins Brewery.

My first taste of a beer from the Spa Brewery was on 5th March this year at the Duke of York, in the town’s historic Pantiles. Royal Best Bitter is a revival of the recipe for the beer brewed under the same name by Ian Dorman in the 1980s. I’m fortunate to have found it the second time around. This chestnut-brown 4.1% bitter is made from a mix of pale and crystal malts; Challenger hops are used for bittering and Goldings used for aroma. I noted the excellent condition of the beer; its fruity, red berry nose; the smooth, sweetish, full-bodied roundness well-balanced by notes of burnt caramel and toffee.

More or less opposite the Duke of York is the Ragged Trousers.

It was here on 25th June that I had Golden Ticket. This golden-hued summer ale was possessed of a distinct tangerine aroma; my first taste was of a very dry bitter-hop with slight grapefruit hints. Another well-balanced, full-bodied beer, only the fact it was 5.0% and my first of the day restricted my intake.

I was told by the very helpful barman that the Ragged Trousers, Duke of York and close-by Sussex Arms are owned and run by the same people with a shared network of staff; that one of the managers, Jamie Sim, is now brewery assistant at Royal Tunbridge Wells; that Golden Ticket is his recipe; and that, furthermore, one of the barmaids at the Sussex Arms was responsible for the pump clip label design. I concluded the day by buying a couple of bottle-conditioned versions of the brewery’s beers – Royal Best Bitter and Dipper Bitter – from the Bitter End Off Licence in the town’s Camden Road. Here’s looking forward to trying more beers from this excellent brewery, in particular the 4.8% Beau Porter.


Barber, Norman (edited by Mike Brown and Ken Smith) (2005) A Century of British Brewers, Longfield: Brewery History Society,

Keoghan, Jim with Palomeque, Manu (2011) Brewing up a storm, Kent Life (March), pp. 56-58.

Royal Beer for Royal Spa, The New Imbiber, Issue 39 (Oct/Nov) 2010, pp. 3.

Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company Website,