Thursday, 7 August 2014

Brighton Boozers: Battle of Trafalgar

It’s been four years since I penned something as work-a-day as a simple pub review. I used to turn them out them regularly for my free real ale and pub guide, The Quaffer, a paper-based fanzine that ran from 2004-10. Each issue covered a different area in Sussex, and the whole print run of up to 2000 copies was largely self-delivered by hand, via public transport, to pubs the length and breadth of the county. You might understand why my enthusiasm for pub reviews was pretty much exhausted by that process.

But the urge to do a few more occasional reviews has, for some reason, crept up on me again. When drinking in Brighton last Saturday I found myself making notes on the pubs and beers. And now, with the technology of the Internet, I can introduce the more far-flung followers of this Blog, from China, Turkey, Norway and the Ukraine, to some choice Brighton boozers. What they’ll make of it all, I don’t know. I find the very idea bizarre. But there we go.

I’ll start with the Battle of Trafalgar.

Take a sharp right out of Brighton Rail Station concourse and the pub is a short walk up the right hand side of the hill that is Guildford Road. A beerhouse/public house since at least 1855, it was owned by Tamplin & Sons from 1882 until that local brewery’s acquisition by Watneys. I believe it is now a free house. The 2014 CAMRA Good Beer Guide calls it a “quirky locals’ pub”, a description that I can’t really improve upon. The opened-out interior spacing is most odd and was obviously a number of separate rooms in the past. When entering through the only now usable door, on the left-side, a long, narrow area ahead of you leads down past the bar to a beer garden at the rear. The roomy side of the interior to your right extends well across and beyond the bar but goes behind it only for only a few yards to where there is an old, small, serving counter. Architectural plans for alterations of late 1952/early 1953, which reside in the county record office, might afford some clue to the original layout.

It is a comfortable environment with its naturally aged dark-stained bare boards, dados and counter. There are scrubbed tales, cushioned settles and an eclectic collection of prints, photographs and paintings, some of which reflect the nautical theme of the pub name. The five hand pumps on the bar offer on my visit the two permanent ales Fuller’s London Pride and Harveys Sussex Best Bitter alongside Timothy Taylor Landlord, Jennings Cocker Hoop, and Wye Valley HPA. The Battle of Trafalgar is one of the forty participating pubs of the Brighton & South Downs CAMRA Ale Trail 21. I collect a stamp (my twentieth so far) in my Ale Trail Passport for having a pint of Harveys (which, for those far-flung followers of this Blog, is brewed in nearby Lewes). The pub is LocAle accredited for always serving at least one locally-brewed real-ale in good condition. The beer quality is, in fact, excellent.

The Battle of Trafalgar, 34 Guildford Road, Brighton, BN1 3LW, tel. 01273 327997.

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