As well as all the goth stuff and music stuff and occasional motorbike stuff, I also write a beer blog. It doesn’t happen often, but when I go somewhere new and interesting and have a beer, I sometimes write it down. On this occasion my love of beer and love of weird goth-stuff coincided, so here’s a beer blog I wrote after visiting Whitstable recently.
My fella and I decided to take a Monday off, ostensibly to make up for not being able to spend much time together in the run up to Christmas, but also because…we could. And no one likes Mondays anyway.
Having just woken up, he turned to me and said one of the best things ever. “Do you fancy going to the coast today?” After I said yes, like an over-stimulated and enthusiastic child who’s just been given a bag full of sugar washed down with coffee, he followed it up with the second best thing. “I’ll get the bacon sandwiches started then.” Monday was improving.
A short drive later and we were in Whitstable (on the Kentish coast). It was grey and fairly chilly and I had possibly the most inappropriate shoes on, but the biggest grin on my face. I love the coast. I almost love it more when it’s grey and chilly. Fewer people around, definitely fewer children, and more spooky gothic coastline atmosphere. After a walk along the pebbled beach, where I found three magic stones with holes in, we went into town and popped to a pub.
The Duke of Cumberland is on one of the main streets and the building is glorious. Stained glass and glazed tiles outside, log fire and wooden seats inside. They weren’t doing food that day (which is why we went in) but we had a beer anyway. I chose a Whitstable Bay Pale Ale (when in Rome) as there wasn’t a lot of real ale choice. Whistable Pale is an alright beer, but nothing particularly special. It soon became apparent that the Duke catered for the masses, and was probably packed on friday and saturday nights with people drinking lager. It had a DJ booth, a glitter ball and ‘quirky’ pictures on the wall (I swear one of the them was Snoop Dogg depicted as Jesus. I could be wrong, not being a huge fan of either chap.) On this Monday afternoon however it was very pleasant.
After that we wandered further down the street and my gothdar went nuts as I spotted a black pub, with black wreaths in the window and a black cross pub sign. The Black Dog pub (number Kentish 66 – amazing) looked VERY promising, but the chap made me go to a few shops first before hurling myself through their door. One of the many reasons I wanted to go to Whitstable was to visit some of the places on the Weird Whitstable blog, and pick up some WW merch. I love the myths and stories that surround coastal towns (look at Whitby for example) and this website was dedicated to exactly that. ‘Weird Whitstable’ seems to be the creation of one chap by the name of Quinton Winter. He blogs about paranormal goings on in the seaside town and produces pictures inspired by these happenings (he is handily an illustrator by trade). Sadly all the WW monster badges had sold out but I picked up a print of the Giant Fox of Squeeze Gut Alley. There are a few more in the series I will have to go back and get at some point too…
Anyway, happy with my purchases we went back to The Black Dog. I could not have felt more at home. The pub is just one room, long ways with the cellar and toilets behind the bar, giving it an almost shop-counter feel. Opposite the log fire, just inside the door, is a black dog statue, above it, covering the length of both walls, are pictures of oddities, Victorian circus freaks, inventors, taxidermied animals and gothic artwork. Benches run the length of the room, with rough cut wooden boards in front of them serving as tables, meaning drinkers sat on either side sit facing each other. The bar itself was very small, but filled with Black Dog mementos and some well designed merch. We were pleased to see that the bar also had some very decent beers (Arbour Ales, Oakham Ales, Burning Sky) but we chose the one we’d not heard of and seemed the most local. Kent Brewery Session Pale did exactly what it said on the pump clip. Easy drinking, no fuss, perfect afternoon beer that won’t mess with the rest of the day.
The two fellas already in the pub were discussing Bowie and The Beatles as I stared fascinated at the pictures on the walls. Behind the glass windows of the Black Dog, in the dim light of the fire and fairylights, it didn’t feel like Monday and I realised I probably wanted to run a pub just like this when my day job finishes me off. The barman told us how the owner used all reclaimed and recycled materials to build the furniture, and how he will only stock independent and/or local ales. He doesn’t serve Coca Cola or any bar snacks with palm oil in. As I bought myself a Black Dog t-shirt I wondered if they would let me move in, I’d be no trouble.
Having not managed to actually sit down for food anywhere, we bought some chips to eat on the way home and I spent the journey home trying not to say “I’ve had the best day” so many times it might become annoying.