Canterbury is on the tourist trail from London and takes less than an hour to get to on a high speed train from St Pancras. It’s a fascinating place with a proper ‘altstadt’, unlike most British cities, and plenty of pubs. A bit of online research before our day trip took us to the following which were reckoned by various sources to be the best.
1. The Parrot, Church Lane, is a Young’s pub with a commitment to guest beers carried over from its days as a free house. On our visit, we were blown away by Hopdaemon Incubus (4%) which is a dark but nonethetheless flowery, hoppy thirst quencher. The pub itself is a 14th century building and full of character with low timber ceilings, nooks and crannies and soft lighting.
2. The Unicorn is also wooden beamed and cosy but (as the euphemism goes) very much a local pub. There was a mixed crowd including skint students (“Shit, I’m 5p short!”) and a group of amusingly grumpy blokes at the bar who the bar staff refered to as “the sad shelf”. The beer on tap was pretty boring (Shepherd Neame Masterbrew, Deuchars IPA) but there was more Hopdaemon on tap and in bottles. A pint of Golden braid was OK and not unlike one of the lesser beers from Hopback. Green Daemon Helles was like one of our homebrews (so, nice enough, but with rough edges). Their famous Skrimshander IPA was malty and biscuity but a bit muted. Maybe bottling doesn’t suit it?
3. The Cherry Tree is a very odd place. It looks like a scuzzy student pub, with a knackered tiled floor, dirty tables, loud metal music and some astounding offers on vodka shots. Despite that, along with the rock chicks and lads with face piercings, there were a few CAMRA types and couple of pissed blokes in their fifties chaining Kronenbourgs. The ales were mostly forgettable, except one called Harrier which was a deliciously roasty, mellow mild. Shame we didn’t manage to get the name of the brewery.