Pub visits this week 4 (plus some other places that sold drink but weren’t pubs)
Locations Haywards Heath, Brighton, London
It’s quite a big place, Brighton, isn’t it? And I gather from folk like Phil Mellows that it has quite a few good pubs too. So, what with Get to the pub.com having just spent a weekend in Brighton, you might expect me to have found one or two of these good pubs, no?
I was on the south coast for a stag do. The best man put a great deal of consideration and love into choosing venues like the casino, clay pigeon shooting site, and strip club. But the pubs? Left entirely to chance, so we would walk into the first one we saw.
And when the first one you see is a place like Horatio’s, at the end of Brighton pier, you realise that there could be better ways of working it.
Before we get there, though in case you haven’t seen, my first pub of the week was the Burrell Arms in Haywards Heath (pictured above). This was a brief stop-off on Friday night, just after getting off the train. I say “in case you haven’t seen” because earlier this week I made it a featured pub on this site. Partly this was because I liked the challenge of writing a full-length feature post about a pub I only visited for about 15 minutes. Partly it was because I was up and about at 4am and going slightly crazy.
How, then, to describe Horatio’s? Its detractors in Brighton call it a horrible, overpriced tourist trap. Its friends say it’s a good laugh if you don’t expect too much. And with friends like that, who needs detractors? It’s cavernous and it’s characterless. It’s £3.80 a pint. And the pints aren’t even good. There are huge football screens but with crap music playing instead of match commentary. How will I describe it? A waste of good pier.
Drifting back into town later, for the Saturday night, our stag party blunders randomly at the Pitcher & Piano. Enlightened Brighton is a famously vegetarian-friendly city, but this aspect of its identity appears to end at the doors of the Pitcher & Piano. This is a shame, since we seem to be having our dinner here. Still, at least we get a helpful, friendly waiter. And there’s some kind of mix-up on the part of the staff, so we get all our meals and a big round of cocktails and lager jugs for about six quid each. We try to explain. The best man does his best. But no. At most we’re still paying about half what we should be. Oh well.
At length we drink up, and get vaguely used to the fact that absolutely everyone in Brighton is looking around at absolutely everyone else to see who they’d most like to have sex with. We spend the next six hours or so at a karaoke venue, a casino and a place where the young people dance to their popular music. Alcohol, alcohol everywhere, nor any drop to drink.
At 3am, as the rest of the party hauls itself dutifully towards a lap dancing club, I plead liberal/feminist credentials and run away to bed. My last thought before sleep overtakes me is how ironic it would be if the lap dancing club turned out to be stocked with foaming pints of Dark Star American Pale Ale and Chocolate Marble stout.
The last time I visited Cask (pictured above) in Pimlico, London, I was disappointed. It’s a pub spoken of with some reverence by the capital’s ale cognoscenti. It’s won regional Camra awards and stuff like that. But when I came here towards the end of 2010 something was amiss. There was an unpleasant sort of chemical taste to two of the three beers I tasted. I don’t know if the soap hadn’t been rinsed off the glasses properly, or something like that, but there it was.
On Sunday of this week I’m there again on my way home. And this time it’s all fine, so 93,096,246 Londoners can’t be wrong. Some of them clearly can if they vote for Boris Johnson, but that’s another story entirely.