On the back of our mini pub crawl in Welling, the Three Muskabeers planned another trip out for a similar purpose - to try a number of pubs in a town we have not been out in for a while. As I had seen a few pubs in Dartford with "Now stocking real ales" signs outside, I mentioned this and the trip was agreed upon.
Now, Dartford is a town I have not been out for a drink in for maybe 20+ years. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I spent most of my free time here with my friends. Times change and people move on (I lived in Dartford for a year or two) and places become forgotten. However, Dartford came back to the fore when I took a grocery shopping trip to the town when the route to my usual supermarket was closed for road/traffic works. As mentioned already, I spotted two pubs with those sign soutside and we decided to pay them a visit...
The Rose and Crown
43 West Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1 2HJMB and I got to Dartford a little early so quickly hopped off the bus and straight into the Rose and Crown as it is on the same side of the road and only a quick stumble into the bar. We ordered a pint of Over the Bar as we were in a rugby mood from a choice of three ales on tap. Not a bad selection and they would keep one busy for an average evening out.
I can only remember going into this pub on a few occasions as, when I first started drinking in Dartford many moons ago, the place to be for my group of friends was the Oddfellows Arms over the road.
Our third member got to the Rose only about twenty minutes after we had arrived but he soon caught up. The fellow behind the bar realised we were on a bit of a pub crawl and thanked us in a friendly manner before we headed over the road.
Visits: 1st / a few previous
The Oddfellows Arms
72 West Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1 2EUI have drunk in this pub on many occasions, but was shocked by the changes that have been wrought in this establishment since the last time I ventured in here over twenty years ago. The inside has been modernised and my 'usual' table by the door had gone. We headed for the bar to find there was only one beer on. The landlady said that although they had advertised for real ale being on the premises, the lack of people drinking it had caused her to lose half a barrel of the previous ale to finish.
The atmosphere in here was very subdued, and the music, although it appealed to my rock-style tatses, was too loud to have a proper conversation. We quickly drank our beer and moved on down the hill into town.
Visits: 1st / dozens previous
The Royal Oak
57 Spital Street, Dartford, Kent DA1 2DXThis is another of my regular haunts from yesteryear. As previously mentioned, I used to live in Dartford, in fact only a stone's throw from this pub. It was a quiet pub back then, apart from one night when I witnessed a massive bar-room brawl (the kind with stools being whacked round people's heads etc. - and that was just the girls!).
There has been a modicun of modernisation in the pub but it still retains a lot of its old character. What really surprised me was that a flight of stairs that used to be in the main tap room had completely disappeared.
It was quiet in the Oak this evening but the beer menu was rather good, what with it being a Shepherd Neame house. We could have stayed in here the rest of the evening, but as we had more pubs to visit and more beers to drink we only had the one and moved on.
Visits: 1st / dozens previous
The Wat Tyler
80 High St, Dartford, Kent DA1 1DEAlthough I have drunk in here several times and it did on occasion become my friends' place to be, I didn't really get on with this pub, so generally drank elsewhere. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the pub, indeed it has a tidy selection of tasty ales (more Shepherd Neame) and some olde worlde character but it was not a pub I really felt at home in.
This evening was a bit like that too. Although I was in great company and the beer was nice, there was something about the pub that unsettled me. We drank our pints and moved on up to East Hill.
Visits: 1st / several previous
The Malt Shovel
3 Darenth Rd, Dartford, Kent DA1 1LPThis is another pub I spent far too many evenings out in. It is set back far enough from the main road to give a country feel. The atmosphere as we walked in was very welcoming and the choice of ales on tap was reasonable. It too has been doen up a bit but not modernised too much. I felt right at home when I plonked myself down at a table close to the bar.
The barmaid knew her stuff; we ordered a pint of ale (can't remember which one now), and she poured them for us. She let them settle a bit, took a second look at them and then declared the barrel off. She asked if we would prefer something else. Now that is customer service - she did this before we even got to taste the beer.
The evening was still quite young when we arrived but by unspoken concensus we decided to stay here for the rest of the session. The ales were plentiful and well-kept, so what was there not to like?
Beers drunk on this pub crawl :
Rose : Over the Bar (4.2%) - Caledonia Brewery, Edinburgh - a copper-coloured, aromatic, hoppy ale
Odds : London Pride (4.1%) - Fuller's Brewery, London - a deep amber, malty beer
Royal Oak : Master Brew (3.7%) - Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent - a well-balanced bitter
Wat Tyler : Spitfire (4.2%) - Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent - a dark-amber, fruity, hoppy bitter
Malt Shovel : Tribute (4.2%) - St Austell Brewery, St Austell, Cornwall - a light, hoppy and fruity session ale
+ another beer that contained rum (2.5 pints of this!) that I unfortunately forgot to note down. As far as I can remember (judging by the tap label) it was not Rum Runner by Greene King (but I may be wrong).