by Kez Parvin
Craft beer. That hipster phrase at the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Is it a much more flavoursome alternative to the tasteless, amber coloured water that soaked England fans when Eric Dier scored that penalty against Columbia? Or, like the Robert Smith look we all once tried to pull off, just a phase.
I am one of the many who subscribe to the former, so I went to see if Canterbury agreed with me.
My first stop was the Bottle Shop, housed in the aptly named Goods Shed, situated next to Canterbury West train station.
Walking up the ramp and through the side door, you are immediately transported to a farmer’s market in rural France.
The smells and sounds taking me back to childhood holidays to Aix en Provence.
I made my way over to the small booth in a far corner of the large room.
The Bottle Shop purveys a seemingly endless selection of beers from all four corners of the globe. Ranging from a double dry hopped IPA to a mouth puckeringly sour guava beer.
I selected my beer (a double IPA from Manchester based Cloudwater brewery), with some expert advice from the very helpful lady behind the small bar and took a seat.
I initially felt that this was one of Canterbury’s best kept secrets but, considering the amount of people adorning the long tables enjoying their funky beers, I was clearly wrong.
I couldn’t think of a more perfect setting to enjoy a small glass of beer. With a continental feel it, still managed to evoke everything we all love about Kent.
Canterbury is no stranger to craft brewing it seems. Taking the short walk through town I happened across The Foundry. Tucked away in an unassuming corner or the City Centre, it boasts an impressive microbrewery.
These guys have been doing great things for years, but you could almost forget they were there. Serving imperial porters and berry flavoured saisons, they really are making their stamp on Canterbury’s craft beer scene.
They do, however cater for the less discerning palate with some lager style beers which offer a refreshing change from the heavy IPAs on offer.
The Cherry Tree deserves a mention here too. Walking past the window I couldn’t help noticing their colourful new row of taps.
Making a brief diversion I popped in and admired the selection. Displaying an impressive choice of craft beers, most notably Punk IPA and Dead Pony Club by Aberdeen based craft powerhouse Brewdog.
Making my way out of the city I take a short trip to Whitstable. The town boasts a surprising array of classic British style pubs and bars. Standing head and shoulders above the rest however, is the Twelve Taps.
Selling a great range of 12 (funnily enough) beers from around the country it is hard not to notice that most of the selection hails from here in Kent.
Half of the beers on offer are from Eastry brewers Time and Tide. And it’s easy to see why, ordering a half of their Spratwaffler IPA.
A brilliantly named light, refreshing Kentish take on an American style beer. Time and Tide really are spearheading the Kent craft beer revolution.
The bar itself is a quaint, wooden affair, with a modest garden at the back. The walls adorned with the tap badges of beers that filled the glasses of happy punters over the last half a decade.
The mismatched wooden chairs and tables only add to the cosiness, as well as the selection of board games. I could happily sit here for hour with a couple of friends playing Kerplunk over a half (or two).
The Twelve Taps has something for everyone. Coming hand in hand with their selection of craft beer is a vast array of craft gin. Rhubarb flavoured, hints of citrus, anything you can think of.
This pub quickly became my favourite of all. The friendly young lady behind the bar expertly answering my questions before politely and charmingly entertaining a stag do who all but fell through the door as I left.
Whitstable boasts an impressive collection of micropubs: The Black Dog, The Handsome Sam and, slightly further afield, the Tankerton Arms. All these places showcasing the more traditional style of Kentish craft brewing, with plenty of bitters on offer and classic pub decoration.
On reflection, Kent is more than just a noisy neighbour when it comes to the craft beer movement, and the Canterbury area is no exception.
At an average of £5 the price of a craft pint, compared to that of the more recognisable lagers, does put people off.
However, the supply is rapidly catching up with demand and in the very near future it will reach an equilibrium. Long may it continue.
Kez Parvin is a Whitstable-based beer writer. Find more about Kez’s work via Instagram: @craftbeerwhitstable.