Shoreham-by-Sea lies midway between Worthing and Brighton and I have always found it to have a few decent pubs. Tonight I planned to visit four of them which certainly includes the best pub in town. Arriving at the station I headed west staying north of the trainline before turning left along West Street which brings you out on the High Street. Shoreham has both a beach and a river frontage (the River Adur) and when you hit the High Street you will see the Bridge Inn, an imposing Fullers pub by the road bridge that crosses the River Adur. This pub has a large garden at the back overlooking the river so if it is a nice day and you fancy a pint of Fullers then it's a good place to stop but I popped into the tiny pub opposite, Piston Broke. I went in this pub years ago when it was the Lazy Toad and it still has a good reputation for beer being GBG-listed. In keeping with the name of the pub there are engine parts to be found lying around including an engine on the window sill at the front. Not sure what this adds to the place personally.
It has the appearance of a micropub with the beers mainly being sold from the stillage behind the bar and included Dark Star Revelation, St Austell Proper Job and something from the excellent Kent micro Old Dairy. There was also a beer called Broke Ale (3.7% ABV) from The Steam Brewery. I asked the barman where the Steam Brewery was based and he just said Faversham. I'd never heard of them but I went for it and it was an average best bitter. Now I don't like to be deceived and when I was told it was Faversham I know alarm bells should have rung in my head. If the guy had said it was our house beer brewed by Shepherd Neame I'd have avoided it like the plague. I guess at £2.70 a pint it was a cheap mistake to make. The pub itself was very cliquey, a bit dark with a single narrow bar with a TV screen at the far end. Not a bad pub but due to the inexcusable avoidance at being truthful about their beer I will not set foot in there again.
Leaving Piston Broke I turned left along the High Street and after a few hundred yards, just off the High Street in Star Lane, is the Old Star Ale & Cider House. I went in this micropub soon after it opened and did not get the best of welcomes from the dour man behind the bar. However, it is now in new hands and the couple running it are very friendly. Three beers from Sussex micro Franklins were available and although I like a bit of variety in the choice of brewer I'd have probably chosen the Franklins IPA (5.5% ABV) anyway as it is a gorgeous hoppy brew bursting with citrusy hop flavours. The pub has simple decor, just a couple of long wooden bench tables and high stools around the bar area. It was close to last orders when I got there. Last orders are called at 8.20.pm and you have to be out by 9.00.pm. Not somewhere to leave for later in the evening.
It was an evening of small pubs. Leaving the Old Star I continued along the High Street for just a few yards. The Ferry Inn is tiny. The main bar may be small but it does manage to squeeze in a pool table. There is a small courtyard at the back outside and off to the side there is a room that redefines the word snug. It is a proper pub though which is sadly let down by both the quantity and quality of their cask ales. The Harveys Sussex was unavailable which meant it was Courage Directors or nowt and although nowt might have been preferable I indulged in a swift half and it was actually in decent condition.
I continued to the end of the High Street where the road becomes Brighton Road and after a few hundred yards I reached the Duke of Wellington. This pub is the gem in Shoreham's crown. An abundance of real ales as well as a couple of 'craft kegs' make it a beer drinkers paradise with a strong emphasis on Locales. Dark Star, Burning Sky and Langham Brewery all featured but I went further afield to try my first pint from the Gloucester Brewery. Their Priory Pale (3.7%ABV) is a fabulous hoppy citrusy blonde session bitter. The pub has quite a large front bar and there are smaller rooms to the rear as well as a small garden. There are plans afoot for a Wellington brewhouse too. It is a relaxed friendly local with plenty of events going on and I stumbled in to 'board game Tuesday'. The first Tuesday of each month is dedicated to board games and there were plenty laid out for customers to choose from. I did have a train to catch but I stayed for a swift half of the fabulous Burning Sky Aurora (5.6% ABV) to round off the evening.
Back at the station there is another large imposing Fullers pub, the Crab Tree, if you have time. I did not but it is a pub I remember when it was part of the Gales estate. Also adjacent to the station but to the south of the trainline is the Buckingham Arms, a pub with a vast array of handpumps I am told but another one I did not have time for on this visit. Next time perhaps as Shoreham is definitely a worthy destination for the beer drinker.