Visited on: Friday 5th April 2019
Although the name of this micropub may indicate a direct connection with the brewery of the same name, there isn’t one, although they do sell their beer. Presumably it is named after the Larkin family who are at the centre of the H.E. Bates novel “The Darling Buds of May” published in 1958, later made into a popular television program.
The pub was established in shop unit that was previously a florists by two couples, Mark and Wendy Waters along with Kevin and Julie Sales. Its doors first opened to the public on Friday 6th October 2017. After crossing the road and mounting the high pavement Linda and I entered. I was immediately impressed as it looked and felt right.
The floor is wooden and the furniture also, comprising of traditional wooden tables and chairs in a multitude of styles. At the front of the pub the walls are painted white and display a number of paintings and photographs, mainly Kentish rural scenes.
A bit further along on the right, there is bare brick with wood panelling below. Mounted here is a large clock of the “Railway Station Waiting Room” type.
The small bar counter is also on the right although it is not actually used for service. It is used to display large jars of pickled onions and eggs, also various types of nut.
Behind the bar area is a closed cool room from which the beers are dispensed directly from the cask into the glass, thus obviating the need to use the bar counter. On the left wall is a display of the pump clips of beers missed in the past.
When we visited there were five cask beers offered, all from Kent: Gadd’s (Ramsgate) Common Conspiracy (4.8%); Cellar Head (Flimwell, near Wadhurst) Session Pale Ale (3.8%); then two from Goacher’s (Tovil, Maidstone) Imperial Stout (4.5%) and Best Dark (4.1%) and finally Larkin’s (Chiddingstone) Traditional (3.4%).
There was a very good list of still ciders as follows: Turner’s (Marden, Kent) Medium (5.0%); Apple Pie (4.0%) and Elderflower cider (5.5%). From Ascension Cider (Polegate, East Sussex) there was Pilot (4.8%) and Sonic Titan (8.2%). Just one from Dudda’s Tun (Doddington, Kent), Apricot Cider (4.0%). there were three from Nightingale Cider (Tenterden, Kent), Discovery (6.0%), Falstaff Bramley (6.2%) and Appledore Road (4.9%).
Finally, three from Kent Cider Co. (Oare, Kent), Rhubarb (5.0%), Mango (5.0%) and Cloud 10 (4.5%).
Wines are supplied by Chapel Down Wines of Tenterden, Kent. They have a selection of vodkas and gins along with mixers and soft drinks. Tapas are served Monday and Saturday. They also offer locally hand made pork pies served with appropriate mustards and chutneys. There is a small beer garden at the back.
No wonder the Alehouse was Maidstone and District CAMRA’s Pub of the Year for 2019 and 2020. And not surprisingly it was their Cider Pub of the Year for the same two years.
It’s a great pub to visit should you ever be anywhere near Cranbrook.
Larkins’ Alehouse, 7 High Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3EB. Tel: 07917_252585 or 07786_707476.
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 14.00-21.00; Thursday-Friday: 12.00-22.00;
Saturday: 12.00-22.30; Sunday: 12.00-18.00.
Cranbrook can be reached by bus from Hastings and Maidstone. Route 349 runs from Hastings.
It is operated by Stagecoach and runs from Monday to Sunday.
Route 5 runs from Maidstone via Staplehurst Monday to Sunday and is operated by Arriva.