Visited on: Thursday 11th April 2018
Nearly every micropub is located in premises that once were once a shop and the Old Bay Alehouse is no different in that respect. It’s found at the end of a terrace of three that look as if they were built in the 1920s.
In fact it was probably once the most important shop in Minnis Bay as it housed the Old Bay Stores of H.C. Johnson. It was also Minnis Road Post Office.
By the time it closed in January 2008 it was a newsagent / tobacconist / confectionery shop, although it still retained the Post Office Counter. The demise of town and country Post Offices is well known and this was no exception. Like many it is now a micropub. I can think of three others immediately; no doubt there are many more similar situations around the country. Please see old photograph below left, courtesy Birchington Heritage Trust. The post box remains on the pavement outside. This particular example was opened on 24th March 2017 by husband and wife team Phil and Kirsty Griffiths.
I was with Linda and as we entered we were struck by the décor. This pub has a ninety twenties / thirties theme, mainly portrayed by the framed illustrations around the walls.
Immediately on our left are a set of square-ish leather armchairs surrounding a low wooden coffee table with photographs of the pub in its previous guise.
There is wooden panelling up to chest height along the left side and rear walls.
Moving around the room in a clockwise direction there is a church pew against the wall further up. In front are two micropub type of high tables, along with tall metal chairs facing the wall. Two more wooden with their associated chairs are against the panelling on the rear wall. Then there is a passage to the toilet. On the right side wall is a small shelve, then the bar counter.
The bar has a varnished wooden top with a red padded front in “cocktail bar” style. Behind it is the cool room from where the beer emanates.
The installation of the cool room has created an alcove on the right side of the room in front of the window where we found a further four leather armchairs, more rounded than those on the other side of the room, in front of a low circular wooden table. Here, there is a mirror on the wall, a tall plant in a pot and a standard lamp with a rounded shade.
They have the capacity to serve up to five cask ales but there were only three on offer when we called in: Rudgate (Tockwith, North Yorkshire) Chocolate Stout (5.0%); Goody’s (Herne, Kent) Genesis Bitter (3.5%) and Redemption (Tottenham, Greater London) Pale Ale (3.8%).
There is also a good cider menu here, the following were available when we visited: Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Family Reserve (5.0%) and three fruit flavoured offerings: Rhubarb, Damson and Cherry (all 4.0%); Kent Cider Co (Oare, Kent) Toffee Apple (5.5%). From Celtic Marches (Bishop’s Frome, Worcestershire) there was Mango flavoured cider (5.5%). Finally, from Dudda’s Tun (Doddington, Kent) there was Bone Dry Cider (5.5%) and three flavoured: Elderflower, Blackcurrant and Salted Caramel (all 4.0%).
As is normal these days there is a range of gins to be had with the appropriate mixers. They also stock blended whisky, vodka, along with white and spiced Rum. The also offer soft drinks for children which is appropriate as they are near the seaside. Packaged snacks such as crisps, scratchings and nuts are available.
This is an excellent pub in a slightly out of the way location that would repay a visit at any time.
The Old Bay Alehouse, 137 Minnis Road, Minnis Bay, Kent CT7 9NS. Tel: 07968_472983.
Hours: Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Thursday/Saturday: 12.30-14.00/17.30-21.30;
Friday: 12.30-14.00/17.30-22.30; Sunday: 12.00-16.00.
The pub is within walking distance from Birchington-on-Sea station, about fifteen to twenty minutes.
Exit the station towards the town centre and soon turn right into Minnis Road.
Continue under the railway bridge, keep going and eventually you will find the pub on the left.
Birchington station has a half-hourly service to and from London Victoria, hourly from London St Pancras.
The 34 bus route runs to Minnis Bay from Margate via Birchington station. Every fifteen minutes weekdays.
It’s every thirty minutes on Saturdays, but no service on Sundays.