Six of Kent’s Best Beer Gardens

Fancy a pint? That’s a question you probably haven’t heard for some time, but come the 12th of April pubs across England will be opening up their beer gardens and offering their customers much-needed drink. And after the year we have just had, most of us could do with one!

Unsurprisingly, the county famous for its hops has no shortage of fantastic pubs, but if you are struggling to choose, here are six great options for a pint in the spring sun.

(If the last year has proved anything, it is that even the best-laid plans can go a little awry, so pro-tip: double-check the pub’s website or social media before travelling to avoid disappointment).

The Bull Inn, Linton

aerial photo of the bull inn pub
Image: The Bull Inn Facebook 

This traditional Kentish Inn – very traditional, it has been here since 1674 – serves a range of cask and keg ales from local brewer Shepherd Neame. The pub features a large beer garden and patio, which is due to open from the 12th of April. The pub isn’t taking bookings so just turn up and take a seat.
More info: http://www.thebullatlinton.co.uk/

 

The Halfway House, Brenchley

view of the garden halfway pub kent
Image: The Halfway House Facebook

The Halfway pub is famous for their great quality ales straight from the barrel and their lively, festival-like beer garden. They offer a selection of 10 different beers available every day as well as delicious, traditional pub food. To celebrate the end of Lockdown they will be offering 2 Halfway House new beers that they have spent the last few months developing and perfecting with 2 local breweries. You will only be able to get these there!
More info: https://www.halfwayhousebrenchley.co.uk/ 

 

The Vineyard, Tunbridge Wells

The vineyard pub tunbridge wells
Image: The Vineyard Facebook

We often talk about the role the beer brewers have had in shaping Kentish heritage – after all it was the beer industry that gave us oast houses. But Kent is becoming increasingly famous for its wine. This aptly named pub has an extensive terrace, which overlooks the Lamberhurst vineyards. If you fancy swapping grain for grape they, as you would expect, have a great range of English wines on the menu. Their outdoor space is set to reopen on the 12th of April.
More info: https://elitepubs.com/the-vineyard/ 

 

The Three Chimneys, Biddenden

The three chimneys pub
Image: The Three Chimneys Facebook

Enjoy a drive through idyllic Kent country lanes to arrive at The Three Chimneys pub where mouth-watering food and local ales will be waiting for you. The Three Chimneys is an award-winning, 15th Century traditional Kentish pub serving exceptional foods and beers locally sourced reflecting the seasons. Apart from a relaxing location and seasonal menu, you can also spend some quiet time there, enjoying their charming accommodation.

Historical Curiosity: Their name, The Three Chimneys, comes from the Seven Years’ War in the 18th Century where French prisoners were kept at nearby Sissinghurst Castle. When the prisoners were placed on parole, they were allowed out as far as the pub building. At the time, locals referred to this as the ‘Three Wents’ (or three ways) but the prisoners called it Les Trois Chemins (the three chimneys). The unique name of the pub derives from the French term for the junction of three roads.

Their garden and terrace will be opening on Monday 12th April 12-6pm (weather dependant). 
More info: http://thethreechimneys.co.uk/

 

The Griffin Inn, Fletching

The Griffin Inn Pub
Image: The Griffin Inn FacebookThe Griffin Inn, Fletching

In a privileged location with incredible views, The Griffin is popular amongst locals for its Serengeti Garden – a 2 acre garden with views of the South Downs and the famous National Trust Gardens of Sheffield Park. However, that’s not the only charming thing about this award-winning 16th-century country inn. The Griffin also accommodates guests with 13 individually-designed bedrooms overlooking the Ouse Valley, as well as providing locally sourced produce.
More info: https://thegriffininn.co.uk/ 

 

The Belle Vue Tavern, Ramsgate

Belle Vue Pub view
Image: The Belle Vue Facebook

After a year of no fancy foreign holidays, a day at the beach is long overdue. With a huge patio that offers some truly spectacular views over The Channel, a drink on the Belle Vue’s Balcony of Kent terrace will soon help you rediscover that holiday feeling.

The pub’s outdoor area is set to open from the 12th of April (weather permitting) and they do not take bookings.
More info: https://www.thebellevuetavern.co.uk/ 

 

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Bespoke outdoor sitting project: A cowl seat

Did you know we also do bespoke features? That’s right. Every so often we get requests from clients to build something unique for them and it’s always great fun. This, not only allows us to put our tried-and-tested skills to good use but also to flex our creative muscles to bring ideas to life.

First things first

When Russel C. approached us to do some work on their estate, we packed our van and headed over to assess the work that was needed. They had heard of us working on some other oast houses and they were keen to get in touch. We firstly worked on building fresh new oast cowls and also carried out some roof repairs to ensure all the roofs are set and ready for the upcoming autumn and winter months.

But there was one last request. We got chatting, as we do, and the conversation then led on to creating something new… and the idea for a cowl seat was born!

A seat with a twist

But what’s special about this artefact? Well, it’s something we’ve always wanted to do, but most importantly – it’s something that has never been done before to such high standards.

The base of the chair was made out of steel at Laddingford engineering. The oast cowl was made out of wood, using our perfected, oast cowl construction methods, and then we fibreglassed it over the outside. Want to see the end result? Here are some snaps! Needless to say, our client was over the moon with his new cowl seat – the perfect place to read a book, or to enjoy a good cuppa!

Rosemary March 2021

Rosemary | March 2021

We know we can rely on D&A to do what’s needed in a professional and efficient way

We love living in our oast house, but it demands expert, tender loving care from time to time. Darren and his team have previously refurbished our cowls and the rendered coating on our cones. Now our appearance has been further improved by works to the black weatherboarding on the barn section of our home. We’ll be in touch again when the next facelift is required as we know we can rely on D&A to do what’s needed in a professional and efficient way — Rosemary

Paul Nov 2020

Paul | November 2020

Your pride in and enthusiasm for what you do shines through

We are delighted with the new cowl for our oast. From your first contact with us to the moment it was up, we have appreciated your sensible advice and efficient service. For us, it has been a real pleasure to employ a local family firm that is keeping traditional skills alive, building each new cowl in the way it has always been done. On top of that, we got the thrill of watching you work as the old cowl was lifted off, and then again as the new one was lifted up – even the neighbours stopped to watch that! Unlike the creaky old cowl, it replaced, our new cowl turns in the slightest breeze, and we look at it knowing that we have a piece of genuine craftsmanship that will last. Your pride in and enthusiasm for what you do shines through” — Paul

Best warming winter beers from Kent

The clocks have gone back, the mercury has plummeted and those long summer evenings are nothing more than a memory – in other words, it’s beginning to look a lot like winter! This year, give the mulled wine a miss and say hello to the festive season with our county’s traditional tipple.

As you would expect from the land of oast houses and hops, we have no shortage of great local breweries right on our doorstep. But with so much choice, deciding what to try first can be tricky. So, here are five great winter beers to get you started.

 

Snow Top

photo of old dairy beer and crops
Image Source: Old Dairy Instagram

Brewery: Old Dairy
Location: Tenterden – Kent
Alcohol by volume: 6%

Old Dairy have brewed the perfect ‘winter warmer’ – if they do say so themselves – with their award-winning Snow Top beer. This rich, dark delight is packed with the taste of Christmas; it is full of fruitcake and marmalade flavours and topped off with some spicy notes.

 

Godswallop Winter Ale

Brewery: Westerham
Location: Westerham – Kent
Alcohol by volume: 4%

Making full use of the local crop are Westerham with their Godswallop Winter Ale. Six Kent hops combine with pale ale, dark crystal and chocolate malts to create a traditional ale style beer that is both complex and comforting. This slightly sweet, smooth caramel, gentle hoppy traditional old winter ale will keep your mood up as the temperature drops. Oh! and making the most of the season, Westerham have also launched an awesome 2020 Beer Advent Calendar featuring a mixed case of 12 different beers – because a beer a day keeps…. your problems away?

 

Porter

a pint glass of larkins porter ale in a pub
Image Source: Larkins Brewery

Brewery: Larkins
Location: Chiddingstone – Kent
Alcohol by volume: 5.2%

Is there anything more quintessentially Kentish than oast houses and crop fields? Local brewery Larkins still produce their real Kentish ales in a traditional oast house, which we love – obviously! Included in Roger Protz’s acclaimed guide, ‘300 Beers to Try Before You Die’, the award-winning Larkins’ Porter is the perfect choice for those long dark evenings, with a deep, rich and warming taste.  

A curiosity about The Larkins Oast House – it was built in 1935 but bombed by a V2 rocket in 1945 and then rebuilt in 1948. It has a kiln, a drying room, cooling and pressing machinery for the traditional processing of hops from drying, preserving to storing. Using traditional tools and methods they ensure their characteristic Larkins quality and flavour!

man drying hops at larkins brewery
Image Source: Larkins Brewery

 

Christmas Jumper Ale

mad cat brewery christmas ale label
Image Source: Mad Cat Brewery

Brewery: Mad Cat
Location: Faversham
Alcohol by volume: 4.4%

Based at Brogdale Farm in Faversham and set up by father and son in 2012, the Mad Cat Brewery is a micro-brewery providing fresh and quality craft ales. They have very quick turnarounds – they can pick and have the hops brewed in under 12 hours for its beers – but when it comes to seasonal beers, they only release a small number of batches, so you have to keep an eye not to miss them! Every year they release a Christmas-themed ale featuring their famous creative cat designs and for this year they’ve launched the delicious Christmas Jumper Ale which promises to be rich, nutty and decidedly festive!

Christmas Ale

close up image of shepherd neame christmas beer
Image Source: Shepherd Neame

Brewery: Shepherd Neame
Location: Faversham – Kent
Alcohol by volume: 7%

A winter beer often means a stronger beer. Of course, it’s not hard to see why cold weather would make a stronger drink more appealing – nothing seems to heat you up more than shot of the hard stuff. But there is another reason these beers are a pinch more potent than their counterparts. Traditionally, winter beers were usually brewed during the harvest and the season of plenty probably encouraged brewers to be a little more bountiful with the malts, meaning a higher alcohol content. When it comes to alcohol proof, Shepherd Neame’s Christmas Ale beer packs a punch.

Shepherd Neame’s Christmas Ale beer is brewed using mineral water from their own well. This Christmassy concoction combines notes of fruits and spices and is packed full of some great local crops. The beer itself is delightfully packed with a Dickensian style label and a traditional pump lid.

Enjoyed our roundup of Christmas beers? Why not following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep up with all Dude & Arnette’s updates

Our Happy Customers

Barry | September 2020

Appreciation for Cowl Work

The cowl of our oast house has, over past two winter storms, developed a horrid noise. Just prior to Covid-19 lockdown, we sought quotes for investigation and repairs. Dude & Arnette (D&A) were not the cheapest, but we were impressed by the attitude of Darren Hole (MD).

Lockdown destroyed our planned schedule as D&A took a responsible approach towards their staff and clients. Our confidence was fully justified as almost like clockwork, work has this month proceeded speedily. Scaffolding by High Score was efficiently and pleasantly carried out, D&A team worked together so well with Darren Hole keeping a close eye. Work required was not so much cowl but support of centre post which rectified. Now with recent high winds no noise or leaks and cowl looking smart. Thank you Darren & Team.

< Return to Happy Customers

Our Happy Customers

Sofia | August 2020

I recommend Darren and the team very highly

I suffered significant storm damage to my Oast cowl, the result of which was the cowl leaning horribly and flapping around dangerously, causing damage to the roof and looking like it could topple off with the slightest gust of wind. Darren popped round within hours of speaking to him, agreed that fast action was needed and had the cowl off and the roof weatherproofed within a couple of days. There was then a massive delay (due entirely to errors made by my home insurers) which must have caused issues for Darren, but he was patient and understanding throughout. Once the insurers sorted out their issues, Darren was back in a flash to repair the roof and replace the beautifully restored cowl to a very high standard. He even threw in one of their awesome t-shirts! I recommend Darren and the team very highly.

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History of Oast Cottage Laddingford

Here at Dude & Arnette we’re passionate about oast houses, from oast house maintenance to roof repairs, we’ve been in the business since 1937 and know a trick or two. But we don’t stop there. We’re also big advocates of preserving British heritage and sharing with you fragments of our country’s history through its oast houses.

On this blog post, our customer Mike Reader shares with us the fascinating history of the unusual oast cottage Laddingford. Let’s have a look…

An oast within an oast

Laddingford Oast Cottage is an unusual one. The original building, a small T shaped oast house with 2 square kilns and stowage, probably dates from the 17th century. It may represent one of the earliest purpose-built oast houses. Many of the early oast houses were created from existing barns with kilns added, but this building was designed and built as an oast house. The evidence for it being built as a unit is the distinctive brickwork and ragstone plinth around the T shape, neither of which are in the rest of the building. An indication of its age is given by the roof construction without a ridge plate and without the use of nails. The building is essentially an “oast within an oast”.

interior view of wooden beams

Additionally, there are 2 windows with simple vertical square-sectioned timber battens, they have no glass but had external shutters. These are possibly like those in Scot’s oast dated 1574.

wooden pivoted louvres

There were also wooden, horizontal pivoted louvres, controlled by a simple timber mechanism, for ventilation throughout the building. One of these still survives.

horizontal window louvres

At some point in the 18th century, a larger 3rd square kiln was added on the southern side to provide increased drying capacity.  The construction is not of such high quality and the roof has a ridge plate. There is evidence in the roof showing where the cowl was situated. A deposit of ash was found under the bricks in the centre of the floor, showing where the fire had been. The addition of another kiln led to a need for an increased cooling area so a small barn was dismantled and rebuilt on the western side of the building to provide an extension to the upper floor.

old Postcard of painting by A W Head produced around 1900
Postcard of painting by A W Head produced around 1900 showing cottage Laddingford on the right-hand side

In 1820 a small weather-boarded 2-bed cottage was built on the western side, next to the small barn.

The 1871 map of the area shows that the southern-most roundel had been built. This was probably to replace the large square southern kiln, whose cowl was removed from the roof.

Moving onto the 19th century, a fire affected both small square kilns. As a result, these kilns were no longer used and the roof was rebuilt without their cowls. The lost drying capacity was replaced by building a new brick roundel on the northeast corner. This is shown on the later 1897 map.

The building was bought by Walter Reader in 1912, as part of Mereworth Farm. It has remained in the Reader family since.

The oast was used to dry hops until 1935 after which all drying was carried out in the oast at Uptons Farm. The cowls on the roundels were removed in the 1940s having been damaged by a bomb falling nearby. They were replaced by Dude and Arnette in June 2020.

old photo of flooding in Laddingford
Photograph of flooding in Laddingford which shows the cowls, taken in 1935.

Make an oast house your home

In an age where homes are built using the same templates as their neighbours, and roads are filled with rows of identical houses, it can be difficult to truly stamp your own individuality on a property.

As you look further afield, leaving the purpose-built communities, take a look at the could-be’s and what-ifs. The buildings that have been abandoned, the structures filled with potential. This is what we see each time we visit an old oast house: the potential for repairing and rebuilding a family home, returning it to its former glory.

Building or converting your own home can be a daunting project, but oast house conversions can create a truly personal space. Each oast house is unique, and therefore each project requires an individual assessment and detailed preparation, including planning permission, assessment of whether your oast house needs a replacement oast cowl or whether it just needs cleaning and painting.

At Dude & Arnette our family have been repairing and restoring oast cowls since 1937, helping hundreds of people realise their dreams and working with them to truly create personal place to call their own. To organise a free consultation and quotation, call Dude & Arnette on 01622 725 898 or visit our Contact page, fill out our contact form, and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

oast house conversion

What you should know before converting your oast

Converting, restoring and repairing an historic oast house can be a rewarding and enjoyable process. From your initial consultation to seeing the stunning results at the end of the work, there are few projects more satisfying. This process should be carried alongside a team of experts, and here are a few tips on how to approach converting or restoring your oast.

Submit an application to the council before any work is carried out

Around 1 in 10 oast houses are listed buildings, and therefore permission needs to be granted by the council before any restoration work can begin. You’ll also need to carry out a survey to check for any animals that may have made your oast house their home! There are other factors that should be taken into consideration, and our expert team will be able to make sure that all the boxes have been ticked before you begin the application process.

Assess access

Our director Darren Hole attends every initial visit to discuss the requirements of every project Dude & Arnette work on. He will gather together exactly what you need, check access for removing the cowl, and will collate all of the information into a written quotation that breaks down each cost, and organise a timeframe for your work to be carried out and installed. Generally, this takes around four weeks, depending on the house.

Retain original features

With any restoration and repair work on an old building, it’s important to retain the integrity and original features of your oast house. Our family have been restoring and repairing oast houses and cowls since 1937, and provide expert knowledge and superior workmanship on every building, and can advise on the best possible way to use your space.

To arrange a free quotation, or to discuss your individual requirements in more detail, visit our Contact Us page, or call us on 01622 725 898.