13 September 2009

West is Best in Kent

Congratulations to everyone involved at The Bull at Horton Kirby for deservedly winning the CAMRA Kent Pub of the Year 2009. The Bull pipped last year's title holder The Butcher's Arms at Herne to the accolade and will now face off against the London, Surrey & Sussex and East Anglia victors for the right to represent the South East in the national finals.

Garrett Phipps and Lynne Prentice took the reigns at an unremarkable village local in April 2005 and since then the pub has gone from strength to strength at a staggering rate. Before their arrival, The Bull stocked just one cask ale, Courage Best, and was very much a lager-drinkers' pub. The pub was one of the first to truly champion Dark Star beers outside of their own tied estate and was soon shifting more Hophead than anywhere else in the country. The ale range has continued to grow and there are now up to ten to choose from at any one time. This level of throughput is all the more remarkable considering the pub's remote location in the middle of the undulating Darent Valley countryside.

Reputation has grown and visitors now flock from far and wide to attend the revered monthly Brewery Showcases and regular Beer Festivals and events. The combination of carefully selected, top-quality beers from some of the nation's finest up-and-coming breweries such as Marble, BrewDog, Pictish and Thornbridge and Lynne's quality home-cooked, locally-sourced food together with the warmest of atmospheres continues to delight first timers and hardcore regulars alike.

The Bull won their local CAMRA branch Pub of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and collected the West Kent prize last month before scooping the county-wide award. They now square up against The Bricklayer's Arms at Putney, The Wheatsheaf at Writtle and last year's regional finalist The Royal Oak at Rusper in a bid to take on the best of the best, including last year's national champion, The Kelham Island Tavern in Sheffield.

A special mention must also go to Nick Byram and the team at the Dartford WMC for being voted CAMRA Kent Club of the Year 2009. The club is no stranger to success, having picked up the national prize in 2006 and continues to offer a staggering range of beers at heriocally low prices. The six-month waiting list for membership is testament to the club's ever-increasing popularity and they must, surely, be contenders for the national prize again this year.

To mark the occasion, the two champions will host a Joint Beer Festival from 19th-22nd November, with 30 winning ales available at each venue and an hourly shuttle bus running between them. In an extra twist, the two landlords have agreed to swap premises for the day on Saturday 21st November, with Garrett manning the bar at the WMC and Nick pulling the pints at The Bull. Be sure to add it to your diary and join in the celebrations.

  • Garrett assures me that The Bull's website and blog will be back up and running and information-rich very soon.


  1. I'm going to have to make a trip darn sarf to visit the Bull and the Butchers Arms. That November fest sounds like a good laugh!

    btw - this is another blog that I can't comment on via Firefox, I don't get the dropdown for 'comment as' ???

  2. Bizzare, I use Firefox and have no problem with the dropdown menu. Are you running the latest version (3.0.14)? Which other blog(s) do you have trouble with? Do they all have the embedded comment form like I do?

    If you fancy a trek down here, I'm sure Mark and I could show you the ropes. The fest is probably as good a time as any to do it. Let us know.

  3. Don't Garrett and Lynne look lovely on that picture? I hope they keep on winning!

  4. Hi Dominic, thanks for dropping by. It is a very nice pic isn't it? If you keep shipping your delicious Pint down here, there's every chance they will keep winning!

  5. "… took the reigns …"

    That would be "took the reins".

  6. " … took the reigns … "

    They may reign there, but the expression you are fumbling for is "took the reins", as in horses.

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