That's appealing not appalling!
I have been visiting The Butcher's Arms for around 3 years. During that time it has got better and better. It's hard to see how it could improve more but it does. And this in spite of having what is universally agreed to be a grumpy landlord. It's probably this pub's greatest charm.
Martyn Hillier is one of those plain speaking old fashioned kind of landlords that many of us remember from when we were young (though he's fairly youthful). He doesn't suffer fools gladly and he calls a spade a spade. He is not looking to win a personal popularity contest. Most of those cliches apply to him in fact. Martyn is a man of relatively few words but when he speaks it will not be an idle pleasantry. If you answer your mobile phone in here it will be to tell you that you're barred. He will not be joking.
Martyn Hillier invented the term Micropub. That's not a micro-brewery. They make their beer on site. Micropubs are like those old pubs in someone's front room. They have no bar. They have no pumps, they serve straight from the barrels, kept out back in a cold room. There is no food (unless you call crisps, pickled onions & pickled eggs food) although some in Kent serve pre-wrapped Ashmore (local) cheese. There are no spirits. Most keep a few basic bottles (boxes) of wine for spouses / friends who don't like beer but they don't advertise the fact. There is no music and no gaming machines. There is no carpet and usually only one WC. Most are old shops - butchers, bakers, barbers etc. One in Westgate-on-Sea used to be a dog grooming parlour. They are usually so small it is impossible to have a private conversation. Everyone joins in so don't take your wife / husband in for an argument. It is therefore very hard for a customer to be lonely. Don't turn up with a coach party or a bunch of your mates on a stag night / hen party. Perhaps you are beginning to see the attraction?
The success of The Butcher's Arms should not be measured in its profits or in the numbers (it can only comfortably seat 10 and a few more standing). Its success should be measured by the fact that Martyn has done such a good job that many customers have gone off and opened their own micropubs. In fact they have mostly done this with Martyn's help and advice. (He has a website named Micropub.org). The numbers are growing every year. This tells you it is something the public want, since usually in the very same street you will find 'traditional' pubs (i.e. serving chicken nuggets and chips, pizza etc and terrible beer) and those are closing down.
The atmosphere of The Butcher's is always friendly (with dry, sometimes dark humour). I always come out feeling I have had a great time for only a few quid and I only usually go for an hour or two. If you want to know how to lower a yacht mast, or what causes those explosions over on the isle of grain, who the vicar's wife / husband ran off with, or why the quality of this or that beer has increased lately or decreased, you will find out in here. It's probably how pubs used to be before the war (before I was born) and let's hope will one day be again. Keep up the great work Martyn (& Gavin)!
I'd better add that in terms of the beer, it is always well chosen (Kent Brewery - Session, is a lovely hoppy beer that's usually on) and superbly kept. You will be most unlikely to find lager here, so I suggest you don't ask for it.
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