What’s in a Name?
Since we started on this amazing and sometimes crazy journey, a couple of people have questioned whether we fit the mould of a traditional micropub; particularly given the slightly larger than average size of our premises. Although micropubs have been around for a few years now – and Kent is indisputably the bedrock of the micro movement – there isn’t one single official definition of what a micropub should be. And that can only be a good thing. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
That said, there are certain essentials that every micro should offer, and using the Micropub Association’s definition as a starting point (they say: ‘A Micropub is a small freehouse which listens to its customers, mainly serves cask ales, promotes conversation, shuns all forms of electronic entertainment and dabbles in traditional pub snacks’) I’d like to share with you the Northern Seaman’s philosophy:
Firstly, at the heart of our pub is an absolute commitment to real ale done well. This weekend alone, we’ll be serving 8 different ales – all from small, local microbreweries (plus some great local ciders) – all gravity-poured straight from the cask. We know that for our customers, quality is everything, which is why we have invested in a cooling room to make sure every pint is perfect.
As for promoting conversation, go into any micropub in the Medway and you’re guaranteed a warm Kentish welcome (and you’ll almost certainly leave having made some new friends), and the Northern Seaman is no different. We pride ourselves on our friendly, sociable atmosphere and, like with all micros, our visitors quickly find that they don’t miss the music, games machines, TVs or pool tables you find in bigger pubs. The only music we ever play is live and acoustic – we were delighted to host an up and coming band (Heir) last week, and we are scouting for new talent to play at future live music nights.
As for food, yep, we do the traditional snacks – we have a great range of Kent Crisps with flavours ranging from Beef and Spitfire ale to Salt Vinegar with Biddenden Cider – but we’re happy to leave the proper hot meals to the experts elsewhere on the High Street.
Where do we break the mould as far as micropubs go? Well (and controversially for some) we also serve lager – but in keeping with our dedication to high-quality, locally-sourced products, it’s an award-winning, Kentish lager made a few miles away in Tenterden (Curious Brew – it’s excellent). And we have a wide range of local wines (including limited stocks of Chapel Down’s amazing Orange Bacchus, England’s first orange wine) and even Kent gin and vodka.
Not everyone wants to drink real ale, and we know our customers really value having that choice – as well as the opportunity to support local producers! Maybe this makes us Kent’s first micro bar instead? We’d love to know your views on that.
Oh, and there’s also the small matter of our size. Despite being just one room (like pretty much every micro), we’re still a little bigger than most. But that just means that there’s more to love!
More importantly than size or location, we believe that micropubs are bonded by the owners.
A passionate bunch of mavericks with a vision for their businesses, a vision to serve good ale in the communities they live in, a stick it to the man attitude; taking on the big boys and beating them at their own game. A determination to put the customer at the centre of what they do; listening and acting on feedback – something a major chain could never easily do.
When we embarked on this journey as a band of enthusiastic amateurs we were in some ways very naïve and have had to learn some things the hard way. However, when I look back on what we have achieved in such a short space of time with an inconceivably tiny budget, I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved!
A small reminder to you all; we will be launching our new opening times with a party tomorrow Friday 15th at 12 Midday (and continuing through the weekend!)
We look forward to hosting you this weekend!
Tim & Sam 🙂