Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Swan on the Green

There’s a microbrewery/brewpub near me called the Swan on the Green. I love the idea of brewpubs and wish there were more of them. It seems to me that there are a lot more US brewpubs than English, but attaching the brewery to the restaurant is surely a great way to sell your beers and to make an income from food too. The Swan on the Green brew the beer out the back and serve it out the front; that’s a pretty good system, I think. It’s a modernised 16th century pub in the middle of quintessential Kent countryside, opposite a tiny, banking cricket pitch and surrounded by old houses. It’s a handsome looking place, that’s for sure. Lauren and I went along on Friday to celebrate me getting a new job. I got quite drunk. She drove me home.

Let’s start with food. Their menu is good, with a decent range of fare, exactly the sort of things you’d want to eat in a country pub: hunks of meat, fresh fish, lots of vegetables, different potato dishes. I went a year or so ago and enjoyed the food more than this time, but it was still very nice. My steak was perfectly cooked, my potatoes perfectly nice, the sauce a perfect accompaniment. Lauren’s salad-thing was good too, big sweet pieces of squash, lots of green things, I can’t remember what else... So yeah, a decent meal if unexceptional, but I was there for the beer, of course.

They had six Swan beers on which gave me a half of each and then another half or two after (time restricting – we had to get back for Big Brother, you see). I started on the lager and my half was the last of the keg. Blonde is 4.0%, cold and fizzy and then a whole lots more. It’s biscuity and buttery in a good way and there’s a really great citrusy hop finish. Towards the end it had a grape-like quality to it and actually reminded me of champagne. Very nice; the best lager I’ve had in ages. Next I had Ginger Swan, a 3.6% copper ale (they are all copper coloured…) brewed with ginger ‘and other spices’. Now I’m not a lover of ginger beers… until now! This has a great fresh ginger quality beneath a blackcurrant and raspberry fruit aroma which goes straight through into the taste. It’s fragrant, fresh and fruity with just enough zing to bring it alive.

Then I had the Fuggles Pale, a 3.6% session ale, hopped, I would guess, with Fuggles. It’s crisp and clean, easy drinking with some sherberty sweetness but just a little nothingy compared to the others – not bad, just a little lacking. With my steak I had the Bewick Swan, a 5.3% bitter with a great body of fruity malt and a proper bite of English hops. It worked perfectly with the steak, pairing with the peppery sauce and juicy meat.

After dinner came a Trumpeter Best, a 4.0% best bitter hopped with Target and First Gold. It has a great aroma of brown bread, overripe apples and dryly bitter-herby finish and it’s another classic British bitter. And then was Cygnet, a 4.2% a hopped with Cascades. It was fruity and crisp and bitter and a really enjoyable brew, one I could drink quite a few of. Then, with Big Brother looming, we had time for one more half and I was completely torn with what to go for: I wanted the lager again to try a fresh barrel, I wanted the Cygnet again because, well, it tasted nice, but in the end I went for the Ginger Swan because I was really impressed with the spicy-fruity playful nature of the beer.

The beers from the Swan on the Green microbrewery surprised me. It’s not that I expected them to be bad, I just didn’t expect them to be as tasty as they were and it was great to drink a lot of sub-premium strength beers, brewed with lots of flavour just a few miles from my door.

The thing with getting this new job is that Lauren and I will be moving and it just so happens that the Swan on the Green will be a little bit closer than it is now. That’s a very good thing.

Oh and if you go then watch out for the toilets. They don’t have male or female on the doors, instead the choice is Cobs or Pens painted beneath a white swan. After a few beers I must’ve stood there for ten seconds working out which was which eventually choosing the wrong door. FYI: male swans are called cobs.


  1. Very good Liam. Wonder what their house yeast is? Did their beers have any yeast characteristics? TTBC!

  2. Argh! I hate unclear novelty toilet door signs. They're going into room 101 if I'm ever asked.

    Presumably, freshness did these beers no harm?

  3. Wurst, No idea about their yeast. As for any characteristics, I'm not sure... I'd need to drink a few more to work those out!

    Bailey, unclear novelty doors only end up embarassing me so I don't like them either. And most of the beers tasted very fresh and they were spot on because of that. Beer isn't made to travel so drinking onsite is surely the best way.

  4. The Swan sounds nice and it's good that the beers appear to be quite tasty as well. Fact is, though, although the idea of brewpubs is romantic, a lot of (British) them serve very mundane beers.

  5. Tyson -- I think you might be right, but the Brunswick in Derby proves that it can work. I keep daydreaming about their beers, especially the pale, hoppy ones.

  6. Bailey, Brad (from Ale Affinity) and I were in the Brunswick on Tuesday. That's a great brewpub! In fact all three pubs we visited in Derby were excellent.