If you’re headed to Margate or Broadstairs for a seaside getaway, rest assured that you can find both craft and local beer to partner with your fish and chips. Most of these watering holes are within eyeshot of the water, making it easy to drink while taking in the scenery of these charming seafront towns.
The Bottle Shop Margate
7-8 Marine Drive, Margate, Kent, CT9 1DH
The Bottle Shop Margate has only been open for a year, but it's already drawing in steady crowds. It might be the casual atmosphere. Or it might be the ease at which customers can breeze in and out between the two doors ajar on either side of the bar, letting invigorating sea air waft inside. It could also be the intensely friendly staff who apologise for a wait that wouldn’t make a Londoner blink twice. All of these elements make this Bottle Shop location an inviting venue. It's spread across two levels – the main bar is located on the upper and the lower level features plenty of seating and fridges for takeaway bottles. It’s perhaps cosy by London standards, but it felt much more spacious compared to some of Margate's other bars.
The beer selection was excellent across ten taps, including both UK and International breweries. The offerings included the luscious Noa Pecan Mud Cake imperial stout from Swedish mavericks Omnipollo and Cloudwater Brew Co’s NW DIPA Citra alongside Dugges' juicy Mango Mango Mango IPA and Gipsy Hill Brewing Company’s Hepcat. Cocktails were also in demand – they’ve got gin and tonic on tap – and customers can bring their own food to eat on the premises, or even get a 10% discount at the popular GB Pizza just down the street.
It must be reiterated that the location here can’t be beat, sitting right in the centre of the Old Town with a charming view of the nearby harbour.
40 High St, Margate CT9
There’s one word that immediately springs to mind when trying to describe Fez, a micropub only feet away from The Bottle Shop: eclectic. This tiny pub is adorned with kitsch and knickknacks galore, giving it the ambiance of a mismatched, almost deranged, carnival. There are tables and benches integrated into the quirky décor and – perhaps my favourite touch – a traffic light triggered by the locking of the single toilet’s door, flicking red when occupied and green when vacant.
Beer and ciders are in cask and priced very reasonably; both of the blonde ales that we tried went down easily. Drinks are rung through on an antique cash register (kerching!), which is the type of embellishment that you can’t help but smile at. The staff were just as idiosyncratic as the setting. Fez does get rammed and we found that they stopped serving at 10:30pm on a Friday night, so be warned.
The Lifeboat Ale and Cider House and The Chapel (Broadstairs)
The Lifeboat: 1 Market St, Margate CT9 1EU
The Chapel: 44 Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1NE
Two pubs, one owner: The Lifeboat is located in Margate and The Chapel in nearby Broadstairs. The former has been an institution, one of the first micro brewpubs that opened in the town back in 2010. Located in the Old Town, it was revered for its selection of Kent ales and cider across a small, functional layout. The latter is a more offbeat space, a converted chapel – as the name would suggest – and brimming with books over two floors. Both pubs have recently become sponsored by BrewDog, meaning that they offer a wide selection of BrewDog beers on site in addition to rotating taps for other UK breweries on keg, with a range of cask and cider still available.
While The Lifeboat is conveniently located, it was heaving on our visit, and we much preferred the tranquil and cloister-like atmosphere of The Chapel, which was conveniently close to our Airbnb. The owner of both establishments, Julian Newick, was on hand at The Chapel during two of our visits, urging visitors to the area to indulge in a traditional ale. Crowds were small, staff were very talkative and we took great pleasure in soaking in this unusual space. We indulged in the guest beers – Neck Oil from Beavertown Brewery and Pogo from Wild Beer Co – and found ourselves lingering until close one night, entertained by a fumbled display of card tricks by a inebriated local.
If you have the time, The Chapel is dfeinitely worth the quick bus ride over to Broadstairs from Margate.
The Thirty-Nine Steps Brewhouse
11-13 Charlotte Street, Broadstairs CT10 1LR
This freshly renovated pub will soon be a microbrewery, but there wasn't much to see here on our visit. There is an empty room where a brewery should be and we were assured that they would soon be operational; given the location, only a few minutes wander from the harbour in Broadstairs, The Thirty-Nine Stairs Brewhouse could potentially be worth the trip. It’s a pristine, modern set-up with both cask and keg represented and we spotted some lines hidden behind the bar where Mikkeller appeared to be on, but we didn’t stay long enough to verify this.
This is a mere whistle-stop tour of two beautiful spots in Kent and there are plenty of altermative venues where a good cider or ale can be sourced. However, on a tight schedule, the above can’t be missed for a top-notch tipple to enjoy against the stunning scenic backdrop and surroundings of both Margate and Broadstairs.