Pick of the Pubs, by Joe the Poet

Where would Robert Burns be without a dram of whisky? Not to mention that Hemingway boasted he could drink anyone under the table. The relationship between poetry and alcohol is renowned and Joseph J Clark continues in this tradition with his show, Drunk With A Pen (Sweet Werks 2, May 5 - 13, 19:00). Presenting poetry for the drinking classes, even poem-phobics will enjoy these 13.5 booze based poems.

I’ve had plenty of ill-advised nightcaps here

Not unfamiliar with a local watering hole or two, we asked Joe to pick out his favourite Brighton & Hove based boozers so you'll know where to grab a poet approved pint during the Fringe.

Pick of the Pubs

By Joe the Poet

I’ve spent 15 years hanging around pubs in Brighton. And Hove, actually. I learned to drink here. I learned to write and perform poetry here. I learned the joy of live music here. I’ve loved here and, yes, I’ve lost here, too.

Picking just five of the best from such a great (and ever-changing) scene is a nearly impossible, thankless task. But hold my beer while I pick out the five closest to my heart.

The George Payne

Do you have any idea how many outstanding pubs are in Poets' Corner? Out near Aldrington Station? Did you even know Aldrington Station existed? I didn’t, until I had the good fortune to move there. And then I barely left.

Hidden away in the residential maze north of Portland Road lies The George Payne. Hands down my favourite pub in town. Admittedly it can be a victim of its own success, as it gets overstuffed at Christmas and can be overrun with children (particularly on a sunny weekend).

But there’s a reason for that, a great selection of drinks, superb food, excellent staff and a constantly busy schedule of events and things to do. One of the hardest working pubs in town.

AND they have a Tardis in the garden.

The Foundry

I went through a phase of going to The Foundry regularly for its Americana nights: a scene which introduced me to amazing roots acts like Porchlight Smoker, Danni Nicholls and Dr Bluegrass and the Illbilly Eight. And I’m talking properly acoustic - not a cable or amp in sight.

The Foundry is a good no nonsense boozer and a cosy treat in winter. It had a bit of a makeover recently, but pleasingly, nothing too heavy. Just a bit of a freshener really, it’s a little bit lighter and less musty, but still retains it’s original character. And serves a cracking roast.

The Exchange

A short walk from Hove Station lies the Exchange, a colourful, characterful pub with loads going on. There’s vibrant art over the walls full of cult and Brighton references, a pinball table for the afficionados (I know you’re out there) and superb music every Saturday night. Plus a good range of beers and a whisky of the week, oh yes! Finding a pub with good atmosphere can be really difficult out in the genial Hove backwaters, but The Exchange always seems to be just the right pace. Open late too, so I’ve had plenty of ill-advised nightcaps here.

Sussex Yeoman

Brighton’s as blessed with food as it is with drink. But my favourite place to eat has to be the Yeoman, located just up the hill behind Brighton Station. There’s a spot at the window, by the front door, where you can gaze out over the hill at the sunset with a good pint. Bliss.

The food is just shy of fancy, with mains around £12-15. But the portions are always generous, the food always outstanding, and they have regular deals going too. I once had three sausages, mash and ratatouille there for £5 on a half price weeknight deal. Absolute robbery! It was so good I still genuinely feel guilty for not paying full price.

The Dorset

The Dorset is a venerable Brighton institution, the most mainstream place on this list by a mile. But for all the post-student jazz Tuesdays, for the introduction to some amazing gypsy jazz guitarists, and for the ridiculous amount of wine I’ve drunk there, it absolutely has to be on this list. A key part of my life through a difficult couple of years, the Dorset is home to great characters.

Honourable Mentions

Okay, since five really isn’t enough, I’m going to cheat a little bit and just call out a few hidden gems which you may not have heard of (some of these are quite new to me). The Lion & Lobster, The Bottom’s Rest, The Black Dove, The Robin Hood, The Shakespeare’s Head, The Hampton Arms and The Globe. All quirky, vibrant places to have a drink. Get exploring this summer!

Related Listings

Drunk With A Pen

Drunk With A Pen

Poetry for the drinking classes: Joseph J Clark performs 13.5 poems about drink and drinking. Earnest, endearing, and occasionally exciting poetry from the very bottom of the bottle...