It’s probably quite fitting pretty much every time I’ve added something to this article it’s been when I’m hungover. I quite like going to the pub and having a pint or ten and so do my mates. You’ll be pleased to know I finished the article stone sober, honest.
Brighton has historically taken it’s drinking pretty seriously. In the 1800s, there was an ‘inn’ for every 30 homes, and the inns held indoor markets, auctions and even trials.
The name ‘public house’ came in a bit later, to describe somewhere people went solely to drink. Pubs tended to fall into two categories. ‘Gin Palaces’ were aimed at ‘a better class of customer’ -no ruffians (@nskbha) allowed- and were ornately decorated and a bit posh. Beer Houses on the other hand were aimed at the poorer in society, had no chairs or tables but on the flip-side, cheap beer. By 1900, even small streets in poor areas had several pubs, keeping Brighton well oiled.
After the Second World War pub numbers declined, with people neglecting their drinking in favour of questionable pastimes such as sport and watching TV. Sadly with sky-high rents and the smoking ban, times are still hard for pub landlords but luckily they have the support of Brighton & Hove’s drinkers, and we are a thirsty lot. There are still hundreds of pubs in Brighton & Hove and I feel lucky to live in a city which has as many as we do. There are pubs for all occasions, all people, no matter the weather, the time of day or what you drink. After nearly 28 years on earth, all of which in Brighton, I’ve been in a fair few of them! (None when I was underage may I add…) I know there are still loads which I haven’t been in or some I haven’t been in enough. I am making my way through them though!
I decided against giving a long list of good pubs to visit. Instead I’ll give 10 of my favourites which, if you ever visit Brighton, you should definitely go to. I should add, this list isn’t ranked in order or anything. And you’ll notice none of them are called Palace.
The Prince George
A vegetarian pub, how very Brighton. Places like this are what makes Brighton what it is. I’m not a vegetarian, but all of the food on offer in this pub is and it’s very good. Named after Brighton’s famous Prince Regent, who was responsible for building our crazy yet iconic Pavilion building.
They have several local ales on draught as well as craft beer from around the world.
It’s relatively recently been refurbished and has a cosy feel to it, there’s also a heated garden out the back.
24th June 1901, Brighton and Hove Albion football club were formed in this pub. One reason why I like this place!
Again, another pub that’s been refurbished recently that has many craft beers on offer and also a decent selection of lager. For all you gin lovers they offer 10 types of the stuff.
I’ve just eaten in here for the first time. They have The Little Blue Smokehouse in the kitchen and the food is very tasty.
Hand In Hand
This pub is located in Kemp Town in Brighton. You know when a pub brews it’s own beer, and has been doing so for as long as I’ve been alive, it’s going to be good and this place doesn’t disappoint.
The pub has been around for 150 years and used to be 3 separate bars. They’ve got over 40 beers available and a pub cat so they know what they’re doing. Rumour has it that a previous owner liked to cut off drinkers’ ties… Not sure why. Well worth a visit, but maybe dress casual, just in case.
The North Laine
A pub that also brews it’s own beer, Laine’s Best is a popular choice. A cracking pub which has plenty of room (it used to be a nightclub before), the long bench tables in one section of the pub give it a beer hall kind of vibe.
Also, another pub worth a visit to try their grub!
The Lord Nelson Inn
The Lord Nelson, AKA The Nelly, is a short stumble from Brighton station, on Trafalgar Street. Admiral Viscount Horatio Nelson was a naval commander killed at the battle of Trafalgar… See what they did there?
It’s one of the most traditional boozers in town. They serve locally produced ales and have a wide selection of variety and choice.
The food is decent and is mostly sourced locally as well. Apparently the pub has the longest running quiz night in Brighton.
The management has changed to Harvey’s, a local Sussex brewery and it’s just reopened after being refurbished. I’m yet to visit since and it’s going to be interesting to see how this changes the pub. I’m sure many locals, myself included hope it doesn’t take the character away from the pub.
The Evening Star
Another pub not too far from Brighton station. It’s owned by The Dark Star Brewing company. The Dark Star Brewery was actually started in the cellar of this pub and was there until 2001 when it moved to a larger premises in West Sussex to keep up with the high demand from Brighton’s real ale drinkers.
It has a very wide selection of ale and lager from the Dark Star Brewery itself, with up to four guest beers. There’s also a range of ciders and perries for us cider heads, as well as bottled Belgian, German & American beers.
One pub in my favourites that doesn’t actually sell food. Peanuts are always good with me anyway, but maybe not enough to line your stomach if you’re having a session.
The Basketmakers Arms
In the 1850s this was a basket making business, employing a blind basket maker who lived at house number 14 from up the road -a favourite number for Albion fans as it currently belongs to the BHAFC (and Alavés) legend Iñigo Calderon. The historical owner supplemented his income by selling beer from his shop. The description of the pub now on the website sums it up “An absolute gem of a pub situated in North Laine”. To me, this is a proper pub and it’s in a great location with many other pubs in the surrounding area.
Eight different ales plus craft lagers like Frontier and Sierra Nevada are available. If whisky is your thing, there’s around 100 on offer.
Food here is excellent and it’s won many accolades for it.
Brighton Beer Dispensary
Brighton Bier and a South London brewery called Late Knights Brewery own this terraced pub. It has up to 8 ales, 4 draught ciders, and around 50 bottled beers on offer. The staff are friendly and know their stuff so don’t be afraid to ask to try before you buy. They do a very good Sunday roast as well.
Brighton Bier also sponsor a local football team, Whitehawk FC.
The Lion & Lobster
Word is that the name was taken from the lion being the king of the land and the lobster being the king of the sea. The Lion & Lobster has an interesting layout, it’s based over 3 floors and when you’ve had a few makes it seem like a maze.
The ground floor is a traditional pub, serving a selection of local and guest ales and lager. The first floor is a restaurant and they do one of if not the best roast in town. It’s really popular so I’d recommend booking. A terrace is spread over the first floor and top floor, it has it’s own bar and is a great place to drink especially when the sun is shining.
The pub was sold to a London pub chain in 2014 for £4.5 million, making it at the time the most expensive pub in Brighton. I don’t recall any pubs being sold for anywhere near as much since.
The Prince Albert
Now, where I do start with The Prince Albert. I could have probably written an essay on this place or filled pages with cracking photos of the pub. It’s only a minutes walk (if that) down from Brighton train station and you can’t miss it. A big hit with my fellow Brighton & Hove Albion fans (and away fans come to think of it) on a match day, due to the location and the fact it’s a decent boozer.
The pub always has a friendly and lively atmosphere. There are plenty of benches out the front which are great in the summertime along with a small garden out the back. It’s a great pub for music and it regularly has gigs on, there’s a room used upstairs.
As for food and drink, you’ll be able to try classic home cooked pub food and there’s a range of Sussex ales available.
One of the most distinctive features of this pub is the mural painted on the side of the pub. The mural consists of 28 deceased musicians and was painted in 2013. You can read more about the mural here (https://www.facebook.com/PrinceAlbertMuralIcons/). This is what the side of the pub looked like before the mural (https://flic.kr/p/b9uPvi). You’ll find lots of photos online of the mural so have a look, although seeing it in person is recommended. Here is a picture of the side of the pub with the mural, in all it’s glory.
As well as the mural you’ll see an image of footballing legend George Best next to the “The Kissing Policemen”. A Banksy piece that appeared in 2004. However, the original was replaced with a replica encased in perspex after being carefully removed and flown to America in 2011 after being sold.
If you’re ever in Brighton and want more suggestions of pubs or anything else to do I’m more than happy to help.
Twitter – @holty88
Instagram – @markholt1
Credit also to @nskbha! Who I have shared many a drinking session with.