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Butchers Arms, Herne

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user reviews of the Butchers Arms, Herne

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

We enjoyed the walk from Whitstable, past the merrily-painted beach huts, which tended to be named after places in Britain's colonial past for some reason. I must rename my garden shed "The Relief Of Mafeking" upon my return.

For all that, this pub wasn't open, so we will have to try again another day. To be fair, reviewers did warn us.

On that point, I tip my hat to their penmanship for this and for other pubs, with a dash of Vivian Stanshall here, a sprinkling of Oscar Wilde there, and a dollop of Spike Milligan by the side. Not that they were so derivative as to hide their welcome originality, and for which I offer my sincere commendation.

Incidentally, the late and much-lamented Mr. Stanshall used to come to Whitstable, for many a Summer as a child, with his Irish aunt, I read.

I can't rate the pub, so I'll give the reviews ten-out-of-ten instead.
eddybeer - 6 Feb 2017 16:30
Back as promised. Burning sky was superb.
pwilkins - 6 Jan 2016 12:29
First time visited, but it wont be my last. Had long chat with Martyn and drank kent IPA, which was delicious! A few peope in and a very friendly atmosphere.
pwilkins - 10 Nov 2014 14:26
Some great cheese tossed about today so what with a few drops of Leviathan and the odd pistachio it was the dog's bollards. Hoping to see me old mate Jack for a quick bite too but you can't have everything. I was doing my ordinary rounds and missed the ends of Farewell, but the Citra and Coppertop deserved a good licking. You can't beat this pub for a lively atmosphere and for once I don't get patted on the head which is always most annoying. By the way. Whose got my ball?
Indy - 21 Apr 2013 19:42
To the BITE user who questioned what they put in the barrels to make the ales taste so great, I have heard so many rumours but Martyn confirmed that it's just the aged old oak barrels they store them in. Luke the barman is a very tolerant fellow, a real charmer and this is very rare these days. I can only say that he was VERY willing to share his previous homoerotic dalliances with us all, and this is a refreshing change for someone so closeted. My partner and I go back as often as we can. I would recommend everyone - gay, straight or transgender, pops in here whenever they are in the area, an open mind is a definite requirement.
benton - 27 Mar 2013 10:57
I don't know what is done in the "cellar" of this pub, but any beer drunk here tastes better than anywhere else, including at the breweries from whence they came! This may seem like hyperbole, but I am being absolutely serious when I assert that.
The banter among all of the customers in this small pub, and the lack of any non-ale distractions make this the original and the best Micro-pub. Always worth the schlep!
Soldrax - 3 Jan 2013 15:07
The only thing wrong with this pub is that it's not in my front room (it probably would fit) or next door. On second thoughts that's just as well - I drink too much already. Herne is a relatively quiet village but it's easy to get to via the frequent 4 or 6 buses from Canterbury, Whitstable or Herne Bay although I prefer a lunch-time cycle there.

The beer never disappoints and sometimes astounds. The chat isn't bad either - Martyn bans any regular bores (or phone users - you have been warned).

Don't expect to find anything invented since 1960 apart from a Good Beer Guide or 2.
nevermarty - 21 Dec 2012 17:59
I pop in at least once a week now. Gavin keeps a bit of cheese back for me and even treated me to half a pint once. I feel at home so the least I can do is a bit of cleaning up around the place, keep trouble outside and meet and greet the punters. It's the friendliest pub I know, full of fantastic aromas and even the odd traditional pub ball game when Martyns not watching.
Indy - 28 Nov 2012 15:09
Can't get enough of this place...always something delicious that's NOT up on the board so ask for what else there is. ESB this week! There's a rumour there's the odd bottle of proper cider too. Thin end of the wedge if you ask me. Reassuringly sane pub.
Doggo - 28 Nov 2012 14:56
This is one of Kent's most historic pubs and gets mentioned several times in 'The Life and Times of Arnold Onion' by Sir William of Dickens.
Ladhimself - 7 Nov 2012 14:10
Curmudgeonly banter and a place unapologetically about the ale. I could not ask for more . Or rather, I don't need to ask for more, because best of all the cellarmanship here is absolutely first class.
Martyn could double his prices and probably not lose so much as one punter, or see a drop in beer turnover.
The only trouble with a place this good, is that I end up buying a huge amount of take-home beer (kids, sweet-shops, you know the sort of thing).
I love the eclectic mix of folk who come here too, every one a character at that. I travel here with friends from Ramsgate (about 18 miles away) as often as we can. A more uplifting pilgrimage I cannot think of.

Soldrax - 31 May 2012 20:58
It depends what you want from a pub doesn't it? No TV, radio or music but lots of chat about sport, news and just about anything else. A wide range of superb beers properly kept and served in jugs too if you wish. No lager, no bottled beer and no fake heartiness. A mobile phone is nailed to a shelf to remind you to turn yours off and so long as you don't trip over a customer's dog, the worse thing that can happen to you here is developing a compulsion to come back -for the beer, the friendly but sharp banter and Kevin's pickles. The cheese and Mrs Miggins pies are pretty good too when you can get them. This tiny oasis of calm does what it does very well indeed. You can enjoy great beer and find yourself drawn into good conversation. You might even wind up on a brewery trip or find someone to fix your chimney. A proper local that's been imitated oop north as well as on the Kent coast. Because it's such a great pub, it attracts customers from far and wide. They always have a story to tell and before long you can really feel at home. Surprisingly so. And if you live too far away, well then, if you like the Butchers, you'll have to start your own. Ask Martyn, it's not as hard as you think. Check his website for opening times. Google Micro-pub, for that is what it is.
Doggo - 24 May 2012 18:36
I like this pub a lot. Good beer, good conversation. No irritating distractions. No silly customer care policy. Always someone interesting to talk to and the cheese is great. What more do you want?
Indy - 24 May 2012 16:35
The Butcher's is undeniably a great establishment. Britain's first Micropub (the Landlord did invent the term so no arguments) and smallest pub is the kind of place a perfect Great Britain would have on every street corner. If only!
Martin always has a great selection of beers. The selection is not huge but this is not Wetherspoons we're talking about. Beers are served straight from the barrel from out in the cold store (it really was a butcher's shop). There's not much space so the barrels, and therefore the beers, change fairly frequently. If you're in there for a couple of hours and it's busy, you might see several new beers put on.
One thing I can say for certain, is that any beer you have drunk elsewhere, will probably taste better in The Butcher's. It's probably due to the lack of pipes and pumps, although Martin would claim it's his skill as a cellarman.
Some words of warning:
1. Do not turn up with 20 people on an 18th birthday or stag-do. 16 drinkers in total and the place is crammed.
2. Do not ask for lager - it's just not polite.
3. Do not ask for the menu - food is for restaurants. Apparently there are some in Herne Bay.
4. Switch off your mobile phone / switch to silent.
5. Do not ask if they have a telly.
6. Do not talk to loudly, or too much and do not talk rubbish. You may be asked to leave.
7. If Martin is prepared to sell you wine for your wife or girlfriend, do not antagonise him by asking him what grape it is, what year it is, or even what colour it is. It's wine. Think yourself lucky.
8. Always tell Martin you saw him in the paper / on the telly. He'll pretend not to care, but he loves it!
9. If it's on, the Hophead is always superb. And finally...
10. Don't tell Martin how he could make more profit. He does not speak that language.

Primative - 30 Apr 2012 16:45
It certainly is different and I wonder how with the very limited opening hours and very limited space it can actually make any money (though a few locals do seem to drop in for a plastic lemonade bottle of takeout draught). It's different and the ale is good but if you don't get comfortable with the locals it isn't somewhere you'd dwell too long.
Snarling_Mallard - 1 Apr 2012 10:19
Brought a group of 27 here last Saturday lunchtime and they loved the place. I did make special arrangements with Martyn in advance as he usually closes at 1.30 - he stayed open until we left about 3.30 and a great time was enjoyed by all. Thanks for the hot snacks which were very much appreciated and were a nice gesture. Hope to see you again in the not too distant future...
BobTheBinman - 30 Nov 2010 10:51
Well, the pub was very much open when a couple of chums and I popped in last Friday, although anyone who knows this pub will realise this doesn't necessarily mean one can get in and stay in, for this is famed as one of Britain's smallest boozers. Provided you're don't have a vast entourage, this is a must for any ale lover, and indeed anybody fascinated by quirky pub interiors. The place is bedecked with innumerable artifacts, some pertaining to its rich history as a butcher's and others to beer history in general. It is odd to have customers lined up on either side of a central floor area, staring in on those standing. But, only vegetarians, and those of a weak disposition generally, would be offended or intimidated by this place or its punters. Friendly wit and banter pervades the palpably enthusiastic atmosphere, and it's impossible not to be drawn in. Oh, the beer? Well, from a selection of 5 available, all drawn direct from cask, I had the Over The Moon. And it was the best I'd had and no mistake. Hophead etc went down equally well with my chums. The only disappointment to me was having to leave. What can you do, especially with so many fine beerhouses in Kent needing attention?!
TWG - 25 Jul 2010 17:38
I popped by on the off chance after really 'GETTING OFF MY NUT' at Fat George's all-day knocking shop and opium den. To my surprise the pub was open.
I had eight pints of Yootha Joyce mild, half a Buttock's Old Acid Bath Murderer ale and a thimble-full of mulled Umbongo (they drink it in the Congo you know!).

WONDERFUL.

I floated home, like.
Ladhimself - 2 Jun 2010 16:38
I popped by on the off chance after really 'GETTING OFF MY NUT' at Fat George's all-day knocking shop and opium den. To my surprise the pub was open.
I had eight pints of Yootha Joyce mild, half a Buttock's Old Acid Bath Murderer ale and a thimble-full of mulled Umbongo (they drink in the Congo you know!).

WONDERFUL.

I floated home, like.
Ladhimself - 2 Jun 2010 16:38
I visisted on the off chance (I was visiting a nearby knocking shop) and found the place open. I had two pints of Scruttocks Old Detergible, a flagon of Monkcraft's Saucy Maiden and a tankard or three of Umberton's Minky Manky Ale.
All were just at the right temperature.
Ladhimself - 28 Apr 2010 14:25
I would love to pay this place a visit, but it's hardly ever open.
Ladhimself - 10 Feb 2010 14:47
What can I say but to agree with these comments - truly superb and only sad there aren't more like it. I like the fact that the only Shepherd Neame beer to be found in the pub is a bottle of Spitfire which is hanging from the ceiling by a noose! Nothing against Sheps beers, but they are very dominant in Kent. Me and two friends visited a couple of weeks before Xmas and yes, the friendliness and banter of the locals was very entertaining, oh, and the Orkney Dark Island was superb too.
paulelvis - 13 Jan 2010 20:46
Superb pub, one of the county's best. Very chatty landlord. Superb beer. I can never remember it's odd opening times and have sometimes found it shut. THIS REALLY IS THE COUNTY'S SMALLEST PUB.
Paul_Rochdale - 2 Dec 2009 23:04
This is one of the best pubs I've visited. Good beer, great landlord with friendly, chatty punters - what more can you ask of a pub? Do not miss!
as025 - 13 Sep 2009 10:40
excellent decor very nostalgic good beer excellent landlord , TERRIFIC.

suemadwoman




suemadwoman - 9 Sep 2009 11:52
Another fine example of what happens when some silly bugger (AKA the landlord) cocks a snoot at the smarta*ses who say that the country pub is finished. The BA is busy all the time its open (NB limited hours apply) and the camerarderie/banter/badinage amongst regalars/guests is huge fun.
The beer is faultless, the snacks er.... original and the local cheese? Do try!
As this pub is unique (Kent's only beerhouse) it's worth a visit just for that.
Do check that the BA will be open though
MrCheeky - 29 Apr 2009 21:49
One of a kind. Only had time for a quick pint of Dark Star Porter, but could happily have stayed all day. Now open on Sunday lunchtimes.
rpadam - 15 Feb 2009 20:18
Excellent ale, fine company, good conversation. What more do you need from a British pub?
skatalite - 8 Jan 2009 22:31
Outstanding beer, pickles, cheese and surroundings. Unique!
Gipsykid72 - 24 Dec 2008 10:40
This Canterbury CAMRA pub of the year has now won the Kent pub of the Year, so will go forward to the SE England regionals. It is closed Sunday and Monday, however when the clocks go back on Oct26th it will be open Sunday lunchtime 12 to 1.30 (by public demand!). No one has mentioned you can bring your own food, or pop over the road to get a sanck at the village shop.
cropcircle - 27 Sep 2008 11:33
Six of us planned to pop in toiday as the village was having its annual village fayre. The area was heaving with people and traffic. The pub was closed.

MankyBadger - 17 Aug 2008 17:55
Absolutely fantastic pub that, very deservedly, has recently been awarded Pub of the Year by the local CAMRA branch.

The Butchers Arms bar features the original chopping blocks as tables, plus hooks and other implements from its days as a butchers. " Compact & Bijou - two words that might have been invented for this pub - it measures 15' by 12'.

The bar has seating for ten and room for another 10 or so standing customers.

There is no music, no TV and no machines and visitors are sure to enjoy plenty of banter with the locals whenever they visit - I know I do!

An argument between two locals about whose home grown pickles were best, resulted in what has become an annual contest. Each of them brought in a jar of their produce for judging, the event was opened up to all-comers and the pickle contest was born. One jar of pickles contained roundish objects with the remains of where they had originally been attached to the torso of the animal concerned - "no exactamente los cojones de un perro!" the label proclaimed. How we chortled and chuckled.

The excellent beer comes from stillage at the side of the bar, and Martin, the landlord does off sales. If you want, he'll even sell you a cask! Dark Star beers seem to make quite a regular appearance.

It's on the "Triangle" bus route between Sturry and Herne Bay. The opening hours are limited so I would recommend planning any proposed visit.

"If I had all the money I'd spent on drink - I'd spend it on drink!" A well deserved 9/10
5thearlofwimbourne - 13 May 2008 16:04
Wonderful pub in Herne village just outside of Herne Bay. The smallest pub in Kent and the smallest freehouse in the country. The record stands at 33 people and a dog in attendance. Only sells ale and wine for the ladies apparently. There really is no way to fault this pub.
Thebman - 31 Mar 2008 10:28

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