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Humphrey Bean, Tonbridge

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user reviews of the Humphrey Bean, Tonbridge

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

The first Saturday of the new year and its football in Tonbridge with 1 tick only in the GBG, which is the town's Wetherspoons.

A few minutes before 11am when I walk in and it's pretty busy already with breakfast being very popular.

12 hand pumps in 2 banks of 6. One bank has 6 different ales on while the other bank has 2 each of Doom Bar, GK IPA and Ruddles. My pints of Flack Manor’s Flack Catcher @ 4.4% were all very good.

My first visit to this ex post office. One level throughout with a raised level towards the toilets for diners. There is a pitched roof running almost the full length of the pub with slanted windows that let a lot of light in.

Large garden to the rear which also acts as a smoking area.

I've heard bad things about this place but on my Saturday visit that lasted over 3 hours I was impressed. There were at least 4 bar staff on with most of them actually knowing what they were doing. The clientele were mainly above 40 yrs old but I'm sure this changes at night & like a lot of town centre 'spoons probably takes on a less safer feel.

On my visit however I couldn't fault it.
lezford - 11 Jan 2016 09:38
Large, airy & with lots of natural light. Good range of small brewery beers. Pleasant place to have a drink or six.
Wilson_MacDonald - 26 May 2013 12:19
Whats the point in featuring Wetherspoons pubs on BITE? It doesn't tick any of the usual boxes that people here seem to value, i.e. it isn't filled with boring old men, it won't have obscure ales made in a shed down the road .. and there certainly won't be any "friendly" banter with the over the top barmaid who's only interested in your boring conversation about politics as she wants your money.

I go to this pub because I want a) cheap beer and occasionally b) cheap food and I want a place to sit down not huddle round an old bar with a bunch of bearded pseudo-toffs. Of course it's full of the usual dregs and drunks of society, as is the case with every Wetherspoons, but that's half the fun.
benton - 22 Mar 2013 10:50
A rather charmless wetherspoons with no atmosphere. I can't say I expected any better or less from a wetherspoons establishment though. However, a Good selection of beers
Buster_M - 16 Nov 2012 16:16
Perhaps it would be best to say that I had heard ‘mixed reviews’ of the Wetherspoons outlet in Tonbridge before my first visit. Some, a few years older than me, opined the seemingly general impression that it was a bit of a hole, but served cheap and good beer. Some others avoided it at all costs (although they tended to be older and therefore less likely to frequent a ‘Spoons anyway), saying that it was scummy, overrun by drunks, filled with unhelpful staff who serve kids with no issues, and generally only preferable to the seventh circle of Hell. It seemed as if I would have to formulate my own opinion on the place, and now that I’ve been a fair few times, I think I have.

Firstly, one’s experience of The Humphrey Bean will depend greatly on the time of day or day of the week at which one visits it. A very large building, it can admittedly feel deserted at, say, early evening on a Tuesday, but when Friday or Saturday night rolls round, it seems the perfect size to accommodate the crowds of drinkers that descend upon it. Seating is generally plentiful (even on those busy nights- I have only experienced ‘standing room only’ once and only then for ten or so minutes), and comfortable enough, although with the sheer number of winos that will unfortunately always be drawn to places like Spoons, some of the sofas and booths are a little dilapidated. So far, so good, then; indeed I believe that there has been a recent effort to improve conditions at the pub, with new toilets being installed and natural light maximised. The beer garden is spacious and provides an area for smokers to go without necessarily feeling excluded or having to leave their friends for example.

Maybe just to counter this predominantly positive report, there are some drawbacks to this pub. The bar staff range from helpful and funny to unresponsive and brusque, which can spoil an evening at any pub (although with such a large bar to run there are bound to be a few issues). A depressingly high proportion of the locals seem to be decrepit drunks who really should be receiving help from the state rather than being allowed to spend their time killing themselves in a boozer, and I have heard of (although never experienced) fights and other disgraceful occurrences there. There will never be a friendly feel to the place, simply because it is too cavernous and alternately packed or deserted; it may be that the best you can hope for is not to have a bad experience rather than hoping for a great one.

That said, age also comes into the equation when rating this pub. As a young man myself, my friends and I can enjoy the positives of cheap beer and spirits (and, if you prefer ales like I do, there is an excellent choice of well-kept local varieties available). TVs and fruit machines/quizzes will also appeal to the younger customer, but what many people have to realise is that the young comprise Spoons’ target audience. It may not be traditional, but it gives young adults a place to go to enjoy themselves, with well-priced food and drink, plus other distractions. These serve to mostly eliminate the negatives which are very difficult for even the best Spoons outlets to shake off (‘soulless’, ‘unwelcoming’ etc.) As a final point, as with most pubs in general in recent times, there has been a clamp-down on ID checking by staff, which can only be a good thing. Although the presence of bouncers on busy nights may not give the pub the best of images, it is simply a necessity and prevents the bar from being filled with those too young to drink trying their luck.

Overall, seeing as I have always enjoyed a bit of banter with the bar staff (which is in as good supply as the beer), and a relaxed pub to while away a few hours with mates, Tonbridge Spoons will continue to be my first port of call for a good night out in my home town.

keepcalmanddrinkon - 29 Apr 2012 15:48
never have very good service in here, slow and unwelcoming
Ramsey_beer_man - 5 Jan 2012 22:22
Its massive is about all I can say out this place.
loveleedshatebates - 18 Dec 2011 09:12
This Pub deserves its low rating. It serves some novelty beers but the staff are overworked and unhelpful. They institute a queuing system, like the Post Office it was, rather than normal pub practice of attentive staff and honest customers about who is next, but then allow locals and people who look a bit scary to walk to the front and get served! I have spoken to the shift managers 3 times but they don't seem to care.
If this is the true cost of cheap beer I'll pay £3.00+ a pint for decent service any time.
PBS - 17 Sep 2010 10:57
Charmless unfortunately.
How can you make cheap beer charmless? They seem to have managed.

If you're 14 and think people are looking at you, pop in for a Magners.
terenced - 12 Aug 2010 09:44
As always, absolutely shocking. Whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with the large bar and extensive beer garden, the service and management was, as usual, appalling. Unnecessary queues at the bar due to staff talking to themselves. Uncleared tables all over the place. Only three of the 10 handpumps were working (with one bank of five "only being used during beer festivals, I don't know why"), and my pint of the only thing which wasn't Ruddles or Abbot looking unhealthily turbid ("it will clear in a minute", but of course it didn't). Mind you, there was free 'entertainment' in the form of a big punch-up between two youths out the back, with the manager hiding indoors instead of doing anything about it. Tim Martin, sort this place out or hang your head in shame!
rpadam - 10 Jul 2010 21:03
Went there on the day the country was declared bankrupt and it pretty much reflected the state of the beer garden with broken with brokentables and filth everywhere. The bar staff excluding the pretty blonde was absolutely clueless. Beer is typically Wetherpsoons verging on being off. I dont understand why the garden is not separated into smoking and non a this would greatly improve the experience.
sandpiper - 8 Jun 2010 07:30
Popped in three times while in Tonbridge on a short break, twice for dinner, and once for breakfast. On each visit there were three to four staff serving so didn't have to wait long to be served. I can only assume they have bucked up their ideas a bit since the previous comments were posted. Food was ok, and staff seemed to be on the ball. Visited mid afternoon, and early morning so they were fairly quiet times. I would revisit if in the area.
kgilson - 30 May 2010 11:40
Crass incompetence - nothing more, nothing less.
Much the same as your usual Wetherspoons, but the staff don't even have the basic skill set.
Waited 15 minutes then left without being served. And it wasnt busy.
turbohorsebox - 8 Feb 2010 13:31
Just don't hand your beer back, even if it is obviously off. If you do expect your opinion to be questioned, even if the bar staff admit to knowing nothing about real ale. I've never been very impressed and I'm even more underwhelmed now.
stuartandmonica - 13 Oct 2009 20:10
Three years ago I said: "Not quite as bad an experience as my last visit (but that's not saying very much...)." I think the same can be said again, so at the current rate of improvement I might be able to give it a generous '5' in three years time...

rpadam - 10 Oct 2009 15:25
Decided to go in a couple of weeks ago, to take advantage of the garden with the quick pint I was having. Previous experience kept me off the ales, so wandered across the cavernous room to the garden, pint in hand, feet sticking to the disgustingly rank floor. Got outside to discover that I had entered Tonbridge’s crè least four tables were taken up with children, none of whom could be above 16, drinking bottles of Magners and looking decidedly ill in the mid day sun.
mrse1 - 2 Jun 2008 16:05
Large open plan pub with good choice of ales. Rather soulless, as most Weatherspoons seem to be, but this seemed to be the best option for a lover of traditional pubs and ale in Tonbridge town centre.
Floyd - 17 Apr 2008 16:14
Good choice of beer and well kept. Could still do with a makeover. Don't go in here if you want to wait ages for your grub to arrive.
paulbeckett - 10 Feb 2008 16:09
if you like going to pubs and you like smoking (and if you don't then you're a great big girl) then this is the pub for you. it's got a very nice outside area with attractive views of the river and the castle, making it a very pleasant place to drink away a few hours on a rain-ceased summer evening.

inside it's as scummy as every other weatherspoons and the staff will take weeks to serve you, but you can't have everything, can you?
magic_numbers - 12 Jul 2007 12:53
Poor choice of beer so had Zywiec bottled lager (fairly good). Ceasar salad took an age to arrive. Could do with a makeover.
paulbeckett - 22 Apr 2007 12:34
Staff are friendly. Beers are of variable quality, best ask a friend before ordering a pint.
stuartandmonica - 13 Nov 2006 10:32
Not quite as bad an experience as my last visit (but that's not saying very much...).
rpadam - 10 Nov 2006 20:44
It is crap, even by the usual spoons standards.

the bar staff are not properly trained (not their fault, taking care of real ales and cleaning lines takes a lot more than I realised before i got my first bar job) they get shown how to work the till and where the glasses are and then theyre left to it.

It might be cheap but I'll pay the extra to get a decent drink, decent service and some atmosphere
anonymous - 29 Oct 2006 10:53
well it is cheap but so is tesco's and the staff are bit more human in tescos
leekeyston - 4 Oct 2006 00:11
As with all JDW pubs the cheap booze attracts the drunks and those just about old enough to drink.
Beer in here has always been kept badly whenever i've been in. The decor is poor and the whole place could do with a clean.
mrse1 - 3 Oct 2006 15:52
Visited a couple of months back. Although there was supposed to be 2 real ales on, i.e. the badges were facing the front, they were both off. The 2 bar staff were completely disinterested and said if we wanted to complain go ahead and do so. We did but JDW HQ said they inform the Area Manager. This is their standard and only reply to whatever you complain to them about! Would never visit again.
anonymous - 22 Sep 2006 18:43
Cheap but it is just not worth it. Pay proper prices and drink where you can relax in a comfortable atmosphere. Unless you are married to your cousin I suggest this one be avoided.
TrickyG - 11 Sep 2006 13:48
Vast and unfriendly place. cheap booze, lousy food. Functional but nothing else. Has all the charm of Sainsburys but the staff are a miserable bunch - and the service is so slow it's unbelievable.
MILF_Wizard - 29 Jul 2006 21:17
still crappy, messy with clones for staff but oh so cheap
smurfette21 - 26 Jul 2006 17:35
messy pub but better service than t wells..... serving you that day would qualify for that! cheap though
scarlet - 17 Jun 2006 17:34
meh beats the wharf !
callmedave - 13 Jun 2006 15:34
not a lot that the comment below did'nt cover over than it was full of pissheads
smitty - 27 May 2006 13:11
what can i can i say bland and of the poor quality you expect from a wetherspoons.
kimbenton - 26 May 2006 13:28
CHAVS FRICKIN EVERYWHERE not good beer was flat , the staff were rude althought very fine lookin one on sat ;) not bad atmostphere till i got asked to leave for letting out a loud burp, better out then in i guess !

callmedave - 3 May 2006 21:25
Modern, light pub with a long chic black metal and pale wood extension at the back of the post office conversion with lots of sky lights to let in natural light. Relaxed and sunny atmosphere. The beer garden is very special with well laid out plants and splendid views of Tonbridge Castle. Beers in good condition. Food pleasantly and quickly served. A very good pub.
SilkTork - 29 Apr 2006 13:25
well it's busy and cheap, no fit fella's! but if new look sold beer this is what it would be like
tony29 - 15 Apr 2006 12:49
this is a chav hot spot although it could be mistaken for god's waiting room. cheap but they need to pay me to drink there.
killallchavs - 11 Apr 2006 16:17
was much better when the previous managers had it at least they stopped the trouble makers coming in the present lot are afraid of their own shadow
juzza - 28 Mar 2006 11:52
pub meets undertakers it that exciting here! cheap beer not enough
beergod - 3 Mar 2006 15:25
Horrible pub, no atmosphere, rubbish service. However this is to be expected from a Wetherspoons pub and since the alcohol is cheap and during the summer and it's warm outside there's a sizeable beer garden, it's worth a look.
Lieven - 1 Mar 2006 14:02
Typical "Spoons" pub. Pile it high, sell it cheap. The food is awful, and the service even worse!

I'd rather pay an extra pound for a pint in decent surroundings with good attentive staff. I also have an aversion to places where they have doormen.

One less reason to visit Tonbridge.

This pub gets a big fat zero out of ten!
5thearlofwimbourne - 23 Dec 2005 11:18
the place looks really dark and dirty compared to how it looked some years ago when 1st re-furbished. It is need of a major re-fit or even a relly good clean would be nice!. trying to get served can be a complete nightmare at busy times. Even though they know when these times are every week so could roster on more staff for these busy periods. It would also be nice if the staff could remember who was nxt especially when theres only 3 people standing at the bar!.They also tend to run out basic things pretty regually such as certain beers,soft drinks and food items. the only good points i can say is the garden is great in the summer and you get the usual good deals on food drink that is standard in any weatherspoons pub.I only drink in this pub as there is no other competition that offers the same deals and can accommodate large groups. otherwise i would be drinking there!
twd2005 - 1 Nov 2005 23:32
A bit of a factory, but like all Wetherspoon pubs it has good ale and it's cheap. Quite civilised. Nice garden, but awkward about children which is a pity.
intemperanceleague - 27 Jun 2005 09:59
really really really, poor servicce, stand around at bar for ages but no one is serving although they haveabout 10 staff on, beer is poor, dont think they ever clean their lines!! food and drink quality has dramatically gone down since november last year and generally the place needs a good clean, like the rest of the staff that work there, its appauling
anonymous - 18 May 2005 00:31
nothing wrong with the bouncers sweeping you out of a pub at closing time, im sure the staff have homes to go to and dont wanna wait for old folk to sip away on 1/4 of a pint....

Nice if you are in a group and dont wanna go to twells, theres lots of room and of course the cheap drinks!
bilbobaggins - 11 Mar 2005 12:20
GOD SAVE THE BEAN.... Quite literally! A wonderful retreat, especially for real ale drinkers. HANDS UP... we know who you are!

Keysie_MKDons - 11 Jan 2005 11:05
Need a long book to read whilst waiting for a drink service is so slow iwould rather pay £3 apint than go back in there!!!
anonymous - 3 Dec 2004 17:57
no1 contender for the worst pub in the universe contest despite being the cheapest in town by far. service is sooo slow that people visibly age whilst closing time the bouncers move to the far end of the pub and literally sweep customers into the high st.
stteve oct 2004 - 13 Oct 2004 17:26
doh.. and "tasting"
Matt - 29 Sep 2004 11:36
sorry spelling "WINE" (please note I haven't had a drink.. yet)
Matt - 29 Sep 2004 11:35
no large win glasses, no carling, bad tasy beer in general, and dried out naff food... slow, useless staff... and I'm now bored of typing what's wrong with this pub. Only plus point.. cheap chain pub prices. But must be the worst Wetherspoons in the country!
Matt - 29 Sep 2004 11:29
I would rather have a red hot needle poked in my eye than drink here! Dirty glasses, dirty tables, wine is poured into tumblers due to lack of wine glasses, most of the lagers are never available, the microwaved food is cold and disgraceful. I could go on forever but just one last thing, they make their own rules up about the dress code depending on how they are feeling at that particular moment.
A Tonbridge Resident - 29 Sep 2004 10:58

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