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Black Horse

On 11 Jun 2012 at 8:44am Lewes Drinker wrote:
Called into the newly refurbished Black Horse twice at the weekend. They have done a good makeover and have 8 well kept ales on tap. Food menu looks good value but I didn't try it. A couple of problems, however:
1. No two rounds of drinks came to the same price.
2. More important, and this I think may reflect on the pub going forawrd, is that the bar staff hang ouside the front of the pub and appear to be chain smokers. Also bar staff are doing roll-ups on the bar.
There is an outside seating area and a side door which can accommodate smokers. Having to battle thorugh staff and customers standing outside the front door smoking is a real put off - and the bars smells of cigarette smoke.
I will reserve further judgement for the moment, but the above does not make for a welcoming pub in my eyes.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 9:53am brussel Sprout wrote:
No! I really liked that pub, all shabby.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 9:55am Sarcastic Steve wrote:
The pub has been changed from a cosy, character, two bar pub into a non-desscript brightly lit barn. Non interacting bar staff all dressed in what looks like similar corporate uniform all a bit chain like for me. If they are trying to recapture the glory days of the Vic Newman era then that ain't going to happen.
'The Lewes Ale House' ??? With no Harveys??? Dream on.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 10:03am Brussel Sprout wrote:
Staff in uniform too..... urgh, horrid. That NEVER works in a pub, why do companies do it?
On 11 Jun 2012 at 10:13am Dark Horse wrote:
I went in over the weekend to have a look. On the positive side there were lots of real ales on and none of them were Greene King and the menu looked good value (I didn't try the food). On the negative side they have taken a nice cosy pub which admittedly needed some TLC and ripped the heart out of it. It now has a distinct chain feel about it and you could be sitting in any number of large town centre chain pubs (Slug and Lettuce, Wetherspoons etc). I don't think I will be going back.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 10:38am Brussel Sprout wrote:
Urgh.... this sounds terrible. That place was going to be my new local as of January 2013. Think I'll walk a little further after hearing this (all the way to The Lewes Arms!)
On 11 Jun 2012 at 11:54am Toenail wrote:
Living closeby I was looking forward to this pub being renovated and perhaps changing direction as pre-refit it was pretty much dead most nights. They have clearly had a substantial amount of money thrown at them to pay for the refit, which the investors will expect back. In my opinion all they have done is "polish a turd" its the same all day drinkers as before smoking outside the front (as everyone has noticed) - clearly a flawed business model.
I was expecting decent food (the menu is completely uninspiring) - surely where the money is? I should imagine the Pelhams Arms has let out a sigh of relief.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 2:10pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I agree about having tp pass through loads of people being offputting, LD.
It was so much better when they were allowed to smoke inside pubs.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 2:31pm Pete wrote:
Yup, Pelham Arms for me....
On 11 Jun 2012 at 2:55pm Nevillite wrote:
I thought is was ok, although the lighting was too bright. Not sure about the uniforms either.
However the choice of ales was excellent, including Dark Star (which I prefer to Harveys) and the best beer in the land, Hook Norton Old Hooky.
"'The Lewes Ale House' ??? With no Harveys??? Dream on." - I think it can run without Harveys given that Dark Star is, by my reckoning, fast approaching Harveys in terms of popularity in Lewes and this part of Sussex.
I never liked the Pelham that much anyway thanks to the uninspiring range of Badger ales - although the food is ok (if not as good as the Kings Head or Snowdrop).

On 11 Jun 2012 at 3:16pm Lewes Drinker wrote:
Agree with all the above - especialy the Dark Start comments - and the poor Badger beers in the Pelham. Dark Star is now my beer of choice over Harvey's. Unfailingly good. I hadn't clocked the uniforms but now you come to mention it.... Also, there appear to be 3 "managers" there i.e. not serving. Its a pity its as it is - if only they had done more research into what made a successful pub in Lewes and use that as a starting point. Perhaps they will read this thread and make a few changes? Or perhaps not.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 6:05pm TDA wrote:
In a similar vein, The Lewes Arms - great pub, but too bright. I wish they would invest in a set of dimmer switches...
On 11 Jun 2012 at 9:49pm Just Thinking wrote:
Is the BH still a greene king pub???
On 11 Jun 2012 at 9:51pm Nevillite wrote:
"It was so much better when they were allowed to smoke inside pubs."
Yeah, coming back with your clothes reeking of fags wsa much better than the minor inconvenience of having to negotiate a few smokers.
On 11 Jun 2012 at 11:12pm Local wrote:
And by my reckoning, Dark Star remains a far less popular brewery than Harvey's. Each to our own opinions now...
On 12 Jun 2012 at 10:06am Deelite wrote:
"It was so much better when they were allowed to smoke inside pubs."

God, no. I am so glad not to have to wash all my clothes after spending an hour in a pub. Since the ban the inside of pubs are just so much more inviting.
On 12 Jun 2012 at 1:27pm Davedavedave wrote:
I think they've done a great job - identified a gap and are attempting to fill it - i.e. a pub with decent ales and reasonably priced (if 'uninspiring') food.
Not everyone can afford to eat out at the increasingly expensive Pelham up this end of town, and if you just want to pop out for a bite to eat, then the BH is now the place to go I reckon.
People are always going to moan about how 'it's not like it used to be', but it used to be completely devoid of life, so why would we want it like that?
Pubs are closing down all over the place, so it's nice to see one try to reinvent itself rather than selling up to end up being 'character apartments' or worse.
There are loads of pubs in Lewes and I for one wouldn't want them all to be the same.
On 12 Jun 2012 at 1:31pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
I saw this when the application came up before town planning and I liked a lot of what they planned to do. So had to visit and see what it was like.
For the most part I like it. There are a lot of pubs in Lewes with "character" so it is nice to have someone a bit different.
Then I saw something most disturbing and horrible: they had done a quote by Oscar Wilde... and had left the "e" of his surname. Unforgivable!
On 12 Jun 2012 at 1:34pm Nevillite wrote:
"And by my reckoning, Dark Star remains a far less popular brewery than Harvey's. Each to our own opinions now...
You could settle this argument by asking the owners of the Snowdrop who have both Harveys Best and Dark Star on...
On 12 Jun 2012 at 1:41pm Cllr Ashley Price wrote:
Would it be wrong of me to mention I'm not a big fan of ale, bitter, beer and lager so whether they sell Harveys, Dark Start, or "unspecified" is not my main reason for going to the pubs I do... it's for the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and the great staff?
On 12 Jun 2012 at 1:49pm Mr Forks wrote:
Cllr Ashley Price do you really have to add Cllr to your name when posting, its not big and its not clever! Very pompous!
On 12 Jun 2012 at 2:25pm Local wrote:
And did you deliberately miss the 'f' from the end of 'off' in your mildly pedantic post about Wilde, or were you simply hoist(ed) by your own petard?
On 12 Jun 2012 at 7:25pm Beer Monster wrote:
So the Councillor is not a big fan of ale or bitter or beer or lager and clearly doesn't understand they can be the same thing or something completely different but then I doubt if he drinks real cider either. Has he never heard of Dark Star or are they just one of the most important and successful new microbreweries in the country. Gawd they'll be making wine in Sussex one day. Does he even begin to understand the importance of brewing to this country and this town. Has he ever heard about the boycott of the Lewes Arms. Do we need to again explain that Greene King is the problem here and some people will not set foot in there because of that end of.
As for it being something different yeah. Where else can u sit in a window with no curtains looking at cars stop at traffic lights and watch the action in a funeral directors and wave to your neighbours whilst having a pint. The incessant blare of the radio that they keep on does at least stifle conversation with the wife. I am not sure that GK know what they want to do with that pub but my few visits have done little to suggest that it is going to be a regular stop on my crawls round Lewes.
On a positive note Lewes has some really great pubs. Anyone who comes to visit the town is always imporessed by the character of the pubs and by god yes the beer the ale and even the people who drink in em..

On 12 Jun 2012 at 7:26pm Ducatipete wrote:
Do you remember when this was the best 6.00 drink in the town run by old school Vic and his charming wife. Go there at 12.00 Sunday and there would be a taster of each beer in front of the pumps to try. Bloody marvelous! Beards sell out to Green King and all this went. This pub will be back on the market in 12 months time, they all fail because they don't provide what people want.
On 12 Jun 2012 at 11:21pm stevied wrote:
I've been going in the Black Horse on and off for over thirty years and have watched it's slow decline since Vic/Beards went - it's been top of the list in the regular 'next Lewes pub to close' bar discussions for a while now. Went in the other night and it had eight cask ales on (including a superb Old Hooky, and no Greene King!), a diverse and friendly crowd of drinkers, and the 'uninspiring' menu looked like good honest pub food to me, with not a hint of the overpriced locally-sourced organic fare so beloved of the Pelham and the Lewes Arms (which is rapidly becoming a restaurant catering to the chattering classes and their offspring). Yes I miss it's gloomy period-piece atmosphere and I miss the archaic urinal just off the front bar (as had generations of Lewesians before me ) - but without serious change it wouldn't have lasted until the end of the year.
On 13 Jun 2012 at 9:29am Nevillite wrote:
There is a real need, though, for a decent ale pub this end of town. If you live on the Neville then it's only the Black Horse and the Pelham that are (just) walkable for a few pints. I love the Snowdrop and the Gardners but they are too far from where i live! The Brewers is a nice pub with well-kept beers but I feel 20 years too young for the front room and 20 years too old for the back.
While what they've done is not perfect, this will do ok because of location and the increasing popularity of small local breweries & interest among younger people in real and craft ales. I avoided the old BH because of the "god's waiting room" atmosphere and the appalling Greed King beers - nothing more depressing than two solitary handpulls with Abbot and IPA on (well, perhaps a row of crap lager dispensers or swedish cider bottles). I understand the antipathy towards Greed King, I hated them before I moved to Lewes, but they are at least making an effort now to include local brewers, something that shoudl be encouraged. THey aren't going to go away. The Lamb appears to have improved with live music and Dark Star on tap; and the GK pub in Alfriston now has Long Man beers on, which are quite good.
Incidentally I am a "DFL" (albeit not a particularly wealthy one or, until recently, property-owning one) but one of the main reasons I decided to move to Lewes was the fantastic array of pubs, all serving an excellent range of ales (Well, that and the Downs). My comments earlier weren't intended to disparage Harveys, it's an excellent beer. I just don't feel the need to drink best (and their seasonal brews are better than their best) at every opportunity. It's great that Sussex has at leasat two great breweries, a traditional one in the shape of Harveys and a cutting-edge microbrewery in the shape of Dark Star. (That's also not intended to criticise Arundel or Kings - or, indeed, newcomers like Long Man).
On 13 Jun 2012 at 5:33pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Vic Newman really knew how to look after the beer. The Harveys in the Horse was always excellent and often sublime.
I also liked the fact that he took a quality newspaper and had a wide range of reference books for punters' use. I've spent many a happy hour doing the Grauniad crossword.
On 14 Jun 2012 at 8:15am Taff wrote:
My daughter worked behind the bar of one of the GK takeovers in early days. GK produced a guidelet booklet for the staff that included playing different music at different times of the day to suit the punters. GK must have assumed that only youngsters go out at night by their choice of music and us oldies only go out during the day. Corporate methodolgies that one fits all. Pillocks! The LA debacle proved that. Now GK have decided that the only way to get a share of the beer market takings in Lewes is to sell someone elses beers other than their own. Says it all doesnt it?
On 14 Jun 2012 at 12:23pm stevied wrote:
To be honest, I'm just happy that I can go into my local pub and drink a good selection of well-kept beers that don't include Greene King. If I want Harveys I can walk for another five minutes, big deal. Mind you, that's probably too far for Nevillite: "If you live on the Neville then it's only the Black Horse and the Pelham that are (just) walkable" indeed - I live in the far end of Nevill and often walk into town, whether for a beer or otherwise!
On 14 Jun 2012 at 12:40pm NEvillite wrote:
Stevied - I do sometimes walk to the other end of town. I sometimes walk to Plumpton, Kingston or Firle for a pint, I'm a keen walker. But as I said I am a "DFL" (for good or for ill). When you've got back home after commuting back from Victoria at 7/8pm, it's hardly practical to then walk back to the Snowdrop (say), 35 mins away and then back home, before getting up the next morning to walk or cycle back to the station. Weekends are a bit more flexible of course. But enough of my troubles.
On 14 Jun 2012 at 4:49pm Shamefully wrote:
I like lager , what happen at the LA was awful lots of real beer drinkers got upset threw their toys out of their prams and made a stand , good on you , but once the Harvey's went back in most of the punters never returned , shame on you , lots of new faces in there now and always full so they have got something right ,
On 14 Jun 2012 at 10:54pm stevied wrote:
Nevillite - apologies, I mistook you for one of those moaners who won't walk more than a couple of hundred yards. Might see you on the long uphill plod back from the Cliffe one evening!
On 14 Jun 2012 at 11:22pm Taff wrote:
Shamefully, in response to your LA comment. Yes a lot of people did stop drinking at the LA when GK removed the Harveys. GK also tried to sell their own Lewes Ale beer in its place, even used the Lewes 'coat of arms' to advertise it. The authorities soon got them to stop that. Back to your initial point though, as it took so long to reinstate the Harveys most of us 'old locals' had established ourselves elsewhere and are still very happy at elsewhere.
On 15 Jun 2012 at 8:25am Shamefully wrote:
Taff that was in fact my point , that fact it took so long is irrelevant luckily Churchill didn't take the same attitude ( not that stupid insurance dog ) or we might all be driving on the right , if you are all happy with your new establishments , and the arms is still busy then I'm thinking GK won ,didn't they ?
On 15 Jun 2012 at 9:52am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Didn't they sell the pub to Fullers? I don't think it was anywhere near as busy when GK still had it.
On 15 Jun 2012 at 10:15am Taff wrote:
Whether GK won or not is up for debate I guess. I am happy where I drink so thats all that matters to me. I would suggest GK didnt win because the pub is no longer in their control. Maybe they realised that the LA would not cowtow to its global image of how a pub should be? Dunno?
However I personally do not think it has improved under the Fullers reign either. Unless you just want to eat of course.
On 15 Jun 2012 at 11:18am Nevillite wrote:
GK sold it to Fullers. The debacle caused the resignation of GK's marketing director.
There's even a Wikipedia page about it.

Check it out here »

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