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St Leonards

                                    The Tower                                                                              The North Star                 

Hastings isn't just the old and new towns, but St Leonards as well, which is a short walk to the west of Hastings new town, the pier, and White Rock. Up the hill from the front, and above Hastings (Warrior Square) railway station, are 2 pubs selling a good selection of, cask conditioned ales, including many from local brewers and micro breweries, plus another that I have not been to recently, but has a decent history. Indeed, you can sample about a dozen different ales just by visiting these 2 hostelries!

The first is the Tower, 251 London Road, TN37 6NB (01424 721773), reached either from Warrior Square railway station, as above, or by coming straight up London Road from the seafront, and it's up on the right, on the corner with Tower Road.  This pub has grown on me more and more since I first met the landlady, Louisa, who is helping to improve the availability of some of my favourite ales from Dark Star brewery, and at a good price too.  The ales are always in excellent condition, and the Dark Star, for example, costs £2.30 a pint for Hophead, and American Pale Ale at £2.40 a pint, and recently, I had their Sunburst (4.8%) for £2.60 a pint. Good quality at competitive prices, and I'm delioghted to report it will be in CAMRA's next Good Beer Guide (2014).  Louisa also sells ales from other micro breweries amongst the 4 on offer at any one time, has Sky Sports on 4 screens in the bar, and is contemplating holding a beer festival this year (2013); I shall continue to support her venture, in my opinion, the best pub in the area, and there are excellent competitors too!

The 'third pub, in between the Tower and North Star, is The Dripping Spring, 34 Tower Road, TN37 6JE (01424 436222), one of the first places I visited in Hastings when I moved here, and what a delightful find it was. However, it has recently come under the management of a couple who had the pub in the past, and the ales have changed I believe, so I need to make a new visit very soon.  

Just a few minutes walk away, over the other side of the A21 and round the corner, is The North Star Inn, Clarence Road, TN37 6SD (01424 436576), which opens at 11.00 (12.00 on Sundays), another very good hostelry that was recommended to me by Ray and Joyce, whom I met at the FILO in Hastings (many thanks). Again, I was made to feel very welcome by staff and customers alike. The North Star has been recently refurbished, and is a bigger single room around a central painted wood panelled bar with shiny brass framework, having a brighter more airy Art Deco feel to it. There are painted wood dados, painted ceiling and walls, with framed photographs hanging, and the floor is mostly wood boards with some carpeting. There are wooden tables and chairs, and some benches, and a beer garden out the back, with a fun 'bus stop' type covered area to sit in when the weather is inclement.

The North Star has 5 real ales on handpump, 2 regulars, the ubiquitous Harveys Sussex Best Bitter and Timothy Taylor Landlord, a pleasant change to find down south, and 3 guest ales; I recently had Dark Star Sunburst, a very nice pale and hoppy bitter, and other ales on sale here recently include Butcombe Bitter, Goddards Ale of Wight, Nethergate Essex Beast, Rother Valley Wealdon Bitter, Wychwood Hobgoblin and Ringwood Fortyniner. So, a mixture of local and more well known beers from regional and national/international brewers is provided. There is a 'loyalty card' scheme for ale drinkers, with a free pint of beer when you get 9 'stamps' on your card.

The North Star has live music once a month and serves home cooked food, 12 to 2.30 and 4.30 to 6.30 Monday to Friday, and 1 to 5pm on Saturdays, when also on offer is 'traditional' pie, mash & liquor. The regular menu includes fare such as prawn cocktail or Greek salad for starters at £3.95, and ploughman's (£4.95), omelettes with various fillings (£5.50), veggie and meat curries (£5.95), burger and chips (£5.95) and variously filled baguettes and paninis at £3.75; I had an excellent panini and chips on my last visit. There are also 'specials' of the day and child portions at £2.95, which includes ice cream in the deal.

All in all, St Leonards has 2 excellent, and developing, public houses, selling a good selection of locally brewed ales at competitive prices, well worth the walk from Hastings, or catching a bus or train to reach, and probably a third well worth the visit too.