The ultimate guide to the best local pubs serving Guinness Celebratory Stout Emoticons

cheers with a Guinness black and white
the admiral brighton guinness pour
4 leaf clover on a guinness
guinness glass in front of the cricketers brighton

‘Black Custard’, ‘Irish Champagne’ or a ‘Pint of Plain’. The humble Irish Stout is a global phenomenon thanks to Guinness

So I set out to help the world’s Guinness lovers find the best versions in Brighton and Hove.

This feature isn’t just a list of pubs with Irish themed names, oh no! We sought out recommendations, and the quest has involved personally assessing the quality of each beer to find stand-out examples.

We also consider the environment of the pub. Guinness is synonymous with the effervescent ‘craic’ of the emerald isle, as well as rugby watching. And so the best Guinness pubs will therefore offer an upbeat, welcoming and sporty atmosphere.

Btw, if you’re short on time and you only really care about which pubs we most recommend, then speed forward to our list

guinness bunting with sport
the heart and hand pub brighton inside

What is Guinness?

Guinness is no ordinary drink. In the 250 or so years since it was first brewed in Dublin it has well and truly eclipsed the London Porters it was created to emulate, and now sells 1.8 billion pints worldwide every year.

Decades of shrewd messaging has created a product with layers of lustre and expectation. Things like: the pour; the head, glassware; and the amount of time taken. These subtleties may or may not make any difference, but that’s not really the point. Whether it’s science or brain-washing, a pint of Guinness is expected to be delivered a certain way, and we’re looking for that brand-authentic experience.

– The Guinness Pour

Guinness is famed for being a drink you don’t rush the pouring of. The official Guinness pour is done in 2 phases with a 1 minute and 32.5 second wait to allow the first pour to settle. Done correctly it should take a shade under 2 minutes to pour.

The modern 2 part-pour dates back to the 1960s when Guinness switched from casks to kegging and serving under Nitro in order to maintain consistency across a growing world market. 

When in cask, Guinness had been 2-poured, or drawn, from different casks of differing freshness, this wonderfully romantic BBC archive footage shows how it was done.

The process would take around a minute, and each landlord had their own technique. Irish punters missed the comforting two cask ritual. So a twice poured Guinness has endured, and a pint is now patiently waited upon by drinkers across the globe.

It’s important enough that Guinness have a 6 step process for perfect pouring. The aim of which is to keep head size within the optimum 12-18mm range, as well as give the punter the chance to witness the mesmerising nitrogen cascade effect as the beer is placed in front of them.

“Liam, ‘Management Partner’ who runs the Fiddler’s Elbow Brighton tells us; “A lot is made of the 2 part pour. You do need to take care over it – tilt the glass and hold it close to the flow so you don’t get the bubbles or ‘frog eyes’. I’m not 100% sure it makes that much difference but you do need to take care on the pour.

Whether any of this improves the drink itself is debated and largely debunked. But it’s important enough to purists that Brighton Beer Blog were looking for attention to the 2 pour method.

barmaid with guinness star and garter brighton
the coopers cask happy landlord

– Head and Shtick

Guinness fans love being given a bit of shtick. The head on a pint of Guinness is a revered thing; the creamier and shtickier the better, and finding yourself with a foam moustache is effectively a badge of honour.

The 300 million (give or take) tiny nitrogen bubbles in each pint cascade to form a creamy head that will sit just above the rim of the glass and not spill over.

My Irish hailing companion @thestoutscoutuk schooled me in schtick during our session. The sign of good shtick is: a) when you tilt the glass a bit before first sip and it’s thick enough not to spill over; and b) when head clings to the glass in rings all the way down. Apparently you want a well conditioned glass, and one that isn’t soapy or greasy.

The head is integral to the drinking experience, which is why Diageo go to such lengths to get the Guinness pour consistent. The perfect gulp of Guinness should combine the light, subtle flavours and mouthfeel of the head with the cool liquid beneath. So the size and quality of the head is pretty important in our view.

– The Taste of Guinness

Normally I drink Guinness fairly irregularly. I don’t dislike it, but unless there’s an international Rugby tournament on, it’s not my go-to drink. Plus, given I’ve enjoyed it in Dublin, I suppose I don’t want to be disappointed by it in England. I still don’t think it’s as mysterious as the hype would have you believe, but I really have come to appreciate the subtle flavours and I’ve realised you can find bloody good pints of Guinness in Brghton & Hove if you know what you’re looking for.

The flavour profile described by the maker themselves is: “smoothly balanced with bitter, sweet, roasted notes”

The Beer Judge Certification Program describes the impression for Irish Stouts as: “A black beer with pronounced roasted flavour, similar to coffee…more balanced versions having a light malty sweetness”. Also that “Dublin style stouts use roasted barley, are more bitter, and are drier”.


As part of our quest we found many pubs, too many infact, who in February only served Guinness Extra Cold. Extra Cold Guinness was introduced to the markets in 1998 in hopes of reducing the foot traffic from Guinness to lagers during hot summer months. It goes through a super cooler and is served at approximately 3.5*C.

Guinness suggest their standard Guinness is served at 6-8*C, so it’s twice as cold. I hear that a lot of Irish people complain that English pubs serve Guinness too cold. There has even been backlash in Ireland over Extra Cold Guinness, which is seen as simply mollifying the tourists.

The one Extra Cold that I did share with my Irish ally was only half finished before we both decided that, a) it wasn’t enjoyable, and b) we didn’t have long enough to spend waiting for the beer to warm up to see if it got better.

 

At our own self-disgust at leaving half a pint each, we vetoed all Guinness Extra Cold from our study which meant we steered away from a lot of recommended pubs. 

I also gave the drunken 3rd degree to any bartender who served me a normal Guinness at a temperature so cold it delayed those all important first sips.

Guinness head tilt
guinness bunting with sport

– In search of good ‘Craic’

Craic derives from an old English word meaning ‘loud noise’ or to ‘brag or boast’. Without being particularly clued up on the subject, my instinct suggests a pub with good craic is: enchanting and welcoming;  is noisy enough that you feel part of a communal togetherness; and give a sense of fervent anticipation that staying there will provide a good entertaining experience.

My Irish friend Sean describes Irish pubs as “renowned for being friendly, and open to all with a particular sense of cosiness. It’s about what happens in an Irish bar, like traditional music and stories, which bring people together. Guinness is part of the glue that keeps the craic flowing”.

Pete Brown in his book Three Sheet’s to the Wind feels the special ingredient is about “everyone being in this zone – under the influence, but steadfastly holding back from the point where they start to lose control, slur and become pains in the arse”

He states “Guinness itself has a lot to do with the elusive nature of the craic, and is responsible for a large part of the Irish pub feel”.

Guinness and Irish bars are complementary of each other, and both fulfil the magnetic, uninhibited, Irish cheerfulness that people the world over go in search of.

In our study we’re not looking for pubs that have collected all the Guinness memorabilia, but for ones that provide a sociable and bubbly pub atmosphere.

– Guinness and Sport

Sport is hot property for sponsors, and for those that can become synonymous with the sport – think Marlborough Cigarettes and Ferrari’s F1 car – the reach and rewards can be great. Among ‘rugby households’ in Britain and Ireland…Guinness ranks as the third most popular beer and lager brand among this key group, behind Heineken and Stella Artois.

Guinness has achieved a symbiosis with Rugby, in particular the 6 Nation’s tournament, and for me the tournament was a catalyst for wanting to know where the best Guinness is hiding locally. I want to help my fellow seasonal Guinness drinkers combine a top-quality Guinness, with the middle-class rowdiness of watching a rugby match.

So in this list we’ve highlighted pubs where the facilities or atmosphere in the pub make it great for drunken spectating.

The Best Guinness Pubs in Brighton and Hove

Honourable Mentions

Coopers Cask  3 Farm Rd, Brighton and Hove, Hove BN3 1FB
£5.90 per pint

 

The Coopers Cask is a humble, cosy little pub, up an unassuming side street North of Brunswick Square. 

The landlord likes his Guinness and knows how to pour a good pint.

The head was thick and dense with very good shtick. Was served at a great temperature. Lovely mouthfeel. Sweetness, malt. Great balance. Rugby is shown on 1 screen in the main room and as it’s a small place I bet it feels nice and crowded on match days.

The Heart and Hand  75 North Rd, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1YD
£6

In a morbidly nostalgic way The H&H are still running table service, and despite ordering Guinness, we noticed pretty quickly we had been served Extra Cold. They have both taps you see, so it’s worth being specific.
We explained our Guinness quest and they were happy to change it.

We are so glad we did! The beer was silky, creamy smooth with a dense mouthfeel. Mellow. Malty, with a little smokey roasted barley in the finish. A top Guinness and the shtick was notable. The @thestoutscoutuk called it “tasty”.

The pub was heaving and there definitely was a jovial atmosphere, but the table service kept people seated and didn’t allow for natural pub-like mingling. Also no sport shown here.

🥈 Runners-Up

Star and Garter  Kings Rd, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1NE
£6

The beer was served a little cold, but by a bar lady that was so friendly and chatty, she was even willing to pose with the pint for a photo. The head was pretty darn good, great mouthfeel and my glass was left with plenty of shtick rings. This was the best shtick I experienced anywhere.

There was a really really good depth of flavour, and when the pint warmed up a bit there was the perfect flavour balance. Rich, bitter and sweet, with burnt-toast malts coming through.

The Star and Garter is a lovely warm and inviting pub in a sea-front location by East Street. It was early Saturday afternoon and felt like a vibey place to be while not being overcrowded. Sport is shown on a TV in the front of the pub and there are plenty of tables with a good view. One group were really into the Wales vs Scotland match, but otherwise Saturday afternoon went on as normal.

The Star and Garter serve a quality Guinness and provide the pub comfort, friendliness and rugby accessibility you might seek out to enjoy with your Guinness.

The Admiral 2-6 Elm Grove, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN2 3DD
£5.95

This was a new location to me, but my Guinness loving companion @thestoutscoutuk swears by this place. The pint was served well. Poured in view and not rushed. The barmaid seemed bored and not that chatty on our arrival, it was pretty quiet, though she did agree to take our photo. 

The beer was a great temperature from the off. Deep, roasted malt, peaty smokiness and a good lingering finish. Top-notch glass shtick.

The pub is aimed at a younger crowd based on the crude graff decor, the school canteen bench seating arrangement and pub sports everywhere; 2 darts boards, 2 toad boards (yes 2!) an arcade machine and a pool table. 

As a student I would have loved this place. As someone in my late 30s I’m wondering if comfortable furniture is really that hard to find..?

Sport is shown on 2 small screens set high up on walls so that you can watch from almost anywhere, even while playing darts and/or toad. I’m told a massive screen drops down on the right-hand wall for big events such as the England matches.


When @thestoutscoutuk says “i think thats one of the best pints I’ve had in Brighton in a while”, that’s a comment that puts you up near the top of the list. So The Admiral is a surprise runner-up based on pure Guinness quality, though not the comfort and ambience on the day.

🏆 The Best Guinness in Brighton

The Fiddlers Elbow, 11 Boyce’s St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1AN
£4.90

There has been a pub on this site since the early 1900s and rumour has it that this was the first pub in Sussex to have cold flow Guinness on draught. I can’t find out when the name changed to the Fiddler’s Elbow, or when it became an Irish pub. But the Fiddler’s Elbow is undisputedly Brighton’s iconic Irish pub.

The tucked away back street location only minutes from the beach, makes it feel like a bit of a secret. And yet is flooded with tourists and Guinness fans who all know it has long been famed for quality Guinness. Not to mention the cheapest Guinness in Brighton, only possible because they sell so damn much.

I visited twice during my research, on Saturday evenings, and both times found it brimming with atmosphere and banter. The design of the pub is cosy and tight in a way that forces you into a bit of jostling with your fellow punters and a “scuse me” or a nod.

 

Sport is absolutely part of the theme here. 5 screens are scattered throughout the pub, 1 at the back is a big wall screen, but the other little TVs in corners and on walls make it possible to cram in and get a view from lots of different places. We’re advised that many tables are booked in advance for the rugby, but they keep 3 tables for walk-ins and standing is always an option.

On my first visit there was Gaelic football on the TV, with the commentary turned up like there were actually fans in the house, and not just for atmosphere.
Second visit was during the close Wales vs Scotland 6 Nations game. It was very busy and there was plenty of hollering at the screen. You can only imagine what an Ireland vs England match must be like here, if you can find a space.

 

This was the first pub where I noticed a high proportion of Irish accents. An Irish chap stopped to mock my ‘cute little half pint’ on the bar, which I ordered while waiting for my friend. Turns out he wasn’t teasing, he genuinely never realised they made Guinness half-pint glasses.

The Guinness is well poured. An American barmaid had all the bants and seemed to really enjoy her job. The beer is served at a good temperature, not too cold. Another of the barmaids was telling me how she used to work in Dublin and lots of customers say her Guinness pour is the best. Whether her’s or someone else’s, all the Guinness we had there was beautifully smooth, velvety, and thick with a soft, creamy head. There was very good schtick as well.

 

So why is Guinness so good at Fiddler’s Elbow? The pub’s Management Partner, Liam, says the key ingredient is: A bit of love, bit of care and to sell a lot.

“We sell an awful lot of Guinness, and it is probably the main reason we can keep it in tip-top nick. We sell so much that we have 2 lines running to 4 taps.
Guinness is essentially a volatile liquid. As soon as it touches the air, as soon as it comes out of the barrel, it starts to deteriorate. We have a quite short run to the cellar and our cellar is very good at maintaining it’s temperature. One of the lines is less than two pints long.
We always throw away the first half-pint of Guinness from every line, every morning, because that’s sat in the line overnight. We open early and we close late, so really it’s never been that long since we’ve poured a pint.”

 

The Fiddlers Elbow oozes the kind of atmosphere you might find in Dublin. The traditional interior, the centre bar which allows for crowding around, the Guinness memorabilia, the tourists, the banter. All this could be another reason why @thestoutscoutuk feels so at home at The Fiddlers Elbow. 

The pub have have recently introduced a Dublin staple to the menu in the form of a ‘Spice Bag’, which is essentially the Irish equivalent of chicken and chips. Introduced by a Chinese takeaway in Dublin in 2010, it’s salty, spicy, flavoured with an extensive spice mix and served with a mild curry sauce. This gives it a really overpowering and very moreish flavour.  It’s the perfect beer companion, though it does make you thirsty for another beer. On that note, ‘Mine’s a Guinness!’

1 Comment

  1. Rob Whittington

    Thank you! This blog could’ve been written for me. At £4.90 that’s pretty reasonable.

    Reply

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The ultimate guide to the best local pubs serving Guinness Celebratory Stout Emoticons

cheers with a Guinness black and white
the admiral brighton guinness pour
4 leaf clover on a guinness
guinness glass in front of the cricketers brighton

‘Black Custard’, ‘Irish Champagne’ or a ‘Pint of Plain’. The humble Irish Stout is a global phenomenon thanks to Guinness

So I set out to help the world’s Guinness lovers find the best versions in Brighton and Hove.

This feature isn’t just a list of pubs with Irish themed names, oh no! We sought out recommendations, and the quest has involved personally assessing the quality of each beer to find stand-out examples.

We also consider the environment of the pub. Guinness is synonymous with the effervescent ‘craic’ of the emerald isle, as well as rugby watching. And so the best Guinness pubs will therefore offer an upbeat, welcoming and sporty atmosphere.

Btw, if you’re short on time and you only really care about which pubs we most recommend, then speed forward to our list

guinness bunting with sport
the heart and hand pub brighton inside

What is Guinness?

Guinness is no ordinary drink. In the 250 or so years since it was first brewed in Dublin it has well and truly eclipsed the London Porters it was created to emulate, and now sells 1.8 billion pints worldwide every year.

Decades of shrewd messaging has created a product with layers of lustre and expectation. Things like: the pour; the head, glassware; and the amount of time taken. These subtleties may or may not make any difference, but that’s not really the point. Whether it’s science or brain-washing, a pint of Guinness is expected to be delivered a certain way, and we’re looking for that brand-authentic experience.

– The Guinness Pour

Guinness is famed for being a drink you don’t rush the pouring of. The official Guinness pour is done in 2 phases with a 1 minute and 32.5 second wait to allow the first pour to settle. Done correctly it should take a shade under 2 minutes to pour.

The modern 2 part-pour dates back to the 1960s when Guinness switched from casks to kegging and serving under Nitro in order to maintain consistency across a growing world market. 

When in cask, Guinness had been 2-poured, or drawn, from different casks of differing freshness, this wonderfully romantic BBC archive footage shows how it was done.

The process would take around a minute, and each landlord had their own technique. Irish punters missed the comforting two cask ritual. So a twice poured Guinness has endured, and a pint is now patiently waited upon by drinkers across the globe.

It’s important enough that Guinness have a 6 step process for perfect pouring. The aim of which is to keep head size within the optimum 12-18mm range, as well as give the punter the chance to witness the mesmerising nitrogen cascade effect as the beer is placed in front of them.

“Liam, ‘Management Partner’ who runs the Fiddler’s Elbow Brighton tells us; “A lot is made of the 2 part pour. You do need to take care over it – tilt the glass and hold it close to the flow so you don’t get the bubbles or ‘frog eyes’. I’m not 100% sure it makes that much difference but you do need to take care on the pour.

Whether any of this improves the drink itself is debated and largely debunked. But it’s important enough to purists that Brighton Beer Blog were looking for attention to the 2 pour method.

barmaid with guinness star and garter brighton
the coopers cask happy landlord

– Head and Shtick

Guinness fans love being given a bit of shtick. The head on a pint of Guinness is a revered thing; the creamier and shtickier the better, and finding yourself with a foam moustache is effectively a badge of honour.

The 300 million (give or take) tiny nitrogen bubbles in each pint cascade to form a creamy head that will sit just above the rim of the glass and not spill over.

My Irish hailing companion @thestoutscoutuk schooled me in schtick during our session. The sign of good shtick is: a) when you tilt the glass a bit before first sip and it’s thick enough not to spill over; and b) when head clings to the glass in rings all the way down. Apparently you want a well conditioned glass, and one that isn’t soapy or greasy.

The head is integral to the drinking experience, which is why Diageo go to such lengths to get the Guinness pour consistent. The perfect gulp of Guinness should combine the light, subtle flavours and mouthfeel of the head with the cool liquid beneath. So the size and quality of the head is pretty important in our view.

– The Taste of Guinness

Normally I drink Guinness fairly irregularly. I don’t dislike it, but unless there’s an international Rugby tournament on, it’s not my go-to drink. Plus, given I’ve enjoyed it in Dublin, I suppose I don’t want to be disappointed by it in England. I still don’t think it’s as mysterious as the hype would have you believe, but I really have come to appreciate the subtle flavours and I’ve realised you can find bloody good pints of Guinness in Brghton & Hove if you know what you’re looking for.

The flavour profile described by the maker themselves is: “smoothly balanced with bitter, sweet, roasted notes”

The Beer Judge Certification Program describes the impression for Irish Stouts as: “A black beer with pronounced roasted flavour, similar to coffee…more balanced versions having a light malty sweetness”. Also that “Dublin style stouts use roasted barley, are more bitter, and are drier”.


As part of our quest we found many pubs, too many infact, who in February only served Guinness Extra Cold. Extra Cold Guinness was introduced to the markets in 1998 in hopes of reducing the foot traffic from Guinness to lagers during hot summer months. It goes through a super cooler and is served at approximately 3.5*C.

Guinness suggest their standard Guinness is served at 6-8*C, so it’s twice as cold. I hear that a lot of Irish people complain that English pubs serve Guinness too cold. There has even been backlash in Ireland over Extra Cold Guinness, which is seen as simply mollifying the tourists.

The one Extra Cold that I did share with my Irish ally was only half finished before we both decided that, a) it wasn’t enjoyable, and b) we didn’t have long enough to spend waiting for the beer to warm up to see if it got better.

 

At our own self-disgust at leaving half a pint each, we vetoed all Guinness Extra Cold from our study which meant we steered away from a lot of recommended pubs. 

I also gave the drunken 3rd degree to any bartender who served me a normal Guinness at a temperature so cold it delayed those all important first sips.

Guinness head tilt
guinness bunting with sport

– In search of good ‘Craic’

Craic derives from an old English word meaning ‘loud noise’ or, to ‘brag or boast’. Without being particularly clued up on the subject, my instinct suggests a pub with good craic is: enchanting and welcoming;  is noisy enough that you feel part of a communal togetherness; and give a sense of fervent anticipation that staying there will provide a good entertaining experience.

My Irish friend Sean describes Irish pubs as “renowned for being friendly, and open to all with a particular sense of cosiness. It’s about what happens in an Irish bar, like traditional music and stories, which bring people together. Guinness is part of the glue that keeps the craic flowing”.

Pete Brown in his book Three Sheet’s to the Wind feels the special ingredient is about “everyone being in this zone – under the influence, but steadfastly holding back from the point where they start to lose control, slur and become pains in the arse”

He states “Guinness itself has a lot to do with the elusive nature of the craic, and is responsible for a large part of the Irish pub feel”.

Guinness and Irish bars are complementary of each other, and both fulfil the magnetic, uninhibited, Irish cheerfulness that people the world over go in search of.

In our study we’re not looking for pubs that have collected all the Guinness memorabilia, but for ones that provide a sociable and bubbly pub atmosphere.

– Guinness and Sport

Sport is hot property for sponsors, and for those that can become synonymous with the sport – think Marlborough Cigarettes and Ferrari’s F1 car – the reach and rewards can be great. Among ‘rugby households’ in Britain and Ireland…Guinness ranks as the third most popular beer and lager brand among this key group, behind Heineken and Stella Artois.

Guinness has achieved a symbiosis with Rugby, in particular the 6 Nation’s tournament, and for me the tournament was a catalyst for wanting to know where the best Guinness is hiding locally. I want to help my fellow seasonal Guinness drinkers combine a top-quality Guinness, with the middle-class rowdiness of watching a rugby match.

So in this list we’ve highlighted pubs where the facilities or atmosphere in the pub make it great for drunken spectating.

The Best Guinness Pubs in Brighton and Hove

Honourable Mentions

Coopers Cask  3 Farm Rd, Brighton and Hove, Hove BN3 1FB
£5.90 per pint

 

The Coopers Cask is a humble, cosy little pub, up an unassuming side street North of Brunswick Square. 

The landlord likes his Guinness and knows how to pour a good pint.

The head was thick and dense with very good shtick. Was served at a great temperature. Lovely mouthfeel. Sweetness, malt. Great balance. Rugby is shown on 1 screen in the main room and as it’s a small place I bet it feels nice and crowded on match days.

The Heart and Hand  75 North Rd, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1YD
£6

In a morbidly nostalgic way The H&H are still running table service, and despite ordering Guinness, we noticed pretty quickly we had been served Extra Cold. They have both taps you see, so it’s worth being specific.
We explained our Guinness quest and they were happy to change it.

We are so glad we did! The beer was silky, creamy smooth with a dense mouthfeel. Mellow. Malty, with a little smokey roasted barley in the finish. A top Guinness and the shtick was notable. The @thestoutscoutuk called it “tasty”.

The pub was heaving and there definitely was a jovial atmosphere, but the table service kept people seated and didn’t allow for natural pub-like mingling. Also no sport shown here.

🥈 Runners-Up

Star and Garter  Kings Rd, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1NE
£6

The beer was served a little cold, but by a bar lady that was so friendly and chatty, she was even willing to pose with the pint for a photo. The head was pretty darn good, great mouthfeel and my glass was left with plenty of shtick rings. This was the best shtick I experienced anywhere.

There was a really really good depth of flavour, and when the pint warmed up a bit there was the perfect flavour balance. Rich, bitter and sweet, with burnt-toast malts coming through.

The Star and Garter is a lovely warm and inviting pub in a sea-front location by East Street. It was early Saturday afternoon and felt like a vibey place to be while not being overcrowded. Sport is shown on a TV in the front of the pub and there are plenty of tables with a good view. One group were really into the Wales vs Scotland match, but otherwise Saturday afternoon went on as normal.

The Star and Garter serve a quality Guinness and provide the pub comfort, friendliness and rugby accessibility you might seek out to enjoy with your Guinness.

The Admiral 2-6 Elm Grove, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN2 3DD
£5.95

This was a new location to me, but my Guinness loving companion @thestoutscoutuk swears by this place. The pint was served well. Poured in view and not rushed. The barmaid seemed bored and not that chatty on our arrival, it was pretty quiet, though she did agree to take our photo. 

The beer was a great temperature from the off. Deep, roasted malt, peaty smokiness and a good lingering finish. Top-notch glass shtick.

The pub is aimed at a younger crowd based on the crude graff decor, the school canteen bench seating arrangement and pub sports everywhere; 2 darts boards, 2 toad boards (yes 2!) an arcade machine and a pool table. 

As a student I would have loved this place. As someone in my late 30s I’m wondering if comfortable furniture is really that hard to find..?

Sport is shown on 2 small screens set high up on walls so that you can watch from almost anywhere, even while playing darts and/or toad. I’m told a massive screen drops down on the right-hand wall for big events such as the England matches.


When @thestoutscoutuk says “i think thats one of the best pints I’ve had in Brighton in a while”, that’s a comment that puts you up near the top of the list. So The Admiral is a surprise runner-up based on pure Guinness quality, though not the comfort and ambience on the day.

🏆 The Best Guinness in Brighton

The Fiddlers Elbow, 11 Boyce’s St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1AN
£4.90

There has been a pub on this site since the early 1900s and rumour has it that this was the first pub in Sussex to have cold flow Guinness on draught. I can’t find out when the name changed to the Fiddler’s Elbow, or when it became an Irish pub. But the Fiddler’s Elbow is undisputedly Brighton’s iconic Irish pub.

The tucked away back street location only minutes from the beach, makes it feel like a bit of a secret. And yet is flooded with tourists and Guinness fans who all know it has long been famed for quality Guinness. Not to mention the cheapest Guinness in Brighton, only possible because they sell so damn much.

I visited twice during my research, on Saturday evenings, and both times found it brimming with atmosphere and banter. The design of the pub is cosy and tight in a way that forces you into a bit of jostling with your fellow punters and a “scuse me” or a nod.

 

Sport is absolutely part of the theme here. 5 screens are scattered throughout the pub, 1 at the back is a big wall screen, but the other little TVs in corners and on walls make it possible to cram in and get a view from lots of different places. We’re advised that many tables are booked in advance for the rugby, but they keep 3 tables for walk-ins and standing is always an option.

On my first visit there was Gaelic football on the TV, with the commentary turned up like there were actually fans in the house, and not just for atmosphere.
Second visit was during the close Wales vs Scotland 6 Nations game. It was very busy and there was plenty of hollering at the screen. You can only imagine what an Ireland vs England match must be like here, if you can find a space.

 

This was the first pub where I noticed a high proportion of Irish accents. An Irish chap stopped to mock my ‘cute little half pint’ on the bar, which I ordered while waiting for my friend. Turns out he wasn’t teasing, he genuinely never realised they made Guinness half-pint glasses.

The Guinness is well poured. An American barmaid had all the bants and seemed to really enjoy her job. The beer is served at a good temperature, not too cold. Another of the barmaids was telling me how she used to work in Dublin and lots of customers say her Guinness pour is the best. Whether her’s or someone else’s, all the Guinness we had there was beautifully smooth, velvety, and thick with a soft, creamy head. There was very good schtick as well.

 

So why is Guinness so good at Fiddler’s Elbow? The pub’s Management Partner, Liam, says the key ingredient is: A bit of love, bit of care and to sell a lot.

“We sell an awful lot of Guinness, and it is probably the main reason we can keep it in tip-top nick. We sell so much that we have 2 lines running to 4 taps.
Guinness is essentially a volatile liquid. As soon as it touches the air, as soon as it comes out of the barrel, it starts to deteriorate. We have a quite short run to the cellar and our cellar is very good at maintaining it’s temperature. One of the lines is less than two pints long.
We always throw away the first half-pint of Guinness from every line, every morning, because that’s sat in the line overnight. We open early and we close late, so really it’s never been that long since we’ve poured a pint.”

 

The Fiddlers Elbow oozes the kind of atmosphere you might find in Dublin. The traditional interior, the centre bar which allows for crowding around, the Guinness memorabilia, the tourists, the banter. All this could be another reason why @thestoutscoutuk feels so at home at The Fiddlers Elbow. 

The pub have have recently introduced a Dublin staple to the menu in the form of a ‘Spice Bag’, which is essentially the Irish equivalent of chicken and chips. Introduced by a Chinese takeaway in Dublin in 2010, it’s salty, spicy, flavoured with an extensive spice mix and served with a mild curry sauce. This gives it a really overpowering and very moreish flavour.  It’s the perfect beer companion, though it does make you thirsty for another beer. On that note, ‘Mine’s a Guinness!’

1 Comment

  1. Rob Whittington

    Thank you! This blog could’ve been written for me. At £4.90 that’s pretty reasonable.

    Reply

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