Laine added Old to the Albion name, and have styled this as a nod to England's traditional Gin palaces

110 Church Road
Hove
BN3 2EB

01273 772929

HELLO@OLDALBION.PUB

Old Albion Hove

A Laine chain pub which is more contemporary than the name suggests

 

When Laine took over The Albion in 2017 they lost the ‘The’ (as they tend to do with most of their pubs) and added the word ‘Old’, kind of ironically considering they then made the pub look as modern as it’s probably ever looked.

 

Albion is an ancient word and a used poetically to refer our humble white-cliffed island, and Laine Pub Co. tell me that adding the ‘Old’ in front was a nod to the traditional English gin palaces of a few hundred years ago, something this pub is trying up to emulate.
The pub might also have it’s feet in local sports history, as a local blog suggests that Brighton & Hove Albion FC might well owe its 1901 re-naming, from United to Albion, to the fact that a club board member owned this pub at the time, then called the Albion Inn.

Prior to its re-fit the pub had a reputation for being a dingy and dated, but loveable escape-the-trouble-and-strife type of place. Alas this pub blogger never did visit this now lost iteration in order to compare, but that crowd must have moved on because I discovered a bright, kid-friendly, modernised, open plan, hipster focused establishment.

 

Entering the pub there is a vast expanse of open floor space with a long bar along the right wall, and lots of seating to the left. Banquette seating snakes along the front window and down the left wall, with a few tables along it until you reach the far corner where a big leather sofa creates a more intimate area.

The front of the pub is cleaner and more inviting, with the original front windows looking incredible against the Tamplins green tiles. The inside colour scheme works well with the period ceiling features. Sleek wood and eye-catching tiles are featured, and there’s a bit of a ‘ruin bar’ vibe where a doorway to what once must have been a walled-off section has been knocked through – but the doorway remains.

In the other front corner, four gold-painted casks dangle above a couple of small tables. There’s also a bit of ols distillery equipment sitting in the corner, which provides perhaps the only reference to anything truly ‘Old’ in this pub, but this jars with a random chicken fairground ride and traffic lights across the way… Sometimes pubs can be guilty of throwing token tut into the mix in an attempt to inject some humour for younger clientele; personally I just don’t get why it’s there when it adds nothing to the key theme of the pub.

The back room down the stairs is different, decorated with plastic hanging flowers and fairly lights; it’s nice but the decorative budget was clearly focused on the main space. From this room you can access a little faux-grass covered back garden with space for a fiveor six small benches. I don’t think you’ll ever get much sun here, but it is an outdoor space.

The chalk-written beer wall nicely highlights the beer options above a neat row of taps, however just because it’s written in chalk I doubt the options rotate much at all. Half of the list is dedicated to major brands and three of them to Laine’s own beers. Then there’s US import Lagunitas (Heineken owned) and Irish option Chieftain from Franciscan Wells (Molson Coors); this is usually the cheap option at Indigo pubs but here it’s one of the most expensive on offer (it is also just an awful beer which is good for nothing but hangovers).

So by my guess the only truly craft taps are the bottom two, which today were Gosnells Honey Mead (random) and a Cloak and Dagger DDH pale – thankfully this happens to be one of my favourites from C&D. I didn’t see any cask pumps, and if there was a craft fridge I didn’t spot it; and the ladies behind the bar, who were incredibly nice and chatty, didn’t point me to cans as alternatives.

If beer’s not your thing then the pub is now ‘gin obsessed’, according to their website, with more than 20 gins available. Well it is Hove after all.

Food is in the mid-to-high-price range. There are plenty of small plates but limited Mains options, just Pie, Fish and Chips and two types of salad, as well as a couple of sharer boards.  Live jazz kicks off from Sunday afternoon and is, we hear, very popular.

 

I really like the main space of this pub. With some great tunes playing in the background this seemed to hit the modern yet shabby-trad vibe you feel this bar is going for. Despite being a huge and empty space when we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, it didn’t feel lifeless or dull. My one-year-old daughter and dog were both very welcome, as were a couple of other families with babies who arrived after us. As long as there’s a decent local craft beer on the list I’d definitely spend time here again.