Those who know me will know that I have always been keen both on beer – cask beer, craft beer, beer beer, and on trying to support local businesses. Over the years I have bemoaned and praised the Station Hotel, mostly bemoaned the Lord Northbrook (although am warming to it slowly again), and shown long term love to both the Dacre Arms, the sadly departed Ravensbourne Arms.
So as you might expect the opening of a bottle shop around the corner was always going to be something that would appeal to me. Add to that the fact that when it did open it did so with a licence to serve on site until 9pm and would you know it ‘I’m just supporting local business’ has practically become my middle name. The place of which I speak is called Park Fever. Positioned directly opposite the Station Hotel on Staplehurst road, it is precisely the type of establishment that was advertised and promised for the Old Biscuit Factory Space just a couple of hundred yards up the road – recently opened as an un-needed Sainsbury’s Local ( it sits opposite a NISA franchise, and a few doors along for a local convenience store). It always seemed very clear that the developers of that also had their money on a change of use an intention of supermarket – and indeed the prices some people were allegedly quoted on rent for it as a use as a restaurant/bar seems to back this up.
But my objection to our ultra Local Sainsbury’s is a whole other rant, so, we turn instead to a boarded up (well metal stuttered up at least) shop that had pretty much been acting a stock storage room for another local shop for a while: and is now the home of Park Fever.
Park Fever is the brain-child of a man called Adrian. He’s taken a fascinating road to get to running a beer (and chocolate – did I mention they also sell some nice chocolate?) shop but, as I’m not his official biographer I’m not really going to document that here, so why not pop in and have a conversation with him and find out for yourselves.
The place itself is not fancy and polished: tables and a counter made from chip board are the order of the day, but that is because expensive tables and decor are not the immediate business priorities, the beer is – the rest will come. Although I have to admit even now it is a look that has a certain honest charm. Besides, the main selling point –apart from the beer (and chocolate) is that it is welcoming. If you go in to browse Adrian will quickly ask if you need any help or advice on selecting a beer (or indeed, beers) that are right for you. If you decide to pull up a stool or chair, Adrian or indeed anyone else who happens to be in will invariably be amenable to having a chat, often with Adrian doing the introductions. Quite frankly, it’s a bit like pubs used to be.
Yes, of course there is some craft beer ‘let’s over analyse the flavours, the hops, the yeast etc’ type of wankery occasionally to be heard, but basically it is about people interested in beer in general, craft beer specifically, and local beer instinctively. A welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
The prices? The prices are … well, pretty fair for the product on offer actually. Also, if you buy six bottle/cans there is a 10% discount, and you can also use your Lewisham Card there too (which also gives you 10% off).
With the craft beer market booming – take a cursory glance at your supermarket of choice’s shelves if you don’t believe me – it seems the perfect time to launch such a venture. It also provides nice alternative to the Station Hotel. As a cask ale fan – it is still my preferred style – this is somewhere I also frequent regularly and whilst the quality of said cask ale in the Station can be a bit hit and miss (doesn’t seem to have been any attempt the gain Caskmark) I do, mostly, like it. But I also like variety, and the arrival of Park Fever provides just that and another local drinking option.
So, if you are local to the area, or just passing through and need a beer or three, why not check it out.