The Compass Alehouse is Gravesend’s multi award winning alehouse (micropub). The Compass was opened in September 2014 by John Warden, his partner Rachael and help from a work colleague.
With a focus on pouring consistently excellent gravity drawn Real Ales chosen from an ever changing list of Kent and the UK’s select breweries, just like a rolling beer festival, it is a small, dog friendly, community focused alehouse. The inspiration for the concept came after an evenings drinking with Goacher’s Head Brewer Simon Hurst, while collecting live yeast for home brewing. Simon’s partner had recently opened the Papermill micropub in Sittingbourne and encouraged them to open their own. With John’s experience in running pubs from his youth and brewing his own beer, opening a real ale focused establishment seemed like a natural progression.
The name from the Compass Alehouse was more of an organic process, there were four original partners each forming a point of the Compass, and as a sailor and mountain walker the Compass had been a guide for John in many a difficult time. While also being a symbol for the change in direction, from an acute psychiatric therapist to a publican. The Alehouse part speaks for it’s self, the Compass is not a pub, There is no music (except at beer festivals), TV’s, gambling machines, food (although takeaways are welcome in the pub), and people are asked to keep their phones on silent and take calls outside, but mostly because they are seriously passionate about cask conditioned beer.
The location of the Compass used to be a lettings agents, but turns out to have a far more interesting local history. Originally owned by CH Perry (of mineral water and Bottle fame) in 1886, which is why there is a lion and tower emblem on the front of the building. It has also served as a local dairy delivering milk to Gravesend. The interior of the Compass reflects the history and links to Kent and the local area. With Kentish Church pews refashioned into seating, and charts of the local rivers in the snug. you will also find one of Gravesend’s local family’s prized Stern-board trophy bequeathed to the Compass due to their close links with local rowing and the Regatta along with trophies won by Compass teams in the great river race and local events.
The last few years have seen some changes at the Compass since Rachael and John have become the sole owners. The Courtyard seating area is now covered and heated for all year round use, The bookable snug has become the focus for whisky and beer tastings. The internal seating has been changed due to the recent pandemic, and keg lines with Belgian, craft and sour beers have been installed. The whisky selection has grown to over 50 different expressions, with a new ‘whisky of the week’ showcased every Tuesday. open tastings are also held regularly, with private tastings by arrangement, and even a whisky investment club.
John and Rachael are close friends with Belgian beer sommelier and Brewer at Bruges’ Borgogne de Flanders brewery, Katie Van de Weghe who regularly visits from Belgian to do beer tastings. Resultantly the Belgian and craft beer range at the Compass is quite extensive. In fact the the Compass has become a destination for beer seekers not just locally and from Essex, but from all over the UK, and as far away as Canada and America.
They stock Real Ciders usually a dry, a medium and something different or fruity. Gins, Rums, Tequilas and Vodkas are chosen from bespoke and artisan distillers, being small and independent allows them to avoid the mainstream and focus on quality and diversity.
Tuesday to Friday 6-10pm