Brighton’s bohemian borough – Hanover
Hanover is an area of Brighton that has built up a reputation for its bohemian residents and leftward leaning sensibilities. Its affectionate nickname of “muesli mountain” tells you everything you need to know about the area, and the people that call it home. This is an area that has its fair share of art trails, community events and get togethers. The people of Hanover are very proud of their corner of Brighton, and they have good reason to be.
Putting aside the socio-economic geography of Hanover for a moment, there is something else that makes this a fantastic area of the city. Hidden away within the narrow and twisting streets you will discover some of Brighton’s best boozers. From the student friendly pubs that line the impossibly steep Southover street to the friendly community pubs on street corners, Hanover is blessed when it comes to places to enjoy a drink.
Benefitting from being off the beaten track, these pubs are often packed with locals and those in the know rather than the tourist fodder of central Brighton. This makes for a very different atmosphere and arguably a much more authentic Brighton experience than other areas. These pubs also have to try a little harder to attract customers to scale the dizzy heights. For the customer this results in a fabulous variety of choice when it comes to the food and drink on offer.
Here is our insider’s guide to the best pubs in Hanover, so grab your hiking gear and trek up muesli mountain to give them a try.
The Independent, Queens Park
Just as the name suggests, this independent freehold pub has built up a well-earned reputation for superb, ever-changing beers and ales to supplement the quality food offering. This local gastropub has a strong food focus, with a menu that wouldn’t look out of place in most restaurants. The pub has a homely feel with a stylish décor that could easily be a trendy locals living room. Add to this, the bar has a top record player and vinyl collection, regular live music and roasts that have people queuing out of the door; The Independent has got it all.
The Southover, Southover Street
Crowning the hike up Southover street is the aptly named Southover pub. Formerly The Pub with No Name, it has now got an identity all of its own, bringing together craft beers and cask ales with a superb food offering from Brighton’s skilled smokers The Little Blue Smokehouse. The Little Blue Smokehouse source the best possible produce before pickling, brining and smoking it to create interesting and fun food with respect to the ingredients used. This fabulous local pub is a real treat for those who like their beer crafty and their food smoky.
The Reservoir, Howard Road
The Reservoir is a pub with surprises. At first glance it’s a nice, friendly local, the sort of place where you’re likely to bump into some characters. Then you notice there’s a kitchen on a kind of stage at the back with Thai food busily sizzling away. It does takeaways, too, and while you’re waiting for your pad Thai you can indulge yourself in an aperitif. Perfect. In addition to Sussex ales the bar features premium lagers from around the globe, local craft ale on cask and keg as well as midweek drink offers on spirits and shots. Photo credit: The Reservoir
Constant Service, Islingword Road
The Constant Service is a proper local pub, but not just for local people. This truly local pub has served the people of Hanover since around 1871 and is backed by local brewing legends Harvey’s of Lewes. This lively local has regular live music events, quizzes and DJ’s in addition to spinning classic and contemporary vinyl on the decks behind the bar. The food is quality pub grub with veggie options and Sunday roasts with their handmade pies being a highlight. If the sun is out then be sure to head out to their award winning garden. Photo credit: Constant Service
Sir Charles Napier, Southover Street
This Southover street pub may be on the famous pub mountain, but unlike some of its neighbours it has not got the student feel that might put some off. This is a classic pub that has got a firm crowd of devotees who frequent the bar on a regular basis. This Fullers backed pub keeps a strong cellar and regular quiz nights are popular with the hardcore quizzing fraternity. One area where the Napier isn’t traditional is in the kitchen. Pungkoo Thai Kitchen has very recently started serving here and we hear it is available for takeaway also.
The Setting Sun, Windmill Street
Certain pubs and restaurants are best enjoyed at a particular time of day, and that is certainly true of The Setting Sun. Situated on the brow of Hanover hill the garden offers spectacular panoramic views across Brighton and the seafront. Inside the pub has quite an elegant feel, somewhere between trendy wine bar and modern pub, and there is a great selection of drinks on offer. Food is split with Tapas dishes on offer Monday to Saturday and the obligatory, yet excellent, Sunday roasts finishing off the week. A great spot for an early evening refresher whilst taking in the view.
The Hartington, Whippingham Road
If you like your pubs large, local and family friendly then The Hartington is the pub for you. This community pub, situated just off Elm Grove, has a warm and friendly atmosphere making it ideal for a quiet drink or bite to eat with the family or friends. Their fairy garden is perfect for children and with free activity packs you can enjoy a drink whilst they keep themselves busy. Their seasonal menu of quality comfort food utilises locally sourced ingredients to create affordable dishes for all the family. With regular events, The Hartington is a real community hub for local residents. Photo credit: The Hartington
The Hanover, Queen’s Park Road
Out on the further edges of Hanover you might stumble across The Hanover pub and pizzeria. Yes, this Hanover pub not only manages to serve as an excellent boozer but also serves stone baked pizzas to die for. The large pub is split into two distinct areas, one acting as your favourite local spot for a swift pint and the other a fully functioning pizzeria and restaurant. One of the main reasons they can do this is thanks to the large size of the building, which means diners are not imposing on drinkers or vise versa. A great spot for locals who don’t fancy dropping down into central Brighton. Photo Credit: The Hartington
The Greys, Southover Street
Towards the lower end of Hanover, and situated at the bottom of Southover Street, you will find The Greys. This is a traditional pub with a thirty-year history as a venue for local, national and international music acts. The intimate performance area makes for a wonderful atmosphere and the pub is similarly enticing. There was a time when this pub was under threat of becoming another of Brighton’s lost public houses, but thanks to new owners with a renewed vigour, The Greys is steadily returning to its former glory. Photo credit: The Greys
The Geese, Southover Street
The second pub in the lower Southover Street triangle, The Geese, has long been a favourite for locals and students from the nearby halls of residence. The friendly welcome and warm, cosy atmosphere is one of the reasons this pub is beloved by its regulars. The food is honest pub fayre with a famous bangers and mash menu that is the talk of the town. Sundays are well served with popular roasts the order of the day. If you want to get a feel for what Hanover is about, a visit to The Geese should be on your list of things to do. Photo credit: The Geese
The Dover Castle, Southover Street
The final third of our triumvirate of Southover pubs, The Dover Castle is situated on the midpoint of the hill. The pub has recently had a new lease of life and feels like a very Brighton and Hanover kind of place. With a strong eco focus and walls adorned with local art, there is even a garden with graffiti murals and mannequins guarding the entrance. Expect quirky décor, puns aplenty and live music, DJs and parties. Food is back at the Dover Castle and there is plenty to choose from. With everything from hearty pub food through to tapas and burgers there is much to like about The Dover Castle.
The Cobden Arms, Cobden Road
The Cobden Arms is a typically unassuming Hanover pub situated on a quiet residential street. This family friendly local is the sort of pub where everyone knows each other and still has a pub darts team. As such the atmosphere is always jovial and friendly, making it easy to walk in and feel welcome. A real pub filled with real people that serves the community and is not in the slightest bit pretentious. The Cobden Arms is a pub to go visit when you have had you fill of trendy city centre venues with drinks you’ve never heard of and staff that are too cool to speak to you.
The Village, Islingword Road
Village is a local café and bar that has a strong rustic and homely feel. During the day you can pop by for a spot of brunch and a morning pick me up, by evening it becomes a bar and performance space for local artists and groups. In a past life it was The Horse and Groom, but following closure the pub was nearly a victim of commercial redevelopment. Thankfully the Hanover community came together to save the venue as a community asset, and its new life as Village is a physical representation of what makes Hanover the place it is. Photo credit: The Village