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John Harvey Tavern, Lewes

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user reviews of the John Harvey Tavern, Lewes

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Harveys brewery tap in a Harveys town. No surprise as to whose beers are on sale (!) but it's not the usual Harveys range, and it's ever changing. Most tables seem laid up for formal dining though when we were there no-one was doing so!
Trev - 6 Apr 2018 22:20
Goes without saying the beer is good, atmosphere inside a little food driven so perhaps a little sterile for the unreconstructed beer drinker.
terenced - 13 Feb 2018 08:52
As good as ever. The Best Bitter straight from the barrel is as good as it gets. Lovely stuff.
mark555 - 18 Jun 2017 11:55
The John Harvey Tavern is situated up a side street opposite the Harveys brewery and alongside the River Ouse. It's a fairly large place with a large bar area and an equally large dining area to the left as you walk in. There are a small number of tables just outside by the entrance door. Around 6 casks were behind the bar, all labelled with Harveys Sussex Best Bitter. On handpull there was also Armada Ale, Copperwheat Beer & Olympia Golden Ale. Unlike the Gardeners Arms, service here was with a smile.
blue_scrumpy - 13 Jun 2016 19:36
Popped in here a coupe of weeks ago. This is the 'Brewery tap' of Harvey's Brewery. It was well worth the visit, the Harvey's best was served straight from the barrel and, well it was exceptional. Well worth a visit. A rare 9/10 from me.
wolvesfan - 27 Apr 2016 15:58
Never had any problems other than getting a seat, the food is ok and standard pub grub, but the Harveys Best from the barrel is sublime
OldandBitter - 12 Feb 2016 23:26
Essentially the brewery tap, the beer is served directly from the barrel... but it isn't what you'd describe as a 'happy' environment.

On a cold January day the fire would have made a difference but an uneasy blend of clientele, from corporate credit card wavers to a group from the shallow end of the gene pool, didn't contribute to the bonhomie either. And shouty bar-staff, unnecessarily and continulally interrupting our conversation with our server, added to the disappointment.

Perhaps if I liked Harveys more it would have helped?
Torqueback - 27 Jan 2016 13:14
My 2nd visit here in the last 6 weeks after having an afternoon in Brighton and before football at Lewes FC.

I got here around 5.30pm and it was already busy but I guess that was due to football being on in town, however it had a much better feel than when I visited on a Saturday afternoon between xmas and new year.

I had several good pints of Harvey's Armada Ale @ 4.5%. A beer I have had before but on this occasion it was very good and extremely drinkable.

Decent service and a nice pub.
lezford - 2 Mar 2015 16:18
A 2 minute stroll from the Gardeners and this is our 4th pub of the day.
Right opposite both the brewery and the large brewery shop in the High Street.

It’s just after 2.30pm and this is another pub that is very busy. The pub has three separate areas, the main bar to your right, a quieter room on the same level that was being used as an eating area to the left and an upstairs restaurant/function room.

A couple of attentive bar ensure the wait for a beer is very short. There are 4 ales on tap, there’s also many casks on the racks behind the bar.

My choice was Harvey’s IPA was good but not the best beer I've ever had.

I managed to bag a window seat which was nice as we could survey the pub and take the conversation in.

Another decent pub, Lewes really is a good drinking town!
lezford - 5 Jan 2015 13:17
Probably the best pub in Lewes? Great menu and really amazing food at decent prices. Staff are always very friendly and welcoming. Have eaten and drunk here many times and always find it an excellent time out.
littlequill - 17 Sep 2014 19:21
Had a pint in here today. Top place. Go there.
flagship - 4 May 2014 21:05
Pub 4 on our Lewes pub crawl. A rather cavernous and dark pub on the banks of the River Ouse. The Harveys beer was served straight from the cask and was unsurprisingly in great condition. There was a steady trade from a largely male clientele which did prompt us to wonder what they all did for a living; lucky sods - I had to take a day off to join them.
Number11 - 11 Feb 2014 20:30
I liked it - there was a very nice atmosphere in the bar with Harveys beers available on handpump and also straight from the cask. It is virtually the brewery tap so you would expect good beer and so it was Good mix of age groups when we went. Exposed beams; bench seats with scatter cushions and and effcient service made this a very acceptable little pub. Probably gets realy busy in summer months but well worth a visit.
mcroyal - 11 Jan 2014 11:20
Excellent pub. Exceptional service, very well kept beer, and nice food too. One of the friendlest pubs in Lewes, and trust me there are a few that aren't. If you thought you didn't like Harvey's beers then give this place a go. You'll be surprised how nice it can be.
Maltster - 24 Dec 2013 12:51
Great place to stop off for a pint of Harveys, straight from the barrel.

We have been coming here a couple of times a year when we go to Lewes fir lunch. We always end up here and it never disappoints.

Great beer, lovely bar, friendly staff.
Neal_hove - 27 Oct 2013 20:23
I visited this pub on a quiet mid-week afternoon and I didn't really like it. It seems to lack any character and has obviously been refurbished at some stage to make it trendy. Having said that, it does sell an excellent pint of Harveys from the barrels behind the bar and was reasonably priced. It perhaps has a bit more personality when it is busy.
Sussexcrawler - 29 Jun 2013 09:08
Nice pub with good beer and pleasant staff. would be happy to return if in the area again
thestonedhero - 26 May 2013 20:43
Popular, a bit dark in terms of light but still ok.
loveleedshatebates - 24 Mar 2013 20:31
Excellent pub and Harveys (brewed nearby). Friendly staff and good food. Only complaint; it gets very busy!
tradervic - 16 Sep 2012 11:52
could lower food prices not adequate portions for the price beer and wine very reasonable and a lovely setting staff very exceptionally friendly will visit again
jgv1946 - 31 Jul 2012 20:04
sussex bitter on gravity.
lawrencesmith - 27 Jun 2012 12:16
brewery tap near brewey and river. full range of harveys beers and sussex bitter on draught. nice old oub with friendly staff. good reasonably priced food.
lawrencesmith - 27 Jun 2012 12:15
Fantastic pub with fantastic beer. What more could you ask for.
tanky - 25 May 2012 16:16
My friend who lives in lewes took me to this beautiful pub.
He loves the harveys in here,i tried some very nice.
Love the courtyard outside,great area for us smokers.
Food they served look very appetising ,will come back and try.

rainbowian - 16 May 2012 14:04
Harveys straight out of the keg, beautiful pint, nice little sun trap, bliss.
scarr - 16 Mar 2012 23:17
Whilst it suffers in comparison with some of Lewes's other pubs, taken in isolation the John Harvey isn't at all bad. Had four Harvey's ales on when I visited and I found the bar to be quite atmospheric (the overspill room tacked on the side was another matter...). Staff were friendly and it was very much standing room only, hence didn't stay too long. In any other town it would be a winner.
Campanologist - 18 Oct 2011 23:52
Busy, well known Lewes pub. Harveys beers straight friom the barrel, which are generally in good nick. We have eaten here opn a number of occasions with mixed results, sometimes rather good other times a bit disappointing. Nice little sun trap searting out front.
forester - 4 Aug 2011 15:18
Strange one this. Two bar pub, with a small Lewes History Room saloon bar and a large public bar with stone floors, no atmosphere plus a terrible smell of frying food. The Harveys Best from the barrel was in good condition which I suppose is what counts. For a brewery tap Harveys really has to try a lot harder.
simontheeditor - 29 Jul 2011 17:55
Agree with the previous comment. I found the food poor, trying to chew through a roast parsnip my challenge for the day (although we were a little late for lunch?). The beer range could be better too, considering it's the Brewery Tap. Much better Harvey's pubs elsewhere. Would recommend the Snowdrop up the road with their, now magnificent, range of beers?
uriahheep - 25 Jun 2010 16:05
Extremely disappointed. Booked a table for dinner with my parents last Friday night. The food was dreadful - my fish was dry and overcooked and my dad had a pie which looked like it had been chucked on the plate. Staff weren't much better - e.g promising to come and take out order then not bothering so we had to fight our way to the bar to order food. Staff also very shabbily dressed which is not what you would expect. General feel of the place was more like a lager drinkers pub, which was surprising for the brewery tap.

Much better pubs in Lewes - Gardeners, Lewes Arms and Brewers for beer, Pelham and Dorset for food. The John Harvey doesn't seem to know exactly what its trying to be. Ok for a midweek pint, but nowhere near as good as it should be
steve_on_tour - 28 Apr 2010 16:29
We were recommended. First visit excellent. Interior a little cramped, but nice fire, pleasant staff and excellent food. I can recommend the rabbit and leek pie from the varied selection on the specials board and one of the best cheese and biscuits we've had for a long time.
peterwhitcomb - 9 Mar 2010 22:43
Great Beer, great food and great staff. The Ham, Egg & Chips is the best in the world...............
lozlis - 25 Feb 2010 11:44
Good range of Harvey's ales, which goies without saying really, but not really my type of pub. Clientele mostly young and in "smart casual" dress, I prefer somewhere a bit more down to earth or off the wall.
Delirious_Nomad - 24 Nov 2009 13:19
I enjoyed a decent pint in here sitting at some of the seating made from old wine vats that straddle a log burner at the far end of the pub. To be honest the rest of the pub is a little bare and the history room has no more pictures on the wall than a normal pub does.

There is a function room upstairs, but Im not sure if the jazz nights on Wednesdays or the folk nights on Tuesdays are held here or in the bar area.

There were three hand pumps on during my visit along with three gravity fed barrels at the back of the bar, which I think were all Harveys beers.

I liked it here, but Im not sure that Id make a special trip to visit again.
Strongers - 4 Nov 2009 21:04
Great pub - spent a very pleaseant Saturday afternoon here recently supping pints of great quality Harveys Old Ale. The public bar was rammed but the saloon bar area (next to the ladies loo) was empty so we decamped here on the comfy sofas.
Could have done with more than one behind the bar but all in all a nice experience.
chunkypetersplat - 23 Oct 2009 14:56
Top quality brewery pub, both for food and beer. Highly recommended.
mps77 - 19 Oct 2009 17:48
Have visited this place half a dozen times in the last 3 or 4 years and I've always been impressed. Never had anything other than a great pint (usually Sussex Best but also others) and reasonably priced, solid food all served by friendly and efficient staff. If I lived in Lewes, this would definetly be my local!
cheshirecat - 24 Sep 2009 09:24
Well kept and tidy pub, converted from the stables of an old hotel. Exposed beams in the ceiling - but the place is a bit too clean for genuine character. Has the feel of a Fuller's pub conversion, where everything is done to a good standard, but nothing feels quite genuine, because nothing is quite genuine. It's all looks, but no substance. But it's a very decent place for all that. Service was pleasant. 3 handpumps and some gravity casks behind the bar - all Harvey's. Food in the 7 - 10 range. Decent enough. This is the place recommended to meet up and have something to eat before a brewery tour. But the kitchen doesn't open until 6.00 and the tour starts at 6.30. I pushed them to take my order before 6.00 and explained I was on the tour, so they rushed the meal so I could eat it on time, but inevitably it wasn't fully cooked. If doing the tour, eat before you come here.
SilkTork - 17 Jun 2009 19:33
A must visit if in Lewes Id say, the problem is so does everyone else so it can get busy. They do have plenty of staff though and they all seem to want to be there serving you which makes for a nice experience. Three Harveys beers on plus a line of the flagship Sussex Best on stillage. Does it taste better here? Well Im not a great fan but I thought so. Blokes - check out the Joe Kerr item in the Gents.

Millay - 14 Jun 2009 09:33
The JHT is a winning hostelry. Obviously very good beer straight out of the Harveys brewery. Friendly service and charming albeit cramped interior.

You want cavernous sunbeam then go to a pub that used to be a bank in a commuter town.
terenced - 27 May 2009 13:43
Lovely old pub with great food - a litle cramped but full of character and friendly, efficient staff (check out the notice in the toilets for a chuckle)
nickjstamp - 16 Apr 2009 16:49
Being the brewery tap this pub seemed a good spot to start the day. Pretty busy even just before 12, with a mix of people drinking, chatting and ordering food. Stone flagged floor, beamed ceiling, a few brasses and nic-nacs, wood panelling and a fireplace to one end with a portrait over of whom I imagine is the original John Harvey. Two booths either side formed of barrel surrounds. The smaller "History Room" has a couple of sofas and a few tables.
Hadlow, Armada and Mild on handpump, plus Addlestone's cider. Sussex Best on stillage behind. The brewery and shop are located at the end of the street by the bridge.
Second visit early evening found the pub just as busy meaning we sat outside until the chill sent us on to The Gardeners.
Maldenman - 5 Apr 2009 16:48
This is a lively and welcoming place..both by staff and locals. Beers well served. ..especially the Porter. Visit every time you are in Lewes.
southfields - 23 Mar 2009 18:37
First time that I've been here, and I was very impressed. An old building with loads of character, and a lively atmosphere. Busy, but easy to get served by the staff, who actually smiled and said hello (a small point I know, but I think that I was slowly getting used to scowls and grunts). Good pint of Best served straight from the cask suspended at the back of the bar. The function room upstairs was also fine, and had it's own small bar, with a large jug of Best at the ready, plus bottled beers and wines etc in the fridge. As in many old buildings, watch out for the low beams. Definitely worth visiting if you are in this part of the world.
CountryBoy - 25 Jan 2009 12:20
A decent pint of Old Ale in a bar with a good atmosphere. The two tables nearest the real fire are rather unusually set within the cladding from a brewing vat.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 5 Jan 2009 14:03
best pub in lewes ... great beer , food , staff and atmosphere ... only drawback is its a bit cramped . still worth a visit .
9ooner - 20 Dec 2008 21:50
i had a pint of Harveys here on sunday , gotta say this was not the best pint in Lewes !! seemingly Harveys head brewer was there ....maybe he should have been in cellar !!
harveyslover - 22 Oct 2008 19:16
Unconvinced by this one - been very busy on both my visits, & seems popular for food, but the beer on each occasion was not as perfect as one would expect at a brewery tap. You can gaze at the adjacent river from the low carpark wall but they shouldn't rely on location & reputation when other pubs in town are serving a better pint.
trainman - 14 Oct 2008 04:34
Lovely scampi fries sold here
superseagulls - 20 Jun 2008 14:00
Good pub, good food. Good service. Good mix of people, alwats busy.

You wont find a better Harveys (I asked what their old ale was like, the person behind the bar directed my question at the chap sitting next to me at the bar, who turns out to be the head brewer or similar for Harveys!). Of course, pulled me a small sample as well (it turns out it was very drinable).
ckeene - 26 Mar 2008 19:35
One of the best pubs in Lewes - always vibrant, great ales (obviously being the brewery pub), friendly chatty staff, a real mixed crowd in ages and appearance(!), live acoustic music on a sunday night -basically, a hub of the town so everything a pub should be.
happychap - 25 Jan 2008 14:32
Visited for a pint and a bite to eat today. Got there just in time to get a seat at around 1245. Good pint of best (although in view of the proximity of the Brewery I wouldn't have expected otherwise), friendly staff and a good value plate of Gammon and Chips promptly served.

Justifiably popular.
TrevorT - 31 Dec 2007 23:16
Harveys brewery tap so generally the beer is well kept and being Harveys is always a good start. The food in here is good quality and reasonably priced for the area. We had a function in the upstairs room and were very well looked after with lovely foos and attentive staff. Some of the bar staff do tend to be young and more interested in chatting with each other and having a bit of a laugh sometimes but apart from that well wortbn a visit.
Brewshed - 7 Dec 2007 18:38
Good pub spoilt by not so good bar staff.
zamora250 - 26 Aug 2007 11:00
Great pub about 50 metres from the brewery so the beer is exceptional. Good interior, also good to sit outside by the river. Can't wait to return, my visit was way too short.
Mr_Flash - 23 Jul 2007 11:54
First class well run pub Good food and service all Lwes seems to pass though here well worth a vist
anonymous - 14 Apr 2007 12:13
Not sure about this place at all. The atmosphere and beer can be good, but the bar staff have to be some of the worst in Lewes - unfriendly and evidently care very little for the customer. Sometimes a few of the punters are well worth steering clear of too. Come on Harvey's, this could be a good place with some extra care.
Get_me_some_Old_Tom - 20 Feb 2007 13:57
Visited today at lunchtime - arrived just before noon and therefore missed the "finish early today as it is the Friday before Christmas" crowd - or perhaps it is always that busy!

Had a very fine pint of Old together with a very pleasant good value home made burger. This came with a very impressive salad (pity I don't do greenstuff) and very fine chips which could possibly have been home made. The other meals passing by me looked equally as appetising.

...and then the short walk over the road to stock up with some Christmas draught carry outs at the shrine which is the Brewery Shop!
TrevorT - 22 Dec 2006 23:30
Had a few perfect pints of Harveys Old in here on Friday afternoon to wash down my very tasty bangers and mash.
A great little place with a good atmosphere and good service.
giantelf - 13 Dec 2006 20:09
I'm afraid the beer is not of a consistent quality and this is undoubtedly the reason for it not being included in the 2007 GBG. It can be very good, but even the Best straight from the barrel can sometimes be a bit iffy. As this is effectively the brewery tap this is surprising and one would hope that Harvey's could do something to rectify it. You will usually get a better pint of the Best and Old in the Gardener's Arms just along the road and that is a free house. The range is also very variable. All this is a shame as it's a nice pub with a nice atmosphere.
southdown12jack - 30 Oct 2006 16:17
Came down from London with group of friends to sample sunday lunch and real ale. Ale was well kept, with four or five different varieties - all went down a treat. As there were a couple of latecomers we missed sunday lunch (they had run out by 2.30pm) and ordered from the general menu. Truly, this was the worst meal I have ever had the misfortune to taste. Including school dinners from 25 years ago. And no, we're not poncy Londoners demanding this that and the other. We had one native Londoner, rest of us from the North and Midlands.

All in all, lovely afternoon though. And great to have a beer in the birthplace of the John Harvey brewery. Enjoy the beer but if you go on a sunday, arrive and order early!
LeoninLondon - 27 Oct 2006 12:44
Sorry to hear 'thequaffer' had a less than perfect experience at the JHT, I can only assume it was an off day. As I have NEVER had anything other than supremely conditioned pints there. Indeed, they serve the best Old (XXXX) in Lewes. The range can fluctuate depending on the time of the week, demand etc. But let's not be too dogmatic. Far better to have one ale in tip-top condition than ten ales indifferently kept. B&SD CAMRA need to start visiting more pubs - not just their favourites (good though they are) - more often, not just in towns put especially in the countryside.
CJG - 19 Oct 2006 15:17
"the beer quality isn't anything less than 100%". Actually not the case. I went in during the summer to do the Brighton and South Downs Ale Trail (and no I am not a B&SD CAMRA branch member) and found this place to be one of the most disappointing of the 40 visited. Only two beers on, the Sussex Best Bitter and the Hadlow, the first was direct from the cask. This was covered with a cooler and the beer was at the required temperature, although the barmaid did sneeze all over her fingers as she was serving me. The Hadlow was handpumped from the cellar and warm. Neither was in particularly impressive condition. Perhaps it is the lack of consistency that prevents this pub getting in the GBG. In any case, given its proximity to the brewery and shop, I was almost as surprised by the relative lack of quality as finding it at No.1 on beerintheevening.
thequaffer - 19 Oct 2006 13:30
The JHT has always been a worthy contender for a GBG entry and real ale enthusiasts, and Harvey's devotees in particular, will all vouch for that. I suspect it's to do with the vaguaries of the quota system that means that towns with a top-heavy presence of good ale pubs (like Lewes) have to rotate them so not all can appear in the guide.
In any event, this is a classic Lewes boozer and an excellent showcase for the brewery who merely have to wheel the barrels over the road. All ales are in top form and it's a pleasure to swig them by the river or listening to some of the good live music the pub hosts, or of course on Bonfire Night!
The food is impressive: covering snacks and more hearty meals, the ingredients are sound and there is no hint of microwavery. In fact I would recommend you do take a meal here if you're hungry as well as thirsty.
A lovely pub and one which deserves a consistently high rating with BITE users and beyond.
TWG - 18 Oct 2006 17:45
Quite how this pub isn't listed in the 2007 Good Beer Guide and the truly awful Dover Castle in Brighton is is a damning indictment of the Brighton and South Downs CAMRA branch. The beer quality at the JHT is never anything less than 100% - unlike the watery piss served in the Dover Castle, I should know I was brought up in Sheps country and their beers should not taste lie they do at the Castle. The service and food are also excellent.
CJG - 18 Oct 2006 15:43
The Harveys was exactly as it should be, first class. Cider also very good. Excellent Sunday Roast. Children well catered for with half portions available of most dishes including blackboard specials. Staff very helpful & friendly. Too much Smoke in the bar means it gets a nine instead of a ten score.
109steve - 10 Oct 2006 15:36
nice little pub with a lot of competition in the area ... try the food .
9ooner - 13 Sep 2006 23:50
Very impressed by this well kept pub. I didn't realise it was there until the other day as it's tucked neatly away off of the Hight St.
Great service, the staff are very attentive and the food was excellent. It goes without say that the beer was also top notch high class real ale.
Barney1 - 18 Apr 2006 16:12
very hard to beat - excellent well kept beers, friendly attentive bar staff, food looked good. Only minor gripe - as usual smokers have the run of the place.
moclips2002 - 16 Apr 2006 10:31
Only been to this pub once, at midday. The thing that struck me most was that the young female bar staff are really friendly and pleasant, even to an old buffer.

Sandwiches plain but adequate, beer great, interesting collection of photos of old film stars and pop stars in side room. Main bar too smoky for me.
anonymous - 14 Mar 2006 23:36
Very pleasant staff prepared to go out of their way to accommodate you .My wife is Vegan and there was no hesitation in serving her a beautiful salad which was not on the menu. This was much appreciated as it was a busy Saturday lunch time. Need I say anything about the beer ? just as you would expect from the birth place of Harveys brewery. Spot on.
The food which was being served was all home made and very well presented at a very fair price.
Well worth a visit .
Kairos.

kairos - 29 Oct 2005 19:09
Nice enough pub but surprisingly small for the brewery's flagship pub. Five Harvey's ales were on sale on my visit, in excellent condition as would be expected. The car park area outside was a bit of an eyesore. Not sure who owns/leases it, but it would make an excellent outdoor drinking area right next to the river. A shame it hosts nothing more than cars, bins and assorted junk.
Rich66 - 9 Oct 2005 15:28
Thought this the best bar in Lewes, mainly because of the good beer. Nice atmosphere and not too crowded on a Sunday, when Lewes seems to close down!
D.Bookless - 22 Apr 2005 13:58
Obviously the best pint in town but the staff although polite are a bit young and not quite what you would expect for the flagship of Harveys Brewery. A quiet night unlike Mondays when the Jazz evening makes for a great night out.
oddjob - 7 Jan 2005 14:22
Just off the old High Street, this is effectively the brewery tap, being around 30 seconds walk from the Harveys brewery and shop! It has a town pub feel to it, probably because it's usually very busy and smokey, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing (and there's a quieter smoke-free room to the side of the main bar for diners). Naturally you'll be able to choose from any of Harveys excellent beers, as well as typical pub grub, including fish in beer batter (that'll be Harveys beer batter of course)! There are pay/display car parks close by, but get there early if you want to park and sit down in the pub. This place should be on your list if you fancy a pint of Harveys in Lewes!
Robin - 14 Aug 2004 08:22

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