The sea has always been central to village life in Beer. For many generations fishing was the main industry although in the 18th Century Beer was also infamous for smuggling, and was home to the notorious Devon smuggler Jack Rattenbury. In Victorian times East Devon was well known for lace making and local Beer lace makers provided fine lace for Queen Victoria’s wedding dress.
Today local families carry on the fishing tradition, although the village now relies more on tourism and, for a small village, Beer has a lot to offer visitors. Art lovers can find a couple of excellent galleries in Beer including the Marine Gallery and the Steam Gallery which exhibit a rich collection of fine and applied arts from both local and nationally renowned artists.
If you are visiting East Devon in August then look out for Beer Regatta week which has a packed programme of events to suit all ages. There is a family fun day, scavenger hunts, fireworks and late night dances. In the bay there are fishing competitions and on regatta day you can watch the traditional luggers and cruisers racing.
“I went fishing this year from nearby Beer, on a boat with a fishing rod, first time & loved it. Caught mackarel, gurnard & bream! Am definitely hooked!! Excuse the pun!” Alison B from Stroud, August 2017.
Clara T from London also rated mackerel fishing at Beer as one of the most memorable aspects of her stay at Chandler’s Cottage in June 2013.
Eating out in Beer
There are plenty of places to eat (our favourite cafe is the Bay View tea rooms next to the slipway). The beach cafes enjoy an unbeatable location but we’ve found that the quality of the food is nothing special. We like to buy traditional Devon pasties from Woozies deli in Fore Street and take them onto the beach or up onto one of the benches in the cliff side gardens overlooking the bay.
There are several pubs in the village offering food as well as local ales and cider. The Anchor Inn has the best location, near to the slipway and with a beer garden across the road from the Inn that has fantastic views across the bay.
If you are looking for more than just pub grub or a Devon cream tea then Steamers bistro, tucked away down a side street, is worth seeking out. They are open all year round and have a varied menu including classic British dishes as well as Mediterranean inspired fare and use locally caught fish and farm produce. Julia F recommended their taster menu when they visited in June 2017.
Pecorama model railway centre and gardens
Pecorama sits at the top of a steep hill on the outskirts of the village. The beautifully designed gardens and Beer Heights Light Railway have views down the valley to the sea. There is a crazy golf course and several play areas designed for different age groups. Indoor attractions include an exhibition of model railway layouts and a restaurant in a Pullman carriage, as well as a large cafe. The shop stocks a wide selection of Peco model railway products and is a must for enthusiasts.
It’s walking distance from the town, although quite a climb, however, it does have its own free car park for visitors. It’s open daily from Easter to early November and then Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings throughout the winter.
Beer Quarry caves
Beer stone has been quarried for over 2000 years and the vast quarry caves are now open for tours where you can find out more about their fascinating history and also spot their resident bat colonies. The white stone has been used in buildings throughout the UK including Exeter Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
We think it’s probably not ideal for families with young children as the caves are quite dark and eerie and small children might find them a bit scary (our 9 year old did). Also, the tour involves a lot of standing still listening to the guide while they talk about the history of each part of the caves. Having said that, older children might enjoy the spookiness and the accounts of some of the nasty accidents that happened there. The temperature tends to be fairly constant underground and might feel cold in the summer so take extra layers with you.
What some of our guests thought about Beer:
- “Beer is a lovely little village with excellent restaurants and great walks along the coast”. AD from England, November 2013.
- “We had a fab time at the Pecorama in Beer. The steam train is great and the indoor soft play area was perfect for the girls to let off steam when it started pouring with rain!” NL from England, August 2014.
- “Lovely village with quaint shops and tea rooms. Pecorama – fun for all the family.” DC from England, August 2013.
- “Beer Caves worth a visit – very informative guide” JP from England, September 2014.
Beer village links
- Anchor Inn: sample menus and opening times, telephone 01297 20386.
- Dolphin Hotel: popular restaurant open to non-residents (you’ll need to book ahead if planning a Friday or Saturday evening meal), telephone 01297 24506.
- Steamers restaurant: opening times and sample menus, telephone 01297 22922.
- Pecorama.info: opening times, prices and events at the model railway centre in Beer or telephone 01297 21542.
- Beerquarry caves.co.uk: explains the history of the caves and gives details of cave tours or telephone 01297 680282.
- Beer fish shop takes bookings for deep sea and half-day angling trips. Telephone 01297 20297.
- Beer Regatta: Facebook page with updates on the next regatta.
- Marine House Art Gallery: opening times and current artists work on show, telephone 01297 625144.
- Beer to Branscombe circular walk: walking trail from Devon Council.