At first I thought I’d wandered into a giant storage area, thanks to the bright decor, so I popped next door.

But I found that place was completely dead so I returned and discovered the massive yellow monstrosity on Lewes Road is in fact The Gladstone pub.

But, as the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and so it is with this gem, nestled into an area of Brighton not usually known for great boozers.

Well, this one is the exception that proves the rule – from the moment I stepped in there was a real buzz about it, a warm welcome and upbeat feeling and that’s despite it being slap bang next to the crematorium.

The mix of age groups was the first thing I noticed, from the pre-school dot with blond hair right up to the grizzled old guys who looked like they hadn’t moved for months.

And, as well as appealing to sprogs and octogenarians alike, it is clearly a pub of choice for real workers to stop off after a day’s hard graft.

I’ve always made it a rule in life not to antagonise scaffolders. After all they’re incredibly fit and add this to their devil-may-care attitude about living or dying and it means they’re not a group to upset.

But, this bunch of guys were brilliant and mixed in really well with the wide selection of students, office types, hardened drinkers and all the others. To give at least a couple a name check, I spotted two clearly marked Crawley Scaffolders.

There were a number of tempting-looking student deals but I decided to go for LSD from Langham Brewery. The pump was appropriately decorated with a swirly design and the first taste of this rich and rewarding 5.2 beast told me what a great pint it was. LSD actually stands for Langham Special Draft and it won’t have the effect you might have experienced with these letters as a student many years ago but it’s very enjoyable.

There might not be darts, fruit machines, jukebox, quiz machine or even a pool table but the pub is all the better for it. It’s all about coming in, getting a few drinks down your neck and conversing with decent people – table football is the one exception.

In times past there must have been distractions as there’s a hefty red light situated above where the pool table would have been, but to my mind the place is better off without it. Even the screens are rolled away in the front bar and presumably only appear when there’s a suitable sporting occasion. The only giveaway is a mesh holder on the ceiling where I believe the projector would be placed.

All four bar staff looked like they’d been recruited straight out of freshers’ week but they were all equally, friendly, chatty and, dare I say it, efficient.

There are a number of really nice touches – fresh flowers on the bar, a 2for1 offer on burgers on a Wednesday, old fashioned-style lightbulbs, black and white (green) paper straws and some really nice old metal signs, which look original.

Having made friends I wandered through to the back room and discovered a whole new world. This place does have a screen, but it also has a great raised stage area and judging by the drum kit perched up under the ceiling it looks as if they host some great live music.

Right out the back there’s a decent sized funky garden area which looks a great spot to while away a few hours. There was even a wood-burning stove, though I couldn’t say whether it functions (maybe I’ll add a little video of it online).

Back indoors I visited the facilities which strangely you have to enter through a crowd control barrier. Once through the barrier there’s a fireplace dividing the ladies and gents. There’s not much to say about the toilets except I bet that minuscule stainless steel urinal is over-run on a busy evening.

Having dutifully washed my hands and returned to the bar I felt peckish and so ordered some skinny fries – at just £3 this is one of the better bar snacks I’ve encountered. If the rest of the food on the menu matches this quality and value for money then the Union Grill, as it’s known, should be worth trying.

If I had one gripe, like so many decent places, the real regulars block up the bar area on stools so the rest of us have to scrabble around to be served in the remaining slots.

But generally this is a great pub, a little rough and ready but the better for it. I highly recommend The Gladstone, you’ll love it – and do me a favour, if you visit ask the bar staff why there’s a wooden ladder on the wall while the metal one is propped up in the back corner?

The Gladstone, 123 Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 3QB

Decor: Two stars

Forget the bright, unpleasant exterior and step into the down-to-earth interior.

Drink: Five stars

LSD, a powerful, yet refreshing, beer with real depth of taste.

Price: Four stars

One of the richest pints I’ve tasted was only £4.20 and £3 for fries. 

Food: Four stars

I’d need to up my order to really know but the fries were great.

Atmosphere: Four stars

Buzzing and caters for all ages.

Staff: Three stars 

Attentive and willing, just like all good university students.

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