Wandering into the Hope and Ruin I had a flashback – it suddenly struck me I’d been in this particular dive before.

In a past life I used to be a keen follower of a band called Young Rebel Set and this was one of the many venues I visited to see this quite excellent Stockton outfit.

Very sadly the band is no more, slightly less sadly, though not by much, the Hope and Ruin is still with us.

This grungy place has a large upstairs room where just the right number of people can pack themselves in to watch whoever is performing in an ideally suited space.

But apart from this, I find it very difficult to see any allure in the place.

Previously my eyes must have been dimmed by the thought of seeing my heroes, but this time, with them wide open, I’ve gone right off the place.

I’m not against grungy places per se and I realise music venues carry a certain aroma and a slightly different clientele. But this one just doesn’t hit the right note. OK, it’s full of tat and that’s probably to be expected but there’s also something which tells you automatically it wouldn’t be a good idea to eat here.

Any food you might consider comes out of the back of an old caravan with the number plate Bab 666 – maybe there’s a message right there. I watched the cook and waitress plough their way through a fair bit of the food they were producing, and they seemed medically fit, but it still wouldn’t have tempted me to try the hot dog and chips.

The drink, on the other hand, is in an entirely different league – stacks of choice and some really great brews on offer.

The friendly barman who served me, the one who looks like he’s out of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory rather than the one who looks like a red-neck American, recommended a pint of Raspberry Berliner Weisse. Jaebycakes, as he seems to be known, advised this on two counts, firstly that it was his favourite and secondly that it wouldn’t be on tap much longer. I felt obliged to try it, but the sharp, sour taste was far too much for my palate.

I accept some will rave about this 4.5 per cent sour fruit brew, but not me.

The next taster I had was the Get It on chilli chocolate porter at 4.7 per cent and I have to say this was fantastic – a really pleasant, powerful taste of both its main constituents.

However, it was just a fraction too heavy as a first pint, so I instead chose to cross the pond and went for the 4.4 per cent Five Points Pale. It’s very cloudy when it’s poured and doesn’t change but this spikey, aromatic pale ale is dry and inviting – an excellent pint all round.

The upside of the pub being a dumping ground for old TVs, washing machines, old piping, an avocado bath and a whole load of other junk is that it hasn’t all ended up in some Sussex hedgerow. The downside is that the pub looks and feels like a tip. Even the old polystyrene you get as packing with a delivery has been made into “decorative” chains.

I assume people are actively encouraged to write on the walls and any remaining space is completely plastered in stickers. There are a million different colours and types of lights all competing to cut through the gloom but that just adds to make it feel like a dodgy Christmas nightmare.

Like the furniture, the people are, if I’m being polite, eclectic and dressed head to toe in black. If I’m not, they range from the totally wired to care in the community. The pub says it is family friendly – sure, if you’re a member of The Addams Family.

There are, however, redeeming features – the Formica on a couple of tables took me back to my youth, the Charles and Di plate above the bar was well placed ahead of tomorrow’s wedding (I give it five years by the way) and the windows, which open straight on to the street, offer fresh air when opened.

The ceiling is covered in old electric wires and a mixture of ill-fitting tiles which shake reassuringly with the heavy base emanating from upstairs.

I need to be honest and say I would hopefully return to the Hope and Ruin if I was keen to see another of my musical heroes. However, as far as popping in for a quick pint (good as the ale is) I wouldn’t want to ruin a pleasant evening.

However, I wouldn’t want to be unfair with a review, so I should say I quite liked the look of the old school refectory-style chairs, although they weren’t too comfy, and there was a really cute mongrel in the corner wearing his own bandana.

I did pop upstairs and looked through the door to the music venue – I don’t know if it was The Common Cold or Fear Of The Horse on stage, but whichever it was they were never going to entice me to stay. I bid the scary clown a fond farewell as I dived back into the night.

Hope and Ruin

Queen’s Road, Brighton BN1 3WA

Decor: One star

Drink: Four stars

Price: Two stars

Atmosphere: Two stars

Staff: Three stars

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