Saturday, 24 January 2015

BRAPA : the archives (101-110)

Good evening all,

In this edition of the archives, we will pay our final visits to Preston and Leicester, before climbing those apples n pears to London town once more, this time crossing the Thames a couple of times too, hope you enjoy .....

101 - OLDE DOG & PARTRIDGE, Preston - Part of the first GBG influenced trip to visit my dear sister at Uni in Preston, I'm now thinking it could have been as early as spring/autumn 2002 rather than 2003 but cannot be sure.  This, along with the likes of Black Bull (booo!), Market Tavern, New Brittania etc was earmarked for a visit but I kept putting it off as everyone told me it was a 'bikers' pub, as though that meant trouble.  As the current guide testifies, it is more of a rock pub for the long haired greasers, who might have worn leather jackets, had patches (not eye ones) etc, some may have been bikers, but they didn't threaten me with a switchblade knife or anything if that was the inference.  I was pleasantly surprised, quite small and tight, with the kind of think table layout that reminded me of a school canteen, only a very cool rocking one.  It had lots of interesting beermats on the walls from memory too, a quite impressive ale selection, and was quite smoky but probably not anymore!

102 - SLUG & LETTUCE, Leicester - To most York ale drinkers, the idea of getting a superb real ale experience in a S&L pub apart from a cloudy Black Sheep would be laughable.  But on a cold 16th October 2011, "Uncle" Richard deemed this our first pub of the day with it's 10am opening time.  We had breakfast here too and I had a very nice egg n sausage sandwich with a pot of tea thrown in, which I enjoyed alongside one of the 4 or 5 microbrewery ales on display.  We weren't the only football fans in but most were just shoppers in for breakfast, whilst a few plasmas were showing sporty and music videos just to remind you you were in a Slug & Lettuce house, it was that easy to forget!  Proof the chain can do it, so come on York's two, up your game to this level!

103 - LEYTON ORIENT SUPPORTERS CLUB, Leyton, London - Although it has been serving real ale since 1995 apparently, this multi-award winning club wasn't really on the radar or in the guide on our many early visits to Brisbane Road  (the Appletreewick gang were interested I'd been here on my 500th pub trip last summer).  So after drawing with them in the cup at the KC, 15th Jan 2013 gave us a great chance to put this right, and after a lame experience in King William IV, we were well impressed by this place.  True, it was very busy and standing room only, but great hard working staff, a great range of ales, cheap filled rolls on the bar, and bumping into Chris D made for an excellent bonus pre-match experience.  I'll look forward to popping back in here in two or three years time for a league game.  I sampled a real cider and one of the ales I had was the regular Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, very nice it was too.

104 - SNOOTY FOX, Canonbury, London - Dad and I came here pre-Arsenal away Wed 4th Dec 2013 but it was all a bit of an accident as the first two pubs we'd walked to didn't open til 5pm and we couldn't be bothered to hang around, so found this nearer the Emirates, on the corner of a busy main road, and it truly was one of the away pubs of the season.  Save for a couple of Hull City fans who saw our colours and lingered to chat a bit too long (the Alan Bennett one was particularly annoying), this was a superb experience with some great ales (a pale from Camden was the pick, a decent Otter too) and the decor including a retro jukebox made it feel very cosy and 'lived in' despite the location.  Untappd friend Clare recently was here, I commented, she told me the macaroni cheese was great too!  I wanted to go back this year but the call of BRAPA was too great.

Proof I didn't love all my beers in the Snooty Fox! 
105 - BREE LOUISE, Euston - In the early days of train travel, I'm thinking 2006-2009 kind of time, it was a rule that on arrival at Kings Cross, you'd get a tube or just trek up the road towards Euston and get in one of the real ale pubs in that area.  Having realised Doric Arch perhaps hadn't quite lived up to expectations (see next archive post), a little convoluted meander around the backstreets behind Euston took you to this place.  It's always busy, and as a result, generally standing room only, but no surprise as it has not only a good range of handpumps, but several barrels behind the bar serving gravity ale.  I think we did get seated eventually the first two times, but my most memorable moment is leaning on an old barrel talking to a crazy Everton supporting woman who was funny but I vaguely recall offended someone in our group (Christine?  Ben? ) but details are hazy so could be wrong.  Since about 2010, we've stopped going for one reason or another (better choice of pubs?) but my last two attempts have seen me blocked at the door due to being heaving, so turned back in favour of Parcel Yard or something better.  I've heard rumours from several sources that this pub will be demolished by 2016 which is sad if true, as it would be for any pub, but a guide one especially.

106 - MARKET PORTER, Borough Market - Gawd bless London taarn and it's busy market workers - there can't be many GBG pubs boasting a 6am opening time!  I'd love to come in here in fish stained overalls at 6:01am and see if I got served a pint.  It was closer to lunchtime when I met Tom in here pre defeat (isn't it always?) at Millwall on 7/4/12, as we waited for Dad who was doing something cultural.  The amount of tourists here was ridiculous, not many pints of real ale seemed to get served and despite hard working staff getting frustrated, it took me an age to get served.  The tourists were not just because this is a famous old pub but some of Harry Potter was filmed in the pub (the pumpclips adorning the ceiling impressed me more, but I still whored myself on Facebook about the HP reference at the time).  The ales were a bit overpriced and once i delved deeper, I didn't find the range that impressive, but still a nice pub, if only we could've got sat down.  We ended up in a German bierkeller for heaven's sake! 

Trying to blend in with tourist snappers at Market Porter, Apr 2012.
107 - PRINCE ALBERT (ROSE'S), Woolwich - 25th August 2012 and before one of the least eventful matches you'll ever see (0-0 at Charlton in a thunderstorm), I was at our pre-match pub first at dead on 11am like the diligent pub ticker I am.  Any chance of a relaxing drink before the Welly cavalry arrived were scuppered as a bull terrier, friendly but one of the most mental, least docile dogs I've ever witnessed in a pub was everywhere, I was terrified of the speed it moved at as I hung onto my pint for dear life.  This was a one room carpetted, long thin pub so dog aside, I felt at home until I went to the loo and just outside, two huge lizards in a tank were staring at me.  Quirky pub!  Beer range was a bit disappointing with only three on, I was a bit worried about Ben, but they were interesting enough (and one changed) to keep us there for the majority of our session.

Normal away match service resumes and Ben & Tom arrive at Rose's.
108 - CLARET FREE HOUSE, Addiscombe - We soon learnt on away days that when Chris Irvin waxes lyrical on a pub, you should probably proceed with caution.  It is also true that "on the day" circumstances don't always allow you to appreciate a pub as much as you could.  It was probably the 20th Jan 2007 1-1 draw and Dad and myself had used the "football away day real ale" booklet (remember them?) in our desperation as the Palace area was an ale desert at that time.  That had led us to Thornton Heath, one of the most depressing areas I've ever visited, ever and was akin to something out of a Derek Jarman novel for the cultured amongst you.  Therefore, with a bit more effort getting lost on the street but totally battle scarred, we arrived to meet Chris and Tom here.   It was quite a dark pub, I remember lots of dark blue walls and carpets, probably should have been claret (actually named this cos it used to be a wine bar).  A few locals blocked the bar as they watched a match on screens above, but there was a great range of beers.  However, Chris had a really bad cold and we spent most of the time with our breath held, hoping he wouldn't snot in our pints.  Dad came away feeling it hadn't been a good experience but I think on another day, it'd be a much better experience, it's been in the guide for something like 34 consecutive years so must be doing summat right!

109.  SPREADEAGLE, Croydon - 28th Jan 2014 and one of the last 'new' pubs I ever visited before I'd think of it as a BRAPA tick, though the seed was firmly planted in my mind at this stage.  It had been a traditional defeat at Selhurst Park which leaves you with the ranging vitriol and before calling it a night at our Croydon Travelodge, we walked down the road to this glorious looking building.  It was very good inside too, one of those where you can tell they keep great pride in keeping it clean, everything polished, and the fact it was a Fullers pub didn't bother us one bit, as friendly staff were surprised to see new customer's at this hour.  I read they have a special Fuller's award for keeping their beer, and the quality of my ESB made the pain of defeat go away!  As "Babies" by Pulp played on the jukebox, I could've settled here for another had it not been last orders.

Great post match pint after another Palace defeat
110.  CASK PUB & KITCHEN, Pimlico - Dad had been here a few times during (well, after presumably) his pensions meetings in London and wanted me to sample the delights of a great range of beers in relaxing but basic bar surroundings.  However, these places can feel very different on a midweek daytime than on a Saturday evening, so as a stop off on the way back into London from an away game which involved Victoria station (no idea the game or time, am guessing about 2011/12 - Mark and Ben were in another pub in the same area) made for a busy, fraught chaotic experience.  This wasn't helped by the upheaval of a pub refurbishment which meant, for example, the toilets were temporarily unisex, food was at a minimum, and no-one seemed in control.  Dad assured me on his last visit, it was a bit calmer again, some consolation for me!  



  1. First off, a correction to the history.
    106, we did indeed visit the Market Porter that day, but all met up in the Rake, after I whipped in the eastern end of the westbound middle platform at Edgware Rd, your Dad did something cultural, and I think you whipped in another pub. We went in the Market Porter afterwards, and ended up finishing in a tourist avoiding German place, which I think was essentially in a basement. 2-0, game and a half between them experienced centre halves Bradley and Cooper as I recall.

    108. That was the day you nearly didn't get in the ground for being drunk and disorderly, apparently. I think we misjudged the distance to the ground as well.

  2. Thanks Tom, re 106 I do remember you at the Rake now (but not Dad), I'll be reviewing that pub soon.

    As for 108, it was such an unsatisfying beer day with Thornton Heath and then the Claret not being amazing, I can't believe I actually was at all drunk and remember at turnstiles thinking "good job he hasn't seen me at certain other away games!"