Monday, 13 April 2015

BRAPA : the archives (181-190)

Welcome back to the latest edition of GBG pubs I'd previously visited in those dark days pre-BRAPA.  Today, we finish off in Ipswich, take a trip to Brighton before getting our hands and knees dirty in the North East .....

181.  ST JUDE'S BREWERY TAVERN, Ipswich - We first arrived here a matter of days after it had actually been opened as Ben had read about it on a website just before an Ipswich away game on 19th Feb 2011.  It could have been an inspired move, but both me and Dad came away thinking it was a load of old bollocks.  The staff were overly ingratiating, constantly coming over to tell us "this is what we are trying to achieve", "we hope you like it", "here's a little comic strip we've had made for us, please read it", but it all felt a bit fake.  What did they want?  A pat on the head?   All of this was happening against a backdrop of disorgansation, we were sat there about 20 minutes before they managed to get a drinkable pint out of one of their barrels.  Note to self : let a pub bed down before visiting it!  The beers all come from barrels behind the bar, I don't think even one was to my taste, they had sawdust on the floor, and were obviously trying to recreate some very old pub experience that had been lost in Ipswich.  It was very cold.  I'd always suspected Ben would be happy to drink from a sewer as long as it had a range of 20 ales on, and this was as close as I've seen to proof of this.  We were roped into joining him and Mark for their post-match on 13th August 2011 where I did actually have a beautiful stout, but post-match pints are rarely classic experiences with your mind on the train journey home, plus I lost my wallet but it'd be churlish to blame St Jude's for this too!

182.  HAPPY MAN, Englefield Green - One of the highlights of my Virginia Water A-Z day in January 2014, I'd had a hell of a walk from the lake to this pub totally underestimating the walk AND going a long way round.   So I was sweaty and ready for a good pint!  It didn't let me down.  Despite looking very traditional on first glance, it had quite a light airy modern feel, something halfway between a country inn and a country hospital,  The clientele was generally young, and then the whole of the local women's netball team came in for a drink.  I wasn't complaining, although ordering my Twickenham 'Naked Ladies' suddenly seemed a bit trickier, as did cooling down from the long walk!  Well, it was the restorative pint and 30 min rest I needed, a nice small pub with a welcoming feel.

I was a 'happy man' when I finally arrived here after a back breaking walk.

183.  BASKETMAKERS ARMS, Brighton - 9th Feb 2013 and a second trip to Brighton's new AMEX stadium saw me on my own for the first three pubs of the day, this is the only one still currently in the GBG.  On the face of it, I was walking to this street corner pub in the gentle but famous Laine's area of town about 12 noon, so was expecting a fairly quiet, low key drinking experience.  Well, the pub was heaving!  Totally unexpected, not only were no seats available but it seemed the 'swell' of the crowd took me on a wave and before I knew it, I was standing in the only available place, right next to the toilets (not a bad outcome with my bladder).  This was after having to stand on tiptoes and screech at the barmaid for a pint of the nearest Fullers pump I could see.  I rang Mum to hide my feeling of "idiot away fan wanders into wrong pub" but I think looking back, it was shoppers dropping in for lunch as much as a pre-match atmosphere.  It's hard to tell in a place like Brighton, which I do incidentally, think is a wonderful place to visit.

184.  EVENING STAR, Brighton - A deservedly famous pub and easily the best I've visited in Brighton despite the often bustling pre-match atmosphere , we first came here October 15th 2011 before a teatime kick off at the newly built AMEX stadium, though our 'gang', especially Chris Irvin had been raving about it for years.  On this occasion, it was justified.  Despite the date, we'd been sat on the pebble beach earlier and arrived here to find the gang in full swing.  'Dark Star' is a great brewery and their beers featured heavily, I'm sure I was served by a punk lady I often see at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool.  The pub is a proper wooden, bare boarded minimal drinkers one, friendly locals, simple and uncomplicated, I'd love to come here when no-one else was in but can't imagine it!  Dad's pub claustrophobia meant we ended up outside on this day, it was still warm on the street, and we saw the hilarious sight of Mark Bainton straining on the leash to get to the pub, with his wife just wanting a slow stroll down the street arm-in-arm!  The locals are friendly too and on my second visit 9/2/13 we got sat with a great group of Brighton fans including some who'd travelled from New Zealand.  Wonderful pub.

Me and friendly BHA fans on 9th Feb 2013
185.  PRESTONVILLE ARMS, Brighton - When Brighton played at the Withdean, it was hard to find a walkable pub from the centre (we didn't do trains, taxis, or trust the Park & Ride in our early days of travel when we often drove to games).  However, hidden at the top of a steep street, we parked up at this pub on the evening of 16th December 2005.  I love pubs that look just like another house on a terrace, such as Wellington in York or Big Six in Halifax.  I seem to remember the beer range being a bit limited, the quality being of the southern 'no sparkler' variety, but the place had a nice local feel and we sat of the higher of two split levels.  We had our sandwiches pre-prepared in a Tesco bag, and as Brighton's kit famously looked like a Tesco bag at the time, we somehow thought that gave us the right just to eat our food in their pub, despite my Hull City away top.  Ben was supposed to join us, but I think he met as at the ground about 10 mins in and left 10 mins into the second half so he could get home!

186.  CENTRAL, Gateshead - Hull City's reserves away to Gatehead reserves was a flimsy excuse for John Watson II to introduce me to some 'new' North East pubs and after an interesting day time, this was our main pre-match pub after getting the Metro in.  Gateshead may be a shithole, and was a mess of roadworks & temporary traffic lights on this visit, but this pub stood alone is a building of wonder, and the range of ales, food and friendly hubbub totally uninkeeping with everything we'd just witnessed on the walk here.  John had been raving about this for a while, attending rockabilly gigs here on Sunday afternoon's in an upstairs room, the music was also good.  But my abiding memory was that this is my all time "best food smell in pub ever" almost like they'd piped in some foodie scent, it was unbearable as we didn't really have time to order any.  To cut a long story short, picking Dele Adebola and Seyi Olifinjana in central defence didn't work, Jay Simpson was wasteful, and we were well beaten 2-1.  12th March 2012 was the date.

Gateshead International Stadium - wish I'd stayed in the Central!
187.  ROBIN HOOD, Jarrow - A chilly 5th Jan 2013 saw my double "J" day A-Z trip to both Jesmond and Jarrow, the former would have been enough when we realised how far out of Jarra' the Venerable Bede actually lived!  After a long, fraught walk, we arrived at this little gem but it was surprisingly dead for a Saturday afternoon.  As you might expect, it had a good selection of wonderful Jarrow beers on and I'm sure I had at least one out of Rivet Catcher or Swinging Gibbet, or perhaps the Irish Stout.  We were sat near some jolly old locals who seemed to be the only other people in the pub, so perhaps it was "their" seats, designated!  I tried (successfully as it happened) to shuffle out to get to the loo without disturbing them but according to Krzb and John, apparently they saw this as a rude gesture for NOT asking them to move.  Glad I was unaware at the time.  Never mind, I doubt I'll be back.

188.  CLUNY, Byker - 'Once visited, never forgotten' might be a nice cliche for this pub, but three visits makes that sound a bit hollow!  It was never with real ale in mind when I first came here, for a "punk all dayer" with Leftover Crack as headliners, Hangmen pulling out (boo), and a few other bands we semi knew.  Not sure we even associated it with ale, in fact I remember drinking an array of unusual foreign bottles from countries like Greece and Russia!  28 June 2003 was the likely date so maybe it either didn't do cask back then or we weren't aware, it had several seating areas separate from the venue.  We then went for lunch on 12th March 2012, nearly 9 years later and it was nice to be back, this time ale was certainly on the agenda, though the nice tattooed barmaid was a bit unsure on the whole "nut allergy/pesto" conundrum which didn't inspire confidence.  We were back here 31st July (with Lu and Lisa this time) 2014 for another gig, Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys which was superb and some amazing ales on show, sure a few crazy drunk women on wine tried to spoil it but a great place to sit and have drink or a meal, very relaxed in that modern style, and stopped me wishing I was watching Hull City at some godforsaken Europa league place!

John, Lu and Lisa enjoy an ale in Cluny before Big Sandy
189.  CUMBERLAND ARMS, Byker - Back to the Gateshead reserves day on 12th March 2012, and after lunch at the Cluny, John and I crossed the river and went uphill to this pub overlooking the picturesque Ouseburn Valley, and just as well we had a good view because the pub didn't open til 3pm so we had plenty of time to sit on the outside benches and admire the view.  Luckily, the staff were tooling around moving barrels, cleaning and stuff so at least gave us hope they were opening soon.  It was well worth the wait, a fantastic old style basic boozer with a great range of ales (I'm sure I had at least one by Wylam) and some interesting decor, funny signs - you know the thing.  I even seem to remember other levels where they have music nights and stuff so quite a popular institution with students from what Lizzy was telling me 'live' on facebook, ah them were the days!  We stayed there for 2 or 3, the longest we spent in one place all day and it was easy to see why.

190.  BACCHUS, Newcastle - My memories are very hazy of my two visits here, as is the case with most of my trips to Newcastle, but I have a very good excuse.  On my first visit, which I think might well have been 14th Jan 2009 when we beat the Toon in the FA Cup thanks to a Daniel Cousin goal on a freezing night, I accidentally ordered a 10% stout.  Ooops, I drank half of it (I'd already been in about 5 pubs), strategically placed it behind an impressive pillar, and told an equally drunk Geordie to mind it while I went for the loo.  I scarpered!  I hope he enjoyed it.  And then, to my total disbelief, I was here I think with Lu and John Watson II before a Dreadnoughts gig 24th Feb 2011 and I repeated my faux pas!  I sat and drank it slowly this time, the pub had a very different atmos with post work goers and pre theatre goers all merging into one cackling, mutton dressed as lamb style mess.  John and I criticised their attempts at the CAMRA logo on the blackboard, that's the only other thing I remember though I think Lu tried to get some vegan food.  Hazy memories, understandable.

So, there's your lot for now.  I'm not looking forward to the next lot as a Newcastle is a confusing place to remember when drunk, and I'm sure the rest of Tyne & Wear won't be much better! 


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