Sunday, 30 August 2015

BRAPA - North of York

Is this real ale, or have I gone soft?  Read on to find out.
Traumatic, frustrating, needlessly expensive .... it might sound like I'm describing a Hull City transfer deadline day, but in fact I refer to one of those traditional BRAPA rural crawls, the type I have missed for much of the summer.

The 11th hour drama hit late on Friday evening, with almost simultaneous texts received from Christine and John Watson II (two of my top occasional BRAPsters).  They told me they that the 'Good Beer Guide Privilege Club' had come good on their 2016 promise.  When I checked my account, my account details were missing.  My theory is that I was affected by joining when the big CAMRA website hacking occurred last year.  I have queried it.

Anyway, Christine kindly agreed to let me have her GBG until mine turns up whilst JW2 interestingly revealed that CAMRA don't want 2016 GBG details to go public until the official release date of 10th September.  So I probably shouldn't have written any of the above!

What I WILL say is that my late decision NOT to go to Coxwold or Shipton by Beningborough but to instead consider Wass and Raskelf is purely a whim on my part.  Do you believe me?


Saturday morning dawned nice and sunny, I forgot the BRAPA snacks in the fridge (schoolboy error) and had to dash across Lendal bridge to get the number 40 bus from Exhibition Square because it didn't stop at Station Approach "LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO!"  Sweating before I started!

740.  White Bear, Stillington

As it closes mid afternoon (one of my chief BRAPA annoyances), I decided I'd better start here and arrived in the pretty village of Stillington at about 12:30pm, one of my latest starts ever on a Saturday!  As I walked up to the pub, the outside front was teeming with wedding goers and I had just walked past the village church and seen a nervous looking bride.  It was a two roomed pub so I went into the main bar where a helpful barmaid gave me a full run down of the ales, and I had a local Hemsley Honey and unlike some beers of the style, you could really smell and taste the honey.  Wonderful, and I'm not even a massive honey fan.  Anyway, in addition to the wedding goers, Leeds Utd fans were getting excited about their team on TV in the same bar.  This was worse than hell.  Seeing I looked traumatised, barmaid and other staff members (who I think had been discussing my plight!) let me sit in the dining room where just one old gent was eating.  It was calm and I could start to appreciate I was in a very good pub.  The old gent was very proud of Stillington, though he somehow tried to link today's wedding party, which had dispersed for 1pm kick off.  He said that a Land Girl came to live here in 1942, and events spiralled resulting in today's wedding!  He also claimed I might get drenched later on from imaginary showers forecast, but god often protects Stillington from the elements.  Interesting theories.

A pub place mat in the dining room, better than the pub photo I took!
In a nice post script to my visit, I left one of my BRAPA cards under a serviette.  It was found that evening by JW2's girlfriend Lucie, who had booked in for an evening meal to celebrate her Dad's (Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo) birthday and JW2 posted it on Untappd with his pint of Hemsley Honey.

Anyway, a 3 mile walk later along traumatic country roads lacking in pavements, I was at Huby.

741.  Mended Drum, Huby

The pub was quite dark and lounge-like, so probably not quite having the olde worlde charm of the White Bear, but wow what an amazing range of unusual beers.  I thought of my Dad's gripes against golden ales as the helpful barman ran me through the styles and breweries in offer. He may win BRAPA beard of the year (though it was a lot hipster in truth).  I looked unfavourably on the two keg ones even if a man from liverpool did come over specially to give one of them to this pub!  Still, the cask selection was great and a Shiny New Moon from Derby was wonderful, citrus bitter hops, incredibly drinkable, "are you watching Bernard Ev?"  A smoking woman with a terrible cough who was presumably the landlady and two regular chaps were outside, so I stayed in, though she kept giving me disapproving looks, maybe I was supposed to join in with the chat.  But I was too busy working out where the bus stopped to get back to York, difficult with no signal!

After an hour of walking, this pub needed to be good - and it was.
The bus back to York was on time and all went very smoothly and I had an hour to kill before my next bus manoeuvre, so went to The Maltings because it was handily positioned between the two bus stops I might need.  A nice brunette barmaid was raving about this amazing beer called 'Teacups' so I let her sell me it but (see top picture), it looked like no ale I had ever had before and was so gingery I wish I'd had a taster first, but my fault for trying to impress her!  It was quite busy but I sat in the "Bournemouth" seat and it actually cleared out a bit, though I did gave my spare chair to some elderly folk who tried to claim they weren't too elderly to not stand in a pub, but took it anyway!

The next bus leg went well too.  I had to get the 31 to Shipton-by-Beningborough with actually stopped right outside the pub I'd decided not to go to.  Right behind this bus came a number 29, where me and one other chap had to change to get to Newton on Ouse.  Phew.  It acually all worked out and credit to the 31 bus driver for being a top bloke! 

742.  Dawnay Arms, Newton on Ouse

So, this turned out to be quite the landmark pub and the best BRAPA experience today as well.  It was my 100th North Yorkshire tick, it was stamp number 12 for my York Ale Trail (meaning I am now in "prize" territory) and most importantly, probably the last time I will tick off a pub in the 2015 GBG.  Plus it was special,  When I walked in, a barman who was like York's answer to Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory was arguing whether Aqua-Man can be considered a superhero in the same league as Superman and Batman.  I had nothing to add to this, but stood at the bar chatting with him and a young Geordie lad who is the first person I've met who hates Brass Castle ales.  We were on the YPA by Roosters and it was a cracking pint.  A woman from Seaham came in next with a very moody husband, I tried to get some North East rivalry going but neither of them liked football or really understood the concept of Geordie v Mackem which seemed very unusual.  Great pub, and it was nice to here a bit of hatred for Shipton's Dawnay Arms 2 miles away.  I have to say, I may have broken a 2016 GBG confidentiality clause at this point, but I tried to be cryptic about it.  

The Dawnay Arms - superior in Newton on Ouse.

Following this great experience and the news of Hull City winning, what could possibly go wrong?  Well, BRAPA has taught me ying and yang is alive and kicking so missing the last bus of the day (to Raskelf) was probably always going to happen!  All my fault though, my excuse being that I rushed this last minute planning and didn't write down the times properly.  Or stand at the correct stop! I didn't even see it, so it was eye-watering taxi back to York, I had no option, and with hindsight, I could have got the other Dawnay Arms in after all.  Never mind.

I ended my day at first the Three Legged Mare where the nice taxi man dropped me, and then York Tap where I had a great mini session with a Geordie who was travelling back (very slowly) to Shrewsbury.  Two nice Geordies in one day, wow!   Then KFC and bed.

Other News

26 for the month wasn't bad, should easily have been more but a combination of bad luck and less motivation in the second half caught up with me.

Today at the Everitt Family BBQ,  I should get my first look at the new 2016 GBG and my appetite will be rekindled.  I'm also planning a return trip to Naburn's Blacksmith's Arms for another Ale Trail tick but as you may know from my archives, it isn't my favourite pub in the whole wide world.

Wednesday should see a return to midweek BRAPA and then it is back to Beds on Saturday, but of course plans will all be dependent of the new Guide. Exciting times.



  1. I just about believe you regarding your last minute whim. The fact that you didn't have the 2016 GBG in your possession means that, unless you colluded with somebody who did, you would have had no knowledge of which pubs were in and which were out. There may be further inquiries made, for which you may need to be interrogated.

    I prefer to think of weddings as 'pre-divorce ceremonies', that way there can be no disappointment and potential for a good result. Funnily when I was in Coxwold there was a pre-divorce ceremony party, which like you was resulted in staff going out of their way to accommodate us 'normals'. I think in that part of the world they are used to it and willing to make an effort.

    How far do I have to go to win the beard of the year award?

    I'm slightly disappointed not to have got any abuse when you equalised from being 3-0 down. I am also delighted that my defence held out and I managed to get a point, which it sounds like you had to battle slightly for.

  2. 1. I am willing to be tortured for the cause!

    2. Pre-divorce ceremonies?? I love that.

    3. I have decided you will be up there in the final reckoning. Not being a hipster helps immensely.

    4. I was going to send one blanket text when I went 4-3 up but lack of signal most of day then bus woes stopped me, but mainly cos I was lucky just to get a draw!

  3. 4. If I had actually received a blanket text, and I could well imagine what it would have said, the consquences would have been interesting to say the least. I'm really kicking myself for effectively missing a penalty to go 4 up, I thought you were going to score 5 or 6. That said, the tap in remains easily available. I just hope the 2 points dropped don't come to haunt me at the end of the season. That will make more sense when I have sent an email later in the week.

  4. For Beds, a Leighton Buzzard plus bus is available, see this link for the details:
    The map of validity is here:
    It is £2.20, or £1.45 if you purchase a Nitwit card using the leaflet I gave you Charlton day.

    If the Plusbus doesn't cover a wide enough area, let me know which villages you are covering and as much as you know of your moves, bus services etc as you have planned so far and I shall see what I can do either tomorrow or Thursday night.

  5. Hi Tom, thanks for the travel info. Not too much village work likely as LB seems like the real ale hub of Beds!

  6. Hi Tom, no guarantee but if I do villages tomorrow, might be Heath n Reach, Wing and/or Stanbridge.