Monday 19 October 2015

BRAPA : the archives (331-340)

"It's Monday night, it's archive night, it's Simey's break from ale!" as a brilliant 'live' album by the now defunct Amazing Royal Crowns almost started off.  These next ten pubs see more reminiscing from Wakefield before trips to places like Derby, Plymouth and Durham.  Stay tuned!

331.  Hop, Wakefield

One of the modern clutch of Ossett pubs with a pleasing smattering of Rat beer to boot, but lacking the warm pubby hubbub of some of the more traditional pubs (Three Pigeons, Fox in York etc) that they take on.  Still, for a fourth pub of the day, me and Jig were well in our stride when we came here on 30.1.14 and probably at our peak, so very pleased with the ales and thin bricked interior down a little cobbled lane.  It certainly had a bit more character than the Sheffield version, Live music seemed to be the order of the day, with bands setting up and sound-checking even in this mid afternoon weekday setting.  I was quite hoping we'd be treated to an impromptu gig.  I chose a very nice guest ale, Cascade by Liverpool Organic and had a rant about Scousers always being 'victims' which less face it, is often the case.  Though I love that city for ale even more than Wakey!  Sister Lu and her Wakey-boyf Andy Dunn have seen live music here, had nights out, and Andy even saw Leatherface play here were the compere mischievously referred to them as a band from "Newcastle" just to wind up Frankie Stubbs, which is brave to say the least.  I'd come back here.

332.  Harry's Bar, Wakefield

A bit like Bull & Fairhouse, my memories of our visit here are a bit hazy but Jig, in his proudest pre-BRAPA moment, read in a local CAMRA mag about a 'pre-emptive' tick called the Old Print Works which was down the same alleyway as this pub, so we did both together.  There was a post-work hustle and bustle here and it was quite a tight squeeze in the small bar area, where I had an Acorn guest called Drop Kick which Jig described as a "caramel pale" but I can't remember.  To put a bit more 'meat on the bones' of this archive entry, I visited here Tuesday just gone 6th October 2015 and the interior came flooding back, with a nice brick and wood feel, a real fire, lots of ales and reasonably helpful staff.  It also apparently has a great view of a famous 99-arch railway viaduct.  It does have an underlying "unfriendly local" feel though, and though it was quieter, the only good seat meant I had to squeeze past this old man.  I did so with typical BRAPA good humour "oooh, don't mind me, I'll not disturb you" but got nothing back at all!  And then his friend arrived and they talked about farming equipment so I glared at them in a pitiful way.  However, I couldn't stay mad, my Five Towns ale was, despite the unprepossessing pump clip and name, one of the most delightful citrus beers I've ever tried.  I used to think I was loyal to this brewery due to their connection to family friend Charlie, but the past year has told me they are brilliant, though careful because they specialise in plus 6% beers I notice.

Return visit to Harry's on 6.10.15
333.  Brewery Tap, Peterborough

19th Jan 2013 and on that snowy lunchtime where the game was amazingly ON, me and Dad (buoyed by an excellent morning pub session in the Ostrich) made our apologies to our Welly gang friends and headed to the Brewery Tap,  After all, we both dislike the Barge but others insisted on going, but I was intrigued to see where my possible favourite brewery Oakham brews it's ales.  We were a bit skepitcal at first as the building in like a huge warehouse and in temperatures like this, we thought it'd be a case of keeping coats and scarves on.  However, our first abiding memory was not so much the great ales but the fact the radiators around us generated enough heat to get comfy!  It's the little things.  Now don't ask me if I want Thai food, my one Oakham turn off.  We must've loved it as we were in here after the match briefly too!  However, our favourite time came before a pre-season friendly in July of the same year, where Manny Figueroa scored one of the best Hull City goals ever!  Pre-match was equally amazing, we pretty much had the huge place to ourselves as I worked my way up through the pre-season gears - which went something like 'JHB', 'Citra', 'Scarlet Macaw', 'Inferno', 'Bishops Farewell'.  Whenever passing through Peterborough station, we always can see the brew pub from the train and wonder if we have time to jump out for a quick pint! 

"I'll drink on my owwwwn, I'll drink on my owwwwn, I'm Simey Everitt, I'll drink on my owwwwn"

334.  Hole in the Wall, Torquay

After many seasons of "love" for Babbacombe, the Crown & Sceptre, and crusty bread and Bel Paese cheese out on the seafront, admiring some of Agatha Christie's inspiration points, me and Dad took the brave step to do a "Torquay proper" day on our trip there on 18th Oct 2003.  It was a mixed experience, the pub being the plus.  After a nice walk round the harbour where we saw a Hull City fan (Spit!  How dare he?), we went to my ancient (1540) designated GBG pub.  I can remember it very clearly despite the passing of time.  The floor was cobbled and uneven, the first time I'd seen such a weird floor in a pub.  The landlord was a friendly chap, very impressed when he refused to give us our pints because it was the end of the barrel!  None of this "try it and let me know" or the "the last pint isn't always bad" bollocks we got off the barmaid in York's Red Lion.  Sad, 12 years into the future of a so-called real ale revolution and this 2003 experience still remains the best example.  Being pre-smoking ban, we found a nice "Roy Castle Clean Air" room to sit in, with a model of a toilet that you had to put coins in and 'flush' if anyone smoked or swore or something!  It was quite quirky,  Then the CLF (Canadian Lesbian Front) came in looking for lunch and a quaint British pub but they didn't disturb us much.  Nice pub, but we still reverted to our Babbacombe roots the following season.  

335.  Brunswick Inn, Derby

This was war!  Me and Dad had fallen in love with the Flowerpot pub in April 2006 having met the Irvin's there for some amazing ale and scran, and let's be honest, why would we want to go anywhere else?  However, people with a surname that rhymes with "Bandroo" then insisted on putting constant pressure on us to get ourselves to the supposedly even more wonderful Brunswick.  Dad and me are of the same ilk, the more someone insists, the more we'll resist, especially when a nice Flowerpot man (not Bill or Ben) with a Morris Minor fetish told us the Brunswick was in decline.  "Hah, take that Bandroos!"   And sure enough, it was soon out of the GBG.  But you can't avoid these places for ever, and after other pubs had been trialed and the hoo-hah had died down, we were probably more open to the idea of going.  Especially as 21st December 2012 (a Friday night game before Christmas on Doomsday where my morning train hit a horse!) was one of the most impractical days for a football match ever.  Work wouldn't let me leave early so I hot-footed it to Derby on a packed train with my selection of Morrison's bottles, frantically texting Dad.  We had no time to stray too far from the station, and I was shocked when he told me he'd been up at Brunswick with Jarvo and the full quota of Gooligans!  Luckily, he'd discovered a quiet upstairs bar where we returned for two lovely pints before kick off.  It was like a working man's club, Big Dave came in and sat with us for a bit, totally shocked of course to hear we'd never been before!  We won 2-1, a just reward for a traumatic day and one of the proudest Hull City performances I have ever witnessed against a very good Derby side.  A tough but memorable experience.

336.  Silk Mill Cider and Ale House, Derby

22nd Feb 2011 and Dad parked in the dodgiest public car park ever on this Tuesday afternoon (the man kept calling us "duck" (obviously) and admitted our car still might get stolen!).  As we crossed the road, we saw a huge banner stuck on the front of this pub with slogans like "we are a fantastic real ale pub selling tonnes of ales and we are brilliant so please visit us now as we'll get in the GBG one day".  Not quite that, but it was enough for me and Dad to be convinced to tentatively step inside.  It was quite a spartan, bare boarded set up, it felt like a recently opened huge micro pub but the beers were very impressive!  Sadly, we left to stick to my pre-match plan which involved 3 or 4 pubs which weren't quite this good.  We returned the following season for a couple on a busy 19th November 2012 with some of the Welly gang, it now was carpetted, light and airy and had a much warmer feel.  The beers were still dispensed from huge casks like some crazy mini beer fest, and Dad felt the effect of the Thornbridge Jaipur but was it the beer that was off or the fact it was 5.9% Hmmm, I know my theory on the matter.  Again we moved on to a heaving Brewery Tap, again we would have been better staying here.  Best pre-match football pub I've done in this amazing ale town.

337.  Thistle Park Tavern, Plymouth

If I could locate my little notepad which, in December 2006 only, I recorded my pub experiences in what I suppose was a prehistoric version of this blog(!), I could tell you what I drank here and exactly what my views were.  It was definitely some locale and although my Friday night walk around town had started slowly, the pubs got better and this was my favourite of the night.  A local woman at the bar even felt my cheeks (not my bum) when I walked in to test the outdoor temperature.  I was soon chatting to her, the staff and a former Bristol Rovers player, who seemed interested in BRAPA even if it was 8 years too early!  We got talking on local pubs in Plymouth real ales and it was all very jolly, in a tiny intimate little basic place.  I'm not even sure it was GBG listed, I think I made the decision as a result of that "football grounds and real ale away days" book that lasted for 2 happy seasons.  I was conscious of the need to leave before 9:30pm though, before the Barbican swing bridge closed and I presumably would have been stranded for ever (not really, you just walk around it!)

338.  Plume of Feathers Inn, Princetown

27th August 2005 and it was Hound of the Baskervilles-tastic as we stayed overnight high up on Dartmoor opposite the jail following a brilliant Stuart Elliot winner.  We sat in a cosy stone built lounge bar and had our evening meal and a few pints of ales from Dartmoor, Otter etc etc, it felt pretty much like our own private room.  Briefly, the landlord brought a bus load of American tourists in who he was telling ghost stories to.  When the bus drove off, he came in to join us, fag in hand, saying "hah, you can tell them anything!" and then proceeded to tell us a dodgy long winded joke about a naked man who got locked out of his window in the rain but was waterproof cos he had a condom on.  I wondered if it was Andy Payton.  Anyway, joke aside, a great pub as we crossed the car park in the fog to our accommodation wondering if a devil dog was going to murder us.  The cold air meant I'd developed a chest infection by the time we got back to York, and I had a week off work, so I have quite happy memories about this pub!

339.  Colpitts Hotel, Durham

Even though they are evil feudal bastards who act like Victorian landowners, I have a real soft spot for Sam Smith's and am always happy to see their pubs in the GBG, because although the beer range may be predictable, they own/refurb some cracking buildings.  And this is one of the best.  I first came in on my first real ale Durham trip with JW2 (June 2002?) and it was dark so later in the day as we saw a University lecturer slumped across a table asleep whilst some students tried not to look embarrassed.  The pub has a really old feel, and a strange shaped room, perhaps a fire, but it left an impression on me.  When I had a more recent JW2 Durham trip, on the same day my sister moved into her dodgy flat with the dribbly shower, so am saying perhaps July 2011, it was our second pub of the day and it seemed unchanged in the last 9 years, which made sense as it probably isn't much changed in 100!  I actually can't remember the details as clearly here, maybe feeling it had more atmosphere on a dark evening - but you can bet I probably drank OBB!

340.  New Inn, Durham

Wow, there are times when I am ticking off the GBG pubs for the new year and an entry makes my eyebrows raise with surprise.  This was the joint winner of the 'eyebrow' category for the 2016 GBG (other winner to be reviewed in our next edition).  When I first went to stay with JW2 at his homestead in High Shincliffe, we walked into Durham with the main intent on going to 'rock' pub, the Angel (fizzy Theakstons but pool and great jukebox - we had no standards in those days!)  This pre-dated our love or even knowledge of real ale of course, so I'm putting a reserve estimate of July 2000 on this, thinking it might have been my North East return after we'd finished Uni.  The walk in to Durham took us past a pub John knew well, it had been better in the past and he was making apologies for it before we'd even entered!  It was now a "yellow card" "Scream" student pub, where better to get a pint of cold flavourless Guinness?  It had a good atmosphere nonetheless, and i think we got a game of pool and perhaps a go on a quiz machine.  On my other visit here, more of a lunchtime setting in the sun, we found it even more studenty with egg chasing toffs having taken over the place - what was worse, the pool table was covered over so they could use it for their bloody mass of sandwiches and other post-rugby snacks they didn't deserve!  Grrr, we sat in the corner and shuddered.  I may need a return visit to experience it from an ale point of view (see also Ivy House, Sunderland).

So there we have it, some top memories there.  Still about 30/40 to go before we start logging them in a spreadsheet so we can put them in date order.

See you next Monday, Si  


  1. Is the Hole in the Wall the ancient pub with the beamed ceiling and the Dolan Out sticker on the ceiling?

    The Brunswick and the practically next door Alex are on the list of railway station pubs before all these Head of Steam and Taps etc appeared. It is probably almost the nearest pub to Pride Park.

    Sam Smiths are honest and charge sensible prices for a pint no matter where you are. I agree with your liking them. They have classic pubs all over the place.

  2. I hope it is the same sticker that ended up on his forehead at an away game down there (could even have been Torquay!)

    Alexandra is high on my list, I kept looking at it (literally) on my Derby gig day but it somehow seemed too easy! Currently the town's pub of year so will probably try and do it this season.

    Sam Smith's are EVIL though in many ways, But great in many others. You cannot deny it. How's their blackcurrant compare to others? Sometimes the OBB only cask bitter choice can get a bit tiresome. Their fruit beers are superb though.

  3. I believe they were the same design of sticker but not actually the same sticker. It was Torquay that the sticker ended up on Dolan's head. Marginally before my time due to me being a positive youngster.

    Sam Smiths blackcurrant is excellent and a brand I've never come across elsewhere. It wouldn't at all surprise me if they made it themselves, it would be there sort of thing. I've often wondered, of all the beers they brew, why only the OBB is cask.

  4. Quite good for you Simon, only offending Scousers, Thai-eaters and Canadian lesbians. Can't argues with any of your pub reviews though.

    I thought I knew all the Durham pubs. They've pretty much all been in the GBG over the last 15 years, but I've never noticed the New Inn. Can't really claim a tick for an It's a Scream.

    Sam Smiths clearly intentional evil. Unless you're lucky/unlucky though, you're hardly likely to come across OBB more than once a fortnight. If you had to visit one every night I think you'd come to enjoy the lager/keg/fruit beers as well. That Colpitts is a right dump though.

    1. Good evening Martin! Yes, my 3 favourite sub-genres to offend. Well, perhaps not but all would be top 100.

      Oh yes, my eyes were popping out when I saw former Yellow Card Scream haven New Inn was in, I think it is a bit off centre as my friend used it as a kind of half way point between Shincliffe and Durham.

      Yes, my love for Sam's is growing since Old Ebor, the pubs especially though you can always have too much of a good thing. Loved Colpitts, an intentional dump!