|Fabulous Flemish building in Nottingham|
Nottingham rocketed up to 13th in the BRAPA league table as I visited the five pubs required to complete the central area of the city.
|There are 3 BRAPA pubs hiding in this photo - can you name/spot them?|
My BRAPster 'band of merry men' were Dad & Tom, with Ben deciding to do his own VAT & Fiddle inspired day (which apparently wasn't a success, a BRAPA lesson there), and Chrissy's A & D making an interesting train decision that got them too late into Notts for any quality pub time.
We had a bit of waiting around in the Sneinton area of town before our 11am opener unbolted it's doors, but we tried to make the cultural best of it with a look at old tram sheds, old banks and modern arenas. Who says BRAPA isn't a whitewater ride?
700. King William IV, Sneinton, Nottingham
The King Billy (with crowned goat on pub sign) was a fitting way to bring up the (2nd) 700 pub landmark. It was the young landlord/bar chap who made it, combining fine hospitality with pub and real ale knowledge to make him a 'staff of the year' contender despite not being a young brunette! After talking us through the amazing range of LocAles, Dad and me got Shiny ones from this magnificent Derby brewery, he gave Tom his blackcurrant for free (a BRAPA first from memory) and then showed us to a superb little roof garden. A very enterprising way to create extra space, it had astroturf and nice views over the city, plus it was a sunny warm morning. What a great place to debate which five 'public figures' will be the next to die! No wonder Dad did his classic line "oh, that's me settled, I can stay here all day" No chance of that, BRAPA waits for no man and it was time for the walk back towards town, with the landlord characteristically pre-empting my pre-emptive tick!
|Dad & Tom in roof garden bliss at the King Billy|
Single unisex toilet? Check. No blackcurrant cordial? Check. Straining your eyes and brain to try and work out which real ales are on and where they are hiding? Check. Basic room with nothing electronic? Check! We must be in a micro pub!! Following on from my BRAPA report on this new phenomena, it made sense to give this one a pre-emptive try. Tom's opening line "it's like the Hop & Vine" was harsh, but the place did have something approaching a cafe bar feel. As instructed by King Billy chap, I said "hi" to the owner on his behalf, but he lacked the earlier chap's charm despite helping Dad to choose a rather delicious 'black' IPA and giving him a taster. Indeed, I wondered if he was actually going to charge me for the drinks or he was testing my honesty! Now to solve the conundrum, is this building part of the Nottingham caves system. "No" was our resounding conclusion. There was a nice ambiance created by some soft background music, but comfort was lacking, even my Micro pub standards. Some Hull City fans arrived just to ask us "how the 'ell have YOU found this place?" which was quite unanswerable. Time to leave.
|I'm off caving down an alleyway in Nottingham. Barrel Drop!|
Just to underline the fact that Micro's lack something a refurbished old fashioned pub can offer, this place was an absolute gem combining comfort with a sense of the olde worlde. It in fact only reopened in 2014 and also has a roof garden, facts I was unaware of at the time. I had to do a double-take when we arrived, thinking "I've been here before" but I was thinking of the Lass O'Gowrie near Manchester Oxford Road, an uncannily similar curved bar at the entrance. I'd been pronouncing the pub 'Borlasie' after the Crystal Palace midfielder, and this should have been a clue for my fantasy football team as he scored a goal. The staff were again helpful, and most of the ales were from Lincoln Green with Dad getting a special charity one. I like the whole Robin Hood / Maid Marian thing, but was sad I couldn't get a pint of Rabies! We sat in a back room so we could smuggle some incredibly unsly cheese n onion rolls from my BRAPA bag of tricks, whilst Dad kept the cultural element in tact by spotting a wonderful Flemish building through the fine etched windows, so we had a bit of a photo session. Another great Nottingham tick.
|Royal Navy officer, politician, diplomat, great pub! Sir JBW.|
With Tom off on his merry way, Dad and me walked the 15 steps or so to the left which found us in the Falcon, another brilliant recent refurb of a proper grand old pub. Again, we found a friendly and helpful barmaid at the helm - this kind of staff behaviour is unheard of in the East Midlands - and Dad thought it was fitting that we ordered an "Endless Summer" from the Black Iris brewery which she told me was only a three minute walk from the pub. It was the pint of the day, absolute nectar of the gods we just couldn't get over how tasty it was and as you can guess, the standard today was very high anyway. A feverish young man then rushed into the bar to tell barmaid that Titanic Plum Porter (her favourite and one of mine too) was on at the Organ Grinder, our next pub anyway! What drama. We sat in a nice dark cubby hole and noticed that the original Falcon pub sign had been brought inside the pub and was now hanging on the wall. Now call me a pub geek, but I'd like to see this kind of thing more often.
|Me about to steal a shopmobility scooter outside the Falcon|
Rich pickings in the Canning Circus area of town, this again was probably less than a minute walk from the last two pubs aswell. I'd been in a "Blue Monkey" pub once before, in Loughborough, and you can certainly see the similarities, lots of dark wood, low lights, youngish discerning ale drinkers, though I was glad this time that there was no huge intimidating monkey mural on the wall, which totally freaked me out in Loughborough. Sure enough, the Plum Porter was present, but we were overwhelmed by the impressive range of Blue Monkey ales, with standards like BG Sips and Inifinty complimented by guests like Marmal-ape, which Dad was soon sampling. I was sad to see it was marmalade based rather than marmite, and it took about two thirds of a pint before the burnt orangey taste came through. As we sat away from the bar and observed monkey memorabilia, we wondered why they'd even bother putting Sharp's Doom Bar on as a staple beer in their pubs, before an old man came along and ordered two pints of the stuff! The pub also gets bonus points for having proper pub snacks like pork pies and scotch eggs instead of main meals. In fact, an excitable man confidentially whispered in my ear that spending 60p on a Pickled Egg would line your stomach to such an extent that you can drink exactly as much beer as you possibly want without feeling drunk. Hmmmm.
|Time for a bit of monkey business at the Organ Grinder|
704. Newshouse, Nottingham
With the rather remarkable 'news' that Hull City had won at Nottingham Forest, it was celebration time, and no more fitting place to do it than a building, which in years gone by, used to be where the illiterate would go to have newspaper reports read out to them! Now, our great host in King Billy had said this pub, close to the station, was improving because half of it was now selling beers from an exciting local brewery. He wasn't enamoured by Castle Rock ales (I guess it's what Black Sheep is to us in Yorkshire) but Castle Rock was all I could see and it holds enough of a novelty for me to enjoy a pint of Elsie Mo, whilst Dad had a guest. Speaking of Dad, I hadn't seen him for 15 minutes and it turned out he was having a rare but momentous pub poo, a fact I'm sure he won't mind me sharing in the public domain to add colour and life to my blog. It gave me chance to observe what a cosy, lounge-like no frills pub this was, splendid in it's own way and very different from most Nottingham pubs, you'd never have guessed you were in the city centre from the calming atmosphere.
|Dad gets ready to celebrate at the Newshouse!|
|Original pub sign from the Falcon Inn|