Sunday, 20 December 2015

BRAPA - Rotherham away

The Millers, far too mighty for the Tigers - New York Tavern

Although Hull City managed to plummet to new depths, I think that 'come what may' (May 2016 to be precise), this will be a strong contender for away day of the season thanks in great part to the quality of pubs and locales.

The train journey was straightforward enough, changing at Donny from York and rubbing shoulders with the Gooligans where we learnt a young Hull City striker recently was sat on Selby railway station wondering why he couldn't get a direct train to Brighton!
With Tom, Dad and my sprained ankle in tow, I was soon hopping cross town towards our first pub, just before 11am.

763.  Bluecoat, Rotherham

There are three 'Spoons in town, but this one, up a steep footpath next to the job centre, is the GBG listed one and one of more impressive ones I've been to this year.  Okay, so it was typically identikit, but an interesting range of ales and more than one member of bar staff certainly puts it in the higher echelons of JDW houses.  It's nice to think that Tim Martin tours the country, enjoying his own pubs, because whatever you say about them, they are a life saver when other pubs only open at 12 noon.  Despite seeing my most despised Saltaire Raspberry Blonde on the bar, ales like Bradfield Farmers Belgian Blue and Partners Stout made up for it.  Tom got a nice looking veggie breakfast and whilst me and Dad were pikeys by eating our own fruit bread and cheese in the pub, a bit of food mix-and-matching meant I can report that the hash browns, toast and baked beans were up to standard.  Typically, the loos were up about 10 flights of stairs with a 30 person function going on half way up, not good for my ankle all this climbing.  The rest of our gang had arrived so it was time to move on.

Behind bars : me arriving at the Bluecoat
764.  New York Tavern, Rotherham

Arriving here at 12:15pm, we were glad to see the pub still almost empty so we could commandeer in large space in the corner, a main part of the reason we settled down here pre-match instead of deciding to move on again.  However, the main reason we stayed put was that the pub was just so gosh damn good!  In fact, it reminded me of the first time I walked into Barnsley's Old No 7, just a friendly understated gem, very South Yorkshire, with a huge welcoming range of beers from the superb local Chantry brewery.  I've had them before, I've never had a bad one!  And the prices?  £4.20 for 2 pints and a blackcurrant?  Are you watching York city centre?  I moved on from a stunning IPA called Mighty Millers (see top picture) to a Two Magpies Porter, then a 6.3% Special Reserve at just £2.50 a pint!  Wow.    Ben did us a great 19 question Hull City quiz, you could almost have been in Hull's Wellington (RIP) in it's hey day.  As expected, the pub busied up towards kick off time but it happened so gradually, it didn't feel too intrusive!  Great pub.

Me arriving at the wonderful New York Tavern

Pre-match in New York Tavern - note my ankle is out! 
765.  Cutler's Arms, Rotherham

Post match and near the ground, it was perhaps no surprise to find this gem of an old pub (though only re-opened last year) packed to the rafters and it was about 3 deep at the bar.  Again, it was Chantry's all the way but the 'Man of Steel' at 3.5% was a bit mellow that what I'd been used to today!  Forget Superman, the real men of steel are Rotherham's working men of yesteryear.  I spied old work friend / Rotherham fan Tim Milnes at the bar, and he asked the obvious question "can we play you every week?" to which I replied "if these pubs are anything to go by, then yes please".  Prices again were ridiculous, I got change out of a tenner for 3 pints and a blackcurrant, which was free.  This place reminded me a bit of one of those grand Liverpool pubs, like the Lion Tavern for example with it's mosaic tiling, snob screens, etched window glass etc.  I love my heritage pubs, and this is a great example.  The hope was that all the home fans would down a swift half, and go home, leaving me to appreciate this pub in a calmer state, but they'd won and it is nearly CHRISTMAS so obviously, this was wishful thinking on my part!  I'd quite like to come back here though.

Dad, Tom and random smoker outside Cutlers.
766.  Bridge Inn, Rotherham

There'd been so much talk pre-match about this pub (very close to the station) having police, doormen, and idiot football fans swarming about, that I'd never stopped to contemplate that it might actually be excellent.  So when me and Tom had given the football rush enough chance to clear, we were amazed to see a beautiful interior, with stained glass, partitions and some of the best pub toilets I've seen all year!  It's details that matter and whilst we are on the Liverpool pub comparisons, this was like an understated version of the Philharmonic with those huge old Adamant urinals though I'm not sure Japanese tourist girls would like to take photos in these ones!  Okay, so Old Mill cannot be classed as good as Chantry brewery by any stretch of the imagination, though the Fire & Brimstone guest was certainly better than the likes of the Blonde Bombshell and Bullion (besides, they did have a Chantry guest on anyway!)  The atmosphere was very much winding down by now, just a few old chaps with bulbous noses looking up in a bored fashion at Newcastle v Aston Villa.  Another stunning pub from Rotherham's fine selection.  

Arriving at the Bridge Inn in the murky evening mist of Miller-land.
After a meandering journey home via Leeds, I popped into York Tap for a little night-cap and tribute to Jimmy Hill (though I have him on my celeb death list so can't be a hypocrite!) before Fish & Chips and an early night.  Great day.

Sad to see the Prince of Wales in Greasbrough removed from the electronic GBG, my plan was to visit this too but the landlord had an accident so hope it's not the end for that pub.  I'll be doing South Yorks on Tuesday evening's in the New Year so watch this space.   

Up next, I'm determined to FINALLY get to St John's Hotel in Hull on Boxing Day before a little trip to Preston to end the pub ticking year.  I'll not be doing anything midweek until the ankle is properly healed (heeled!), but got a few special BRAPA features coming up on Monday's soon, starting tomorrow so see you then,




  1. Absolutely brilliant, even if you've stolen my thunder on Rotherham. Really fancied claiming to have "discovered" it's new pubby brilliance myself in the new year. Spot on with comparison to No.7 and the Lion I thought.

    I wrote a moving tribute to the PoW last month; not sure anyone else has ever been there. Best John Smiths Bitter ever, and old women drinking pints of it.

    Assume you'll fit in the Moorbrook when in Preston; a new classic.

  2. Thanks Martin, always nice to write up days when the quality is so high - you will love Cutlers, especially on a non-football day.

    I'll have to find your PoW tribute, Tom tells me the Rotherham CAMRA mag says the landlord is recovering so hoping it isn't the end, sounded like a special place.

    Yes, Moorbrook is one of the 3 on my agenda on the walk up to Deepdale so might have to make it the main 'focus' pub.

    Also, good suggestion re using Swindon as a base for my West Berkshire trips instead of Reading - I notice one of my earlier Berks pubs is actually in Oxfordshire (Goring) so you can never tell!

  3. I'd actually go further and compare the upturn in real ale fortunes to its South Yorkshire neighbours in Barnsley and Doncaster. I'd perhaps say Barnsley is marginally behind, but to think a few years ago we struggled to find a pub in any of the three (slightly harsh on Donny but the Plough didn't like opening on match days) the transformation is superb. Especially for a town with three Weatherspoons, although that is reportedly going down to two. The only weakness in Rotherham's hand is the closeness of all the pubs to the ground, we could do with one about a mile out. Though I suppose that was to Si's advantage on Saturday. I just hope the shitholes in neighbouring Lincolnshire follow suite, naming no names but they contain the letters: Scunsby, Grimthorpe.

    CAMRA mag says that landlord of the Charlie has escaped from hospital, hopefully that is a good sign.

    Bridge toilets were a classic, the Japanese tourists are missing out. Philharmonic is too perfect, this is more down to earth. I'm torn between this and Combermere for the best pub toilet of the year.