Monday, 19 September 2016

BRAPA : the archives (375 - 382)

For the first time since November last year ..... a review of pubs I visited before BRAPA became a "thing".

These are pubs which now find themselves in the 2017 Good Beer Guide, but were not in 2014-16 editions and/or I didn't deem them as pre-emptive ticks when I first visited them.  I have 24 to review, so 8 at a time......

375.  Coach & Horses, Dronfield

In the pre-cursor to BRAPA, my "A-Z aleway adventures", the letter D was (eventually) for Dronfield on April Fools Day, 2013.  I say eventually, because the plan was to watch a Sheffield F.C. game and our plans were cancelled due to postponement after postponement from about October onwards!  Non league football grounds eh?  I was joined by John Watson and Krimbo, swelling the crowd to a massive 213.  Post-match then, after a straightforward 3-0 home win, the highlight being a pre-match hot dog and a half-time spicy chicken pie and we piled into, what is in effect the club house, for a mint flavoured Thornbridge Stout which was virtually impossible to drink on top of this food.  It was a nice traditional dark pub with friendly old women serving.  The Kidsgrove Athletic players piled in for the post-match buffet a lot quicker than the home side, the quickest any of their players had moved all day!  We certainly weren't rushing for buffet food.  

Kidsgrove's number 11 looks forward to the Coach & Horses
376.  Woodman, Durham

I'd not been into the Good Beer Guide for long, and had recently upgraded to the 'modern' 2002 edition having been using a 1999 second hand one with varied success, John Watson was in the same boat and had invited me to Durham to stop over and give me a tour of the real ale pubs in town.  We started our evening crawl here as it was furthest out of town, and uphill.  My memories are vague, other than we were both underwhelmed by the whole experience and sat at the end of a large sparse room with very little furniture and very little clientele, despite the threat of  a student invasion constantly looming ,but then, I guess they'd all gone home for the summer, maybe.

377.  Kemble Brewery Inn, Cheltenham

And you have to go even further back to April Fools Day 2002 for my visit to this unassuming but very nice pub, tucked into the backstreets of town.  Me and Dad sat on some stools near the bar initially, enjoying Archers ales (ahhh remember them?), they were staples of Hull's then fantastic, soon dodgy Hole in the Wall so we were well aware how good they could be.  An old home fan spied by away top and we had a nice chat about football and how they'd probably beat us (they did) but as the pub filled up, it became increasingly smoky and being low roofed and a sunny day, we sat outside on one of the most carefully manicured lawns I've still ever seen in a pub, felt like a bowling green and I remember feeling guilty every time I stood up.

378.  Rose & Crown, Bury

Bury town centre on the morning of New Year's Day 2003 was a depressing place to be.  Streamers, empty bottles, confetti and puke on every street corner.  Me and Dad took on the fairly long walk to the Dusty Miller but despite being gone 12 noon, it was obviously sticking to it's weekday 2pm opening (lazy bastards, we were freezing).  A harsh early GBG lesson in pub opening times!  Instead, we went to the Rose & Crown and it was a cracker we still remember to this day.  Dad still remembers the Leyden Nanny Flyer as one of his all time favourite ales.  I remember one called Raglan Sleeve.  A real proper one roomed (but quite open) pub, we returned the following season of course for a midweek game, Oct 21st 2003, but the magic had well and truly gone - beer less good, more foody, and I noticed it had been de-guided in the 2004 edition.  It'd be great to go back (well, it isn't the Clarence) and see if it is back to it's New Year's Day '03 magic.

379.  Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham

I'm going 7th October 2005 for my first visit here but could have been sooner.  After all, I was very excited about a trip to the Trip with it's stories of cursed galleons, pregnancy chairs and the so-called "a pub since 1189" claim.  Love a good pub ghost story / historical tale.  I had this amazing book called "Britain's Strangest Pubs" or something and that probably helped shape my BRAPA-like existence today.  John Watson is also the kind of chap who this place would appeal to, and I seem to remember sitting in this cobwebby ceilinged room with a crazy bayeaux tapestry going around the wall.  The Hardy & Hansons beers weren't that amazing if I'm honest, and I think beer has never been so great here.  We then went to watch the now defunct Groovie Ghoulies play the second of two amazing gigs at the now defunct Junktion 7 (Student Housing being planned).  Other experiences in this pub as follows.  With my sister, a chair moved on it's own (honest!) and a Chinese girl with no English sat in the pregnancy chair - should we tell her, errm let's just laugh at her instead.  Another time with my sister, she was really ill after a week in Camden Town and slept on a bench seat whilst her boyfriend went to Boots to bring her drugs back.  She then puked behind a burger van all the way through Gogol Bordello.  Very vegan behaviour!  And most recently, April 2014 a group of us came here for a bank holiday beer festival only to find out it wasn't starting til 5pm.  WHAT KIND OF PUB DOES SUCH A THING?  I'm unlikely to go back as I can think of about a million better Nottingham pubs off the top of my head despite the great quirks.

Most recent trip to the Olde Trip, with it's historically dodgy claim featured on front.
380.  Cask Corner, Doncaster

It had only just opened (with "Dive Bar" on the end of it's name) when we visited on 28th August 2010, think we'd had a tip off from one of our Welly gang so we gathered at this pre-emptive pre-emptive before Hull City's regular defeat to the small-minded scroats known as Donny Rovers.  Dad and I had snuck in a swift father son pint at the Little Plough and were probably wishing we'd stayed when we saw we were drinking in nothing more than a warehouse - the toilets still not properly built.  Lots of beers on, that is the main thing for people like Ben, but not us.  It was pre the Kraft Kraze (not cheese slices) but in a pre-cursor, Ben liked to supplement his ales with a "continental bottle" or pint of Erdinger - and got me into Floris Chocolate which I thought was incredible but everyone since including lame girls at work tell me is too sickly sweet.  We needed this though as the Cask emphasis was on Toad brewery, a terrible brewery in anyone's book.  They simply couldn't brew (a fact they knew in Hull's Hop & Vine but sold us them anyway because idiots like us will drink anything, to only slightly paraphrase the owner).  No, am afraid although I returned here for a slightly cosier session the following season, Cask Corner v Plough is a case of less is sometimes more.

381.  Isaac Wilson, Middlesbrough

Post match on 27th November 2010 after one of the craziest away days ever, and the walk from the Riverside BT Cellnet Whatever back towards the station felt like a scene from Narnia, mainly due to all the snow but also because there is something quite C.S. Lewis about many of the Boro' folk.  Popping into a 'Spoons near the station didn't look like changing that, and was a joyous scene of people eating Parmo's and drinking quality real ale.  I got a bit separated from Dad and Ben and spent most of the time chatting to an old pigeon fancier which was, well, interesting and different!  I also like the Swatters Carr Spoons, and the Micro revolution is no doubt a good thing for the town, but I always come back here and on my most recent visit, rated my Dark Star ale here as the "drink of the day" (you could say it was a 'Revelation' ha ha).  Fully deserved entry in the new GBG, well done Isaac.

382.  George Hotel, Hull

Not quite sure (yet) when I first visited here, probably the first year I spotted it in the GBG when me and Dad wanted a break from the Welly for an 'old town' day (proof I was pub ticking in a sense, years before BRAPA).  I'd guess about September 2008.  I'd walked past, through the excitingly named 'Land of Green Ginger' as a younger lad, to admire the "smallest window in the world" on the edge of the building.  The pub has been up and down during my visits, from crazy hen do's with inflatable toys, bad beer I had to take back when work people came over after a Watford 0-0, and most annoyingly, when the pub door was open at 12 noon as advertised, we squeezed past some washing baskets into the pub, only to be told "sorry, we're not open yet!" by some slobbish women.  Don't think Dad has forgotten this incident, as whenever I suggest it as a possible old town venue, he turns his nose up in disgust.  More proof to me that Hull has been allocated more GBG pubs than it really needs, though nice to see it back and would be happy to give it a second (well, fifth) chance.

 So there we go, 8 down and 16 to go so I'll be back for the 2nd volume next Monday with delights from places like York, Plymouth, Blackpool, Manchester and Ipswich,  You have been warned.



  1. What exactly happened to the Wellington Inn, Hull? My brother, Dave, and I visited Hull, and it was our first stop. We were disappointed to find it closed. From the outside it looked like a great pub. Since it is number 15 on your list, I am sorry we missed out on it.

    1. The Wellington was too good for Hull and had to be moved brick-by-brick to Sheffield, Richard. It would have been in my Top 20 if still there.

    2. Interesting you should mention The Wellington and Sheffield. On the same trip we stopped in Sheffield and took the tram to the stop near the Wellington. We arrived too early, it was not open. We did not go back.

    3. No deny RM is very funny!

      Interesting you mention The Wellington in Sheffield too Richard as it is the only pub I have tried to visit three times and found closed each time. The first time, it was named the Cask & Cutler so it also has the distinction of being the only pub closed under two different names! I laughed when I saw it not included in the 2017 edition.

      As for the Welly in Hull, a combination of financial reasons and ill health of the landlord and landlady (Rich never recovered from a drunken fall down the cellar, Janette sadly passed away from cancer earlier this year). Such a superb pub around the 2005-2009 period especially, a contender for "best pub ever" when on top form. Their decision to start brewing their own beer didn't help, it wasn't great, but they kept things like Abbeydale in the best condition I've ever tasted.

      Will have to do a blog of "pubs that were great but won't get in the GBG again" feature one day!

    4. Thank you for that information. The fact that both you and Martin rate it so highly convinces me that we missed a real gem. I do not feel the same about Wellington, Sheffield. Sorry to hear about the landlord and landlady.

    5. I think Simon and I (and Tom) should come up with a pub most like the Wellington for you. It won't be the Crown & Shuttle in Shoreditch, that's all I can say for now.

  2. I'm a bit surprised some of those pubs haven't been in the Guide for so long Simon (presume they weren't in GBG2015 ?)

    I hadn't noticed Olde Trip was back, bit surprised by that. I popped in the Isaac Wilson during our big Boro weekend, must have been on your strong recommendation a few weeks earlier.

    1. Some may have been in 2014 but I didn't get chance to archive them back then, but certainly weren't in 2015.

      I was told Nottingham's entries for 2016 GBG caused a lot of controversy by one landlord so maybe in putting Olde Trip, and the more excellent Kean's Head & Lincolnshire Poacher back in, they are trying to get back to basics!

  3. The Woodman in Durham is certainly much improved under its current Landlord than when I first moved here 5 years ago. It's been spruced up and they now have 3 rotating beers from the Admiral list, and generally the quality is above average to good - but it still fails to live up to its reputation of 15-20 years ago, sadly. Make sure you visit for Mr Q's karaoke on a Friday night...

    1. I'm glad it is on the up Chris, though memories are vague, it felt like a pub entering a period of decline back in 2002. Maybe one for a revisit when I mop up my last couple of Durham 'ticks' (Bishop Langley and the one at Framwellgate Moor, plus that new mirco as a "pre-emptive" pub tick as well).

      Mr Q sounds terrifying! ;)

    2. Nah he's a jolly landlord type!

      Yes do make sure you pop into the Station House for a pre-emptive. 4pm opening midweek and closed Mondays though I'm afraid. (Disclosure - it's my wife's pub! So do let me know when you're popping up!)

  4. May I stake a claim as the only person to have not visited the Old Trip? I've no intention to either, it is the clear tourist trap pub. Although if I ever do end up there, in a bid to prove it is complete bollocks, I will sit in the pregnancy chair.

  5. The latest Durham Drinker with the Woodman article I was on about the other night is here: