All my moaning about the cross-ticking of the Good Beer Guide leaving me in a bad position, and yet I've still managed to find eleven pubs in the 2018 GBG which I have visited either before BRAPA became "a thing", or because I visited them not even aware of their BRAPA potential.
So pour yourself a nice can of bubbly bitter beer, and read on as I try desperately to delve into the recesses of my pubby mind in years gone by .......
399. Fat Cat, Colchester
Wearing no jacket on one of the wettest mornings in football match away day history was a silly thing to do, and it was no surprise when a stray Hull City fan popped his head around the door of the nearby Fox & Fiddler (another 'not been seen in the GBG since') and told us the game was off. Dad and I had been content enough, but thought we'd better be sociable and join our "Welly gang" friends in the Fat Cat. Of course, beer range = better pub, doesn't it? Well no, but that was very much the view of the majority (not me or Dad) in 2008. Fat Cat's had been tried and tested in places like Ipswich and Sheffield so no surprise the likes of Chris Irvin and Ben Andrew would want to make this pub of the day. It lacked the cosiness of the F&F with it's bare-boarded decor and slight draught, but good quality ale from memory, and for some reason, I got sat at a table chatting to two local radio presenters (a couple) about all manner of quirky things. We swapped numbers and kept in touch for a while, especially when Hull City played their team Ipswich (on our rise through the leagues, though Colchester were arguably better at the time anyway) but I never did quite meet up with them again! The date was 19th January 2008 and as we left, some controversy about whether pitch was actually playable. But it was totally sodden in one corner (I had a DVD of Brian Horton bouncing a ball on it - thrilling stuff) and on the way out, 'sun tan' Phil Brown was in a car and one of our group stopped to say something to him like "game's off then!" Tom may be able to enlighten us further in the comments section.
400. Globe, Leicester
My 'early days in Leicester' pub of choice, Dad and I picked this out on our first ever away day here on 4th March 2006 where some nice gothic barmaids brought us sausage and chips in wicker baskets and looked like they were going to use the 'empties' to make a huge wicker effigy of Nigel Pearson (if he existed then), climb into it, and burn themselves. Or that could've just been me. There was quite a lunchtime family crowd and we sat in a fairly light modern airy area behind the bar. All the beers were Everards which was exciting for about three seconds. It did enough to make us return here on our next trip 22nd March 2008. Tom joined us this time and it snowed - a lot! But the game went on, and with quality like Dean Marney and Caleb Folan in your team, you're always gonna win 2-0. We also popped in here briefly a season or two later as part of a bigger group. It was here where I really appreciated how ornate and nicely multi-roomed the pub was, though we got chatting to some Leicester fans who were doing what they do best and acting like arrogant wankers because they thought Sven Goran Eriksson was the bees knees and Nigel Pearson was yesterday's fish and chip wrappers, or is that sausage and chip basket? Oh, but things swung again a few years later, and they ended up doing quite well. Bet this pub still serves a steady Everards Beacon though. Glad to see it back in the GBG, as Leicester hasn't done much for me since outside the Ale Wagon & King's Head.
401. Brudenell Social Club, Hyde Park, Leeds
Well, well, well, you're probably looking 2009, possibly a lot earlier for my first visit here. There was a gig on some of us wanted to see. No idea who it was. It may even have been some "Battle of the Bands" style thing for someone I vaguely knew. The beer was shite (John Smith's Smooth), and the main lounge room to the right was full of miserable old men, and stained settees with stuffing popping out. Yet I sat in here until someone beckoned me to the left room "this is where the action is" and I paid my cash and watched something in a room really not designed for gigs, in my opinion, yet it always manages to work. I came here with a guy I used to work with called Dan about a year later, same thing. I wasn't in the mood at all. Just wanted to go home. But then, in the last 5 years, I went again and by jove, they only had Kirkstall Three Swords superbly kept on! And with each visit, a couple more top quality ales appeared. I saw the Rezillos with my sister (not very good on the night, too much angst with drunk idiots in crowd), OFF! with my friend Jig (amazing), Hot Club of Cowtown (also amazing) and some folk singer from York (really good night but he was a perv). There's been more. Now, it's a kind of 'knowing' shabby chic Working Man's club for students into rock music, the stuffing coming out of the stained seats is a bit too 'knowing', but a great venue nonetheless. Since BRAPA began, I had started thinking in vague thoughts "this is GBG worthy beer you know" but never in a million years expected it to make it. Well done Brudenell!
|John, Lisa and Me (and a new CD)|
|Hot Club of Cowtown being great|
402. Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
11th September 2008 and I travelled over to Manchester excited to see Stray Cats. Even more excited was my friend, John Watson, on the train behind. I'd used the GBG to pick a pub out near Oxford Road where I arrived at because the gig was at the Student Union thing down the road. I chose this pub just off to the left on Charles Street, someone told me it was Johnny Vegas's local which scared me, but I turned left and found this curved bar, the bar staff were ultra friendly, ales were good, and I sat in this wonderful old room full of bric-a-brac. Proper old school. But John couldn't find me, and when he sent me a panicky text including the "F" word, it jolted me into action and I left my pint with two shady looking blokes in rain macs and ran down Oxford Road to find him and bring him to pub. Hurrah! He loved it too, and my drink hadn't even been drugged by these monobrowed brothers (probably). Infuriatingly, the gig was cancelled cos the drummer broke his arm stage diving at Brixton the previous night. We were GUTTED! But in getting lost, John had stumbled upon 3 other GBG pubs, all on Great Bridgewater Street, so we had a great little pub crawl to cheer us up. I've been a Manchester pub fan ever since this night! As for the LoG, I returned with Dad briefly before a football match a couple of years later, but it felt a bit shiny and modernised even though he liked it. Not sure I was a fan. Popped in with Ben Andrew on 6/5/14, similar, and even more so last year at the end of Manc Punk Festival with my sister and boyf Andy Dunn. The karaoke was amusing though, yet a bit surprised to see it in GBG as nothing matches the magic of that first visit.
403. Smithfield, Manchester
Staying in Manc, it was 7th September 2011 and I was on an impossible two day 'tour' to see one of my favourite bands, the Swingin' Utters who'd played in Newcastle the night before, and despite no time off work, I now followed them to Manchester. I stayed at a Travelodge on Ancoats Street, and on a sunny evening, went to a couple of nice pubs called Crown & Kettle and a little bar called Bar Fringe and just across the road, I found this one, then called Smithfield "Hotel and Bar" and it was quite a culture shock after the last place, pretty busy, full of old local characters, bit dark and perhaps a bit dingy if I'm being brutally honest. I remember sitting there trying to be inconspicuous, but this was pre-BRAPA so I was not quite as comfy in weird pubs - I'd revel in it now. It had a fair few interesting ales on and I seem to remember having a Durham one, funny what you remember. Anyway, I can't say it made an impression on me and I'd virtually forgotten of the whole visit and it's existence until I saw it in this year's GBG, no longer "Hotel and Bar", but "Market Tavern" (how 2017!) and it talks about recent chequered past so perhaps I was seeing it just entering a decline!
404. King & Castle, Kidderminster
Transporting you all the way back to 3rd April 2004, me and Dad had already 'nailed' the ale scene in one of those towns which (a) Hull City always made fools of themselves in by failing to turn up, and (b) Police and locals overreacted when we were in town like we were some bastardised mutant version of Brum, West Brom and Wolves if you can imagine something quite so horrific. Since our first couple of visits, we'd made friends with another Hull City father & son combo, Chris and Tom Irvin, from our time in Spring Bank's then wonderful, now quite terrible, Hole in the Wall. They like trains and stuff, so encouraged us to come along and join them at this pub at the Severn Valley Railway terminus. Dad even brought his childhood steam train book to tick off the Ottery St Mary, what a moment! The pub itself had a really nice atmospheric railway tavern feel, but my food took ages to come, I eventually plucked up courage to complain, but at that moment, it was coming through the door and the barmaid was like "IT'S HERE NOW!" and I didn't like her attitude. Ale-wise, lots of classics like Bathams and those "Piddle" beers you used to see and giggle at the names but never see anymore, well I don't. Chris made fun of me struggling to get through all my chips, so I sent them out to look at the trains and caught them up a few seconds later!
405. Tap & Spile, Scarborough
And now for the contentious one I just can't fathom out in my mind. Suffice to say, I know I've been, I can picture sitting kind of back to the left, being pleased with the amount of ales on (it was early enough in my real ale days to be impressed by an array of handpumps), and being with Dad on an evening, think it was fairly bare-boarded but could be wrong. I even remember the address 'Falsgrave Road', and seem to remember planning it using the Autoroute map and picking it out because it was nearer to the McCain Stadium than the others in the GBG. But that's where it all falls down, cos from what I can see, Hull City's last trip to Scarborough was Oct 17th 1998, and on an evening, Oct 15th 1997 and even though I was there, I didn't own a GBG til December 2001! So unless it was some reserve or youth team game, or some senior cup thing, I'm at a total loss to know why we'd have been in Scarborough in a pub. My spreadsheet randomly says 1st October 2002 was the date of visit, which actually is a Tuesday. We did come and sit in the away end as Exeter fans when our game was postponed once, but even that was Jan 16th 1999 (note, the real Exeter fans didn't like our "ooo arrrr we're from Exetarrrr" chant). Think I need to ask Dad about this one, and perhaps revisit even if it's just for my own sanity!
I DID WRITE ABOUT BREW YORK, LADE INN in KILMAHOG, OLD PRINTWORKS IN WAKEY AND MINISTRY OF ALE BURNLEY BUT ALL DISAPPEARED SO WILL TRY AND ADD THESE AGAIN ONCE THE PAIN OF LOSING ALL THAT WORK HAS PASSED ARRGGHH!