Before we begin, I think we need to address the elephant in the room. It smells of hoppy beer and is the dimensions of a particularly large micropub, with better insides. 'What is he rabbiting on about now?' you may ask, well I'll tell you what I'm rabbiting on about, the 2019 Good Beer Guide!
For those of you who don't know, you can join this 'CAMRA Privilege Club' to receive your GBG (Good Beer Guide) a couple of weeks before mere mortals, usually late August, with the official 'release' date being mid September. This two week window is ideal for pub-tickers like me, as you can cross reference your pubby data and see what the damage is (i.e. how many pubs you have lost).
But this year, we had a problem, when on Wednesday afternoon, after a particularly crummy day at work, I noticed I had about 20 notifications on Twitter on my train journey home. 'What's all this?' I wondered, assuming Brad Wight had found a beautiful old photo of a derelict Cameron's pub from the 1960's and tagged in an area the size of Cleveland (note, I didn't say Teeside or North Yorkshire) for our viewing pleasure.
All became clear when Pub Curmudgeon (very much more #PubGod than #PubMan, very much the Beatles, Gallagher Brothers and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the pub world rolled into one, only more modest and more ABBA than even Zlatan) sent the full statement for those who hadn't yet seen our emails.
It seemed there'd been a printing error at CAMRA towers. And we might not get our copies til 13th Sept. Or even later. Oh dear. #FirstWorldProblems you might think, or if you look at it another way, the biggest catastrophe of pub ticking history in humanity!
Now I know CAMRA are as passionate about 'olde worlde' real ale pubs as am I, but I really hope they didn't bring the copies here for printing:
That's the Printers Arms at Birch Vale / Thornsett in North Derbyshire
Okay, it isn't the best joke I've told all year but I made myself laugh and that's all the matters in these stressful times isn't it?
No, I've been doing a bit of research and I think I may have discovered the source of the problem at CAMRA HQ judging by the graphic on the apologetic email which they sent:
Yes, it seems they accidentally designed a pizza box instead of a book. A fail of epic proportions.
Here's how it should look:
Actually scrap that. Courtesy of Matthew 'SeeTheLizards' Lawrenson, this is how it should really look:
And that copy would have no brewery section and pub descriptions of no more than 10 words, meaning it'd be nice and light to carry around the Camrbridgeshire countryside but still heavy enough to club any Fenland mutant if it jumps out and tries to eat you.
Let's get back to Nigel Adkins levels of positivity and reflect on what has been achieved in this past month in terms of new pubs visited. 28 for the month may sound a modest total, though actually a BRAPA record for August beating the 27 done back in 2015.
But the key stat I want to draw your attention to is an additional 11 pre-emptive ticks. The majority of these seemed utterly GBG worthy, and some would be in my top three pubs for the month had they been in the GBG. Northumberland Arms in Marple Bridge, Cardigan Arms near L**ds, the White Hart in Hull were ornate dyed in the wool pub gems.
|Cardigan Arms, simply wonderful.|
And add to this some classic modern twists like the quirky Albert's Ale Microbar in Blackpool, Tap & Vent in Kirkham and Firk Inn at Scarborough (if you don't get murdered by a former SAS man) and you've got three GBG shoo-ins for the future.
|Great pub, but mind the steep hills of Blackpool|
My favourite three in the 2018 GBG:
1. Steamer , Fleetwood
2. Red Lion, Littleborough
3. Running Pump, Catforth
|Red Lion at Littleborough, pub of the year contender|
Special praise also to White House at the top of Littleborough for serving a good a pint as I've had all year. Cheshire Cheese in Hope and Stanley Arms in Wesham were also understated crackers.
I didn't enjoy the following:
1. Bar 19, Blackpool
2. Old Hall Inn, Whitehough
3. Greyhound, Hartshill, Stoke
|Crazy scenes at Bar 19|
Menwhile, the Rutland in Sheffield and Cutlers Arms in Rotherham reminded me that if I ever do a 'top 100 pubs list' or something, they'll probably both be in it.
|Pie n Peas at Cutlers|
September has already started, you have probably realised that, and irregardless of the impending arrival of the new GBG, it is business as usual in terms of trying to tick off as many pubs as possible without injuring myself in the process!
I've already had a very (and I may say surprisingly) positive day in North Cambs / South Lincs with 4 ticks and 2 pre-emptives. I will write this one up shortly, but I was so impressed with the pubs and the people, I'll remember this day for a long time.
Next weekend (8th) sees a Father & Son (think more Boyzone than those original jokers) trip to the West Midlands to a mystery location.
On the 15th, I'm thinking Derbyshire (perhaps Chesterfield area) or even Greater Manchester if the new GBG still hasn't arrived.
It might then get a bit complicated (but in a potentially good way) from Mon 17th, work are talking about sending me to London. No idea what I'll do when I get there (apart from pub ticking on evenings) but I'd like to say they're 'sending the best man for the job', but that isn't true either because I'm going by default, as the best man for the job in on holiday!
I could end up being there Mon-Wed both that week and the next week, and it could mean I can't do York Beer Festival which I'd be really annoyed to miss even if it is 'dead drinking' (i.e. beer drunk in a non BRAPA capacity).
On the Saturday in between that, the 22nd, I'm down London way anyway, in Reading to be precise with the good Tom Irvin. 4 ticks in the 2018 GBG I never did there, and he's already asked me as a special birthday request if we can go to Maidenhead Conservative Club (he's a masochist like that), which I keep promising to get ticked off one day! I told him ok when I was drunk in St Helens.
And the final Saturday of the month, 29th again is a case of pick something from Derbyshire, Lancashire, North East, even Cumbria. Though I must confess I've got 4 sets of free London train tickets thanks to a great Twitter bloke, so if I'm not too sick of it by then, I might use one of them!
Looks like an interesting month coming up.
Keep on drinking - in moderation of course, Adrian Chiles might be reading.
Good night, Si