Thursday, 31 October 2019

BRAPA - October Review / November Preview (the 2019 Edition)

As I ran the gauntlet through the crowds of drinkers lining the walls of the Stratford Alehouse ('the only place worth drinkin' in town'), got my elbows in at the bar, and told the tired fleecey landlord "I'll have a pint of the Whatever", I could congratulate myself on having reached my 53rd BRAPA pub of the month.

A 2019 record eclipsing the 'Dorset 52' (didn't they get wrongly sent down for the murder of a farmer back in the 70's?) back in February.  And I was all the more pleased because that doesn't include a record 9 preemptives, though some of them I admit I'll be surprised to see in the GBG any time soon (cough, cough, Royal Children Nottingham, cough cough). 

October had been a vintage month, and blog wise, I'm still only halfway through writing it up, stuck in Cumbria somewhere.  The July-September period contained too many controversies, so it was nice to get back some nice normal high volumed goodness, away from the weirdness, though it did have its moments.......

Story of the Month

What seemed at first glance, a pretty uneventful dull night completing Denby Dale's boring new GBG entrant turned crazy when I returned home to find my Good Beer Guide missing.  This was on Friday 4th, and with the pubs and station lost property offices having no clue, I was forced to admit an evil new upstart rival had nicked it to stymie my progress. 

I was balls deep in my Cumbrian adventure on 15th, when it finally turned up on Facebook!  Yes, a lovely man called Martin (aren't they all?) had done a Facebook appeal .......

Like when someone loses a dog
Modest Martin told me most of the credit should go to his partner's daughter Nicole, who despite thinking everyone who drinks beer is a dick (this is where I should do a stern piece on the Media demonising drink to youngsters in this modern age), she rescued it (it had spent the night on Denby Dale Station), Martin saw the importance of it (let's not mention the missing brewery section and laminated Isle of Man back page shall we?) and a week later, 22nd, it arrived back in York.  We could make a film.  

'Papa?  Nicole?' (as my friend said), but with less Renault Clio's and Reeves & Mortimer.  'Twas a happy ending, and when the BRAPA annals are written, it will get a full chapter.   They both received their reward in the post, though the signed photo of Tom Irvin is on hold for now, though he believes we should deliver on that promise.  Nicole especially will be thrilled.  In fact, she later sent me a link of a local preemptive I should visit.  Converted to love 'beer people'?    

Pubs Are Good (sometimes)

With 53 pubs done, there were bound to be some classics.  Oh, and some utter shite.  Most fell somewhere in between, edging on the good/very good side and the standard in the Lake District in particular surprised me despite a few annoying 'tourist' pubs.  

Impossible to pick 3 pubs of the month, but I have .......

Eagle & Child, Staveley
Railway, Portwood, Stockport
Three Tuns, Alcester

Eagle & Child in Staveley was perhaps the best pub I visited all month
I thought there was something extra magical in the air about all three.  

On the downside

Nelson Inn, Selby
Hoop & Grapes, Ludgate Circus
Dalesman, Sedbergh

Sandbags and me prepare to enter the Nelson in Selby

Dire pubs, all three, especially the first two, the third wins award for most miserable pub of 2019 so far.  

On the Micropub front, special commendations to Little Green Dragon in Winchmore Hill and Tom Pudding in Goole for both showing how it should be done, special dishonourable mention to Market Tap in Pocklington for failing to be open despite everything suggesting they should be. Friday 12 noon, busy market place, sunny day?  Disgrace.

Alongside retrieving my GBG and my Cumbrian holiday, a day in Stockport never let's you down and this year, it was better than ever as I got to meet so many Twitterers, pub legends, and all six pubs including the preemptive Angel were all strong.  Pub Curmudgeon even got off his deathbed to try and kill a plant in the Magnet.  Looking forward to writing up that day. 

Pub legends in the Magnet, note the plant behind Matthew L

Remember, Remember, Go To Pubs in November 

Not that I'm likely to forget, but you might. 

It all kicks off BRAPA-wise with a Saturday trip down to London.  It isn't a football day, it isn't even an NFFD (Non Football Football Day) but we will be in the area, catching up with Dad's friend Eddie.  You may remember his starring BRAPA role from the Anglesea Arms in South Kensington a few years back when he half-edited some nudie artwork ......

Not sure what he'll want to do yet, but gonna try and point it in a BRAPerly direction.

A week later, I might end up back in London.  You see, my heart is screaming "crack on with Cumbria" but my head is telling me I have one remaining freebie ticket to use by 31st Dec and with my other free weekends being in 'silly season', it seems prudent to use it sooner rather than later.

November is a particularly good month for Father BRAPA, featuring on all of the next 3 Saturdays, most notably the 23rd, our official Hull City day of the month, or I should say NFFD.  Tom Irvin is pulling the strings in mysterious West Midlands hot spots.  Again, I need to look at the GBG to make sure we have some kind of structure around it, NOT that I don't trust him or anything!

And on 30th, we might get to meet another Twitter legend Brad Wight, as Dad and I travel to his homeland.  My aim, as with Cumbria, is to finish County Durham by Sept 2020.

I will try to get back to Friday's in West Yorkshire too, but I want to get a bit more caught up with the blogs first cos being over 2 weeks behind is stressing me out!  My target is to eclipse the modest 31 pub record I set last year, which should be achievable despite no holiday from work.  

Early release tonight, as I've got Hallowe'en fun to have.  Don't let anyone contaminate your extreme murk with an eyeball (or raspberry!) 

Happy pubbing, Si (& Martin the Owl)



  1. Hi Simon it's your old pal Mark 'Unknown' Crilley. Congrats on the 53rd BRAPA pub of the month-- when you approach the "2 new pubs per day" average you have surely joined the circle of All Time Legends.

    In a funny way the "lost and then found GBG" became a kind of inspirational BRAPA sequence of events, not that I'm hoping for you to lose it again! At the very least, I feel certain Nicole has modified her views, deciding that not absolutely everyone who drinks beer is a dick. ;)

    I do like the idea of pointing things "in a BRAPerly direction." I look forward to reading about how you succeeded in doing just that!

    1. Hello my Unknown Friend! Thanks, Martin and Duncan STILL beat me getting into the 60's, how do they do it? Even with fewer pubs to go at? I can only look on in awe.

      Yes, perhaps it was fate Nicole found the GBG, and the sequence of events culminating in a little prize for her, to prove to her we aren't all 'dicks'. (She's probably right in 80% of cases though, but don't tell anyone I said that!)

      Oh yes, I think Eddie will be happily influenced - hopefully meeting his old mate Bernard Ev will be enough and we can end up calling the shots!

  2. You left the Railway too early and missed the Chicken Dave "How to store eggs" lecture.

    1. You mean it could've been an even more legendary experience? Oh well, I'll have to allude to this after-BRAP event!

  3. To be honest, had I come across that lost Beer Guide, I'd've assumed it was the work of a lunatic and run away after binning it.

    1. Are you implying that Si isn't a lunatic, Matthew?

    2. Yes Matthew, I resent it being implied that I might be sane! Seriously, I think I was lucky I got a Nicole and not a scary Denby Daler.

  4. 53 is brilliant work, Si. I feel bad mentioning that both Duncan and myself topped 60 now. May all your pre-emptives be,er, pre-emptive. Royal Children was a GBG regular 20 years ago, thought it was good when I popped in last year.

    Can I have the photo of Tom if Nicole doesn't deserve it. You can get Morrissey to sign it.

    1. Cheers Man! I must admit you told me of your 60+ tallies, I couldn't believe it! But then again, I'm in competition with the GBG, not my fellow tickers. If you become the first to officially declare completion and get a gold bust of R.Protz at the CAMRA National Beer Event in Maidenhead next year, I'll be at the front applauding with happy tears in my eyes.

      I think Tom is determined to get the photo to Nicole, but watch this space just in case, you are first reserve. Royal Children had the shell of what could be a good pub, but it wasn't exactly 'on form' last Wednesday!

  5. Si,
    If heading south on 9th November, I advise caution as Grantham is shut all day, with trains diverted via Gainsborough, Lincoln and Spalding. In particular, note that your last free Grand Central north is retimed to leave Kings Cross at 18:08. The first Grand Central south doesn't get to Kings Cross until 11:21.

    1. Thanks Tom, that could actually change everything! 18:08 is perhaps a little bit early if not getting in til 11:21. Maybe Cumbria will be a better idea after all? You always know best!