Monday 15 June 2015

BRAPA : the archives (230-240) - East Yorkshire (Hull) Special

"From the blogger who brought you such classics as 'the archives (41-50)' and 'the archives (111-120)' comes this latest edition ......

Yes, welcome back to the archives section where I mentally revisit all those pubs I did in the days before BRAPA was even a seedling in my mind.  Today, we cover East Yorkshire (mainly, Hull).

230 - DOG & DUCK, Beverley - One of the best pubs I have ever visited in my life is not this, sorry, but the Wellington in Hull circa 2005-2008.  By about Spring 2009, it was having it's first mini-decline and with me and Dad bored of unquestioningly being expected to join our "Welly gang" here, decided to think 'outside the box' which took us to Beverley where there were plenty of pubs in GBG.  This was quite a well known one, Dad knew of it, but the fact the 4 ales on were all very standard, staff and clientele were a bit curmudgeonly and the tables all had place mats and knives and forks made it far from comfy, pubby experience.  And because the traffic was chaotic and Dad was worried about getting into Hull, our experiment was aborted after one pint and one pub.  Shame but at least my recent Beverley trips have redressed the balance.

231 - MARINE BAR, Bridlington - Gosh, I remember the moment in those early days of GBG research where I used to spend my work lunchtimes in Waterstones in Leeds browsing the Guide.  It must have been about 2003/4 and my eyes popped out like stalks when I saw this was listed.  This is because my Grandma lived in the flats above, we'd always parked in their spaces on our visits through the 90's and early noughties and slagged it off as a place which smelt like old people and stewed veg (I think I'd been in as a very young boy so technically could be my earliest BRAPA tick).   Anyway, I persuaded the family to dispense with the usual buffet and we brought Grandma down here for lunch.  Beer wise, it was impressive with Wold Top ales and Tim Taylor Landlord in perfect condition.  However, the smell of stewed veg and wee meant despite 2 or 3 subsequent lunch visits, it never caught on.  Most notable feature though were their (allegedly) dodgy accounting practices.  Dad was forced to walk miles to draw cash out once as they wouldn't accept his card, the staff were shifty and wouldn't look him in the eye, there was another incident I've forgotten, and on my last visit (when me and Dad popped in for a sly half when we'd supposedly left the girls to go for a walk!) I gave him a £20 note and he short changed me, but in such a way that it was incredibly suspicious.  Same guy who made Dad get cash out.  Don't trust this place, despite CAMRA discounts and Premier League screened football!

232 - GARDENERS ARMS, Hull - Ever get the feeling you've missed something?  We came here having read about it winning awards in something like the 2002 GBG so circa 2003, possibly before an evening game when we were still exploring Hull pubs hoping to find some remedies to Spring Bank in case Hole in the Wall ever went downhill (which it did).  The Guide description gave the impression there'd be about 10 ales on, but all we found was a long, metallic sterile bar with font after font of lager, mainly Carling.  Not sure if we found one cask to drink.  The music was banging, students everywhere, young clean cut staff, NOT what we were expecting.  To this day, I ask Dad if maybe there was a side "ale" bar or worse still, we were in the totally wrong pub but he keeps telling me to just accept it was rubbish.  I've heard less about it's ale prowess in recent years, but as you can see, still listed in 2015.  A revisit is on the cards next season.

233 - HOP & VINE, Hull - Late 2006 and no-one could argue (or even argue today) that Hull is saturated with real ale pubs so when this little underground bar opened, with it's (supposed) 11am opening time, it solved a lot of problems for our "Welly gang" and it's become a firm favourite since, but sadly, not with me or Dad.  I've been in plenty of times and have been disappointed on probably all but 2 or 3 occasions.  Ben just says I'm unlucky!  I don't think so.  Although I nod in friendly acknowledgement of Mr Campbell when I see him on York beer festival quiet days, most of the problem lies with him, he might be a passionate ale man and a top Hull CAMRA chap, but a people person he is not.  Let's look back on some of the lowlights over the years.  (1) Often being closed well after their advertised opening time, the attitude is very much "we'll open when we want, stuff the customers".  (2) Undercooked sausages and cold mash when we'd already had an hour delay.  (3) Deliberately selling "off" beer by Toad brewery of Doncaster and then telling our gang "we knew there'd be someone stupid enough to drink it!" (4) Whining like baby staff when a cider I wanted meant them having to go down to the cellar because that's where the cask was (5) Letting horrid Stoke fans take over the pub (though this wasn't really the pub's fault).  And yes, I assume it only gets in the GBG because landlord holds CAMRA sway but I know plenty of people who do like it.

234 - OLDE BLACK BOY, Hull - Our first Hull "real ale revelation" when we started visiting pubs in my new 2002 GBG circa Spring 2003.  Dad knew this as, on his 18th birthday, he hired the upstairs room and danced around all night in a grass skirt!  Good grief.  Don't picture that.  It had lost none of it's old world magic, and soon I was impressing friends like John Watson and my sister Lu with the pubs charms, when I ate a "Pepperami Black" in here on my birthday 2005 and felt like I was going to die!  It won pub of the night.  I love the history, ghost stories, out of tune piano, general feel, and our visiting regularity only dropped because first Hole in the Wall, and then Wellington meant there wasn't much need to visit the old town.  And it's opening hours are a bit unreliable we've found for our needs (well, it's not an 11am opener!)  It seemed to have a period of decline anyway but in last 2 or 3 years, we've heard good things about it so went in for an evening game last season.  Rude staff and weird locals put the old hubbuby feel and decent beer in the shade, sad because this could be one of those most amazing pubs, just doesn't make the most of what it's got.

235 - OLDE WHITE HARTE, Hull - Another Hull pub presumably visited first by me in the Spring of 2003, this is even more famous.  I love historic pubs and the story of Charles II escaping Cromwell and an upstairs Plotting Room captured my imagination, so imagine my surprise this year when my Heritage Guide revealed his is all bollocks because the pub wasn't even around then!  It still has plenty going for it, exciting beer isn't one of them.  Every time, you go in, see about 6 pumps, think oh yes, then release they are all standards or Caledonian things that taste quite bland.  Also, it is freezing cold if you use it as an 11am opener, presumably it is Grade II listed so they cannot insulate the windows properly or something (a landlord in Malton once told me this story about his pub so I'm not totally making it up!)  I remember my favourite time in here, I'd travelled over for an evening game on my own, we beat Derby I think 2-1 and this pub seemed to transcend every other experience before and since with great beers and friendly locals and Derby fans all chatting together.  I even invited everyone up to join me and my friends at the Welly and nearly got a lift up there!

236 - PAVE, Hull - It opened in 2002, probably took a couple of years to establish itself (let's face it, a real ale cafe bar doing live music is always likely to be a bit too cutting edge for Hull) but it was probably about 2004/5 when I first visited.  It was bright, airy, I remember a few Southern Supporters and plenty of Deuchers IPA but despite 2 or 3 visits, it was never a serious rival for the fantastic emerging Wellington (RIP).  I revisited it recently for the first time in years when midweek Hull traffic chaos caused us to take a Prinny Ave detour.  I was very impressed to see 3 or 4 superbly kept interesting beers (Scarborough, Hop Studio and Pennine were all sampled) and a nice outdoor area, Dad is quite negative about the place though having been more often than me.  It got a bit chilly so we moved back indoors and I could see what he meant, a bit of crazy atmosphere, not too pleasant, half aggressive and half hipster was a bad combination!

237 - ST JOHN'S HOTEL, Hull - 1st April 2006 and it was no 'fool' when Dad made the unusual declaration that he wanted a post match pint after a home game before the trip back to York.  It made sense.  Time had been at a premium before the match, AND more importantly, we'd just seen us beat the Wh!te Sh!te (aka Leeds United) for the first time in my living memory!  Cheers Jon Parkin, feed the beast and he will score/burst (delete as appropriate).  This was a Marston's pub then, and it still is.  It had a busy bustling working man's atmosphere and my HCAFC top did no harm with locals happy to ask about the game or just smile knowingly.  They might not have been Hull City fans like me, but they appreciated the significance of the win.  It was very community really, lots of people chatting across tables in groups, watching other sport on TV etc.  Maybe not the comfiest, and we only had something like Mansfield Bitter, Pedigree or Banks'.  Recently, I finally learned why East Yorkshire has so many Marston pubs.  Mark Bainton, Hull CAMRA genius, told us they bought a huge chunk of the old Hull Brewery estate.  So now we finally know.  Not a bad pub, but I've never had the urge to go back in, though I think Dad may have done in last couple of months!

238 - THREE JOHN SCOTTS, Hull - I was in this old town Wetherspoons pub, sometimes seen as the 'most acceptable face of Hull 'Spoons', as recently as the last day of the season.   7th Jan 2006 was my first memory of going, it was freezing and we were at home to those giants Aston Villa in the third round of the cup.  We even contemplated simply going next door to some dodgy bar and watching the match in there as it was televised (a rarity in those days) but in this dodgy bar "Mint", Matt Glennon once fell drunkenly down the steps so it felt a bit off putting.  We didn't get to the KC til 23 minutes in.  The good thing about 3JS is that it serves a range of ales and opens early.  The staff are quite good for a Spoons in terms of being "switched on".  The clientele are more lame than aggressive.  On at least two occasions, the ale has left me with stomach cramps!  Most recently, when we brought John Watson II before a Sunderland home game 2nd Nov 2013.  It serves a purpose this place.

Dad does a weird hand dance in 3JS on 1.12.13 before we beat Liverpool!
239 - WM HAWKES, Hull - Scale Lane already had two exciting new pubs (particularly by Hull standards as it needed a real ale shot in the arm) when this more traditional style place opened in a very old building, a former gun shop or some nonsense.  It is a very impressive, cosy place with loads of shiny 'old' bric-a-brac scatteed around walls and ceilings.  The back room has what we call "our seat", a little snug thing on the back wall but mind your head from that low hanging light.  Only Pivni and the Yorkshire Bank canteen has embarrassed me more often in this respect!  The beer range always has interesting choices (Leamside of Co. Durham features heavily - it ain't even that popular up there!) but the ales are served too cold for me and I've become increasingly bored of the dimpled glass faze we are going through - you always get 'em here.  The barmaids are often young, pretty students type - the "twins" were always great but was it actually the same girl moving very quickly with a split personality.  In any case, Dad reckoned 'one of them' fancied me which seemed incredibly unlikely.  This could all explain why so many weird local barflies hang around, but they aren't the friendliest bunch.  It opened Summer 2012 and my first visit was quite soon, a home game v Macc which felt like a friendly but was actually a League Cup tie we embarrassed ourselves in.  The homemade Scotch Eggs are nice but haven't seen one for a while, my fave time here was actually in the front bar with 'Aidy', Dave's mate one sunny day in 2013.

First visit to Hawkes - August 2012
240 - WHALEBONE, Hull - Since the Welly closed, it was going to be interesting to see which pub 'stepped up to the plate' to quote Phil Brown (as no sensible person would do).  We thought it'd be a Scale Laner (Ben cited Lion and Key, strangely) but it was actually this superb old pub in Wincolmlee.  True, it's a fair trek from the KC but Mark's dodgy leg/knee means 'taxi's for all' has worked.  But the main reason is the upturn in pub quality, and that's nothing to take anything away from Alex Craig (RIP) and wife cos this was a classic pub anyway when Dad and I first went in 2004ish before an evening game.  It may have been earlier but I remember the Hull City clock featuring luminaries such as Lawrie Dudfield and Theo Whitmore looking a bit out of date.  We tried "the food".  The first and only time I've only seen a pub unashamedly pop snacks in the microwave (facing the bar) in for 80 seconds.  It wasn't cooked throughout my micro hot dog.  Never again!  Dad meanwhile admired the old M & R sign (Moors and Robson, Muck n Rubbish!) You had to respect their brewing and price of the beer (£1.40 for a Neck Oil!), though a bit like the Welly efforts, they were far from spectacular.  We'd often come here as the 'early opener' though the current young landlord once swore blind this pub never has opened before 12 noon!  I've been in here 10:45am in the past.  Occasionally, and despite the Welly being probably THE BEST PUB EVER at the time, Dad and I would stay here, due to it's sheer class.  Beer wise, the Tim Taylor Landlord is one of the best ever versions of it, and when Alex put the wood burner on in winter, it was hard to leave.  However, we did go about 5 years with no visit at all when it became a 12 noon opener and it's only the last year or two since it was taken over that we've realised how good it is (better brewery choice and consistent ale quality, combined with a cleaner feeling pub).  I love it, deservedly Hull pub of the year (if it is!)

All action at the Whalebone as a beer gets changed (23/11/14)
In our next edition, we'll head to the outpost land of South Yorkshire but no disputing the quality of some of those pubs in Sheffield and beyond.


1 comment:

  1. My understanding of the high concentration of Marstons pubs in East Yorkshire is that, in between Hull Brewery and Marstons ownership, they were own by Mansfield. I think there still is the odd Mansfield Brewery sign in the city. I'm not sure whether Mansfield bought part of the pub estate or the brewery outright, I've a feeling it's the latter.

    The Three John Scotts Aston Villa game was the only match in the history of Hull City AFC to be broadcast live on national terrestrial television.

    I think Wednesday will be the amongst the most exciting days ever. Fixture list and a blog entry to look forward to. Come on City!