Sunday 8 November 2015

BRAPA - Brentford away

Waiting for the post-match football traffic to go past (Pub 729)
I managed to almost double my number of West London 'Good Beer Guide' ticks from 5 to 9 last Tuesday/Wednesday despite quite a rushed pre-match.  Luckily, me and Dad at least got to London on time and Tom was on hand to help us get across the city to Brentford as quickly as was humanly possible.  I didn't help myself by then temporarily misplacing my mobile phone, so it was approaching 6pm when I finally got to my ONE pre-match tick.

728.  London Apprentice, Brentford

I was more than ready for a pint after all the hassle of getting here, and the 10 minute riverside walk from the station in the rain.  Luckily, it had an immediately welcoming warm and friendly feel, as a local man with a stripey top wholeheartedly recommended the 'London Glory' ("if you loike Proide, you'll loike this wan!" he declared, and I tried to be enthusiastic).  The pub is grade II listed and had a low ceiling and some nice beams to add to the cosy feel, but Dad and Tom had for some reason decided to it in the one area lacking this same warmth, a side room doubling up as a horrific gastro-restaurant, so my first job was to move that back into the hub of the pub.  The bench seating was a bit awkward just to remind you we were in (s)wanky London town, though the £4.25 pint price did that!  Happily, Tom reported the price of blackcurrant was competitive at least.  We learnt this place used to house Isleworth brewery so a shame they've knocked that on the head, but the beer range was good with still a lot of leftover Hallowe'en themed ale on offer.  Dad's friend Gareth eventually arrived, a nice positive young chap and despite being quite local, he didn't know this place and was soon earmarking it for a Sunday lunch place to visit with his family.  A good pub if you are in the area.

Finally arriving at the London Apprentice in ghostly damp November weather. 

Gareth helped us get a bus (and chips) and after a surprisingly good Hull City effort, I decided to make up for the lack of pre-match action with two post match ticks, the first a short 15 minute walk from Griffin Park......

729.  Express Tavern, Brentford

We'd bumped into Chris D and Christine who had rated this as the best of their pre-match pubs, and after my visit, I'd have to agree it was pub of the day.  Gareth knew this one and had also rated it highly, but I set my expectations low thinking ordinarily, pubs near football grounds never quite live up to expectations.  Again, stepping inside immediately gave me a sense of well being, with a warm bustling hubbub, historic (1800's) feel and nice bare boarded floors (always the best way). supplemented by a great range of ales especially by London standards.  I went for a fantastic Dark Wave Porter from Surrey, pint of the night, though Tom told me off for not having the Draught Bass (they had a neon Bass sign outside you see).  We settled into a nice corner in a side bit to the back right of the pub, and reflected on the fact that Hull City are the best team in the world.  Seriously though, Dad then found some ancient books and put one of my BRAPA cards inside one, in the hope it would be found in 50 years time.  One Brentford fan hadn't read the script though, and as soon as we left, was quickly up at the bookcase to see what mysterious object Dad had placed in the book.  Good news for BRAPA - I'm going to try and find more novel places to secrete my cards in pubs, following on from Andy's Whitby noticeboard effort.

Neon Bass sign at the Express Tav, but no Bass for me (photo courtesy T.Irvin)

We bid farewell to Gareth, and Tom went off somewhere train based, so me and Dad walked the mile plus back towards the centre of Brentford for one of the latest BRAPA ticks ever.  

730.  Magpie & Crown, Brentford

Pre-match in here had sounded like a bit of a nightmare, with beers going off left right and centre, lethargic staff and cancelled food orders, but then again, this is the whole reason I decided to make this a BRAPA tick at this time, once I'd seen it opens til midnight.  And credit to Dad who was still with me (physically at least) having been building a shelf at 7am or something bizarre!  So I had my reservations, and a group of Brentford fans having a few commiseration pint, gave my Hull shirt a good look on the way in and said 'hello' as if they wanted me to say something witty and snappy about how good Brentford are ..... it wasn't gonna happen!  I was relieved to see a well-stocked bar and plenty of hardworking staff, and we were the only Hull fans in here so plenty of locals staring at these dirty northerners.  The pub was suffering from my age old gripe .... needless standing at the bar!  But as I got our dirnks in and Dad found a seat over to the right, a nice young home fan said he was sure we'd get promoted - but to keep me in my place, a larger the life huge 'super fan' appeared to (a) remind me that Burnley are better and (b) they hit the post at 1-0 (a comment he repeated about ten times in as many minutes).  My Park Pale ale was zingy, a nice citrus cleanser after all those heavy dark ales.  As midnight struck, our eyes were both closing and it was time for the trek back to the Travelodge.  The locals were still outside, and said 'goodbye' again as though they wanted me to say something snappy and witty about how lucky we were,  Wasn't going to happen!  

It's the late,late show in Brentford.  Latest BRAPA pint of the year?
After a good night's sleep (thanks Lenny!), it was a case of the early bird catches the worm as I met up with Tom in Hounslow just after 9am, and we all know what pub chain are generally open by then don't we? 

731.  Moon Under Water, Hounslow

Yes, my first 'Spoons tick for quite a while and I was chuffed I remembered to use my CAMRA voucher to get my 50p off.  Our barmaid had potential for the 'brunette' award, but she lacked a bit of natural spark and personality, even when Tom gave her the chance by disclosing I couldn't count despite working in a bank!  It initially felt wrong to be drinking a pint of Maxim Stout only 9 hours after I'd finished my previous one, but once a nice plate of Eggs Benedict (my favourite breakfast) was upon me, it felt like we were starting again.  As 'Spoons go, this was above average as it actually had a proper old fashioned pub atmosphere and some nice booths to hide in, reminiscent of the Drapers Arms in Peterborough.  The staff obviously get paid more than me, as they were discussing Secret Santa and a £5 limit.  At work, we have a £1 limit and call it Secret Scrooge.  Working in a bank eh?  Anyway, it was past 10am so time to move on.  

Early morning Spoonsing in Hounslow
Dad was on his way back to Kings Cross, but credit to him for arranging for me to be booked on a later train to give me a bit more BRAPA leeway.   Tom agreed that it made sense to do, from what I could see, the last GBG pub I'd still to tick off that doesn't open on a weekend.  This was at Farringdon so despite a full bladder, I held on to Kings Cross and the one stop out there on the Met line.  

Farringdon is quite a posh place, and the pub was down a tricky side street the opposite way to the one I normally leave the station by.  But a moment of disaster narrowly avoided, as it looked like the pub was closed as we took the obligatory BRAPA photo.  So I used "all my experience" to give the door a little push, and phew (bladder-wise as much as anything), the pub was open as advertised! 

732.  Jerusalem Tavern, Farringdon

And what a little gem of an old pub it was too, you could feel we were on a 14th century site and some strange ghostly singing coming from another part of the pub only added to this feel.  I guess the veil between life and death was still quite thin, only 4 days after 31st Oct!  The pub was also novel for me in that it's owned by St Peter's, that Suffolk brewery most famous for their strange shaped green bottles, some of the first real ales I ever tried but never seen them on handpull.  Rather annoyingly, they seemed to put keg (the erroneously named "craft ales") first, with the casks on a back wall with just the taps showing and no real pump clips, like some kind of micro pub.  Our host, a young chap, lacked a friendliness you'd have expected for a pub like this, first customer's of the day, but no complaints otherwise, just a super Porter to rival the Express Tavern stout.  It's fair to say I was exhausted by this stage, and any brief hopes of squeezing in another one before my train back to York died pretty quickly.  Still, I was quickly telling Dad (a Farringdon regular visitor) that he must try out this place.  

The ancient 1720 pub Jerusalem Tavern in Farringdon.
And there was another nice GBG quirk about visit this pub.  The first listed under London, whilst the last is the Admiral Nelson in Whitton which we missed out on due to it's closure for refurbishments, and I'm glad both Tom and Dad checked that one as I hadn't!  

Oh, and Tom confirmed I'd done the Black Lion in Plaistow (to be reviewed in the archives shortly), something I'd suspected but wasn't confident enough to put down.  So we'll call it 733 pubs now.

Five new ticks was a fine result in the end, as there wasn't much time to relax from the minute we arrived in London to the train home.  No wonder I slept pretty much for the rest of Wednesday. 



  1. I wonder sometimes about a race of you following the official advice and me following, well, me. The time saving was turning left at Kings Cross when the sign said turn right, I suspect the train would have just made at Vauxhall had we stayed on the Vic.

    With your expectations of the Express, you should have considered that this is Brentford so relatively the pub is nowhere near the ground, considering they can't sustain the 4 in the corners. The telling off for not having Bass was more for the fact that you had just read out that it had the Bass sign and the draught Bass being available than just the existence of the sign.

    I've said it before, and I think I said it to some of them. Brentford are the best opposition team I have seen all season and are missing a centre forward. A decent centre forward may well have had us out of the game by half time. Andy Gray will score against us for Burnley, he always does.

    I did not accuse you of being unable to count, more being unable to subtract. Subtraction is more advanced than counting.

    I don't recall ever seeing St. Peters beers anywhere other than as a guest. That was infinitely better a setting for them than their pub further north, Angel area I think it is. I was rather pleasantly surprised at £3.80 a pint, which is saying what a joke London has become. I had visions of being pretty much in the city and hitting £4.50 or something absurd. I shall recommend it should people ever be visiting Streatham, as I will the Express.

    I suspect we didn't do Black Lion justice. Maybe one day there will be a chance for a revisit. Perhaps that is what you could do when you complete BRAPA.

  2. I'd never choose official advice over TI advice, no way!

    It occurred to me about Brentford's fabled 4. Just as well none are in, I can't remember which of the 3 I've been in. I don't regret not getting Bass, that Porter/Stout was superb.

    Ah yes, because I needed to take 50p off for my voucher. Flippin' Spoons! A quid would have been easier.

    I don't think I've ever even seen St Peter's as a cask guest anywhere. Is the Angel one in the GBG? Maybe £3.80 are Suffolk prices?!

    Yes, the Black Lion archive report won't be glowing I'm afraid. Cloudy polycarbonate Doom Bar and Ben at a crowded bar is about all I can remember. Yes, a revisit at age 63 - need to do same with Ivy House in Sunderland.

  3. There is a minimum price policy with the 'Spoons vouchers, thus £1 discounts may end up less usable with the cheaper beers. I would add further response to your defence, but I don't want to incite you to break a work social media policy so I won't.

    The Angel one was certainly in the GBG last year. Your Dad and I seemed to agree on our negativity for the place. The pricing in that one certainly wasn't just cheap, decent or even fairly expensive. It was exceedingly expensive. Funnily enough visited post Brentford when we lost 2-1 having gone 1-0 up after about 2 minutes with a Leon Cort header from a corner.

  4. You should place your BRAPA cards in people's full pints in London pubs; it would vastly improve the taste.

    Never ever complimenting the losing home team - top marks
    Not having Bass in the Express - epic fail

    I've never been to any of the Brentford four so can't think they've been in the Guide for many years, if at all

    You'd know if you'd been to the Black Lion in Plaistow. Everyone looks like a boxer or is called Harry.

  5. Well we might well get another crack at Brentford next season so Bass in Express and the Whitton pub might be on the agenda. So sad when I look back and think how brilliant hull city were in 2nd half of that game compared with last night! Wonderful.

  6. I can't see any plausible scenario in which we don't play Brentford next season. I'd agree Whitton is a good viable option. There must be more, possibly a bit of strategic planning with that and Fulham required.