Friday 30 November 2018

BRAPA : The Archives (From Derby to Cowdenbeath so deal with it)

This is a blog I've been meaning to write since the 2019 Good Beer Guide arrived in my possession, criminally late in Mid September (hashtag never forget).

I've managed to identify ten pubs I've been to which have made the current GBG, but weren't in 2015-2018, so I've never had a chance to write about them before.  So most likely, I visited these before "BRAPA" was officially a thing, those simple days where I just went to pubs, ordered beer and sat there without too many thoughts in my head!   Doubt I'll have many photos but I'll have a look.

410.  Olde Dolphin Inne, Derby

'Twas 10th Feb 2007, and me and Dad were in Derby early looking for an early opener before we went to our new 'go to' pub the Flowerpot which had so impressed us the previous season.  We went into this multi-roomed creaky old gem which I'd heard about from ghostly Derby legend Richard Felix.  The atmosphere was astounding, even before 11am with just a few smoking flat capped old buggers (oh, and my youthful Dad) for company.  Not sure what room we got in, but a bit like Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, I've never been able to locate the brilliant first room on either of my other two visits, and the pub hasn't seemed quite as good.  In those days, I thought a large range of unusual sounding ales was key to a good pub, but of course, I hadn't been radicalised by the BBOT (Bass Blokes of Twitter) back then, so doubtful I had Bass, probably had Greene King Abbot and moaned.  My overriding memory though was a kind of weird sense that even if the apocalypse came now and destroyed all life, this pub would somehow remain protected from it all.  I picked up a flyer from a man calling himself the "Soul Toucher" but he wasn't getting near my soul.  Been back in twice since, and its been a bit of a touristy nothingness, proof you should only do a pub once!

411.  Honest Lawyer, Scunthorpe

5th Feb 2011 and it was time for that most terrifying day in the football season, Scunny away.  Me and Dad had put this pub off for years, thinking it was too far to the ground but this season, Tom convinced us otherwise.  Most of our Hull City friends are North Lincs based, and the view at that time was that the beer was unreliable here, but COULD be good.  Well, with the added hospitality of Scunny fans Lizzy and Colin, along with an extra nervous Ben & Christine, me and Dad ended up declaring it pub of the year as beers were ace, company fantastic, we simply couldn't believe this pub didn't always deliver!  I remember it feeling a bit like a pre-cursor to a micropub, quite narrow with bar in awkward place, opening up a bit into a kind of cafe bar feel in the back, but 7.5 years is a long time in pub ticking.  We then went to the Berkeley which I also enjoyed.  Then something weird happened and Hull City won 5-1.  And on the way back, me and Dad got same train north as Lizzy and proving what a good sport she is, she helped us recreate our 5 goals (and presumably Joe Garner's consolation) in the aisles!  I miss Hull City days like this.

412.  Hole in the Wall, Waterloo, London

You might recognise the photo, as I put it in that weird "BRAPA from the vaults" feature I did last year, so I obviously thought this pub would never make the GBG again.  We'd travelled down to Portsmouth on the icy cold morning of 4th Feb 2012, I had man-flu, this was also my first proper trip out with a 'smartphone'.  By Havant, the news came through match postponed.  But even though BRAPA was still over 2 years away, me, Tom and Dad just laughed and said we could have a nice pub day, and a visit to HMS Victory.  Back in London, the snow was starting to fall quite heavily so we popped in this place just across from the station.  It was a bit chaotic, touristy, the beer was pretty unspectacular and very London, but we had a nice time.  Problem was, back at Kings Cross, trains back North were chaos and the snow was so bad, we got back about 2am, could barely walk in it, and Dad had to stay over at mine cos snow drifts stopped him getting home.  Epic day out.

Me and Tom enjoying some pre-snow drinks in Hole in the Wall

The stairs up to my flat when we finally got back home!

413.  Peveril of the Peak, Manchester

11th September, or 9th November as those silly Americans seem to think it is called, will always be remembered as a sad day in history, but from a personal point of view, and my good friend John Watson II can attest to this, it is the 2008 version which is saddest.  We were finally about to see the amazing Stray Cats in Manchester, only for the drummer to break his arm in Brixton the night before  and it was cancelled.  NOOOOOO, we didn't realise til we got there.  But the silver lining of this rockabilly cloud of despair was that John, who'd got lost earlier trying to find me in Lass O'Gowrie, had stumbled upon some rather great pubs so with plenty time on our hands til the 11:30pm train back to York, we decided to make the most of it.  This was the most amazing, and still is, gorgeous green tiling and weird triangular shape, and you even feel it inside when you are sat in certain side rooms of this heritage gem.  We got chatting to these brothers (I think) bit Gallagher-esque, but one was a Man City fan and one was a Man Utd fan.  Even though Man Utd were the far stronger team then, the Man Utd fan was the nice humble one and the City fan a bit annoying.   Been in here a 3 or 4 times now, and always felt the beer should be better than it is, always seem to have this image of 3 handpumps at weird angles, two have Tim Taylor Landlord on!  May explain why not a GBG regular, cos it really needs to be, a cracker.  Though, and I feel bad almost saying it, I actually prefer Britons Protection over the road, but only just.  

414.  Woodside Hotel, Cowdenbeath

14th November 2009.  For a short time in my 'what to do on a Saturday that involves pubs in the Good Beer Guide?' I decided I was going to visit every football league ground in Scotland.  I ended up doing Berwick, Queens Park, Clyde and here, so it didn't last long!  And if any Scottish town is going to scare you off, it is Cowdenbeath.  Wow.  Sort of brilliant.  "FEE FI FO FUM, I SMELL THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN!" boomed a pisshead at 10am as me and my friend Chris 'Krzbi' Britain walked into our first pub of the day, the New Goth and ordered some yummy Tennants filth. Luckily the barmaid was from the Selby area, so at least Krzb could bond with her over some local plane crash from the past! The one town cash machine was out of service, and people were proper kicking off.  We went to 3 or 4 more pubs, most of which we'd researched on BeerintheEvening, but this one was actually in the GBG.  Was great to get a pint of ale after all that flavourless fizz, that Schallallion I think we had (I can't spell it) I think we had, but it was a pretty crappy unfriendly place with a pool table blocking most of the space and a terrible seating plan that didn't work.  In fact, the pre-match club house was probably the best!  Then we combined Irn Bru and Bovril, Dumbarton scored, a visiting fan celebrated, a local called him a very rude word, and that was that!   

Krzb's Blue Brazil club bar check in from back in the day!

Four or five more pubs to tell you about in part two ..... betcha can't wait!


Thursday 29 November 2018

BRAPA - It is Vintage Hull

My first trip to the city that god almost forgot to create since the new Good Beer Guide came out in September.  I had a sort of pub tick, a couple of pre-emptive ideas I'd gleaned from that Hedon micropub, and least importantly, a football match as the timid Tigers took on the Crazy Canaries.

I'll pay tribute to Father BRAPA here.  He picked me up from outside Yorkshire Bank in L**ds at 4pm, and in the torrential rain and heavy traffic, with visibility poor, we skidded our way to Hull.  And then I didn't even let him go in a pre-match pub he wanted, all in the name of BRAPA!

"Oh, and one more thing Dad, stand in the rain and take a photo of me!"
1403 / 2376.  Head of Steam, Hull

To be honest with you, under BRAPA rules, I could've already 'green penned' this entry, for I'd been twice before when it was known as King's Ale House.  I remember our first visit approx 2002 because Dad thought a malevolent force at about shoulder level was sapping all his energy, and all I could do was wonder where Yvette Fielding was when you needed her.    It was unrecognisable these days, all shiny American themed strange seated weirdness, not the kind of place to ordinarily get comfy in.  Dad had been in twice since the refurb and reported poor beer on both occasions so was surprised to see it make the GBG.  But it was to prove a happier experience for me.  The barman was fantastic from the start, friendly, approachable, stoic yet effortlessly charming, and he served us from a range of beers which seemed strangely horror-based (Hull loves being a month behind), and many from Camerons.  A nice bloke with an air of the 'pub ticker' smiled at me from the corner, looking up from his tablet.  He had an element of the Duncan Mackay and the look of a bloke who'd ticked 99% of the GBG.  If he'd been watching clips of 22 rare moths flitting around a non league football pitch in Reykjavik, I'd not have been surprised.  We sat on these peculiar chairs, half stools, half seats, horrid contraptions, the music was too loud.  But as we debated where we could move on to, we decided time was against us and we'd better stay put and ring for a taxi to the KComm from here.  Plus there was this incredible 6% stout on, and soon I was enjoying that with a bowl of fries.   And you know, we almost started to enjoy it.  But as Head of Steam's go (and I still have Sheffield to do), it didn't have the charm of my fave in Huddersfield, and was less good than Newcastle, Durham and even L**ds which isn't amazing.  Yet, when all said and done, a decent pre-match effort.

Ahop-alypse Now (sigh!)

West Brom fans from other week, or has BritainBeerMat been in? 

You see, it isn't the best

Highlight of the pre-match?
I have to admit though, in the cold light of day, if I'd approached this in normal BRAPA circumstances, i.e. a 27.5 minute one pint visit on my own on a Saturday lunchtime, I'm likely to have been even less complimentary! 

The match wasn't too bad for a 0-0, there were approximately zero fans there, but an okay performance against the league leaders, you can't knock it can you?

Back row of East Stand to myself, pretty much!

Post match then and with no queues to get out but a "need to let the traffic clear" (best excuse ever), we decided to settle a few minutes in a new pub.  Was thinking the Corn Exchange, which has now been taken on by Atom brewery and is 'good in a modern way' perhaps, a good 'post-emptive' for it was in the 1974 GBG.

But we were soon on Silver Street, home of what we assumed was Hull's latest Micro offering, but surely it was closed and we'd walked past it?  No, it was all red and twinkling in the distance ......

Vintage, Hull

Dad started pronouncing the word vintage in a French accent which was weird, as we walked in, but he was immediately drowned out by a little circle of old folkie folkers playing folk music in the folkiest way you could imagine.  Great tin whistle and mandolin action, creating a lovely atmosphere underneath the old front covers of Playboy.  A first class barmaid served me this gorgeous toffee porter, and indicated to the huge covered trays of sandwiches - egg mayo or ham - help yourselves, she told us, and with the music lilting gently in the distance, I, for the first time ever, had been fully content in a modern Hull pub.  Well okay, Walters has had its moments of bliss, Chilli Devils is quite good, never been a Hop & Vine fan, Furleys pah,  Lion n Key and Wm Hawkes, hmmmmm, jury's out on them, but there was something special about this.  Can't call it a Micropub either, or if it is, I have the same brain power as Dean Windass.    Saddest thing, my phone went dead so I only got one photo!

Play us Shoals of Herring ye bastards!

So that was an unexpectedly great bonus, and it was off back to York.  I'll be back on the BRAPA trail Friday night, as I continue to plug away at West Yorkshire's remaining 12 ticks.  Oh, and in a boring stat to end on, it'll be the first time I've ever visited a new pub on 30th November, and not many calendar days you can say that of.  See you on Twitter after 4pm!


Wednesday 28 November 2018

BRAPA - Winter Woollen Wonders Part 2 of 2 - Last Mango Milkshake in Halifax

Oh dear, it has got to that stage hasn't it?
Halfway through my Saturday with work buddies Jason, Piper & Rich and it was time to do one of those things that has never made anyone cry before, and that was 'leave Bradford'.

Jason knew where the nearest taxi rank was, having worked in this City back in the 90's, but problems ahead as I said to our lively taxi driver 'Wainhouse Tavern, in an area called Pye Nest or Kings Cross near Halifax' and he looked utterly confused.  "Do you have a post code?" he asked, so I dug the trusty Good Beer Guide out of the bottom of my rucksack, all crumpled pages and covered in pastry crumbs, so I start saying "H".  "A?"  "No, H".  "Aaaaa?"  "NO, H AS IN 'ALIFAX!"   Five mins later, HX2 7DR was finally in the Sat Nav and we set off.

Jeez this was gonna be a long journey, and it literally was.  Mine and Rich's poor bladders, the traffic was bad, and the pub itself was nearer Sowerby Bridge than the 'Fax.  Actually close to one of my all time faves, the Big Six.  I wanna go back.  But there's no point!  Relief to arrive, semi rural location, pubbiest pub of the day, hurrah!

Nice cobbles, now let us piss.

1400 / 2373.  Wainhouse Tavern, Kings Cross, Halifax

Two further reasons to celebrate.  First, the obvious 1400 landmark, only 100 pubs away from the magical "one third of the Good Beer Guide complete".  Some time in March perhaps? (month, not shit Cambs town).  And secondly, this was my 402nd GBG tick of 2018, breaking the 401 record I achieved in 2017.  We noticed the back of the pub was reserved for Chris & Donna's wedding.  Now we all know a Chris and a Donna, and they're always doing things like marrying each other and reserving back pub rooms in rural Halifax.  All the classic BRAPA days involve me making an unwise ale choice at some stage, and it was the deliciously dark Jennings Snecklifter that killed me here.  Great ale, but when did it start tasting as alcoholic as Old Peculiar?  When I became a 3.8% pale ale drinking fanny, ayeeeee (said no Beer Writer of distinction ever).  The pub itself was interesting, a bloke eyeballed me (behind my back according to Piper) for taking a photo of the folk at the bar, a dog had a big dick, and Rich wanted a round of crisps and when the friendly barmaid asked which flavours, he replied "dealers choice, but make 'em meaty!"  I laughed, and our selection of four somehow included cheese n onion, salt n vinegar and fiery prawn or something.  A bloke leaned over, "I'm not trying to block out yer sunlight!" he exclaimed.  And then he drew the curtain.  Fully.  I couldn't stop laughing, this pub gave me the fits, and it might not have been entirely down to the Snecklifter. 

Congratulations ..... for shutting half the pub off guys, hope you had a great day (I'm joking, I love them)

Bigger dick in real life (that's what we all say)

"I'm not blocking yer sun out or anything, I'm just gonna fully close this curtain". 

Pipes has a chug on her Sneck, background locals are so Wainhouse, love them

Nearly asked this bloke about his gorgeous fleece, but woman on lefts husband (out of shot) was less happy

Man floating on a sea of crisp packets
Staff had been first class in here, and ordered our taxi back into 'Fax no fuss at all.  Of course, our taxi driver had never heard of the next pub until I said it was very close to the Victoria Theatre, where I think we went to another pub the other year.

1401 / 2374.  Alexandra, Halifax

"Very much a micropub..." begins the GBG description.  No 'very much' about it, this was the quintessential micro to give Hillier (not Hitler) sexy dreams.  And I don't mean about pizza ovens.   Yes, after recent 'wow-factor' micros of a traditional pub nature (New Royal Mail, Thorngumbald) or just expertly done cosy classics (Lazy Landlord in Liscard) I was starting to 'warm' to them, but unless you go to the White Swan in Digbeth to go "phwooarrr, heritage!" and drink cloudy Marstons whilst some ancient leprechaun prods you in the cheek, then you won't go in a colder pub this winter.  It wasn't all bad, the barmaid was a gem, and deliberately having just the two beers on seems somewhat commendable, but beer is a minefield isn't it?  I don't have a clue.  Here, it was a toss up between Kowabunga and Ghyll.  I didn't know how to pronounce Ghyll, so I went Kowabunga, I did like those Turtles back in the day, Donatello was my fave, no relation to Donna from the last pub (that award has never felt further away at this point).  But then the Kowbunga went off, she was oh so apologetic in her hat & fleece , but we didn't care, just I had to ask how to pronounce it.  She didn't really know either.  Or was trying to make Stupid Si feel better.   We climbed up a narrow staircase and comparisons were drawn to Hard Times & Misery in Liverpool, but this had a bit less to it.  A couple heard me complaining about the freezing metal seats and told me to pull that blanket closer, they seemed very empathetic.  But as I wrapped it round, I started to itch.  Fleas?  That was the consensus.  Then I drank my Ghyll.  It tasted like beer, end of another wonderful BRAPA tale.

It's about to go off any second now!
I did like the staircase and decor

Rare Jason shot, and the bloke of the empathetic couple

This was it

Still itching now
Following the GBG App to this sixth and final pub of the day proved a bit problematic.  Piper's knee she didn't like to talk about wasn't getting any better despite the alcohol intake, so the other three loitered as I walked around the perimeter of a strange building to some weird side entrance.  "This could be it!" I declared finally, and they caught me up:

For fans of Prisoner Cell Block H

1402 / 2375.  Square Chapel Cafe & Bar, Halifax

But it was no Wentworth Detention Centre once we were inside.  "This can't be it" said Rich.  "What is this place?" said Piper.  "Bloody 'ell Simon, where ye taking us now?" growled Jason.  "Bear with me" I replied, after all, it DID have cafe in the name.  Ever been to the weird Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff?  Or any of the ones in Tyne & Wear.  It was like them, only you somehow never really expected to find a bar selling real ale.  A twild looked up from his colouring book and glared at me.  A Mum with a coffee and a tan told her daughter not to play on the floor.  Two students on laptops probably talked about Jellyfish DNA and Polyfilla.  A blousey lady with the most floral blouse ever stared accusingly at us as I skirted around the seats.  She heaved her huge bosom in an exasperated manner.  Only a visit from BRAPA can lead to such bosom heaving, and I don't even mean that in a good way.  And finally, through a gap of bald heads, a bar!  What a moment.  I could've cried.  I went to find a seat and a loo as our Stodfold Golds and Rum Porters were wheeled out to the kind of table where I thought someone was going to make us write down ten motivational words on a flipchart and start some blue sky thinking.  And then, a voice behind me.  "BRAPA isn't it?"  This was Luke, who says he sometimes reads my blog.  How nice, so he sat with us and whilst I wasn't at my coherent best, he advised me Hull City were 2-0 down and Bradford were actually winning.  I asked him about pubs in the 'Fax and he told me something I'd be thinking since the 2019 GBG came out.  Halifax, this wonderful pub town as proclaimed by me and Martin Taylor last year as one of the best, has gone too far into the modern newbies, and sacked off those classics I loved like Three Pigeons, Gun Dog and that other one I can't remember.  Soon, it was time to leave this weirdness, time for a post or pre-emptive before the train? 

The only surviving shot from our time in the Square Chapel

Very hazy what happened next, but it seemed to involve time being too against us to get to the Three Pigeons as I'd originally wanted, so we ended up in this hotel opposite the station, perhaps called the Station or Railway or something.  The hotel receptionist became our barmaid, not a cask beer in sight, what did I even have, Guinness?  Doubt I drank it all, but friendly place, and it soon became clear our last train of the day to L**ds had been cancelled (on top of bloody Northern Rail strikes) so we had to dash for this one!

Ugh, typical end to the Heavy Woollen day, I fell asleep on Piper's arm, Rich went missing and no one could find him, and Jason prowled the vestibule like a caged tiger.  Rarrrrr.  Back in York, I got fish n chips and watched darts on ITV4 for about 2 hours and then a YouTube documentary on the Old Firm for no apparent reason, and was still in bed by 9pm.  Phew!  What a day.  Only TWELVE West Yorkshire ticks remain, gonna keep chipping away every Friday.


Monday 26 November 2018

BRAPA - Winter Woollen Wonders Part 1 of 2 - Bradford Trio

The most Bradford photo of the day.  Arriving at the Old Bank.
'Twas that bi-annual time of year again, where I take a few work friends on a pub-ticking adventure in the name of BRAPA.  Read on as I (despite being a non member) try to observe the BGBW Code of Conduct in hope of winning that elusive award in 2019.  That's a joke of course, there is a perfectly good BRAPA Code of Conduct out there in the ether somewhere I will update later.

Ever present Jason 'Mr Angry' Garrett and Piper Corday who's only ever missed the first trip were both back for more punishment, whilst we had a welcome return for Rich Ellis, who'd missed the last two trips to Walthamstow and Liverpool.  Simon 'laughing Sy' Clark was unable to join us due to wife and twild commitments, and Daddy Piper (Mick) and Mrs Mick (Shirls) were also absent, going on holiday the next day.

I'd been instructed back in the summer to keep this one more local to entice Rich back out, so was glad when the 2019 GBG threw up plenty of new entries in Bradford and Halifax.  Okay, so they'd have been good easy ones for a Friday night but you can't be entirely selfish can you?

Remember my recovering knee that I don't like to talk about?  Well, I'd passed it on to Piper and she was hobbling around like an old woman all day having had injections in it only a day before but had come off the meds for a day so she could drink a pint in every pub, top BRAPA commitment.

As always, it was train strike Saturday on Northern Rail but there were just enough available to stop today being difficult, but I am getting bloody sick of the fact its easier for me to pub tick in Chelmsford than Bolton at present.  Still, I'm not gonna moan, there's always someone out there who has it worse than you as this text from a friend bore out:

Always good to start at the furthest point and work your way back towards the station, so a slow uphill 15 minute walk took us to pub one, which has been gaining quite a reputation.

Jason hates being in photos, so insists on taking them, but always claims "it hasn't done anything!" and then when I check, he's taken loads.  No word of a lie, on this occasions, 54.  Here is an action shot of our exasperated gang, and me walking towards him saying "FFS Jason, have you taken it or what?" (but something more polite in case he lamps me one).

1397 / 2370.  Peacock Bar, Bradford

All the while, our Indian host was watching this scene nervously through the window, and didn't seem to know what to expect when we entered.  "You ARE open" I asked/said (with a hint of Derron Brown about me).  "I think so" he said, looking at his watch with some confusion.  This was the first Indian themed pub I'd ever been to,  some crazy decor as a Yorkshire White Rose flag was draped next to a Kingfisher lager one, a rocking swing which we rocked in (apart from Jason, not his style) and a staff member turned up to take a photo of us!  We got 4 pints of Farmers Blonde from the top bar, a great beer when kept well, and it was absolutely first class here, didn't get a better quality pint all day.  The handpumps had black n amber cosies on them, surely a sign of a forthcoming Hull City victory, I thought, but I'd be wrong as usual!   An army of staff were cooking Indian food out the back even at this time, and the owner came over to chat and was surprised to hear his pub was in the Good Beer Guide, as he'd been recommending other nearby pubs.  He even whisked my book off me, and took it to show the others.  Was so glad to be reunited with it, having it out of my sight for even that one minute was like losing your twild, I guess!

Owner, ales and a bit of Black n Amber

On the crazy swing

Pipes does the highlighting honours

So, a great start but I had my misgivings about our second pub as we entered a weird underground complex of weird bars, shops, cafes and the like called Sunbridge Wells.  I'd read LadySinksTheBooze recent Bradford pub blog, and she'd hated this next one with passion.  She said there's a reason things are kept underground, like corpses and this place.  Brilliant!

Going down steps was the worse thing for Piper's knee, and we had plenty of them.  Thought we'd found Bradford Park Avenue's new ground, but it was actually a giant pizza oven and some smug looking middle agers looking entitled.  

Rich & Jason - not smug middle agers looking entitled
Just when you think you've reached the final turning in this weird knowing Labyrinth, a sign for Wallers appeared.  I took a deep breath, set my jaw square, and walked on in ......

Spot the Jason

1398 / 2371.  Wallers Brewery, Bradford

Odds on me enjoying this seemed a million to one, but as always, BRAPA like to confound me.  The owner set the tone by welcoming us heartily, telling us exactly how many miles the beers had travelled from to get here (I pretended to be wowed) and told me Wallers used to be a brewery here in the 1830's and his current project is to find an old brewery recipe so he can recreate some of their stouts of old.  And then warned us about skeletons and weird stuff like we were at Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire (a great day out if you've never been!)  We sat down in the peculiar purpleness, and Jason said it reminded him a bit of Lendal Cellars in York - well yes, the late 90's  version before Jamie Oliver and Greene King conspired to fuck it up.  It also reminded my of that 'Great Ale at the Vaults' place in Bolton, but with better ale and staff.  Still, it was warm, and I've now decided I'm of the age where pub temperature is pretty much the most important aspect of my pub life! Pint of Stones in cosy warmth or gorgeous real ale sat in a freezer?  I tell ya, it's a tricky call.  So all in all, yeh, not perhaps in the spirit of why I'd come boozing in Bradford (Corn Dolly, Fighting Cocks etc) but I left feeling impressed, and not 'disgusted of Sunbridge Wells' hahahaha.  Sorry.

Landlord was a legend here

Here I am

There they are

What'll happen to Jamie Oliver if he tries to open a restaurant down here
We left through a different exit, which seemed to be the official 'gateway' to the place.  Then for one of the weirder moments of the day.  I noticed the Sunbridge Wells tagline was "welcome to the world of pure imagination" and I said "ugggh, it's no Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory is it?" and shaped up to take this photo ......

But before the others cold reply, a random woman behind me boomed "Ha!  Got his camera out again, surprise surprise!"  She wasn't even Cilla Black.  But she said it in such a sarcastic way, it sounded like she follows BRAPA around randomly commenting on my progress!  What's next, am I going to see her in a Maidenhead micropub hurdling a dog only for her to say "Ha!  Will be interesting to see how he handles this twog incident...."

I was too open-mouthed to reply, Rich said I should've pretended I was a foreign tourist.  I'd have to be French, I've been mistaken for a Frenchman three times in my life.  Anyway, 'zut alors' and all that, I was bristling and needed pub three to recover.

Now you know when a pub looks like a Wetherspoons but actually isn't, one of the saddest things on earth ......

1399 / 2372.  Old Bank, Bradford

Actually it could've been a 'Spoons, but in any case, it was just around the corner from the Ginger Goose, the scariest BRAPA tick in Bradford I've ever done over the years where a bloke told me about chatting to the spirit of his dead boyfriend, before supporting an anti-Muslim rally and talking about some biker gang he was in or something.  This was tame by comparison as Piper stepped forward to buy us some Firecrackers (beers, though nothing would surprise me around here).  I climbed the steps to the bogs and thought I'd found a secret hidden room behind a door (as rooms so often are) but there were steps up from the bar, so poor Piper and her knee I don't like to talk about, another climb.  We slumped in these low settees and being banking geeks, we did exactly what I'd done in the Counting House in Glasgow and admired how ornate banks of old used to be but when I suggested they may have added a level later on, Jason seemed ready to punch me.  Former bank layout and design is a topic that shouldn't provoke such passion!  Toilets were superb too, old tiling etc.  Otherwise, it was just a very steady place to have a drink, I won't be recalling it on my death bed, but for now, the others decided that rather than wait for the train to Halifax, we should get a taxi.  Controversial, but 4 of us so I went with it.

Pipes at the bar

Look at the gloriousness of it all!

One of my classic "head not quite on body" shots

So three more pubs to do, landmark on the horizon, and I'll tell you all about that on Wednesday because I'm in Hull tomorrow for the Norwich game.  What can possibly go wrong?


Sunday 25 November 2018

BRAPA - Armitage Spanks the Monkey

It is blog titles like this which should be winning me gold & silver statues and plates at the beer writer awards, alas, probably safer to pretend I don't care, and declare myself proudly independent & punk rock. 

Probable actual shot of the folk in tonight's pub
It was Friday night and I was back in West Yorkshire, determined to finish ticking off those stray GBG entries before the end of January.  After Ackworth and Alverthorpe last week, we were still on the letter "A" with Armitage Bridge, a short bus ride from Huddersfield or if you want the full experience, a local train to Berry Brow and an interesting 15 minute walk, past church, winding river, and down the cobbles through a series of terraced houses, a real step back in time as Last of the Summer Wine played in my head.  Shame it was pitch black, probably beautiful views on a summer's day.

Speaking of which, I was vaguely aware this place existed, as Bryan in work (a guy who loves his ale but ordinarily prefers a good pub session to a beer festival) raves about 'Monkeyfest' held here every July.  I assumed he'd been on about the now dead Puzzle Hall Inn near Sowerby Bridge, but incorrectly, it seems I'd made a fake Monkey Puzzle connection in my brain!

He had admitted that he couldn't imagine just coming in here for a pint on a non-festival day, but my hopes were still high after the build up.  After all, on the train journey, two student girls opposite talked about Jellyfish DNA whilst clutching a large tub of Polyfilla.  Only on special days do you get such a pre-BRAPA treat.

At the pub entrance, two kids were hiding around the corner from their Mum and Dad, hence my rather blurred and rushed photos .......

1396 / 2369.  Monkey Club, Armitage Bridge

So yes, I expected more and this little club never really delivered.  An old bloke looked me up n down in a judgey way, but then orange scarf and Royal Engineers 1875 FA Cup winners top are probably not a combo they get much around here.  Barman was a solid, sensible looking chap, the two blokes before me had both ordered Carling, so I was glad when he pulled the Barncliffe Bitter through first (and gave it a top up, no questions needed) and yet the ale was fizzy and just tasted vaguely off.  It was freezing too, I took my coat off so I'd feel the benefit later, but even the Royal Engineers would've struggled in this climate.  I'd not had to show my CAMRA card to get in, and whilst the beer was a fantastic £2.70, I'd kind have wished I had as it often breaks the ice, and people in here seemed a bit stand offish, so I sat alone, between one screen showing basketball and one with Sky Sports News.  I had loads of time til the train so went back for another pint, much better this one from Saltaire, but very cold.  The kids got bored and played hide n seek, one tried to hide near me but was worried there might be spiders on the floor, so tried to get her Dad to hide her under his coat, but he refused to take it off on account of the temperature, even though he looked a proper Yorkshire hard man!  Turned out her brother had forgotten to look for her anyway.  Then, everyone started watching Mrs Browns boys clips on their phone, guffawing loudly like I've never done at this woeful comedy.   Time to sup up and head back to the station.

Spot the monkey

The pantry is open and bulging, a test of honesty?

The train amazingly was back in Huddersfield on time.  That meant I had TWO whole minutes to get from Platform 2 to Platform 6 to get the train to Brighouse, where I had a second tick I wanted to get done.

But as I ran towards the underpass, I saw it depart.  It was 70 minutes til the next train.  It was a cold night.  I could've sat in Head of Steam / King's Head and had a couple of pints (no great hardship) but with a train to York around the corner, and a heavy day coming up tomorrow, I decided to be sensible and head back home.

And going back to the start of my blog, I guess that until I walk into a pub and write something like the following, the BRAPA trophy cabinet will remain empty.  Good night.


 ".....I spied a person of unspecific gender at the bar but wished to cast no aspersions so I had no opinion on them, or for that matter, anyone else in the pub.  I eyed up a delicious range of 6 cask ales and 12 keg beers (all of which I embrace equally out of respect to the brewers in the hope I get a free sample, an invitation to a tasting session, or a chance to 'collab' with them into making an ale called BRAPA P.A. which has always been hashtag lifegoals for me.  Incidentally, it was initially going to be named BRA P.A. but the pump clip was problematic for many.  The building I was drinking in had some fine exposed brickwork, metal pipes, 2016 chic I think they call it, and I had a great chat with strong young female Sommelier Marie-Sotter who told me why I was an inadequate average white man, 'gammon' and possibly 'triggered'.  Her 4 year old son Ethan told me Trump was destroying the world order and it made him feel rather tearful on a daily basis, and why do humans think it is okay to kill animals?  After being made 14% more woke by simply being in their company, I was given a tour of the nano brewery in the shipping container spray painted with graffito, and Charles, the head brewer, made a joke about the Irish back-stop which  was so dense, yet chimed so resonantly with 2018, that I smiled sagely to myself to display an inner intelligence I don't like to brag about even though I have more genes than most of my followers.  My friends of varying ethnicities then arrived and we all went for a bottomless quinoa and roasted tofu brunch at Maddie's Deli Eats, which had only opened ten minutes previously.  I went home feeling smugly superior, but sort of empty as I hadn't been morally outraged all day.  Fin."